Category Archives: Brain

The Therapeutic Alliance: The Essential Ingredient for Psychotherapy

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umbrellas

 I am currently writing on the ‘therapeutic alliance’ – its relation to mindfulness, psychotherapy, understanding, and ‘being listened to…’   What follows is an interesting article that I came across that may interest some of you…

Excerpt:

Have you ever tried to change the way you do something? It could be anything — the way you hold your tennis racket, blow into a flute, meditate — you name it. If so, think about that experience. No matter how motivated you were to change, and no matter how much you knew that it would help your serve, musicality, or sense of inner peace, it can be difficult and scary to change even the smallest thing. In order to change, you have to give up your old way of doing something first and then try the new way. That means that for a while you’re in a free fall — you no longer have your old habit to rely on and you don’t yet have the new one.

The anxiety of trying to change something as complex and entrenched as how you relate to people close to you or manage stress takes the feeling to a whole new level. Yet, that’s just what you do when you enter psychotherapy. Just as you had to put yourself into the hand of your teachers and coaches, in therapy you need to gradually do just that with your therapist to help you through what can be a harrowing adventure. The foundation for therapy is called the therapeutic alliance (1, 2). When it’s there, you know that your therapist is there to help you, no matter how hard the going gets.

The therapeutic alliance might be the most important part of beginning a psychotherapy. In fact, many studies indicate that the therapeutic alliance is the best predictor of treatment outcome (3-5).

See entire article:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/deborah-l-cabaniss-md/therapeutic-alliance_b_1554007.html

 

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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. 

A mad world A diagnosis of mental illness is more common than ever – did psychiatrists create the problem, or just recognise it?

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Unfortunate Events

When a psychiatrist meets people at a party and reveals what he or she does for a living, two responses are typical. People either say, ‘I’d better be careful what I say around you,’ and then clam up, or they say, ‘I could talk to you for hours,’ and then launch into a litany of complaints and diagnostic questions, usually about one or another family member, in-law, co-worker, or other acquaintance. It seems that people are quick to acknowledge the ubiquity of those who might benefit from a psychiatrist’s attention, while expressing a deep reluctance ever to seek it out themselves…

…While a continuous view of mental illness probably reflects underlying reality, it inevitably results in grey areas where ‘caseness’ (whether someone does or does not have a mental disorder) must be decided based on judgment calls made by experienced clinicians. In psychiatry, those calls usually depend on whether a patient’s complaints are associated with significant distress or impaired functioning. Unlike medical disorders where morbidity is often determined by physical limitations or the threat of impending death, the distress and disruption of social functioning associated with mental illness can be fairly subjective. Even those on the softer, less severe end of the mental illness spectrum can experience considerable suffering and impairment. For example, someone with mild depression might not be on the verge of suicide, but could really be struggling with work due to anxiety and poor concentration. Many people might experience sub-clinical conditions that fall short of the threshold for a mental disorder, but still might benefit from intervention.

See link for interesting article on psychiatry…and bits about the importance of psychotherapeutic intervention…

http://aeon.co/magazine/being-human/have-psychiatrists-lost-perspective-on-mental-illness/

Mission of life

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“It has always been this way. Death is followed by birth. To reach paradise, man must pass through inferno. – Bertrand Zobrist”

“The decisions of our past are the architects of our present.”

— Dan Brown (Inferno)

Have you ever seen the skies draw apart relieving the image on the other side. It might have looked like some unclear oasis in the desert; Your own hopeful mirror image. Have you ever felt sure on what your mission in life will be? If not, don`t panic. It is not certain that these experiences would be classified under “normal” anyway.I have had some sudden insights in my life, often after waking up in the morning, when my eyes have fluttered from side to side in their world of dreams.

After working with EMDR, insights happen even more frequently
then before, like a thousand blaring lightbulbs. Some people can`t follow
my thoughts and ideas, but we still like and try to understand each other. These people have learnt that I can`t be as rapid as my head, or I`ll confuse people enough to make them dizzy, so I always attach my legs firmly to the ground.

For the curious of you (and there has beenenough question to validate that people ARE indeed curious), you know I have been working on something the last weeks. Not everyone knows, however, that I`ve actually worked for months on what will berevealed as my Mission in Life tomorrow. True enough, I have put energy into this, but it doesn`t mean that I`ll poured over books too heavy to lift. I`ve lived my life to the fullest while letting my (surprisingly clever) brain do its magic consciously or unconsciously, requiring some practical work every now and then.

I`ve asked myself the same question countless times:

Why is life so short? But until I figure that one out, let me continue with what I`ll learnt so far:

“Nothing is more creative…nor destructive… than a brilliant mind with a purpose.” — Dan B.  (Inferno)

and:

“Denial is a critical part of the human coping mechanism. Without it, we
would all wake up terrified every morning about all the ways we could
die. Instead, our minds block out our existential fears by focusing
on stresses we can handle—like getting to work on time or paying
our taxes.” Brown (I am fond of his books, but not denial)

and:

“I’m a fan of the truth… even if it’s painfully hard to accept.” — Dan

can you see the picture?

I also have some bad news that might frustrate some:

From tomorrow I`ll password-protect this blog.

Some might think “Oh lord! I`ve been waiting for this “revelation” for WEEKS now, and this is what I`ll get in return?” If this was somehow descriptive, I do apologize. I can only assure you that we`ll all get our cherries in the end.

Of course, you can shorten the waiting time by writing an email (forfreepsychology@gmail.com) and I`ll give you the password.

I won`t say much more now; Some might even have an inkling what my new project will be (I have belief in the fearless conscious and unconscious mind) and tomorrow you`ll know for sure. Until then, we all make our small steps that sooner or later, might alter the future of mankind.

“..”consider this. It took the earth’s population thousand of years-from the early
dawn of man all the way to the early 1800s-to reach one billion
people. Then astoundingly, it took only about a hundred years to
double the population to two billion in the 1920s. After that, it
took a mere fifty years for the population to double again to four
billion in the 1970s. As you can imagine, we’re well on track to
reach eight billion very soon. Just today, the human race added
another quarter-billion people to planet Earth. A quarter million.
And this happens ever day-rain or shine. Currently every year we are adding the equivalent of the entire country of Germany.” — Dan Brown

EMDR – Cognitive Behavioural Therapy CBT in London

The Unconscious Brain Can

Do Math – Scientific American

Milton H Erickson

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On the bus yesterday, I listened to an audiobook about a man I found very interesting. I would love to reproduce everything I heard, but this will be some facts that I found especially interesting

I had the nickname in grade school and high school, “Dictionary,” because I spent so much time reading the dictionary. One noon, just after the noon dismissal bell rang, I was in my usual chair reading the dictionary in the back of the room. Suddenly a blinding, dazzling flash of light occurred because I just learned how to use the dictionary. Up to that moment in looking up a word, I started at the first page and went through every column, page after page until I reached the word. In that blinding flash of light I realized that you use the alphabet as an ordered system for looking up a word…I don’t know why it took me so long. Did my unconscious purposely withhold that knowledge because of the immense amount of education I got from reading the dictionary?

Milton H. Erickson – Wikipedia

His story is impressive, and even more so when one considers his background: He was color blind, deaf and dyslexic. He learned hypnosis, and worked as a psychiatrist first. He married, got 5 children with his wife (he had three from previous relationships). He founded the American Society of Hypnosis. He died in 1980, and his ashes were strewn over a mountain top that many of his clients reached.

I had polio, and I was totally paralyzed, and the inflammation was so great that I had a sensory paralysis too. I could move my eyes and my hearing was undisturbed. I got very lonesome lying in bed, unable to move anything except my eyeballs. I was quarantined on the farm with seven sisters, one brother, two parents, and a practical nurse. And how could I entertain myself? I started watching people and my environment. I soon learned that my sisters could say “no” when they meant “yes.” And they could say “yes” and mean “no” at the same time. They could offer another sister an apple and hold it back. And I began studying nonverbal language and body language.
I had a baby sister who had begun to learn to creep. I would have to learn to stand up and walk. And you can imagine the intensity with which I watched as my baby sister grew from creeping to learning how to stand up.
– My Voice Will Go With You

He was recognized for his hypnotherapy, were he integrated his extensive knowledge collected from experience and intelligence. An example of his insights: “One day a horse wandered into his home place. He let the horse take him where he wanted, and he stopped where he came from. When the farmer asked how he knew where the horse came from, he said: I didn`t, the horse did”. By relying on the force of the unconscious, he could help both people and animals

Milton Erickson was an interesting therapist and scientist: With creativity he tailored therapy to each client so that it fitted perfectly. He was the perfect ”mirror” for others, so much that he actually could “talk” exactly like the client in front of him. He strongly believed in the unconscious, and in letting people find their own insights. He could tell little anecdotes that were completely right for the client. An example was an alcoholic that lived in a family where everyone drank (even his own wife) and drunk for several years. He was considered a hopeless case. Milton gave him a task: He should go to a park and sit down to watch a cactus for several minutes. Erickson told him this cactus could live without water ericksonfor three years. 5 years later his sister called Erickson and told him both he and his wife had stopped drinking. He also used Reframing, mirroring and the paradox intervention. And example of the first, is when he sent a rootless client to Flagstaff so that she created new positive associated to a place that just seemed negative before. An example of the second is when he met a patient that tore things apart. She tore and threw everything she saw: Clothes, curtains, wallpaper. Generally, she was acting out. Erickson stood beside her and did the same thing, he tore up pieces of the wallpapers and threw things here and there. He exclaimed: “This was fun! Let`s go somewhere else and do more of it”. They came to a hospital, where he ripped the clothes off a nurse.

After this event, the girl became an angel, not knowing that the nurse in on the whole thing. An example of the paradox intervention was telling a woman who had severe problems with her weight. Erickson told her to try a new method where she first would gain a certain weight before she started with dieting. When she no longer had to restrain herself, she suddenly lost the weight she needed.

BUCHis theories have been developed further after he died, and one of the results is NLP (Neuro-linguistic programming ). I actually know very little about NLP, but I have thought several times that I`ll have to check into it, since I`m very interested in theories integrating what we know about our brain, with psychology.

  1.  Milton H. Erickson | History of Hypnosis

    Milton H. Erickson (1901-1980) graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1

    Milton Erickson, Founder of Conversational Hypnosis | Business NLP

  2. Ericksonian Hypnosis: Breaking Habits with Tasks — NLP 

    PICTURES:  http://www.pinterest.com/pin/391391023837204618/
     http://ww2.odu.edu/~eneukrug/therapists/Erickson.html

The Shopping Experience for the SchizoAffected Mind

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The Shopping Experience for the SchizoAffected Mind

“It is advertising and the logic of mass consumerism that governs the depiction of reality in the mass media.” ~Christopher Lasch

As someone with SchizoAffective Disorder, there are certain aspects of socialized living that the SchizoAffected mind is unable to fathom and finds horrifying, terrifying and can result in a psychotic episode. One of such experiences, is spending a day shopping or patronizing too many stores, or running too many errands that can involve customizing too many stores. The Shopping Mall is simply out of the question. Also, the SchizoAffected Mind lives a non-druginduced psychadelic experience daily, as such, exposure to bright, flourescent lights, muzak, commercials playing at subvolume, muted and neuromarketed designs on the floors, ceilings, walls and layout of stores can result in information and sensual overload.

This is my experience of shopping.

The following sound painting (what I call the music/mixes/soundscapes I create) is an attempt to describe and illustrate the internal and psychic experience when I must visit a store. The beginning illustrates the first feelings of anxiety that quickly metamorph into an attempt to squelch the anxiety and just try to get through the act of choosing the items needed in order to exit the store as quickly as possible. As someone who also has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, I often worry that I will be blamed for shoplifting, even though I have not, which causes me to walk about the store with my hands in my pockets or behind my back or up my shirt sleeves. The middle of the piece illustrates the dreadful feeling that slowly creeps in and the sort of sickly childish feeling of behaving like this, but being unable to stop it (hence the horror-like, chilling childrens’ theme). Once the psychosis begins to set in, the SchizoAffected mind begins to unravel and to shatter at the overload (hence, the noise, experimental music) as the end of the song approaches, and can feel as if the mind is trapped in a twisted game (which brings feelings and thoughts of paranoia).

 

(If the soundcloud player does not show up in your browser, here is the direct link).

QOTD Terence McKenna*Source

*Image Credit (used with permission through CC license and fair use):
“1964. . . check out the check out!” by James Vaughn

The Voices In My Head

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To all appearances, Eleanor Longden was just like every other student, heading to college full of promise and without a care in the world. That was until the voices in her head started talking. Initially innocuous, these internal narrators became increasingly antagonistic and dictatorial, turning her life into a living nightmare. Diagnosed with schizophrenia, hospitalized, drugged, Longden was discarded by a system that didn’t know how to help her. Longden tells the moving tale of her years-long journey back to mental health, and makes the case that it was through learning to listen to her voices that she was able to survive.

Eleanor Longden overcame her diagnosis of schizophrenia to earn a master’s in psychology and demonstrate that the voices in her head were “a sane reaction to insane circumstances.

 

Schizophrenia and Poverty, Crime and Violence

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EXPLORINGtheLATERAL

Schizophrenia and Poverty, Crime and Violence
For people who have schizophrenia, and don’t get treatment, the result is far too often that they end up homeless or in jail (most often due to minor offenses).
  • Approximately 200,000 individuals with schizophrenia or manic-depressive (bipolar disorder) illness are homeless, constituting one-third of the approximately 600,000 homeless population (total homeless population statistic based on data from Department of Health and Human Services). These 200,000 individuals comprise more than the entire population of many U.S. cities, such as Hartford, Connecticut; Charleston, South Carolina; Reno, Nevada; Boise, Idaho; Scottsdale, Arizona; Orlando, Florida; Winston Salem, North Carolina; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Abilene, Texas or Topeka, Kansas.
  • At any given time, there are more people with untreated severe psychiatric illnesses living on America’s streets than are receiving care in hospitals. Approximately 90,000 individuals with schizophrenia or manic-depressive illness are in hospitals receiving treatment for their disease.
    Source: Treatment…

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When Ignorance Begets Confidence

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“There are few people whom I really love, and still fewer of whom I think well. The more I see of the world, the more am I dissatisfied with it; and every day confirms my belief of the inconsistency of all human characters, and of the little dependence that can be placed on the appearance of either merit or sense.”  Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

I begin with this quote to convey the feelings evoked in a recent exchange with a neighbor, one in which surprise (and some horror) was felt during the course of the conversation.  Logic and ‘reasonableness’ had little place in the interchange. I had just been reading a short article that looked at particular German words that gave expression to complex emotional states. An excerpt is as follows: 

“Fremdschämen describes embarrassment which is experienced in response to someone else’s actions, but it is markedly different from simply being embarrassed for someone else….Fremdscham (the noun) describes the almost-horror you feel when you notice that somebody is oblivious to how embarrassing they truly are.” Further…”Fremdscham-inducing events…usually cause one to ask this question: “how on earth can these people be unaware of how stupid they are being right now?”.

I invite you to read this short article on the cognitive bias created in the Dunning Kruger effect – an effect that causes one to be unaware of their performance – and their incompetence.

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/evolved-primate/201006/when-ignorance-begets-confidence-the-classic-dunning-kruger-effect?fb_action_ids=10202209567024712&fb_action_types=og.likes&fb_source=other_multiline&action_object_map=%7B%2210202209567024712%22%3A483617186047%7D&action_type_map=%7B%2210202209567024712%22%3A%22og.likes%22%7D&action_ref_map=%5B%5D

CG Jung and the ‘Leap of Faith’ Into Individuation

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The Red Book has been described as Jung’s creative response to the threat of madness, yet it has also been seen as a deliberate exercise in self-analysis. I believe it’s likely both. When creating The Red Book, Jung knew he was on the verge of madness, and he also knew his analytical skills and expertise as a psychiatrist were his best chance at alleviating suffering, if not creating the conditions for transformation.

In many regards, The Red Book reads like a healing journey — a phrase often used to describe the reclaiming of self after a history of abuse — which is a transformative period that happens for many people committed to overcoming early life trauma. On the way to an authentic self there is first the need to step away from the person one became to survive abuse. Those confronted with this journey often experience a period of ‘going crazy’ on their way to establishing an authentic sense of self.

As The Red Book shows, individuation is a blessed curse. It opens the way to becoming one’s authentic self, and yet also the risk of alienation from the ‘tribe’. Childhood trauma survivors often know this conundrum intimately. Transformation requires a significant reorienting away from the beliefs, feelings, fantasies, and body states that made possible living in traumatizing conditions. Invariably, there is a part of the self that has gone unacknowledged or rejected, and aches to be reclaimed.

In The Red Book Jung found a process for continually rediscovering authenticity. As he often remarked, individuation is an ongoing journey and not an endpoint reached. Jung also intimated the need for what I called in an earlier post leaps of faith: turning away from the larger world’s expectations and towards one’s inner world of wisdom with acceptance and curiosity.

This quote from The Red Book inspires the impulse to creatively go forth into all that you are:

“Woe betide those who live by way of examples! Life is not with them. If you live according to an example, you thus live the life of that example, but who should live your own life if not yourself? So live yourselves.

“The signposts have fallen, unblazed trails lie before us. Do not be greedy to gobble up the fruits of foreign fields. Do you not know that you yourselves are the fertile acre which bears everything that avails you?”

Jung knew such a ‘leap of faith’ is not easy. He also wrote:

“To live oneself means: to be one’s own task. Never say that it is a pleasure to live oneself. It will be no joy but a long suffering since you must become your own creator.”

But he gives helpful advice for the journey, particularly how to live if the world feels contrary to whom you are becoming. Then you must learn to be your own guide:

“To certain things of the world I must say: you should not be thus, but you should be different. Yet first I look carefully at their nature, otherwise I cannot change it. I proceed in the same way with certain thoughts. You change those things of the world that, not being useful in themselves, endanger your welfare. Proceed likewise with your thoughts. Nothing is complete, and much is in dispute. The way of life is transformation, not exclusion. Well-being is a better judge than the law.”

Reprinted in full with permission by the original author Laura K. Kerr, Ph.D, who moderates the blog, Trauma’s Labyrinth: Finding Ways Out Of Trauma. Laura K. Kerr is a mental health scholar, blogger and trauma-focused psychotherapist. [Her] focus is on healing, with special attention to trauma, modernity, and mental health systems of care.