Internal Guidance

Monica Cassani
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We would be much better served if we were told by mental health professionals from the very beginning to trust ourselves. Instead, the entire system is fraught with the infantilization of the client. This is (in general) true of both psychology and psychiatry as currently practiced.

We absolutely need others, we are ultimately interdependent and all connected. Everything matters . . . but the wrong other is often far worse than no one at all when we are hurting or in need . . . re-traumatization often being the rule rather than the exception when one enters the mental health system.

ying yang

When we learn to trust ourselves, then we know when and if we should proceed with a helping relationship. This is what needs to be taught as soon as someone begins to seek help. Really it should be taught from the minute we’re born, but instead we generally are taught to stop listening to ourselves as our parents too were conditioned that way. We spread this dysfunction simply by being human.  So it’s also our job as humans to heal and help others learn to heal as well. We are all in this together.

In retrospect I always knew deep down inside. We all do. Once we learn to listen, we see that our bodies/minds/spirits were always letting us know, but we did not know how to pay attention.

As I wrote in another short little post:

What therapists often like to call resistance, for me, proved to be highly accurate GPS . . . I now trust it completely.

We have internal guidance. Always.

The mental health professionals often don’t understand this fact which is why most don’t teach it. I was one and I didn’t learn it from the others either. They too, in general, don’t know to trust themselves. That’s a bit sad and one can start to have compassion for everyone when that fact becomes clear. We’re all bumbling along together . . . sometimes not so gracefully.

The lovely secret about this is that if you come to trust yourself eventually, by the process of elimination, you start finding others that know how to trust themselves too. That includes professionals that can be trusted. As you trust yourself, you will recognize others that you in turn can trust.

The truth is my journey to healing from the iatrogenic injury psychiatry imposed upon me has been extremely isolated, by necessity and because there has been NO available professionals with the appropriate skill sets, I’ve had to find my own healing path. This is, I imagine much more common than is ever let on. There are NO appropriate professionals available in a large number of individual cases.  And if people are traumatized in particular ways they risk retraumatization when they approach systems supposedly set up for such care.

For me the answers have come from a synthesis of multiple sources that included both professionals and lay people . . . but the relationships pretty much never looked the way we are taught to expect by therapeutic help. They’ve been loose connections in the network of the human family — Not contrived relationships forced upon me by a system who thinks it knows better than I do.

The pretense by many professionals that there is always such a person available in the system if you seek them does a disservice to those who are on this sort of healing path of learning to trust their inner GPS. Instead, by piece meal and multiple consultations with people all over the WORLD (via the internet) . . . I have found in bits and pieces what has been healing to me . . . I don’t generally ever dish out the “find a professional” line to anyone . . . not without big caveats . . . some transformative processes demand so much more than so many people (and professionals) can even begin to conceive of . . .

So now some words to the mental health professional:

It’s okay to let your clients leave you without declaring them resistant to your care. They know better than you do when they are ready to work and with whom. It should not be assumed that just because they walk out of your office they are not finding their way even as they take that action.

Lack of resonance with the healer does not equate resistance.

Resonance is necessary for deep healing.

We all know this. Our gut knows it, always.

Letting go and being honest about our own limitations and lack of resonance with a client allows them to more easily find what they actually need. Reflecting the reality back to them gives them the confidence to trust themselves. Perhaps one can say, too, that until the client finds something more appropriate they can stay for whatever support might be offered in an open and honest context.

Letting people know they’re free to go is part of non-coercive, respectful care.

There is not any one method or person who will be appropriate for all clients. Different things will be appropriate for different people and then an individual may also find different things (and people) appropriate at different times.

Those who have a hard time resonating with care providers are sometimes in the greatest pain. Do not label them “difficult.” Do not label them “borderline” and “personality disordered.” It adds to their burden. We can be gentle and loving even to those we might not know how to help. Be honest about the fact that you don’t know how to help them if that is the case. Don’t blame them, that is an added trauma in a life that has likely already been trauma-filled.

Be honest.

May we all honor the mystery of our individual paths.

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(re-posted from Beyond Meds)

Editor’s note: Monica Cassani is taking a A Social Media, News and Internet Fast (in large part). As part of this, she will not be checking or responding to comments to her blogs. We are happy to support her in this worthwhile time of reflection and recuperation, and pleased to be able to post the product of her reflections here and respond to comments as best we can on her behalf.

10 COMMENTS

  1. “Instead, the entire system is fraught with the infantilization of the client.”

    I’ve found that mental health programs too often insure inclusion and easy client management by approaching the entire population as if all members had the same needs, weaknesses, and faced the same challenges as the lowest functioning individual in each domain. This is an effective approach for inventory but never for people unless the end goal is an “chronic mental patient”: childlike, conforming, complacent, and compliant.

    The paradox is that the same programs typically assert that they are at the forefront of implementing the Principles of Recovery. Sadly, assertions and reality can be quite different and outcomes too often reflect the later rather the the former. The ever growing population of individuals on disability by virtue of a mental illness is the consequence.

    • I really don’t think the mental health system believes in recovery. What they promote is despair. “Success,” to a psychiatrist is having a barn full of well-behaved patients not causing any trouble as he bills the insurer or the government for 6 minute consultations and prescription refills.

      When I wait to see my shrink, I see them shuffle in for their daily medication. If they don’t appear, the police will pick them up and take them to the hospital. Their sentences are indefinite; their possibility of recovery is nil. I would slit my wrists if I was subjected to coerced treatment again.

      I’m been thinking about the whole outpatient commitment thing or, as euphemistically phrased in our neck of the woods, “assisted community treatment.” If we could get a radical bunch of us together and simultaneously declared that we would be tapering off our meds, the system would be overwhelmed. There aren’t enough beds available anymore to hold us all. Sure, they might grab 10% of us but the rest would have a shot at a real life. Just thinking out loud before, no need to comment.

      • That suggestion, about a bunch of people announcing they were going to get off their drugs, sounds as if it could provoke some very interesting reactions. If you were public enough and got enough attention, the average psychiatrist would foam at the mouth.

        What I really like is that it is almost civil disobedience (that’s how the shrinks would see it) yet of course you would be breaking no law. If done right, I think you would do a lot towards educating the public about the role of drugs and the complete disrespect the system exposes us to. Are there people you could work with where you are? If you like you can contact me through MIA and we could discuss this.

        • Thanks, Ted. You can reach me at victoria1 (at) mindfreedom (dot) org

          I think it does have some possibility. There is a vibrant network of psych survivors in Vancouver. I’ll talk to some of my friends and see what they think.

          One problem I foresee is that many people are under the needle, so to speak. That is, the team comes to your home and shoots you up every 2 weeks. Since there is no support for tapering, that would leave these folks in a very dangerous position.

          One potential solution is to publicize our action way ahead of time and explain to the doctors that yes, we are doing this. They can either let us go “cold turkey” and deal with the fallout or they can switch us to oral meds and let us proceed.

          Even if this didn’t work and fewer people were able to participate, the publicity would help us enormously. There would be lots of commentary in the media which we could respond to coherently and intelligently as a group, rather than as grievous individuals (not as effective and less likely to be published).

          Although the participants wouldn’t be guilty of civil disobedience, the organizers’ actions might be chargeable. I’m not sure so I’d have to look into that. Personally, I’d be rather proud to be charged with/convicted of such a worthy endeavour.

      • Unfortunately, all the words create the impression that not only does the system believe in recovery but it is the dominate outcome. There are plenty of conferences, colloquia, seminars, webinars, trainings, and forums about recovery, a demand for professional speakers to speak about their personal recovery, recovery story collection efforts, and the use of the term “recovery” in the description of programs, report titles, taglines, and initiatives.

        When it comes to Recovery the system has achieved all that words alone can foster.

  2. I’m so moved by this piece. This paragraph, especially, caught my attention:

    “…my journey to healing from the iatrogenic injury psychiatry imposed upon me has been extremely isolated, by necessity and because there has been NO available professionals with the appropriate skill sets, I’ve had to find my own healing path. This is, I imagine much more common than is ever let on. There are NO appropriate professionals available in a large number of individual cases. And if people are traumatized in particular ways they risk re-traumatization when they approach systems supposedly set up for such care.”

    Such a sad and maddening truth. I also finally gave up on mental health professionals of any kind, and simply, once and for all, learned to followed my internal guidance, as you refer to in the article. Although, it was a challenge to learn how to *read* my guidance. This is where good spiritual teachers came in handy.

    It is from evolving my spiritual awareness that I learned how to read and follow my inner guidance, which, in reality, is a fascinating process. It’s also inherently healing, I discovered. I also did a lot of psychic work. For me, moving beyond the mental health field is how I was able finally break that toxic cycle of trauma and re-trauma, work through and heal the all the traumas, and get on with my life.

    Thank you for this enlightened article, and best wishes to you in your healing, Monica.

  3. Monica, thanks for this beautiful piece! I have very similar experience myself about inner GPS, etc. When I was seeing my psychologist and psychiatrist, they constantly tried to enforce their authority upon me. For instance, when I said something about drugs they were giving me, they strictly warned me that I should not read or trust information from Internet, apparently I should only trust what they say. They even gave me a patient guide printed by a pharma company instead.

    “Ananda asked [Buddha]
    who would be their teacher after death.
    He replied to his disciple –

    “Be lamps unto yourselves.
    Be refuges unto yourselves.
    Take yourself no external refuge.
    Hold fast to the truth as a lamp.
    Hold fast to the truth as a refuge.
    Look not for a refuge in anyone besides yourselves.””