Discounting the Past

Today I would like to respond to comments made earlier this month on the ‘home’ page here. My first impulse was being saddened by the confusion and despair readers felt by some of my latest post. However, it didn’t take long for me to get excited. Every time someone presents a challenge it gives me – and I suppose everyone – the opportunity to widen our understanding and deepen our insight. So I am very grateful for people to take the time and formulate their opinion and point out that what they are reading is not gelling for them.

It’s a tricky topic, the topic of “it’s just thought”, isn’t it? It’s hard to get one’s head around the fact that the world we experience is rather more a hologram created by our own thinking then a representation of what’s really OUT THERE. Especially when we end up with a badly bruised body or mind by our encounters with “out there”, be it objects or people’s’ actions. That’s however how it is – it’s a biological reality that we can’t grasp what’s out there without processing and interpreting it through our mental filters (history, beliefs, values etc.), through what’s ‘IN HERE’. It doesn’t mean you are doing something wrong or something bad. Experiencing your personal hologram as real is doing exactly what mother nature designed you to do: thinking that your thoughts are real. Everybody operates like that – nobody gets spared! Continue reading

Always Looking Through The Rear-View Mirrow

Someone asked me yesterday whether there is some therapeutic benefit to telling a client what they went through wasn’t that bad and others had is worse. 

My first reaction was to shake my head. Who would say something like that to a person unless there is an intention to hurt? It sounds so puntive and discounting of a person’s emotional pain.

My advise was to go back to the therapist and express how this statement has made her/him feel. Asking for clarification and what intention the therapist had when making such a comparison. Of course there is always someone on this planet who has had experiences that were worse than our own. Thats not a hard thing to figure out.

On the other hand, sometimes you come accross a person who is very attached to her/his traumatic experience(s) so that being a victim of abuse/trauma becomes a life-position. I liken it to

“Going through through life as if you are driving in a car looking constantly into the rear-view mirror.

It’s easy to see that such a driving habit comes with huge dangers. The driver is bound to crash into all sorts of objects and obstacles and is a menace to him/herself and others. A challenge like the the above statement might help such a person to move out of the victim position and look into the future rather than ruminating about past experiences most of the time. However, I hope people are able to find more effective and gentler ways of shaking the foundations of a habitual victim-position of helplessness and hopelessness.

Sometimes a critical statement like the one above does not come from a therapist or other people in our lives, but from ourselves. We give ourselves a hard time for ‘not getting on’ with things. Rather than joining the blame-game and giving yourself a hard time, a much better question would be “What resources do you need, what skills do you need to learn, what self-care practices do you need to apply to be able to start looking into the direction you are driving: FORWARD!

Strong Feelings of Connection in Therapy

Screenshot A wee while ago I have been asked " I don't understand how it is that I (and so many others I assume), can feel such a strong connection to a therapist when we only see each other one hour a week.  There is nothing I have read that says this is or is not healthy and I find that the connection really bothers me. I don't understand it and I can't seem to accept that it is healthy given the circumstance that I am actually an adult".

That reminded me of how conflictual the concept of caring in therapy is – maybe its worthwhile writing a bit more about it. Those who have followed my writings over the years will have a fair idea that I subscribe pretty much to the Beatle song "All you need is Love". But in a lot of therapeutic circles that is a very 'DANGEROUS' concept. Even though we call these professions caring professions or helping professions, showing caring to clients can be seen as the clinician being over-involved, not objective, being carried away. Clients or patients who come seeking help more often than not are reduced to numbers, cases, and diagnostic criteria: a perfect strategy for the clinican to remain uninvolved and untouched by the clients suffering.

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How To Have A Happy Childhood?

J0411818 One of my favourite sayings is “It’s never too late to have
a happy childhood”. This is particularly true for survivors of sexual abuse. When
you are a survivor and you struggle to function in daily life, you missed out
on the vital ingredients to a happy childhood: emotional support, care,
respect, appreciation, and age appropriate challenges, which all together can
be described as the ingredients that make up love.

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Confronting the Abuser

confronting abusers I have been thinking about the role of confronting the abuser in the recovery from DID and in re-establishing a sense of justice in survivors. It is heart breaking to witness people’s struggle as they work hard to come to terms with the abuse, learn how to manage the triggers, and go through emotional agony as they process the traumatic material while the abuser appears to lead a life that is un-affected by his/her despicable actions.

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How to Nurture your Relationships?

Cj0227488 It is a well known fact, that relationships loose their fire after a while.  The romantic moments, the butterflies in the stomach, the obsessive thinking about the love object, all those exciting feelings that make you feel alive slowly die like a campfire that runs out of wood. Most couples come to accept that, after some years, everything is ‘the same old, same old…’. But does that have to be?

Researcher have studied this topic in great depth and found that there are ways to keep the fire in your relationship alive. They figured that when people do something different, unusual, and exciting, the brain’s reward system starts dispersing dopamine and norepinephrine into the brain. They are the same chemicals that keep firing when you ‘fall in love’.

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Finding the Right Therapist

Freud's Sofa I read this morning a post by Emily that inspired me to write about finding the right therapist. Although things had gone well for her (it seems) something wasn't right and she stopped with that therapist.

How do you know that you have found the right therapist or counsellor? Wouldn’t it be ideal to have a check-list that you can tick off when you set out to find a therapist? Sadly, it doesn’t work like that. I spent years of researching how services shape the recovery from sexual abuse; and here is what I found out:

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Relationships Role in the Treatment of DID

Hands Just the other day I was reminded of people’s strange conception about the therapeutic relationship. Books that discuss psychotherapy and counselling often emphasise that the therapeutic relationship is the most important tool in recovery. And indeed, hundreds of research studies confirm that. I listened to a counsellor who talked about ‘using’ the therapeutic relationship in this and the other way. It sounded like the therapeutic relationship was a shovel in the corner of the counsellors room, which ever now and so often was picked up and ‘used’ to hit the client therapeutically.

Oh dear, oh dear. I think the therapeutic relationship is the most important aspect of the recovery from Dissociative Identity Disorder. But how does it work? What kind of relationship do therapist and client need to develop together for healing to occur, and how exactly does healing then occur?

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Taking Risks in Relating

493e8095167f91743a1b Rather than focusing on the processing of trauma, the therapeutic relationship became a place of practicing and exploring how to relate. Not only did the relationship with the therapist become the blueprint for other relationships, therapy sessions were also a place for feedback and guidance.  Clients now needed to test themselves and other people by taking risks and cautiously revealing themselves. 

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Attachment and Trauma: Who’s to Blame?

Madonna-child Often clients chose to isolate themselves because they feel intrinsically bad and responsible for the abuse.This sense of inner badness is the result of the child’s attempt to make meaning out of the abuse. By assigning responsibility for the abuse to their own badness survivors are able to view their parents as good people.

It was just not knowing. A lot had to do with the feeling I had at that time, that it was all my fault. So therefore I didn’t connect with anybody…I isolated myself from my family, because the contact with them always felt is going to cause chaos and pain to other people…when mum died I felt I was to blame  (Sue 1/6+7, 2/5).

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