I have lately written a number of posts that reflected my understanding of the 3 Principles. I posted the trailer here for those who might be interested in getting an idea what this is all about. My understanding is still at a beginner’s level – yet as it deepens more and more, things make sense to me now that have been puzzling me as long as I can remember. For example:
How come I can look at clients and see the beautiful, good, and caring persons while they can see only ugliness, broken-ness, and fault when they look in the mirror?
We are both looking at the same person. The only difference is how we both think about him or her.
How come recovery leaps ahead when people realise abuse wasn’t their fault, that they are OK, that they are capable etc.?
The difference is the shift in thinking. Letting go of the habitual thinking from (early) childhood and looking with love and compassion at oneself through uncontaminated spectacles enables the shift.
I could come up with many more examples. What stays with me this morning as I am writing this is the importance of looking at oneself (and I mean all parts of oneself) with deep love and compassion, knowing that at any point in time people do the best they can with the resources they have and under the circumstances they are under. Knowing that deep inside every person is a part that is whole, resilient, and unbreakable. You may call is soul, or spirit, or something else altogether – it is there and it is magnificent!
In my preparation for coming ‘back to work’ I glanced through old comments and notifications and found a comment left in 2008 “How do I know I am with the right therapist”? I don’t know how I answered back then, but today I thought “What an interesting question”. How do therapists/counsellors know that they are right for a particular client, and how do clients know that they are with the right therapist?
Often both clients and therapists fall prey to the assumption that therapy is the only path to recovery and/or that therapy with a particular therapist is the only path to healing. This is a dangerous assumption. Let’s not forget, the client is doing the healing, not the therapist. The capacity of the seed to become a fully grown, healthy plant is within he plant, not with he gardener. He or she is only providing an environment in which that growth can accelerate. When the seed is not growing the gardener has failed to provide the appropriate environment.
Unfortunately there are plenty of therapy models that base the lack of progress in therapy on shortcoming in the client: s/he is either in denial, avoidant, hostile, has a negative transference, is lacking trust, or (my favorite one) NOT READY. And although that might all be present in the client, it is the therapist’s job to provide the right environment for that to be addressed. That’s the therapy. If clients wouldn’t have these negative symptoms, they wouldn’t need a therapist.
It might be useful to revisit what a therapeutic alliance is. Judith Herman writes in her book trauma and recovery p.134 and 147
the relationship between survivor and therapist is one relationship among many. It is by no means the only or even the best relationship in which recovery is fostered…Though the therapeutic alliance partakes of the customs of everyday contractual negotiations, it is not a simple business arrangement. And though it evokes all the passions of human attachment, it is not a love affair or a parent-child relationship. It is a relationship of existential engagement, in which both partners commit themselves to the task of recovery.
I read that interpretation and think of compassion, care, respect, understanding, and appreciation. If we (therapists and clients) can make that happen as best as we can and as often as possible, we are having a good thing going and growth can take place.
Coming back to the above question of how to know that you are with the right therapist my response is: when you are starting to feel better, think better, and function better. I personally don’t believe in the old saying “…it has to get worse before it can get better”. I think that is a tragic ‘invention’ of a pessimist who got hold of the fact that many people have to hit rock bottom before they act against their habitual beliefs. But it is by no means a law of nature. Things can actually get better starting NOW.
So, how do therapists/counsellors know that they are right for a particular client, and how do clients know that they are with the right therapist? I would love to hear your thoughts on that 🙂
This is a lovely 14 minute clip of Eleanor Longden describing her journey from a perceived madness to recovery. Besides any doubts we may have of her diagnosis of schizophrenia, her process of recovery sounds very much like recovery from DID. Take care, take faith, and take hope.
Have I created my dissociative disorder? This really interesting question has been posted in the comments section and I thought it deserves a more in-depth response because I have heard this question asked many times over the years.
The question whether people (either clients or therapists) can create a dissociative disorder has kept the therapeutic community divided for many years now. The good news is that nobody really knows. Whatever people believe is just that: THEIR BELIEF. We don’t know enough about how our marvelous mind works to be able to give a definitive answer.
It might be wise to be cautious and not believe everything therapists (and other people) tell you – including myself here – because we all make up our own reality as we speak or think for that matter. Our perception is so fickle, it’s more about ourselves and our own history and experiences than what we perceive is going on in the world. When you find that you are able to quieten your mind and use the stillness to listen inside to your own wisdom, you will find your truth. That’s the only one that you can live by! Not my one and no-one else’s.
But I am diverting – back to the question: In my personal view it is naive to think someone only has to read a book and then can talk themselves into having a disorder so severe that it causes mental and emotional distress. “Inventing it yourself” implies a purposeful act – like creating a make-belief story that then is lived out. If we watch a movie we might be affected by it, but we still know it’s a movie, a made-up story, it’s not real. That step doesn’t seem possible for people diagnosed with a dissociative disorder (or any other disorder for that matter).
‘Inventing unknowingly’ is a contradiction in itself – it doesn’t make sense and isn’t really a thought-through statement.
I have always perceived dissociative disorders on a continuum of awareness. To use a stereotypical example: the academic in their ivory tower who is not aware of his/her other needs and feelings, and is complete ignorant about leisure, health, family, etc. This kind of ‘life’ is – even though socially acceptable and at times even admired – in my view very dissociative. It is just not recognised as a pathology because the person is not signalling that s/he is suffering.
The person that ended up with a diagnosed dissociative condition seems to me to be a bit further on the way to ‘mental health and inner peace’ because their awareness is awakened to the aspects of their lives that don’t work for them. One way of going through the mental disorders of the DSM is to view all (or most) of the listed disorders as people’s individual way of coping with the problems life is presenting them with. Does the depressed person chose to be depressed? NO. Does the anxious person chose to wake up anxious every day? NO. Neither does the dissociative person chose to see him/herself as fragmented and disconnected. Due to complex circumstances (age, resilience, support, ability to conceptualise, etc.) these people have learnt to respond to life through these specific ways. There is not really a choice as in “I am consciously choosing x”.
If we look at mental disorders from a medical/pharmaceutical perspective, the answer is usually: it’s some form of mental brain malfunction for which – thanks to pharma – we have a pill that can be prescribed and things may or may not improve. Because dissociative disorders itself don’t respond to pharmaceutical interventions, many people lean to thinking they can’t be real and therefore must be a creation of the patient or the therapist! There you have it!
If we look at mental disorders from the perspective of how human experience is created, than all our experiences are due to each individuals way of making sense of life and ability to respond to life. In that sense we do create all our experience – but is it inventing? Certainly not, it is just what every human being is doing, it’s how nature has designed us to exist.
If someone tells you that you are creating your e.g. dissociative disorder, depression, or anxiety there is the implication that you’ve been naughty, it’s not real, you shouldn’t have done it, please un-do it quickly. They don’t understand it’s your personal response to life’s circumstances, it’s the best way you could cope with life given your resources, awareness, and thinking at the time. Once your awareness increases you will improve the quality of your responses to life.
Raeburn House, Auckland, New Zealand, is running another Moving Past Sexual Abuse group. In the past the group was organised as a support group in which participants would be surrounded by survivors who understood their experiences and sharing one’s stories and supporting each other was the strongest emphasis.
This new Moving Past Sexual Abuse group is about discovering ways of how to leave the abuse and the legacies of the abuse behind oneself. Rather than concentrating on what happened in the past the emphasis is on having a life worth living NOW, today, and the days to come.
You will be shown how it is possible to regain control and reconnect with joy, wisdom, and peace of mind. You will find that the capacity to live in wellness has always been dormant within you waiting for you to connect with it. The Moving Past Abuse group is geared to help you realise that potential!
You can expect that we will address how to deal with anger, difficult emotions, social connections, relationships with self and others, depression, perceptions, thought, and in general how not to be ruled by the past.
Here are the starting dates and details:
When: Mondays, 8 weeks, Starts 30 July
Time:·7:00pm – 9:00pm
Total Cost: $80
Facilitator: Gudrun Frerichs
Venue: Raeburn House, 138 Shakespeare Road, Milford
For more information contact Raeburn House, phone: (09) 441 8989 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Raeburn House is running again a sexual abuse survivor group. In previous years the survivor groups were ongoing support groups that accommodated survivors to attend for several terms. They were designed following the three stages of Judith Herman’s model described in Trauma and Recovery (1992). Since then our understanding of recovery has evolved and the new group will take place with an emphasis on learning rather than sharing one’s experiences.
We will explore the three principles that are behind our psychological experience so that people can overcome the debilitating symptoms often found in the aftermath of sexual abuse. That involves gaining an understanding of how our feelings are created, how to deal with low moods, how to discern between low quality of thinking and high quality of thinking, and how to cope/deal with distressing feelings.
When: Wednesdays, 8 weeks, Starts 2 May 2012
Time:·12:30pm – 2:30pm
Total Cost: $60
Facilitator: Gudrun Frerichs
Venue: Raeburn House, 138 Shakespeare Road, Milford
To enrol contact Raeburn House directly on (09) 441 8989 or email email@example.com.
My post about ‘Discounting the Past’ has generated comments that got me thinking about the nature of human existence. Let’s start with the biological fact that none of us is capable of experiencing a reality ‘out there’ that is shaped and made meaning of independently from what is already ‘in here’. “In Here” meaning our mental filters that consist of personal history, beliefs, values, gender, education, energy, and many more in addition to mental processes of deletion, distortion, and generalisation which our brain does automatically.
This means what’s real to me will be different to what’s real to you because you have different ‘stuff’ in your head. Hence the notion of different realities people operate from!
That means whatever we observe in the world around us can never be separated from the person that does the observing. There is no such thing as objectivity. Taking the example of doing research: the simple process of researching is already changing the subject that is investigated. Foucault did a great experiment that highlighted how people change their behaviours when they know they are observed. There is no such thing as objective research because choice of subjects, research design, way of questioning, way of interpreting the data etc. will already influence the outcome. That’s why there is no such thing as ‘research has proven’ because for every finding made there will be an equal amount of research that proves the opposite.
Does that mean that PTSD research is wrong? It may be, it may be not. It’s like the Dodo verdict from Alice in Wonderland: Everybody wins, everybody deserves a price! It all depends on where you stand. There is no right or wrong. Who am I to say that my reality is better or ‘righter’ than yours? I am simply sharing my truth – at this moment in time. The reader does not have to agree with me. If my posts have stirred up things, that’s good, I suppose. It gives people the opportunity to reflect on what this ‘being stirred up’ is all about.
Thinking about recovery from childhood sexual abuse within the framework of the 3 Principles of Mind, Thought, and Consciousness, whereby the focus is on the innate, unbreakable health present in each person that can be accessed once we become conscious of our negative thinking about ourselves and our lives and let go of that mode of thinking, makes a lot of common sense to me. It holds a lot of hope and the promise of regaining control of one’s life. Please, don’t take these 4 lines as a ‘treatment approach’, rather look at what my words are pointing at.
Is processing trauma for years better or worse than ‘leaving it alone’? Who’s to know. The proof really is in the pudding, as they say. If it works for the individual to go deeply into revisiting the past, if it makes life easier, if it makes people’s life more joyful, then there is your answer. If life remains difficult with numerous hospital admissions, suicidal thoughts, low self-worth, frequent anxiety attacks, long depressive episodes, isolation, and little joy it might be worthwhile to try on the ‘leaving it alone’ approach. See what happens when you take a holiday from your problems! The good news is that every survivor can find out for him or herself. There are several links in the sidebar of my website of sites that offer resources about the application of the 3 Principle understanding. Have a look around! If you like what you see and would like to explore this concept for your recovery, you can also contact me.
Judith Sedgeman and Dr. Bill Pettit talk about PTSD. This is an amazing 36 minute interview in which Dr. Pettit sheds a totally new light on PTSD and the recovery from trauma. I am very interested in hearing what people think about it. It would be great to have a discussion about it!
I have posted the last few posts already in the spirit of the 3 Principle Understanding. I came across this video clip today, which is making a strong statement about the healing power of the human spirit.