Author Archives: mirrorgirl

About mirrorgirl

I am a psychologist working as a trauma therapist in Norway. I am blogging about my life and psychology-related topics. I am also working on a book about my life and work, that will be published this year. Thank you all for visiting my blog.

Metaphors in psychotherapy

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Metaphors in psychotherapy

Good Friday to everyone! Are you ready for the weekend? IMAG0458

I have had a good day at work, with interesting meetings and memorable conversations. I have also had some time to read a bit, and came across two interesting metaphors. In addition, a doctor I work together with, also pulled a metaphor up his sleeve, and when I came down to my office, I had to write them all down. Then I got the idea? Wouldn`t it be great with a book full of metaphors (it probably exists already, but an update is always welcome) ? And then I started to wonder:

Do you have metaphors fitting for life in general and for psychotherapy?

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Life is like a camera

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The cloak of invisibilty

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The cloak of invisibilty

cloak

When she was little, her grandfather told her about the cloak of invisibility. A little girl wanted to get inside a palace, but as she was poor and never could get inside, she could only dream. One day a fairy appeared, holding a blood-red cloak, sparkling in the sunlight. She carefully draped it around the girls shoulders, and left. Three days later, when she by coincidence looked into a mirror in a hotel where she went in to wash her face, she startled when she could`t see herself in the mirror. In shock her cloak fell off her with a heavy thud, and she magically reappeared. Picking it up and taking it on again, she vanished once more.

The following days, she experimented with her cloak, and not only could she not see herself in the mirror when she put it on, no one else could either. With a thumping heart, she went to the palace. The cloak firmly around her slim body, walking with shaky legs, she stepped inside her palace of her dreams. Not only did her eyes rest upon beauty she never knew existed, but she also saw the prince himself. He was so handsome, that her cloak almost fell off her again, but she managed to avoid the disaster by clutching it tight. Three days later, she ventured into the palace again, and saw the prince sitting in the library, reading a book with tears streaming on his beautiful face. Without thought, she ran over to him, always eager to help. When she ran, her cloak made her trip and she fell, exposing the body she always tried to hide. The prince looked up from his book in shock from the loud thud, and the sudden appearance of a girl right in front of him. Their eyes met, and if there is such a thing as faith, this was it.

Three years later, they were happily married and had a girl, a little princess. The girl with the cloak, was never invisible again.

Her grandfather looked at his grandchild and smiled. She sat there, in rapt attention, dreams floating in her eyes. She looked at in him in awe and asked with a tender voice:

«Can I have a cloak like that?» He chuckled, stroking her hair and thinking he would give her anything, if he only could. On her 4th birthday a present was under a bed together with a little fairy doll on top of it. Eagerly she ripped off the paper, exposing a beautiful red cloak with glittering beads all over it. Before her parents, who always disapproved of her no matter what she did, could come in and realize that her grandfather had indulged in her once again, she hid it in the closet where she herself hid when her father roared in anger.

Later, she tried it on. She hid her bruises, misery and pain, and felt safe underneath the soft satin cloak. When she heard footsteps outside her room, she did not shiver like usual. She only put the cloak tighter around her, hiding in her closet, murmuring that everything would be okay. Like magic, her father left her alone, though he probably knew she sat there, and could have dragged her out to the bed like he sometimes did.

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She had always felt invisible, even without a cloak, but this time it felt good. When she recalled how much fear and horror she endured in her life, as an adult, she knew that she finally could change her future. Her cloak was always with her, no matter how dirty and ragged it became. Bit by bit, she felt safe enough to show small pieces of her invisible self to people who loved her. She managed to hide when someone untrustworthy came into her life, and slowly the bruises that had marked her body for so many years, faded. Sometimes, in the darkness before the dawn, she still put the cloak on, and little by little she managed to show herself to the world. She was like a broken mirror, but slowly the pieces came together again, and finally, one day, she was able to look at herself fully. Her husband, a kind man, helped her and found many of the broken pieces. Handling them with care, he fixed the mirror together with her, until they both could look into each others eyes without ever having to turn their gaze away from what they both hid inside.

At their third anniversary, he hid a present under her bed, with a little fairy on top. Her eyes filled with tears, as she saw the soft present underneath it. With shaking hands, she unwrapped it. A new cloak, even softer than the first one, appeared. Her tears flowed freely now, and when her husband came in with a birthday breakfast on a silver tray, he came over and held her hand. Carefully, he draped the soft silk around her shoulders. To her amazement, he wore a black cloak himself, shining in the sunlight from the new day. Together, they walked over to the mirror.

Her tears stopped flowing, and in that moment, life was good.

She never had to hide again.

This post was reblogged from my blog: Mirrorgirlblog

Breaking news: Live from a mental institution

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Breaking news: Live from a mental institution

sickAn anchor woman holds her microphone steady as she reports live from ‘We have the power’ , an old mental institution where the walls should have been painted decades ago. Her voice intermingle with twenty other reporters looking seriously into the camera, pointing occasionally to the building behind them. The anchor woman turns her voice dramatically down when she arrives at the conclusion.

“Sources tell us that in this mental institution, often just keep patients long enough to give them medication before they send them back. They sometimes don’t arrive at the right diagnose, and it is rumored that they don’t take enough time with traumatized victims or that they even consciously decide not to talk about what they have experienced. Only 30% report that they felt better or had hope for the future after being released, and surveys show that staggering 20 % of the patients will be readmitted after not receiving the help they wanted”

Her face is now full of rage. Her mother killed herself after being hospitalized in a mental health clinic. When she had read through her mother’s journal she saw how many pills she was on, barbiturates strong enough to knock out a mammoth. When she tried to find therapy notes where her mother could process her traumatic past, she only found short conversations where the doctors wanted to know if she slept well, eat what she should or if she felt a bit better after taking another pill. She shouldn’t even be reporting, but she manages to do her job, t is important for her to get it all out there.

Another reporter talks with the direction, who promises that they will do everything to make this right. They will look into their routines and see what they can do to make sure this will never happen again.

The news report goes viral. Oprah dedicate her next show to the cause, and Internet users on Twitter have started protest demonstrations, venturing into the street with their fists pumping in the air as they chant: ‘Stop this, stop this, stop this’. They bring posters where with personal accounts: ‘My mother only got three days in the institution, when her depression intensified they said they have done everything they could so she was not prioritized. Take mental health seriously!” Some write messages to the government. ‘We want that our tax payers money go to mental health care for the 450 billions who needs better treatment” or “Why only research on drugs?”.  The protesters don’t make to much of a fuss. They don’t shout out obscenities, but they gather in every city, staying put and showing their support. They have started a peaceul war.

Why don’t we see this in the real world? Where is the public outcry over the state of unsatisfactory mental health care? When someone breaks a leg, we demand full treatment until the injury is fully treated. We never take off the bandage after three weeks instead of six, telling our patient that they can come back if the leg breaks again as it will because it simply was not healed. We protest when the plumber does a bad job, demanding to sue them if they don’t come back and fix it. When politicians have done something wrong, news papers write about it for days, as they do when an actress have broken down and been sent to rehab. But where are the headlines after it thousands of citizens have been ignored by the health care system? Where are the depth interviews with families who’ve seen their loved ones break down after unsuccessful treatment?

In my future news scenario, the media would focus on mental health daily. They would write nuanced articles on every subject relating to how we suffer and what our options are when we do. There would be demonstrations to so that we get what we need.

We would all be small Ghandies, damanding justice. We wouldn’t close our eyes, we would engage and try to change things. The media would not ignore us.

In my future utopia, the mental institution ‘We have the power’ would change their ways. They would give the power back to their patients, not giving up before they had tailor made the treatment that was right for them. They would listen to them and find their resources.

They would use money on educating their employees, giving their patient the very best care. We do it with cancer patients, we even do it at Starbucks to make sure that the customers are a hundred percent satisfied with their coffees. I dream about a world where surveys about how satisfied their patient are with their treatment. Why shouldn’t we give mental health all of our attention? When almost a fourth of us have psychological issues, stigma should be lifted by never ignoring our troubled minds.

We should not be afraid to speak up.

More:

Demonstations

Mental health research in India

 Stigma | Mental Health Commission of Canada

Readmission Rates for Mental Health Patients – NBRHC

Strategies for reducing stigma toward persons with mental illness 

Creative coculus

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Creative coculus

This post is a comment from a Norwegian man, who has suffered from severe depressions through life. He is also intellectually gifted, but describes it in no such terms himself. For him, depression has been the flip coin of his gift, and I think is important to realize that no matter what abilities or Resources we have, mental illness can still have a devastating effect on us all.

The following excerpt, focus on “coculus” thoughts on creativity.

cuculus canorus
cuculus.koko@gmail.com

Creative people are like me..

This is not said lightly; it is an insight that hurts a great deal. In a way, I see the world not as it is, but as it can or should be. And I have for 30 years thought that everybody did this. Discovering that this is not so; have left me floating on a thin ice-sheet far out in an exsistential, deeply depressed sea with no land in sight.

Anyway. There are massive problems with the words used to describe creative people, and creativity: the connotations, the percieved social and cultural acceptability for “being a little off”.

“Creative” in the worst sense of the word conjures up images of slightly loopy ladies with flowing, purple togas and buckets of paint in primary colours. Or worse still: the image of my primary school “drawing teachers”. I shudder to think: how my creativity survived the lashings of those ignorant dimwits. It boggles the mind. It was a brutal fight, I can tell you that much.

To splash a little colour around is not not creative in itself. The way I see it, and much research agrees, is that creativity is essentialy to take two seemingly unconnected things and combine it in new ways. Very very often nothing happens. But sometimes there is a little magic insight … An article in the Time magazine called The hidden secrets of the creative mind points out that creativity is a numbers game. Creative people fail more. Because they try more (Therefore, creative people can easily feel like failures. Massive egos are not the norm).

I wish to stress that creativity is something equally needed in art, litterature and – and this is extremely important: science. This seems to be left out quite often, unfortunately. In science and arts you will find many of the same abilities. Or, if you like, similar eccentrics. I think Einstein said something like “If at first, the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it”.

At the risk of overstepping my role as commentator, I will here bring a buch of quotes by various artists, architects, scientists and other nosey, curious creators.

creativity: 1+1=3

Creativity is:

Any mental occurence simultaneously associated with two habitually incompatible contexts.

Arthur Koestler

That moment of insight becomes the creative act as a joining of two previously incompatible ideas.

Lyall Watson
The association of two, or more, apparently alien elements on a plane alien to both is the most potent ignition of poetry.

Comte de Lautrémont

Perceiving analogies and other relations between aparently incongruous ideas or forming unexpected, striking or ludicrous combinations of them.

Rem Koolhaas

Invention or discovery takes place by combining ideas.

Jacques Hadamard

The unlike is joined together, and from differences results the most beautiful harmony.

Heraclitus
 

The how of creativity is in most respects a complete mystery, but someone worded it thus:
how such connections spring to mind are guesswork but they seem to favour those who have a promiscuous curiosity and chronic attraction to problems.

Yeah. Promiscuous curiosity and chronic attraction to problems. That is me.

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The sound of roars

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First, the lyrics:

[Verse 1]
I used to bite my tongue and hold my breath
Scared to rock the boat and make a mess
So I sat quietly, agreed politely
I guess that I forgot I had a choice
I let you push me past the breaking point
I stood for nothing, so I fell for everything

[Pre-Chorus]
You held me down, but I got up
Already brushing off the dust
You hear my voice, your hear that sound
Like thunder, gonna shake your ground
You held me down, but I got up
Get ready cause I’ve had enough
I see it all, I see it now

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Roar by Katy Perry

[Chorus]
I got the eye of the tiger, the fighter, dancing through the fire
Cause I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me ROAR
Louder, louder than a lion
Cause I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me ROAR

Now I’m floating like a butterfly
Stinging like a bee I earned my stripes
I went from zero, to my own hero

You held me down, but I got up
Already brushing off the dust
You hear my voice, your hear that sound
Like thunder, gonna shake your ground
You held me down, but I got up
Get ready ’cause I’ve had enough
I see it all, I see it now

[Chorus]

Source:http://www.directlyrics.com
Posted October 6, 2013

And then the song:

What did you think? I`d love feedback on what YOU discovered, as I might learn something from my readers as well.

More information:

The Daily Post

I have written some posts on dissociation, and even if people might feel this song has nothing to do with it, it still highlights one fact about dissociation: Dissociation means […]

First podcast on kindness to a stranger

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I am still learning new things about the internet and its possibilities.. I`m talking english, so forgive me if the grammar could be better, and the nervousness, but I think the point is made, and that you`ll get an idea of what the podcast is about. I`ve finally sat down to look at podcasts, and have hopefully learnt enough to upload and publish my first one

Follow this link for the podcast

If you`d like to be interviewed about kindness, contact me at forfreepsychology@gmail.com with a request. After a while, I will try to pay the people I interview, but for now, the rewards will be psychological in nature. If you like the idea, remember you can donate to the cause (the money will never be used by me personally).

Depression and learning disabilities: Will you ever read anything like it?

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Andrew Solomon

“Stories are the foundation of identity. We forge meaning and build identity.”

Andrew Solomon

I am moving my eyes back and forth as I chase the words of enlightenment in Solomon`s book. Sometimes I glance up, look out the window and stare at moving cars or people. I let my feelings, awakened from a line beautifully crafted, circulate inside. I let the meaning of it touch me, and let the aftershock of new insights and hope explode. I want to inspire. I want to live.

The power of books, and the people writing them, can never be unappreciated. Instead of learning every lesson ourselves, we can let other words touch us by reading and listening to other`s experiences. The last week, I have either let my eyes rest on «The Noonday demon» or listened to “Far From the Tree “. Andrew`s two books feed you with experiences and knowledge from the first to the last page. The first digs deep into Andrew`s personal depressive demons, the other explores learning disabilities and challenging diagnoses like autism, schizophrenia and down`s syndrome.portable

Both books have a plethora of examples fitting the themes like a glove. They both blow life into theory, by letting us feel the people`s pain so we can also feel it. As psychological theories shows, you learn more when emotional. Another thing I like, is that my eyes never bumped into walls of bad writing, you simply float from page to page, only irritated by lack of time to devour everything at the same time (I have wished many times that I`d taken more time to learn to read faster, like I tried for a while).  

In addition to relevant stories from people with different types of problems, he writes about the newest research and even test many of the methods himself. He is not afraid of testing even alternative approaches that hasn`t been researched much. This is done in a balanced way since he manages natural skepticism blended with openness for new experiences at the same time (he liked EMDR).

I`m not sure how much time he`s used on the books, but I do know he`s been travelling all around the world (Bali, Africa, Europe and of course many states in USA) and investigated both medical and theoretical theories by reading and talking with professionals with diverse thoughts. He even tried to talk with America politicians (who sadly had their hand tied). It is clear he has taken the time necessary to write the book, even if he had to stop writing when Mr. depression knocked on the door.

Product Details

Far From The Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity by Solomon, Andrew (Feb 7, 2013)

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Another positive feature of the book, is the compassion towards people with a variety of conditions most of us would automatically turn our backs too. He is honest while describing his thoughts and experiences, and doesn`t try to walk on the water with the work he`s done. He has a down to earth attitude, also when it comes to the description of own shortcomings. He writes he can feel self-absorbed at times, and tries to look own motives in the eye if they walk next to him. Acceptance is mixed with curiosity, and the end-product is two of the best books I`ve read this year. He talks about the magnificent courage of the interviewees, but seldom points to his own. If he mentions it, he talks about how he should have written more.

I must not forget to mention how much knowledge he has managed to fit in between the stories of people who fight every day. He is capable of doing this in a very readable way. The emotions awakened after stories, make it easier to remember the facts.

He presents a cocktail of different treatment options, and is not judgmental if others chooses something different than himself. Once in the book he states that people can use the strategy they want, as long as it helps. This shows more than anything, that he writes (among other reasons) to help others who suffer.

Far From the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity  Sounds like a really interesting read, heard him interviewed on the CBC.

What touches me the most is his own insight about why he writes; Because it gives hope. He chose the stories of people who impressed him, which doesn`t mean that you won`t see the dark sides of depression or learning disabilities, because you will. It just means that he again uses his ability to balance different views with grace and style. In my opinion, if others find it too positive, this is one of the books qualities. We learn better if we realize that we can do something about it. That`s why they have anti-smoking advice on the cigarette packages. You can`t jump into the water if you don`t know how to swim. I could have written much more, but I`d rather just recommend it, and hope that people with interest in psychology and especially in depression or learning disabilities, will run to the next shop (or amazon internet store) and start their own trip to wonderland. 

ReMoved

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ReMoved

In Uncategorized on March 9, 2014 at 9:06 am

I woke up this morning to this lovely short film in my inbox. A sweet friend, who has devoted her professional life to therapeutic foster care issues, sent it along with the words, “Shelley: for those days you wonder ‘why’.”

I’m unsure of how the makers of this film so completely understand the path of a foster child, but I suspect at least one of them has shared the path of this little girl. This film is especially poignant for me, because my children came to me one at a time, which will resonate once you’ve seen the film. Please view and share. My heart is full of tears and love for these artists.

 

Does abuse define a career path?

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DOES ABUSE DEFINE A CAREER PATH?


DEPRESSION

Does abuse define a career path?

One of the enduring questions of human development and behaviour is why we take the paths that we do. What influences us in our choice of partner, profession, lifestyle and other things that make us who we are? This is a deep and complicated question even if a “good enough” upbringinghas been experienced but even more so when a history of abuse and/or dysfunctional parenting has prevailed. In this case, whenlackingthe foundation of security, how do abused children make their way in the world, seemingly dragging a ball and chain with them? A book I recently reviewed may offer some clues and answers to this.The book in question is  “Strong at Broken Places” by Linda TSandford.The basis of the book are the stories of twenty child abuse survivors who figured that “the best revenge is living well”. Prevailing over a childhood of sexual and physical abuse, neglect, parental substance abuse and witnessing domestic violence, Linda Sanford asked them to look back and help us all understand how they fared so well. One of the first popular books on resiliency, Strong at the Broken Placeswas written for every survivor, friend, family member, mentor or helping professional who seeks the path towards self-forgiveness and healing. 

Linda T Sandford spent most of time while writing her book explaining why she believes that abuse does not necessarily jump generations and the patterns of the past can be broken by survivors. This is often not the case when survivors of abuse choose a career path. It can be said that some abuse victims find their way in the working world because of the abuse and not in spite of it. Sandford eloquently uses a quote from Freud to start her reasoning: “there are two pillars of healthy life, love and work” It appears from Sandford’s research that many who could not find love, threw themselves into the other, making work the focus of their life.

In a normal family, parents are considerate and understanding with their children. They allow a child to be happy, responsible, creative and love is given and accepted by both sides. The child does not need to prove anything or work hard for the parent to love them and love is unconditional. In troubled families, abusive parents expect children to “do” for them in a spirit of “you are not good enough to love, you have to earn it”. Children, often thinking that this conditional love is better than none, “do” for their parents, becoming little “mothers, fathers, husbands or wives”.  This lead Sandford to the following conclusion: in contrast to the stereotype painted by society that abuse victims are “underachievers”, many excel at work, maybe because this work ethic is instilled in them through the abuse itself. This success in the workplace is usually not turned into the self-esteem that one would imagine. Many survivors point to the fact that work gives them a place “to belong”, either mirroring early family life helping siblings or parents or giving them something that they had never experienced before. Sandford states clearly that for many abuse victims, work is a manifestation of her theory of “looking good on the outside”.

It is then not surprising that abuse survivors often choose careers that have some relation to the abuse they suffered. Concerning this point, there is a widely held prejudice that due to the abuse, abuse victims careers are somewhat chosen for them through the conditioning experienced by the abusive parent. For example, if an abused child finds comfort in the animals or plants, many believe that this would drive them to be vets or horticulturalists. Sandford’s research did find, however, that many abuse victims end up in the helping professions, ranging from nurses to therapists. Through abuse and neglect, many survivors had to take on responsibility for the care of siblings and indeed parents from a young age and also have an ability to anticipate inappropriate behavior. Characteristics needed in abundance when helping others.

Jen • 1 year ago

Have you experienced abuse?
YesNoDon`t want to sayEmotional AbusePhysical abuseSexual abuseOther:

For many survivors, the world of work is a meaningful place. Many abuse victims were brought up in poverty and working hard is a way of providing financial security. Many of the sample interviewed were self-employed in some way to avoid working “for” someone and many saw work as a way “offering social contact but without the need to show vulnerabilities or bare one’s soul”. Many survivors were by their own admission, workaholics, stating that this addiction was “more socially acceptable” and is “rewarded by society” bringing a sense of “self worth” to what they are doing. Sandford states clearly that balance in life is vital. What worked as a child, that is working hard to achieve, rarely works as an adult and many survivors use this “busyness” as a shield for depression. Sandford finishes by saying that she believes that “being should stand proudly next to doing and working”.

Dr. Nicholas Jenner is a Counseling psychologist in private practice working with individuals, couples,  groups and companies globally. Online therapy is, in my experience, effective for treating a number of major conditions. Are you having issues that you need to talk through? I have a range of plans that can help you get the help you need.  Online Therapy details : Here ……

How would you like to be met?

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Mental health and psychological problems are still stigmatized, even if 50 % of us will quality for some disorder once in our lifetime. The stigma can be explained many ways. Sometimes, people don`t know enough about psychology, but even people who`ve read a lot, can have prejudices. I have prejudices and problems with understanding, too, but I try to be aware of it.

Have you heard stories about people with psychological issues who weren`t believed or felt ridiculed if they tried to explain what they felt? Unfortunately, I have, and it scares me more than anything. I might even have acted differently myself, because we show dislike or contempt in many ways (and you don`t always notice it yourself). When busy, I must confess that I have a tendency to not meet the eyes of a beggar, and I have stepped back when I`m approached by for example an alcoholic.

When I do, I remember to watch myself from above, and take a deep breath. Usually, it helps, and I have learnt so much that way.

To illustrate what I mean by prejudice, I`ve included some pretty explanatory pictures.