The American Public has been sold a bill of goods by the APA and Big Pharma. They have intimidated the public to believe that the source of human struggle are neurobiological disorders of the brain. It’s a fabricated construct motivated by earnings and built on shoddy science. Human suffering has never been a brain problem. It is a human problem, and it has been so since the dawn of time. The cure for human struggle has been reduced to a pill, as if pharmaceuticals address the agency of human suffering. Now that this ‘belief’ has been firmly established, it is extremely difficult for people to believe that it is purely an urban myth.
My field, psychiatry, has strayed from a careful and caring clinical grounding, in its mission to ameliorate human suffering. In our time, with the promulgation of the psychiatric diagnostic manuals, DSM IV and V and onward, we see an ever-expanding list of so-called psychiatric conditions that have been constructed to fit the narrow, wrong-headed theories of biological, pharmaceutical, neurological, genetic, and politically correct interests. It has been my mission to return psychiatry to where it properly belongs through a unified field theory of human consciousness, which encompasses psychiatry, neuroscience, dreams, myths, religion, and art—all elements of the same thing.
All psychiatric conditions are the result of trauma – deprivation and abuse – on our emerging personalities. Consciousness is written as a drama in the theater of the brain, as our genetic temperament digests our emotional environment, resulting in the formation of our character. Consciousness writes its original play over the first several years of life. The limbic system, in the context of traumatic abuse, maps our emotional experience as sadistic aggression, filled with attack, humiliation, and endless war. Consequently the activated internal scenario is one of continuous internal fighting between personas. It is mapped through the limbic pathways of serotonin, cortisol, and adrenaline. In the context of loving responsiveness it would be mapped through gentle oxytocin pathways. The mapping of our nurture reflects our actual experience of parental care. Our Nurture, is then digested by our genetic temperament, our Nature. [See – “The Nature-Nurture Question – Nurture” ]
I have broken down the types of human suffering into three groups. The first is the constellation of temperaments in the context of moderately problematic mothers and fathers; The second is the constellation of temperaments with severe maternal damage; and the third is about psychotic character worlds.
Remember, we are not talking about medical diagnoses. These are character styles. All of us have within us and within our imaginations, all of the features of all character worlds. In fact, we dip into aspects of many of them in our daily lives. We all have the potentials for love, caring, creativity, selfishness, cruelty, abandonments, emotional isolation, projective blaming, rage, egotism, fears, anxiety, so-called depression, flight from unwanted moments, fraudulence, emptiness, helplessness, and hopelessness in our routine living. This is the stuff of human drama. Each of us settles on our particular character drama as our major life solution.
I want to emphasize that by temperament, we are talking about inborn temperamental styles, not pathology. It is the degree of abuse that is digested into our plays that generates suffering. The individual array of our temperamental aspects, when digesting parental responsiveness, create the varied and wonderful scope of human personality. Our cortical image-ination, oriented by our temperament, writes a specific and nuanced character world in each of us, which is as unique as our fingerprints.
(1) In the context of moderate problematic mothering, with some good-enough mothering, we have the following types of character worlds, depending on which temperaments are in ascendancy—depressive, obsessional, compulsive, phobic, anxious, and hyperactive.
(2) In the context of severe maternal damage, the different array of temperaments generate schizoid and paranoid characters, sadistic and masochistic characters, narcissistic and echoistic characters, borderlinism, affective characters, anorexia, germ phobias, psychopathy, and psychotic depression.
(3) Finally, we have the psychotic character worlds where there is a fragmentation of the intactness of the self persona and a rupture of the cohesion of the play itself. This derives from a damaged Authentic Being, due to some combination of extremely early maternal damage, with some genetic predisposition, all still forged through the different temperamental orientations. The psychotic character worlds are hebephrenia, catatonic schizophrenia, paranoid schizophrenia, schizoaffective schizophrenia, manic depression, and paranoid state. We don’t even see hebephrenia and catatonia mentioned much anymore, because they don’t fit contemporary models. But they did not disappear and are still there.
The appropriate treatment is the psychotherapy of character. Psychotherapy is a specialized form of human engagement that repairs the damage to one’s character by acting on the play of consciousness in the very way that it formed in the brain in the first place. All psychiatric symptoms are the expression of our problematic characters. By exploring, within the safe emotional holding by the therapist, we heal our unmourned pain as our psychiatric symptoms dissipate. It fosters the recovery of one’s authenticity and the capacity to love. This is the source of all psychiatric struggles. It taps into the heart of life’s mysteries and wisdom.
Regarding psychotherapy: since psychotherapy is all about mourning the traumas of life, a therapist must have his own therapy to attend to the traumatic pain in his own life so it doesn’t interfere with his wherewithal to be responsive as a therapist. A therapist is neither superior or inferior in relation to his patient. Patients are not ‘sick’. Psychotherapy is the difficult and complicated process of respectful mourning in the context of emotional trust and listening to the story. The major thing that differentiates a therapist is his willingness to sit with pain that most people with any common sense would tend to flee from.
I am not ‘another mother blamer.’ Yes, many parents are problematic. And it is essential to understand deprivation and abuse to be in a position to help heal damage done. But keep in mind, that under the best of circumstances, mothering cannot be perfect. The presence of a protective, warm, timely, soothing, holding, maternal provision will always be, to some degree, unreliable and unresponsive. All children have to deal with adversity. And there is plenty of it built into life. There can never be an idyllic paradise. There are always life circumstances in the family that will affect mothering to one degree or another—death, sickness, divorce, unavailability due to preoccupation with others, work, the arrival of new children, demands of older children, psychiatric conditions, alcohol or drug abuse, miscarriages, war, etc.
And finally, it is the essential spirit of this enterprise that every patient is an individual and not a label. The particular story of a life with one’s temperamental adaptation is always unique. Nobody is defined as a pure-breed category or a spot on a graph. Every person has his literal story and makeup. The full range of problematic human character presents a host of different symptoms that generate very different experiences of suffering. The varieties and types of plays show an almost unrecognizable contrast to each other. And they generate their own specific resonances in psychotherapy. However, in the context of engagement and trust in psychotherapy, the processes of mourning are universal and similar. Psychotherapy is the specific responsive avenue for repair and healing for the whole spectrum of human character worlds.[See- “Psychotherapy Is the Real Deal. It is the effective treatment”]
The proper subject of psychiatry is human character and its vicissitudes. The E=mc2 for psychiatry is: human character for every individual is forged by the degree and particulars of abuse and deprivation, as processed by one’s constellation of temperament through the cortical image-ination. Our suffering can best be redressed by mourning our internal plays, in the context of the responsive emotional holding and the boundaries of psychotherapy.
I understood what you’re saying about the three stages of a continuum of increasingly severe emotional problems; I write about this also. It’s interesting to consider what defenses and modes of relating are predominant in each area, for example:
Psychotic – mostly fusion i.e. inability to differentiate self from others, and mostly out-of-contact or early ambivalent symbiotic relatedness styles as Harold Searles conceptualized them. Also Otto Kernberg’s stage 1 and 2 of object relations.
Borderline conditions – mostly splitting with all bad self/other images dominant over all good units, and featuring ambivalently symbiotic or therapeutic symbiotic relatedness (the borderline-narcissistic continuum). Kernberg’s stage 3.
Neurotic conditions – splitting overcome, some capacity for whole object relationships, Searles’ phase of individuation and Kernberg’s stage 4.
I made a picture comparing these stages here – https://bpdtransformation.files.wordpress.com/2015/10/parallelpsychmodels1.png
As for your statement, “The proper subject of psychiatry is human character and its vicissitudes.” I am not sure why in each article you keep coming back to this. If this is correct, then psychiatry should no longer exist as a medical profession and should instead be abolished or subsumed into “Psychotherapy” or “Psychology”.
Right now “the subject of psychiatry” is medically diagnosing problems of character, drugging problems of character, and using various forms of coercion and deception to profit from and silence character problems. I was under the impression that psychiatry as a medical field originated from Kraepelin’s delusions that severe mental health problems could be medicalized. Psychiatrists today are mostly neo-Kraepelinians operating under the illusion that they will one day find genetic or biological causes for character problems. I’m not sure if you considered Freud, Jung, Klein, Fairbairn, Winnicott, Bion, Kernberg, Kohut etc. as psychiatrists, or if they considered themselves that. But they would be your forebears I think, and I would not consider them psychiatrists.
Most psychiatrists today are so far from a humanistic way of approaching people that the profession would be better off abolished and control returned to the people and to non-medical practitioners, IMO.
I appreciate your thoughtful comments.
I hope you will read my book, and I would be very interested in your response. In fact, what I have to say is closest to Fairbairn. It goes the next step and doesn’t even use a language of defences at all. It does encompass neuroscience which didn’t exist back then.
When I started out psychiatry was not medicalized, and was purely humanitarian. I still hold out hope for a return to clarity. I think there is room for all practitioners, psychiatric and non psychiatric. And yes I don’t view it as medical. At the same time, in the best spirit, it is doctorly. I am often still suprised that later generations view psychiatry as medicalzed only. It didn’t used to be that way.
Great article!! over 50% of the public are not fit to raise kids…these poor children grow up learning what’s right and wrong from completely insane people….I would imagine it would take years of therapy to really get into someone’s mind and make a difference….I take my hat off to you for doing the right thing in a world dominated by selfishness and greed…..there is a drug called Nuplazid that fully eliminates Psychosis with absolutely no side affects in PDP that is under review by the FDA right now and will be on the market soon (a breakthrough in the CNS space that will help millions)…Best of luck to you….
Did you know there is a drug that psychiatrists take called Delusionol, which makes them believe psychiatric diagnoses are valid and psychiatric drugging treats these illnesses?
“When I started out psychiatry was not medicalized, and was purely humanitarian.”
I’m not sure when and where you started out but I can’t recall any period in psychiatry’s history when it could be called “humanitarian”.
When I entered the mental health system, Dr. Berezin’s approach to treating people’s extreme states was the standard of professional care that I had expected to receive from the clinicians who had promised to sensitively and competently address my own extreme states. I really wish I had known back then that most Mad people will be destroyed by the mental “health” system long, long before they ever come close to finding a doctor who wants to use psychiatry to help them heal from their pathologenic families, schools, workplaces, etc. and who has no plans or repressed urges to dehumanize Mad people, their needs, and their autobiographies by tapping into psychiatry’s vast capacity for evil. Dr. Berezin, history will be much kinder to doctors like you than it will to your pill-pushing, bio-reductionist counterparts. Your devotion to the health of Mad people and to the science of psychiatry is an act of integrity and love for Madkind that restores and replenishes Mad people’s hope for a life which can be longer and fuller because of the knowledge, skills, and services they receive from doctors like you.
Having been through 17 years of psychotherapy 2 or 3 times a week, it is not at all clear to me that “Psychotherapy is a specialized form of human engagement that repairs the damage to one’s character”. Like today’s drug-pushers, Dr. Berezin offers explanations that aren’t backed with scientific evidence and long-term outcomes.
What is more likely is that the potential for “repair and healing” by “mourning”, etc. with a psychotherapist is fairly limited. The reasons for this lie not in the skills of a particular psychotherapist, but with the neuroscience itself that we are just beginning to understand. We may find that the brain changes in response to trauma in ways that simply cannot be undone.
As I’ve commented several other times on this site, referring to the research by Leichsenring, Knekt, and others on long-term psychotherapy, the overall research doesn’t support this contention. It’s too bad that you’re long term therapy wasn’t reparative, but research shows that much more often than not (about 80% of the time, according to Barry Duncan and colleagues) people are better off with than without psychotherapy on various outcomes. Citing one person’s experience is never strong evidence for the bigger picture.
As for the brain changing in ways that cannot be undone, that’s kind of a misleading argument. The point isn’t to undo or reverse what happened to reverse the brain to some idealized former state (that’s impossible), but to work with what happened creatively and get better enough to be able to enjoy life and relationships again. I experienced severe physical abuse, but I made that kind of progress in therapy. In fact, a lot of the research coming out now emphasizes how plastic and malleable the brain is even in cases of trauma. So in my opinion a little more optimism about human nature is in order.
“Dr. Berezin offers explanations that aren’t backed with scientific evidence and long-term outcomes” You are so correct. This is all the more reason not to give up on the fun side of life. The child breaks into song and that’s ok.
“All psychiatric conditions are the result of trauma – deprivation and abuse – on our emerging personalities.” I can concede, “All” distress is “the result of trauma – deprivation and abuse – on our emerging personalities,” but not all “psychiatric conditions.”
Many of the “psychiatric conditions,” are actually the result of iatrogenesis. As Whitaker points out in his book, the ADHD drugs and antidepressants can and do create the “bipolar” symptoms. And, the “bipolar” / “schizophrenia” drugs, the neuroleptics, can and do create both the negative and positive symptoms of “schizophrenia.” Via neuroleptic induced deficit syndrome and the central symptoms of anticholinergic intoxication syndrome.
Truth and honesty about the iatrogenic harms of the psychiatric industry is important to acknowledge. Not doing so, will prevent change and progress.
“It has been my mission to return psychiatry to where it properly belongs through a unified field theory of human consciousness, which encompasses psychiatry, neuroscience, dreams, myths, religion, and art—all elements of the same thing.” I will say I find this highly ironic, since my experience with the psychiatric industry taught me those in psychiatric / psychological / neurology fields do not believe in a collective unconscious or a unity within humanity – to the contrary, the psychiatrists I spoke with believe gut instincts and / or common sense is proof of “millions of voices.” My “mental health professionals” claimed dreams were “psychosis,” so obviously did not believe it’s normal to dream. I was drugged for belief in the Holy Spirit “voice” (a dream query, not “voice”), and God, so belief in religion was also considered taboo to the “mental health professionals” I had the misfortune of dealing with. And, as a fine artist, active volunteer, and loving mother, I was claimed by “mental health professionals” (who’d never seen my work and didn’t know my wonderful children) to be “w/o work, content, and talent,” “irrelevant to reality,” and “unemployed.” So creating art and the job of being a loving mother were also claimed to be worthless by my “mental health professionals.”
Although I do agree, today’s “mental health professionals” have completely lost their way, due to their delusional belief in their stigmatization “bible” and toxic, torture, “wonder drugs.” Thanks for speaking out against today’s completely backward, “mental health system.”
You say you are not another “mother blamer” but all three of your conditions are based on bad mothering and “maternal deprivation”. What about the harm done to children by fathers, siblings, classmates, teachers, terrorists, criminals, the world in general? What about the pain caused by feeling like a failure in a society based on competition? What about the pain caused by the inability to find a life partner or a satisfying career?
My mother was the warmest and most nurturing person I have ever known. Perhaps my anxiety and depression was caused by growing up and finding out that most other people were not anywhere near as kind and good as she was. Maybe if she had been a little meaner I would have had an easier adjustment to the real world.
Perhaps I’m missing something in your article but the way I am reading it I think you owe an apology to all good mothers whose children struggle with life and have therefore been labeled mentally ill.
I certainly agree that trauma from fathers, siblings, classmates, teachers etc. is major. However, the major player in the earliest formation of our character is mother, whether you like it or not. In general, mother is the most important figure – positively and negatively. The issue of deprivation is more subtle in its presentation, but not in its effects. A mother might seem to be doing all the good things, but something in the spirit isn’t there, and it affects the baby. Don’t get me wrong. I think maternal love is the most important thing on earth and I value it more than anything. One of the ways that a mother may effect her baby is – with a controlling father who intimidates mother and baby – the mother may not be able to provide sufficient nurturance due to being bullied. But the baby will nonetheless experience the absence of maternal nurture, even if it is not the mother’s fault. She is still the carrier of that nurture. It’s not about blame. I don’t know anything about your situation and I’m happy for you that your mother is a warm and wonderful person.
I am addressing here the early formation of character which affects us all throughout life. There are certainly traumas all along the way that affect us powerfully and that of course needs to be dealt with.
This doesn’t address situations in which children are raised by single fathers or by relatives other than the mother.
For sure. Then the single father or relative is the most important figure, positively or negatively, never mind the absence of mother.
If I understand correctly by “mother” you understand “primary caregiver”?
It is correct that fathers, siblings, peers, and societal pressures in general can all exert strong negative influences. I agree that psychoanalytic writing has overemphasized the mother and the earliest years of life to the exclusion of later influences and later developmental years. The brain is very plastic and modifiable and a child that had a good mother could later be seriously traumatized by other influences, or the reverse.
On the other hand, while it may not fit your particular case, in the large picture poor mothering (and fathering, I would say) is the largest negative influence on children’s emotional development. Rather than “blaming the mother”, we should be comfortable with saying that unskilled, neglectful, abusive mothers can and do contribute to the development of “schizophrenia”, “bipolar”, “borderline” and other such extreme mental states. The concept of blaming is simplistic – identifying poor mothers as causes of mental suffering is simply perceiving reality realistically in many cases.
To me the saddest thing is when you hear a psychiatrist say that “we know now that schizophrenia cannot be caused by poor mothering.” That’s just pathetic. These are the same psychiatrists who are lying to their clients that they have a lifelong brain disease requiring medication. A psychiatrist who realizes that trauma of all kinds can cause psychosis is better able to help their client understand the meaning and origin of their psychotic distress and to heal from it.
I had the same misgivings. The biggest improvement in the “trauma theory” inherited from Freud (before he recanted and started blaming kids for “fantasizing” their traumatic sexual abuse stories) is recognizing that trauma comes from many sources, including the very social fabric we live within. Lots of folks with good mothers develop mental/emotional challenges due to bullying, abuse by teachers or other outsiders, racism/sexism/community violence, or just growing up in the unforgiving atmosphere that pervades our “modern” world. And of course, we can’t forget the trauma of receiving “treatment” from “mental health professionals” who invalidate the trauma that underlies most if not all “mental health” problems.
That being said, I’m also not inclined to let moms off the hook entirely, as NAMI so disingenuously preaches. Bad parenting practices are frequently behind anxiety, depression, aggression, or even psychosis. While they may not be the direct or only cause, the best way to minimize trauma is to have kids experience warm, loving, and safe homes. It’s also important to remember that parents are traumatized as kids, and often pass on what was done to them without being aware of it, unless they’ve taken some significant action to recover from their own traumatic upbringing. Alice Miller has written eloquently on this subject.
Blame is never actually helpful, but helping parents deal with and resolve their own issues with their own childhoods is an excellent way to help the next generation experience happier and less stressful and more productive lives. And we can hope that these healthier children will then raise yet healthier children and the world will become a better place. I think that’s really the only way the world will get better, if each of us can reach inside and accept and get OK with what’s happened to us and take concrete action NOT to pass it on.
“… helping parents deal with and resolve their own issues with their own childhoods is an excellent way to help the next generation experience happier and less stressful and more productive lives.”
Very well said, Steve. Thank you for your wise and insightful post.
I respect what you are saying, Dr. Berezon, but listen to what the others are saying. I lived with an eating disorder (anorexia and binge eating both) for three and a half decades, so I met many patients and their families over those years and had plenty of chance to observe. Mothers of that population ran the gamut, from more flawed to less flawed and in the middle. Perhaps “babying” and “overprotectiveness” ran slightly higher than the norm, but by all means, “bad mother” was simply not a universal truth. Even if you say it happened in infancy.
Same went for any other diagnosis I saw on the wards. Sexual abuse victims were disproportionately high. Almost all who had been abused were abused by their fathers or some other male, often in the bio family but sometimes, a spouse or in-law, or coach at school. These sufferers described happy childhoods until the abuse, which may have happened at five or at 25 or even later. Many were my hospital roommates, and some became good friends.
I was not abused by my parents. It came from an outsider, a non-relative, in my teens. I don’t blame my parents for failing to step in. No, the school should have, since that’s where it was visible.
Those “bad mother” theories also don’t explain why the majority of children of obviously bad mothers end up okay, though you didn’t say your theory’s converse was true.
I can’t see how psychiatry can continue at all, not unless the DSM is abolished. This book has no validity. I can’t see psychiatry continuing in any humane fashion so long as it’s about “what’s wrong with you,” whether we might think it all originates with mothering or not. Frankly, I find the overfocus on “bad mother” to be rather misogynist. Psychiatrists that remain should help people get off the drugs that those in their profession irresponsibly prescribed. We seem to have a shortage of these. Many of the damages most likely should be treated by neuros, endocrinologists, cardiologists, physical therapists, herbalists, ophthalmologists, acupuncturists, etc.
We are lacking in people helping out with trauma from psych abuse. Many “trauma experts” don’t even acknowledge that this trauma exists, and some worsen or even cause trauma. Much illness is produced by the MH System, including all sorts of negative behaviors. If they are to do any form of PSYCHOtherapy that is helpful, it’s not covered by insurance. I don’t think therapists, whatever their degrees, should use the DSM either, shouldn’t be there to marginalize us by telling us “what’s wrong with you,” but they do, sadly, since it’s called “healthcare” and insurance requires a billing number. “What’s wrong” translates to commodity. That’s the problem.
I have to take you to task on some of these points. No one said that “bad mothering is a universal truth (connected with mental health diagnoses)”; that would be an all or nothing statement… your using it as a point to rebut is a straw man argument.
The fact remains that much research shows that neglect, abuse, and unhappiness in childhood correlates very strongly with mental health diagnoses in adulthood, in a dose response fashion (i.e. the more abuse or neglect, the greater chance of being labeled bipolar or schizophrenic). Here are details from the ACE Study supporting these points – http://acestudy.org/yahoo_site_admin/assets/docs/PIIS0749379798000178.127132450.pdf
As for this, “Those “bad mother” theories also don’t explain why the majority of children of obviously bad mothers end up okay, though you didn’t say your theory’s converse was true.”
What evidence do you have for this beyond opinion? This is a generalized and all-or-nothing statement… ending up “okay” is relative. Perhaps a large proportion of children of “bad’ mothers (who run along a continuum as you noted yourself) end up relatively okay, but less functional and well than they would have been if they had had better parenting.
As for psychiatry continuing, it can and will continue to destroy lives faster and faster under the DSM’s harsh glare. The DSM is a tool that enables the psychiatric enterprise to continue its amoral, opportunistic, sociopathic enterprise of drugging and medicating far too many people. Forceful resistance in word and deed is necessary to challenge the lies, distortions, and outrageous harms to vulnerable people caused by the drug companies and their faithful minions, the psychiatrists.
BPD, Over thirty years of observing on the wards is more “training” than some psychiatrists have. My own observations weren’t tainted by psychiatry textbooks, thankfully. Secondly, the study you cite uses self-reporting. How many can recall infancy? I do, but most people don’t. Some cannot recall before age 10.
Secondly, I consider myself to have ended up “okay,” too. I would have gotten over my eating disorder on my own had I not made a terrible decision in 1981. How was I to know? What wasn’t okay was what shrinkage did. Hindsight is awesome.
It is true that lived experience is more valuable and informative in many ways than psychiatrists’ textbook “knowledge”.
But you are going to argue that the study I cite is lacking validity due to self-reporting, then you have to play fair – that same argument would also call into questions all the memories of so-called “good childhoods” reported to you by the troubled people on the wards.
My interpretation would be that sometimes we have to give people the benefit of the doubt about what they are telling us. It may even be that how they experienced what happened may be as or more important than what actually happened, even if they somewhat distort what actually happened.
You are absolutely right. I just don’t like studies. Period. I believe what I witness myself. And if someone else tells me something, and it sounds reasonable, I believe it unless I have a reason to doubt. If the person is very drunk I might take that into consideration.
Please stop repeating my incidents of “black and white thinking.” I find this insulting since it’s a shrink term, one they use in an extremely demeaning manner. By all means, I wasn’t that way before shrinkage. I wasn’t much different from any other music student. Through their abuse, they trained me well. Us and them. They are superior. They often said so. You know, I can’t just “get over it” instantly. I know intellectually that their claims weren’t valid, they were not superior, but over three decades of black and white brainwashing isn’t easy to shake off and I’m working on it. I don’t need the insults if you don’t mind.
I don’t understand why people assume we get over all this trauma instantly and then the hard part is the drug withdrawal.
My opinion about when something represents all or nothing thinking is not intended to be insulting; it’s just my viewpoint about how I see another person perceiving something. Some shrinks use that term in an insulting manner (e.g. to describe “borderlines”, something I have a great amount of experience with actually), but I don’t use it that way, nor did I first learn it from psychiatrists.
Rather, splitting (all good, all bad thinking) is the way that any of us can perceive the external world when under sufficient stress and in sufficient fear. It is something I sometimes do myself, and to acknowledge that in myself or to see someone else doing it is not pejorative but rather objective. Splitting is actually a normal developmental process that children use to understand the world as they grow up, and that adults still revert to when under psychic stress, as writers like James Grotstein discuss.
I think you may be reading to much into studies on this topic. I also saw studies which suggest that it’s not the early childhood that’s the problem (at least for psychotic “disorders”) but rather what happens in early teens, especially related to social stress (bullying, racism or even such “benign” things like moving out of town and losing one’s childhood friends).
It may be very well that the truth is somewhere in between – for one person it’s the neglect when she was 3, for someone else it’s sexual abuse at 14, for someone otehr it’s romantic breakdown at 30. People are complicated.
I actually think there’s a good “model”: every bad think that happens to a person adds up, the more severe more than the benign one. When enough sh*t accumulates, especially at once people break down. That is what it used to be called “mental breakdown” and that is for me the one and only correct “diagnosis”. Some people have the breaking point earlier, others can withstand a lot more but almost anyone will break down if enough bad things happen to them. It’s really that simple – what is complicated is when you deal with an individual and his/her unique life story. We are all different and we’re all the same.
I would add a few points: I have written extensively that trauma overrides and rewrites the original play of character. A great deal of therapy deals with such trauma of all kinds.
The esssential point in the early years is that this is where the foundational play of character is written. This affects people all throughout life. The major forces at work there are parental. Brothers and sisters all have diferrent temperaments; parents don’t treat all children the same at all; Birth order makes a huge difference; kids adapt differently to deprivation and abuse; kids have different degrees of resiliance; do not imagine that people who come out of difficult circumstances don’t carry scars, they do. It is not misogeny to be clear about the the forces at work in the formative years. And again, maternal love is the most important thing in the universe.
what is your view/theory of the etiology of autism? Is it a condition caused by maternal deprivation (or worse — according to Bettelheim, the refrigerator mother wished her child had never been born), or is does it have a biological basis?
Know what I remember of being a baby? I saw all blurry. Actually, it was all blurry till I got glasses at 7. Before that, I had no clue the world wasn’t that way. I had no clue what it would be like as an adult who had to do something other than crawl. How would I see the ground from up that high? I figured no one could. So when I saw my parents’ faces, their noses were more in focus than anything else, being closer to me. I saw my dad’s nose and his glasses. I saw his ear once, probably more than once. There was no such thing as baby brothers. Not yet. In fact, I rather enjoyed, for a brief time, being the Center of the Universe. Mine. When did it dawn on me that there were other points of view? Children just like me? That my parents were human beings who had feelings? By nursery school, probably. I rationalized my jealousy of my new baby brothers by playing with them and deciding I owned them. Like they were little blonde boy dolls. The two of them, one first, then the other, put me in my place. No, we’re people too. After that, the three of us were cool, because we were so different from each other.
Great memory…Like your reply for sure.
While I agree that “mothering” is vitally important, I wonder how much more secure and well adjusted children would be in a society that gave both parents the status and support, paid family leave, free healthcare and other resources necessary to devote the time and energy needed to raise the next generation. Our world is still a patriarchy with women left to do the lion’s share of the unpaid, low status work of childrearing without adequate resources, including shared parenting from fathers who are also stressed by work and other societal demands. Patriarchal society is oppressive and traumatizing by definition and may be a big cause of the pain suffered by our children.
Too true! And women and children are usually left to take the blame when male-dominated institutions fail us. I think that’s a big part of what the DSM is about – shifting the blame from social institutions onto its victims, and the less powerful are the easiest to target, hence, women, children, the poor, the elderly, the darker skinned and the incarcerated are the scapegoats for any social ills that may emerge. If they’re unhappy or upset or angry about their role in society, it’s proof that their brains don’t work right, because if they were “normal,” they’d simply accept their subordinate victim roles without bitching about it and making things uncomfortable for the ruling elite.
Steve, you’re making me think of this one therapist in this day treatment center I attended for a few months, and her response to an older gentleman in the group when he complained that these two guys were picking fights with him and stealing his stuff in the public housing where he lived, and he could not get any support, he claimed no one took him seriously. Her response was, “Take your meds and don’t make waves.” Seriously, Nurse Ratchet in person.
Many of us left that session a bit shaken up by this, and several of us made issue of this and complained about her. As a result of this, she got even more power, and started running more groups. She knew we had complained, and threw attitude everywhere. These monsters are so well protected in their own element.
Although when I left that place, I did write their umbrella agency and complained thoroughly about this woman and gave these examples, and next thing I knew, they had lost their funding. They could have owned up to this and perhaps made some positive changes, but they chose to be stubborn, instead, and as a result, they shut down.
That’s the second time this has happened along my way, when I challenged a social service agency and was proven to be right. Each time, they’d rather dig in their heels and shut down, rather than to admit that, perhaps, they need to really look at what their doing and change their core way of operating. That’s always their choice!
I include this phrase she uttered in my film, because I’ll never forget it. It became the anthem of the system, to my mind. Exactly what you say above. Can’t seem to exist any other way, even in the face of their own demise.
Yup. It’s narcissism, plain and simple. I must be right, therefore, you must be wrong if you oppose anything I say or do. They go to the gallows protesting that they are the real victims.
I also had a charge placed in a facility that was obviously inadequate and dangerous. They placed this kid on two “antipsychotics” and two “mood stabilizers” at the same time. When her hands began to shake all day long, they told her it was because she was “nervous.” When I told the psychiatrists we were worried about the side effects she was experiencing, he said, “We haven’t noticed any side effects!” And they ironically had a poster of “client rights” on every hallway wall that included “the right to know what medication you’re taking, what it’s for, and what the side effects are.” When the volunteer assigned to the case asked the therapist if she’d gone over the side effects with the kid (who was 14 and quite bright), she said, “Oh, we don’t tell them about side effects!”
When they were shut down a year or so later, one of the repeated complaints was “an unwillingness to respond to feedback from the community.” They stuck to their distorted views to the bitter end.
There are some very dangerous people in this field, and the biases and structure are such that they literally can sometimes get away with murder!
*Extreme* narcissism, in fact. Dangerous is the right word. So ironic, considering the stigma projected onto those who are diagnosed.
This is why I say being in the system is like going through the looking glass. It’s like bizarro world, everything is backwards. It is anything BUT “normal.”
“All psychiatric conditions are the result of trauma – deprivation and abuse – on our emerging personalities. Consciousness is written as a drama in the theater of the brain, as our genetic temperament digests our emotional environment, resulting in the formation of our character. Consciousness writes its original play over the first several years of life. The limbic system, in the context of traumatic abuse, maps our emotional experience as sadistic aggression, filled with attack, humiliation, and endless war. Consequently the activated internal scenario is one of continuous internal fighting between personas. It is mapped through the limbic pathways of serotonin, cortisol, and adrenaline. In the context of loving responsiveness it would be mapped through gentle oxytocin pathways. The mapping of our nurture reflects our actual experience of parental care. Our Nurture, is then digested by our genetic temperament, our Nature.”
Meet John the Baptist. http://patch.com/connecticut/newcanaan/man-claiming-be-john-baptist-new-canaan-taken-hospital
John the Baptist is the precursor or forerunner to Jesus.
John the Baptist made the local news 3 months ago.
I just wrote and mailed a book to the State Attorney in the past week, to reveal myself to those people.
See, I have a “Jesus” identity. It is extra extraordinary. My consciousness and my brain really have nothing to do with the facts, aside of needing consciousness and a functional brain to know and understand the facts.
John the Baptist and Jesus live just 20 miles away from each other. We both live in religious, biblically named towns. It isn’t a “coincidence”, where that word is used to dismiss, disregard and deny. It’s something to take seriously, pay attention to, and understand.
Our BRAINS are nearly wholly irrelevant. I did not selectively choose the facts of my life, in childhood, during the development of my brain, in order to suit myself or live out some fantasy or psychiatric nightmare. I do not choose the facts of my life now. I do this wildly odd thing where I acknowledge the facts.
If the wrong sort of people fail to understand the facts of my life they’ll diagnose me for THEIR lack of comprehension. It’s called “messiah complex” or “megalomania”,
A messiah complex (also known as the Christ complex or savior complex) is a state of mind in which an individual holds a belief that they are, or are destined to become, a savior.
The term “messiah complex” is not addressed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), as it is not a clinical term nor diagnosable disorder, however, the symptoms of the disorder closely resemble those found in individuals suffering from grandiose delusions or delusions of grandeur. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Messiah_complex
Megalomania is a psychopathological condition characterized by delusional fantasies of power, relevance, omnipotence, and by inflated self-esteem. The word megalomania is derived from the Greek megalo- “large, great”, and mania “madness, frenzy”. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Megalomania
It IS quite grand to be Jesus. It’s also near entirely 100% PUNITIVE and DISALLOWED, in this world. That’s weird. Well, there are saints and angels and devils and demons but psychiatry has its own language and that language is a barrier to recognizing who people REALLY are beneath their human costume, so to speak.
My human name is not Jesus, obviously. I have a human name and a human life. But I’m an extraordinary person, with meaning and purpose, and value and worth. See that’s where things turn rotten apples. You’re NOT ALLOWED to have value and worth, or meaning or importance, or significance. And if you think you have any of that you’ll be thrown in Hell so fast and we all know where Hell is,
THE TORTURE CHAMBERS OF PSYCH WARDS: quiet rooms, straight jackets, 4 point restraints, 5 point restraints, sadistic nurses, forced injections, brainwash, suppression, mind control, subjugation, ward of the state, damnation, condemnation (them notes and records they keep on ya, which you cannot ever escape).
That’s just one Hell of very many sorts of Hell, in this world.
Psychiatry is not a court. They are not going to review the facts (material, evidence) of a person’s life. They most certainly do not seek to attribute, confirm or affirm a person’s value, worth, meaning, gift, ability, importance or anything like that. They don’t even seek to support a person’s rights and autonomy. They do they exact opposite: they seek to take those things AWAY from people.
Well, hey. Whether I like it or not, my reality is happening. And in MY reality, whether anybody likes it or not, I very much DO have a “Jesus” identity. And there very much was a John the Baptist who made an appearance 3 months ago. I myself do not choose, cause or create the fact that John the Baptist is the precursor or forerunner to Jesus. I just acknowledge it.
I’m not an actress and my life isn’t a movie or TV show (although it can certainly feel that way, and even be experienced that way – which drives me bat shit crazy and I despise it). I struggle with the term “life story” because there’s something about it that makes it extremely easy to cast aside and dismiss. “It’s just a story”, like as if somehow, I wasn’t real.
And that gets directly to the heart of the matter, with psychiatry. Practically their entire basis for their existence is the “not real” bullshit people cast on each other. It’s “not real”, it’s a “delusion”. It’s “not real”, it’s a “hallucination”. It’s “not real”, it’s “mental illness”.
Mental illness is what is largely not real. It’s a too convenient, bullshit lie behind which people hide their sins and crimes.
Psychiatry NEVER diagnoses anybody as needing Justice. That’s a foreign concept to them. And it’s based on prejudice: you’re not entitled to Justice because you aren’t worth anything. And you aren’t worth anything because you’re mentally ill.
Nobody is going to crown a woman “Jesus” (we all know Jesus is a man). Yet I still hold all of the evidence and proof for the claim. The tragedy, for me, is, who on Earth is qualified to hear my case, and render the correct judgment? Fact is, nobody.
Justice for me is Justice for all. With *MY* evidence and *MY* proof, psychiatry can kiss itself goodbye. It will finally, PRAISE JESUS, be over.
But, nobody supports me, and so, you’re all shit out of luck.
“Psychiatry NEVER diagnoses anybody as needing Justice”
9, Round here, if any guy claimed to be John the Baptist, and the cops were driving past, they might either join him for some vino and hanging out or a thermos of mate, or ask if he wants a ride back to his casa. They’d make sure he had his keys and got in okay, which is the cordial thing to do when giving a person a ride home. Or they would just drive by, shrugging, especially if fútbol is on.
He wanted to go to Heaven so they took him to the hospital. I don’t think that’s the sort of Heaven he meant but at least he made the news, for me to find him. Divine!
I wish there was a way to let him know that some Jesus 20 miles away is aware of him, and for him to be made aware of me. And then I want ALL people to be made aware of us. Is it not so stunning? Doesn’t it open people’s eyes?
I’m quite sure it isn’t meant for entertainment purposes. We aren’t jokes. I have spent the past few years of my existence in extreme suffering.
Brutal, severe and extreme. Ongoing.
I don’t know what John the Baptist was going through but if he was looking for Heaven, he must have been in Hell.
I guess therapy with the Jimmy Swaggart of therapy might be interesting as One approach if it was free but when your talking dollars and sense I didn’t hear sliding scale mentioned . So say we might need 50 sessions to absolutely end all our human suffering at say a rock bottom of $75 dollars a pop when our income is say $750 per month . That comes to a grand total of $3750. Wouldn’t I have more fun using that money to fly to the Hawaiian island Kwai ,wander around the beaches barefoot and picking and eating tropical fruit from the trees while I get a sun tan . I might even get really lucky. Therapy is only one approach .
Had a client I saw in the hospital one time. She said, “For the cost of all this, I could take a two week vacation in Hawaii.” I said, “Yeah, and it would probably be more helpful!” She agreed and laughed. Probably the most therapeutic conversation she had had all day.
There are quite a few things that are the most important information to know but you will never be told the by mental health profession even if it’s obvious you need to be told. Here are some of them.
It is very very important to realize what your parent’s weaknesses and dysfunctions are and how they affected you and might affect you in the future. They are supposed to be role models for a healthy life and happiness. When you grow up of birth in a less than ideal environment it can hard-wire you a certain way and can clash to the healthy person you were really destined to be.
Dysfunctions and shortcomings are easily handed down from generation to generation. It’s up to each individual to be conscious of their unique past, going back two generations or more, and realize why the people in your life are the way they are. You must be the generation to spot where the problems are and break the cycles.
Everyone needs to ask themselves did I grow up in an environment where we recognize problems? Defining a problem well is more than half the battle. People can live stupidly ill until their grave because they do not have full awareness of the roots of their troubles. Once you have the awareness it takes time for the awareness to take full effect on feeling better. Get in the habit of looking at the larger picture.
Everyone needs to ask themselves if they grew up in an environment where there was healthy communication with a good vocabulary of emotions? About 80% of families are dysfunctional and you are far from abnormal if you came out with problems.
If you do not have good role models you need to figure things out for yourself. Let your heart be your guide. Peel off the next layer to see the larger picture of the situation.
Self-love is made up of caring for yourself, confidence in your good heart, the ability to laugh, caring for others, a desire and effort to improve yourself and things around you. The goal in life is to unblock the obstacles to your true heart. The most important thing you can do.
Sorry but we have no effective mental health profession. They have no desire or ability to help anyone with anything. I’ve been immersed in the system and I can give you the inside story. If you care to know I can tell you. Or you can be part of the farce that is not working. Just by luck they did not kill me.
I’m here to help and not harm unlike the system. If you want to save lives use the above as handouts in hospitals, Dr and therapist offices and schools. Or harm and kill by withholding like the system does every day.
It’s common to know something and still not know its full relevance. I believe this is the case of the ineffective mental health care profession.
When the Virginia Tech massacre occurred everyone was aware that the shooter had been in the mental health care system. But no one questioned why he did not receive help for his boatload full problems and why he did not see the system as a place to receive assistance. Everyone just assumed we had a useless mental health care system and has zero expectations for it.
We were told the shooter at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut had a history of mental illness. But no one questions just what occurred or did not occur with his treatment. Apparently the public and the media accepts we have a useless, broken mental health care system that is not even worth discussing. I don’t believe it should be the case.
We do not have a mental health care system with a reputation for helping. The 14,000 murders and 30,000 suicides each year is one example. Another example is the fact that the average person can likely name 4 people they personally know that had seen a therapist for very good period of time but are still walking around with the same issues. 2 out of 3 suicide victims never had any mental health care contact. The reason likely being is that our entire culture does not see the system as a place for help. It didn’t help the 1 out of 3 that gave them a try.
I had a lot of personal experience with the mental health system. I have been down the road and I’m doing the only responsible thing by saying, “The bridge is out!” I have to honestly say it appears they do not have the intent or ability to help anybody with just about anything. I could easily fill three pages with just a brief mention of all the absurdities I have encountered.
I’ve seen interviews with ‘professionals’ where they just drop the word ‘help’ or ‘treatment’ but the interviewer never asks what the suppose to be. As if it’s quantum physics and totally beyond us. I’ve seen quantum physics explained clearly in a 30 min show. Ask 30 therapist what their job is and 25 will have to think about it, you will get 27 different answers. Ask their customers if that’s what they are getting and 29 will say no. A therapist will never tell you what they do and don’t do unless you ask. If you do ask you’ll be shocked by the uselessness. They will not live up what they say they do. They are so use to saying nothing they forgot how to speak. They get additional brain damage.
I’d tell them real problems and they would chuckle. Not near seeing themselves as someone to be helpful. That happened about 90+ times with over 30 therapist. If I see a new therapist there is an 80% chance I’m thinking where is the cameras this has to be joke. They are straight off of Saturday Night Live. And they get $200 per hr. And the school shootings and murder-suicides just go on and on. The average person has no place for assistance.
It’s drilled into therapist’s and doctor’s subconscious to not provide or to harm. If they disagree it’s because it’s in their subconscious. Their actions say it all. Change it so they only get paid for results and watch how fast it changes.
The author uses the word affect which is defined as “influences” this is not a causal relationship between parenting and emotional problems.
“There are quite a few things that are the most important information to know but you will never be told the by mental health profession even if it’s obvious you need to be told. Here are some of them.”
Here is another thing that no mental health professional will ever tell anybody, guaranteed: “I do not know what or who caused your condition. Haven’t got a clue.” I love your idea of paying therapists for results.
These words ring true. I think you should write on this site more often.
“These words ring true. I think you should write on this site more often.”
I could not agree more. Timgoes has great wisdom and insight and I also hope that he will share it by writing more often on MIA.
I can tell you one thing I learned from my mom. Never be late! Why? My mom had a lot of trouble being on time. I was embarrassed about it when i was a kid. She never got me anywhere on time. When I left home, I swung in the opposite direction. Two of the three of us ended up prompt. Not obsessively so, but we don’t like the inconvenience nor to inconvenience anyone else.
Many years later, I put two and two together and figured out one of the many reasons my mom struggled with this. Apparently, the “family secret” of her past eating disorder was so well-kept that my own brothers didn’t really know, or didn’t know the seriousness of it. As I figure, she recovered on her own in 1942, and my guess is that by 1944 she was totally fine. However, I knew that if she didn’t eat, she’d get loopy, spaced-out, confused, and sort of “high” the way those of us with restrictive (anorexic) tendencies tend to get. Apparently she had a seriously scary thing happen to her while driving, both before we were born and then, later, when our car flipped over (none of us were injured). After that, no matter what, she wouldn’t drive unless she’d eaten. Not only that, she’d take care to prepare herself a full meal and sit down and eat. When I was a child, not understanding, I’d get so impatient. “Why, Mom? Can’t you do that later?” She did this even if it meant being very late. She didn’t want to risk the safety of us kids should she drive on an empty stomach. We kids never learned to appreciate this, but I sure did when I realized my eating disorder (tendency to get very high if starving) was inherited, not taught by bad mothering, and surely all the mother-blaming was stupidity on the part of the therapists.
You speak very wisely. I am sure you’ve helped a lot of people, because you’re honest and compassionate. As you say, it’s not quantum physics. But most mental health people seem to be clueless or simply don’t care enough to try. What it mostly requires is being humble enough to know that you don’t and can’t know all there is to know about another person. So you have to care and listen and be willing to feel their pain. Not something our system seems designed to encourage.
Thanks for sharing!
Years of psychotherapy did not work for me. Looking at your childhood and analyzing how other people’s behaviours affected you solves nothing. It is just another form of passing the buck and blaming others for the difficulties in your life.
Ultimately, you need to take care of yourself to have a reasonably happy life. I finally learned this through a 12 step program where I learned to eat properly. Not only did I lose a lot of weight but my anxiety and depression disappeared.
Most people in the mental health field refuse to look at the role that diet plays in a person’s life. This goes back to the days when doctors refused to believe that pellagra was caused by vitamin deficiency. Artificial vitamins do not help many people because they can’t metabolize them. They need real good food like fruit, vegetables and essential oils. When I started to eat better I couldn’t believe how much better I felt mentally. Most people including doctors and psychiatrists still do not believe how important diet is to mental health.
Low fat diet and low cholesterol levels have been implicated in increased rates of depression. Probiotics are calming/anxiety reducing. A good diet can be a huge factor in improving one’s mental health.
Hi dr berezin
I am one of the unlucky people burned by psych meds. But if you google “zyprexa lifesaver” you will find all sorts of people who say the drug helped them! What do you say to this?
When you google “lizard people” and “flat earth society” you’ll also find a lot of interesting things. Not everything you real on the internet is true.
Fully agree with the author’s position on psychopharma and the APA. Dangerous, destructive, and corrupt.
However, I’m always struck by how therapists of all stripes wildly overestimate the usefulness of their talk therapies. Each seems to hold a quasi-religious belief in the usefulness of what they do. They all practice from an unproven point of view; they simply have one perspective among many, but their belief in the good they do is almost comical.
In ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’, Larry David runs into Rob Reiner at the office of their common psychiatrist (a loony guy). David says something along these lines to Reiner, “Well, what are you gonna do? You can’t bore all your friends with this stuff. You have to unload it on somebody!” That’s it in a nutshell: people just need to unload. I myself would love a low-cost, well-programmed robot therapist. I hardly need to pay a flawed, opinionated human to mess me up further!
Freud and Jung simply had some notions and ideas a century ago; neither bore the Ten Commandments, for goodness sake. Buddhism, viewed NOT as a faith but as a school of psychology, posits that I chose the situation I was born into from my previous incarnation, so dissecting my childhood situation of this incarnation is a mistaken and altogether pointless venture.
Buddhism advises that I need to take responsibility for, and become aware of, my own mind and negative thoughts (a central feature of Buddhism, while we accept negativity as a normal state!) that lead me into my own mental prison: a more useful exercise than ruminating for decades on what my parents did or didn’t do TO me!
I suggest to my children that there is as much evidence for reincarnation as there is for anything else, and that if even it’s hogwash (as much as any other theory) their long-term mental wellness is best served if they take responsibility for their minds and for their [negative and positive] thoughts. I advise them against handing themselves over to another flawed, upset, muddled human determined that s/he has The Answer to the human condition.
(Our Violent Child wordpress blog)
Well said, Liz. IMO a psychiatrist is like any other blind man touching the elephant. He or she has an imperfect and often wildly inaccurate understanding of the bigger picture. A homeopath touching the elephant might describe a disturbance to the vital life force –the mother is no more or no less to blame than if the person has a stubborn skin rash. A nutritionist might see something related to food and chemical sensitivities, a shaman might welcome such a huge gift from the gods. All of these people have a useful contribution to make, but should not oversell the role of their product in drawing an accurate picture of what’s going on with another human being.
I would just like to add that when the ‘role of their product’ is ‘oversold’ it can quickly change from being a ‘useful contribution’ to being something quite dangerous if the ‘seller’ has a powerful position in society!
Maybe more like a blind man grabbing an elephant by the nuts and twisting, and being surprised when the elephant kicks him in the head and runs away.
You know, there was actually an experiment at a university where students used a computer terminal to provide programmed “therapy.” The computer asked non-directive questions like, “Tell me about your childhood,” or “What was school like for you?” It was programmed to acknowledge the person’s answer appropriately (like, “Go on…”) and ask followup questions. If a person got off the track too far, it would say something like, “Let’s get back to talking about your father…” The funny thing was, the students reported feeling significantly better after interacting with the computer program! Maybe people mostly need to tell their story and not have it invalidated or questioned or be given a bunch of ill-conceived advice about it. But that’s not what they get in today’s mental health system.
…while the NSA was recording.
I read it in hopes of being enlightened. Still not believing your pdoc psychobabble on genetics and now motherhood. I was into the script until you turned on the copy machine and we find you repeating the same ideology from past posts. Come on doc take a trip and explore the mind a little.
Warmac: Good statement
This essay seems to describe the view of psychiatry before it was “hijacked” by big pharma. After reading, it is clearer to me than ever why families fled the pre-pharma docs. I would recommend that Dr. B have a family member who is a mother read his work before publishing it. I don’t believe he sees how patronizing, patriarchal and demeaning it can read.
This essay also begins by criticizing the danger of the psychopharma industry but is about the harm imperfect mothers inevitably do. Dr. B quickly affirms the narrow categorizations of psychiatric conditions (which at least one in four of us has been diagnosed with and easily all of us could) and then claims these are real conditions all caused by trauma. Why have the worst psy conditions I’ve observed all been caused by psy treatment itself (also mostly prescribed by male doctors).
So when fathers and mothers are sent by cranky teachers to get their kids drugged behind desks in crowded classrooms, the kid doesn’t have a biological disease, but an imperfect mother? Believing the one sounds as useful as believing the other. Wouldn’t it be more useful and end in less harm to families if we just stopped believing in the many psy junk “conditions” and diseases and became more tolerant of childhood, of personalities, of different energy levels, of feelings and of drama, of noise, of voices. Drugs for “diseases” vs. more perfect nurturing mothering psychotherapy from your psychiatrist? If these are the choices psychiatry can offer, families may want to run from harm either way, especially if there’s a feminist in the family.
“I would recommend that Dr. B have a family member who is a mother read his work before publishing it. I don’t believe he sees how patronizing, patriarchal and demeaning it can read.”
I’m male (not a mother:) and totally agree with you. Puts your faith in psychiatry to the test, if you have any faith left. These are smart doctors that have been trained and that I for one seem to have less hope in their capacity for change than in their patients capacity for change.
Thank you, Diana, for so clearly articulating my grave concerns about this article. I was horrified when I read this article, and needed to take a couple of days to try and figure out why.
It is not that I am unfamiliar with incomplete and simplistic ‘assumptions’ made by psychiatrists and other people in the mental health system. Our family suffered very thoroughly from those type of assumptions when my loved one went through the mental health system. ( Psychiatrists in hospitals who believe in a predominately ‘biological’ model peppered with what could only be called ‘pseudo-psychology’; are as quick as Dr. B is to decide that the family is the major part of the problem; IF and WHEN the family dares to support their loved one in arguing against the drugs or other aspects of their approach).
No, my grave concern about this article is the extreme arrogance of Dr. B that allows him to present his ‘theory’ as fact. He has already decided on the problem and solution before the client walks into `his office’. He has reduced all the possible combinations of personality, temperament, physical health and make up, life experience and environmental factors; that could lead people to emotional distress, into a neat 3 tier package which finds different levels of `maternal abuse and deprivation’ as the cause. (Of course maternal abuse and deprivation would cause emotional distress, but this doesn’t mean that all people with emotional distress suffered in this way. )
When people with lived experience try to tell him his ‘theory ‘ doesn’t fit their situation, he tells them they are wrong: For example, note his answer above to Mad in Canada: He says “I certainly agree that trauma from fathers, siblings, classmates, teachers etc. is major. However, the major player in the earliest formation of our character is mother, whether you like it or not.” (By this I assume he is saying that whatever the distress the person thinks they are suffering from, it is actually a previous experience with their mother that is the real cause).
Although I am sure it is not his intention to harm, I believe that type of arrogance can be very dangerous both to suffering individuals and indeed to people who want to create a system free of psychiatric domination. I would suggest that Dr, B consider seriously the important role of ‘humility’ and of ‘listening to people with lived experience’, which is central to the reform ideas of psychiatrists such as Sandy Steingard and Pat Bracken. I also suggest he listens to the clear voice of survivors such as Julie Greene who said this in a previous comment above:
” Mothers of that population ran the gamut, from more flawed to less flawed and in the middle. Perhaps “babying” and “overprotectiveness” ran slightly higher than the norm, but by all means, “bad mother” was simply not a universal truth. Even if you say it happened in infancy.”
My experience also. The first thing that happened was that the therapists turned me against my mother. That took some 35 years to undo. My poor mother was not only blamed, she was belittled, as was my dad. They poked fun at him when he wanted to take notes at a family meeting. He used pencil and a tiny spiral-bound notebook he always kept in his pocket. I now know both parents were excellent role models, and the therapists were flat out wrong. My bro bought into it and ended up quite hostile toward our mom. This is how you wreck a perfectly okay family. That took years off her life, as far as I can tell.
Get this: My mom recovered from her ED entirely on her own at age 16. I am in total awe since I know how hard it is. Hers was the same as mine. Amazing.
If your mom had an ED and recovered from it herself, why could she not help you? Was it bc of the confusion or lack of understanding of what she “had”? Was it the fact that you fell into the lunatic incompetent hands of psychiatry that trashed your life with drugs and electrocuted you while refusing to listen to your family?
Good question, truth. You have to realize the generation. It was not called ED and she never called it that herself. She never considered it a “disorder.” By modern standards, she had anorexia and also binge eating, most probably precisely like what I had (which isn’t that common as most throw up) but neither term existed then. No one considered it disease nor disorder. Yes, it was a problem, and seen that way, and not discussed at all. My mom didn’t discuss her past with us. I didn’t realize parents had pasts! I honestly didn’t! Gradually I realized they were human, too, the same species as kids, but that took a long time to figure out. I didn’t want to believe a parent could ever make a mistake or be weak or inept in any way. I saw up on a shelf in our kitchen Dr. Spock’s Guide, the child-rearing book, was that his name? The one they all had. I opened that book one day and marveled at it. I never realized parents, this other species, had to learn child-rearing from some expert. My guess is that most kids in the 1960’s grew up with the same initial assumptions I had.
Given the above, my mom only told me once about her ED. I believe I told this story in a chapter called “Yellow” in my published memoir. When I first got my periods, she showed me how to use pads (these with a belt and claw-like metal things) she explained that when she was young she “lost too much weight too fast” and that caused her to not have periods for two years. After that, there was no word about it for many years. I had never heard of ED and it didn’t register.
I got mine at 22. After a couple of months of “therapy” I got worse and moved in with my parents. I went to day treatment which made it even worse. Yes, my mom tried to help me but by then, I was insisting that “this is the new way,” telling my parents I was going to listen to the therapists and not to them. Of course, therapy made me blame them and made me think of them as ignorant and old-fashioned.
To be honest, her suggestions were excellent and had I listened, instead of assuming my parents didn’t know anything, I would have gotten better. She had developed her own nutritional approach to ED and this in fact is how I got better, too.
Nowadays, ED has become a human rights issue just like “mental illness,” since psychiatry has taken over the field and turned it into a bogus treatment based on distrust, coercion, force, and constant threats. It doesn’t have to be that way and shouldn’t. This is why “recovery” rates are so low for ED.
Dr. Berezin’s own words from his blog on ADHD: Somewhere along the line we have lost the understanding that kids come in all shapes and sizes. Some kids are active, some are quiet; some kids are dreamers, others are daring; some kids are dramatic, others are observers; some impulsive, others reserved; some leaders, others followers; some athletic, others thinkers. Where did we ever get the notion that kids should all be one way?
These words give me some hope that if we were all in the same room we might find more understanding. General associations of abuse and neglect with trauma are more reasonable than those of imperfect mothers and trauma.
“I would recommend that Dr. B have a family member who is a mother read his work before publishing it. ”
having a mother read Dr. B’s work before it is posted may or may not make difference. People whose lives and children turn out well may believe that everything turned out well because they did all the right things (i.e., they are deserving rather than lucky). It could be that they did indeed do everything right, or that they were lucky, or a combination of both. I do not pretend to know. By the same token, I would not conclude that the parent of a schizophrenic child was a sadist or an abuser merely because of the child’s condition.
“Why have all the worst psych conditions I’ve observed all been caused by psych treatment itself (also mostly prescribed by male doctors)?
Interesting question. Astute observation.
Hard to pin that one on mothers and earlier trauma.
Confused and Needing some guidance;
I read many comments that use the term “blaming”. If one finds a connection, a link or a correlation between 2 things is this blaming? For example there is a link between trauma and extreme emotional states or let’s say there is a connection between early childhood trauma and severe emotional states is this blaming the parents?
I agree, there is a big difference between blaming someone and identifying the actual antecedents to a bad set of circumstances that has arisen. Blame implies judgment, but finding the contributing factors is more a matter of communication and honesty than blaming someone. I do get worried, though, when the author generalizes to “mothers” as the default cause of trauma. There are plenty of other traumatic sources besides our moms. My brother was a huge one for me! And I don’t think he was or is a bad person. He was just a kid and so was I and we were close in age and probably were not really meant to live together. I don’t blame him, but I do recognize that he was mean to me a lot and that it had an effect on how I grew up. To deny that in order to save his feelings would, in a word, be “crazy!”
Elephants are the #1 experts on what it’s like to be an elephant.
I agree, many therapists oversell their particular brand of therapy as THE answer, Gift From Heaven that Saves Humankind from Disaster. If it’s not the therapist him/herself, it’s his/her method. Anyone who sells a product or service marketing it as The One and Only is ripping off customers. To be distinguished from The Only One in Town, which is a monopoly leading to jacked-up prices and jacked-up competence to treat anyone and anything since folks don’t have much choice. The one clinic. The one clinic that takes public insurance, the hospital that has bought up all the local hospitals (like Harvard and Mass General), etc. I guess according to psychiatry and Big Pharma, the only answer is profit-maker pill of the day. For shock docs, shock is the end-all. For the patient, that may as well be the end. But we’ll stop it, won’t we?
“… many therapists oversell their particular brand of therapy as THE answer, Gift From Heaven that Saves Humankind from Disaster.”
Anyone who says “I have THE answer and my therapy is THE solution to whatever ails you” operates in the realm of dogma. A corollary of this is the claim that one’s pet theory, dogma or belief system is superior to anyone else’s. Therapy would be a wonderful alternative to mind-altering drugs if it actually worked. I can’t think of a greater vote of confidence in one’s therapeutic prowess than to forgo reliance on psychiatric medications and charge by successful outcome instead of time.
That’s what you do when you take a computer in to be repaired. You bring it in, the guy looks at it and tell you what the thinks is wrong. he gives you an estimate. You leave the laptop at the shop. He calls you and says he’s done. Then, when you get to the shop, he shows you what he did and says, “I found out what part is faulty and replaced it.” Then, you get an itemized bill. When you get it home, if you find you have questions or things aren’t right, he makes good on it. Often the work is guaranteed for 30 days or longer.
I know people aren’t laptops, but good business practice goes a long way.
When we re-parent ourselves, we align with our true values, so we can heal from the split created by childhood trauma due to toxic community dynamics and mixed messages. I don’t feel we are at all necessarily stuck with the trauma or with a specific ‘personality type.’ We are so much more creative than that and can become any character we wish in our own theater of consciousness. I think it’s really a matter of flexibility, trust, and a sense of our own creative selves.
For example, my parents drove me insane, literally. I forgave my dad and worked that all out with him before he passed away. That was phase I of my healing. My mother is still at it, being her usual judgmental and belittling self. Now, I set boundaries with her and stick to them (phase II), which she hates. But that’s too bad, she needs to learn respect and kindness.
The roles have reversed, and I’m practicing tough love–phase III. New play, new roles, new script. That’s transformative healing.
Love your comment; re-parenting by yourself is very, very hard. Some have found friends and others to substitute for the toxic parenting they endured. Being with your parents while re-parenting is awesome and deserves a journal/diary guide for those who have the courage to undertake such a task.
Thank you, Margaret. I’ve lived across the country from my family of origin for quite some time, but I never severed ties with my family, as much as I wanted to about a million times. Although in order to heal, I did have to distance myself and be the one to set boundaries.
That was hard for all of them, and for me, too, We were a no-boundary family, at least the kids had no right to set boundaries with adults, that was considered ‘disrespectful.’ (What fertile ground for abuse!)
When I started practicing boundary-setting with my mother, I’d feel some guilt at first; but if she wanted a relationship with me, this was the only way it would be possible, if and only if she could respect my boundaries, and with some grace, even. Otherwise she was just being emotionally manipulative, and I discourage that in my life.
Been a great lesson for all of us! It was, indeed, an awesome process, totally new territory for my family, learning to respect boundaries and take ‘no’ for an answer. Everyone is doing well in their own lives, and the family healed from all that past time stuff at this point, so I figure I did the right thing by speaking my truth. I’m actually proud of my family for getting with the program, finally. When I healed the way I did, they certainly took notice.
Again, much praise for your courage. If your task could be reproduced on a larger scale we could use it to possibly re-parent the paternalistic, authoritarian mental health system. It’s just a thought because your work involved educating and modeling boundary setting, communicating what your goals were, and all of the lessons that need to be articulated, put into practice and be of use to others.
I definitely agree that the mh system could use some basic universal lessons in respect and boundaries, as these seem to be null and void in that world. I believe this is why people suffer in its grip, it is exactly the dynamic reproduced which lead so many people into a psychiatrist’s office in the first place.
And I do believe we teach by example, so the more of us who practice the art of respect and healthy, flexible boundaries, the more others will learn from our examples, or they will be knocked off our radar.
That’s the beauty of compassionate boundary-setting, it sorts the wheat from the chaff in and of itself. Abusive people don’t bother with people who have healthy boundaries, they go after the ones who have no sense of boundaries, as these are the most vulnerable people.
The one big difference between my family and the mh system, however, is that I have unconditional love for my family, so I will continue to deal with them no matter what, as this is my flesh and blood; and as I do, I will continue to model a healthy sense of self and authority over my own life. This will help them to grow in that same direction.
Whereas I do not, in the slightest, love the mh system, nor do I feel any responsibility to it. I feel it is a cold, unfeeling, un-empathic, and extremely dangerous institution which serves no one other than a few people getting rich from it–which, considering that this is health care we’re talking about, I’d say that is criminal.
I’ve dissociated from it, and my only message to it is: good-bye, good riddance, and mercy to you. Let that be the lesson…
In fact, Margie, I do talk about this exact issue in my film, Voices That Heal–how a culture of paternalistic authority impacted my upbringing, leading to forgiveness and boundary-setting as my pathway to healing from family/social trauma.
With the system, however, I took them to legal task, which is how I set a very strong and powerful boundary, and found my personal sovereignty.
Check it out if you like, 6 of us share our journeys here, in this 96 minute documentary–
Yes, good points about the mental death system. It is bad enough that it is cold, lacking in compassion and empathy, with the bulk its psychiatrists badly educated, and lacking in integrity, humility, decency, or simple respect for others.
The key word you use, however, is DANGEROUS. As more survivors share their stories, as more pharma scandals break, as more research scandals break, as more SSRI related homicides and suicides make the news, as more adverse short and long term effects including brain damage are proven, as more books are published by people like Whitaker and Moncrieff and Gotzsche, the reality becomes more horrifying. Psychiatry has for decades, since its conception, been causing great harm, sickness, suffering, injury, and death. Its brilliant history of insulin comas, ice baths, and lobotomy is a fairly good measure of its worth. Today it pursues its mission with zeal, prescribing toxic drugs, and electrocution, voting even more ridiculous “disorders” into being.
Poison smart quirky little kids with Ritalin? No problem. Slow down the autistic with neuroleptics? Check. Cause “iatrogenic insanity” through toxic poisons? Easy. Treat this insanity with brain injury called ECT? Of course. Hospitalize the terrified, put them in restraints, traumatize them more. But of course. We are just ” helping”.
Psychiatry is an equal opportunity killer, its victims including toddlers like Rebecca Riley ( with the hospital defending her negligent psychiatrist’s care as reasonable or acceptable- which of course means open season on poisoning more little kids), pregnant moms and their fetuses, teens, the elderly. Psychiatrists, masquerading as “real doctors” are, with few exceptions, useless and dangerous, but filling their pockets with money. You are right Alex, it is criminal. So why is Rebecca Riley’s “doctor” not in prison? Why did her employers refuse to condemn her and fire her while offering up messages of sorrow and regret? Why is she still practicing? Does anyone have an answer for a
Great insight that “abusive people go after those without healthy boundaries, bc they are the most vulnerable”. Sick people are vulnerable and generally have no boundaries. Sick psychiatrists prey on the vulnerable and are rewarded handsomely.
“Sick people are vulnerable and generally have no boundaries. Sick psychiatrists prey on the vulnerable and are rewarded handsomely.”
Yes, yes, yes, this is what I’d put a big red circle around. Anyone can argue that this is not universal, but indeed, a plethora of testimonials, including mine, tell this story so precisely, in various ways. That’s a pretty core issue, here, I’d say. This is not an acceptable reality. It is exactly wrong.
I also think many feel they are, somehow, helping, when, in fact, they are exhibiting really bad dynamics, and unwittingly projecting it all onto the client. I think this happens more often than not, which can be disastrous for a client who has nowhere else to turn for support, and yes, it has ruined lives, and continues to do so. By the skin of my teeth, mine wasn’t ruined, even though at one point I seriously feared it had been; but it was sure made a helluva lot harder, simply because of these, at best, terribly counterproductive antics. At worst, they can drive a person to suicide, and that is no exaggeration.
So we live in a criminal society, and this is part of it. Why is this protected by law? I imagine there are a lot of dots to connect here, but my best guess would be that it has something to do with money. Power, too, but I keep coming back to $$ as the driving force here.
What I can’t imagine is anything changing here without a huge shakeup of some kind, it seems inevitable. This is one stubborn system, and a lot of very stubborn people run it.
I don’t like speaking about boundaries. Those with the worst sense of boundaries simply never learned. They go after those who are physically handicapped, very young, female, impoverished, or in minority groups. People who are very young or adolescent are vulnerable anyway. Also, those who are medically compromised, which weakens the spirit, no fault of any of these groups for sure. I hesitate to speak of boundaries since it sounds like these boundary problems are a moral issue or one of strength of character. Many never had the chance to learn how to resist coercive practices.
Example would be women who don’t know enough to ask for equal wages to their male coworkers. Or likewise, “mental patients” who are praised for accepting their lot in life.
I believe the issue of boundaries is an inherent and integral matter of personal growth and evolution. I don’t see how it cannot be addressed in matters of healing, and in matters of relationship, this seems core to me. Otherwise, we’re talking about some serious lack of safety within a community, I believe. That’s my perspective, in any event.
I believe a lot depends on our sense of boundaries, at least having some sense of them. A lot of people don’t really understand them, our society violates them as a standard rule, that’s why it’s so damn oppressive. Having good boundaries is self-care and self-compassion. It’s also simple respect.
I don’t think they’re fixed, nor do I believe there is one uniform universal rule of thumb around what are ‘good boundaries’–I think we can choose what is appropriate for ourselves from moment to moment. To me, that would be a matter of not having our energy drained by others, a common problem in the mental system, and in general, I think.
I believe that some kind of practiced agreement about what are respectful boundaries would be important to cohesion and feelings of safety in a community. I think boundary issues are one of the core problems with psychotherapy, especially when assumptions are made about a client that are obviously not in a favorable light, I’d call that blatant disrespect for personal boundaries.
Not saying what the answer is, but if we don’t acknowledge it, then this won’t change, and I think that would make things pretty stuck. I believe it’s a matter of awareness and education.
When we grow up without boundaries, that makes life hard. Many of us had ours ripped away as kids in often brutal and disregarding ways. But at least one way to personal growth is through exploring boundaries. Personally, I couldn’t exist in a community where personal boundaries were disregarded as anything to consider. I think that’s pretty scary.
While I agree, I don’t like using THEIR terminology. Plus lack of boundaries is learned, it’s not a disease. Simple education will help, plus gaining real-life experience dealing with various situations.
For instance, I have so little experience being employed that when I have been employed, or when applying for a job, I sometimes consult outside people, whom I feel are wise and experienced, for “advice.” I need to do this simply because I don’t know how to do a job interview nor do I know how to act on the job. If I were to be in a workplace right now, I’m sure I’d do what shrinks call boundary violations, not due to disorder or bad morals, but because I am completely clueless as to how to act. Same with dating. I don’t know how to act on a date and if I’m ever asked to bed, I’m sure I’ll screw up that one. Four or five dates later, I might get it right.
So while yes, boundaries can be problematic for humans, can we use different non-clinical terminology? Mainly I ask this because it hits a sore spot, I really disliked the childish groups I had to attend on the topic, among other topics they loved to grind into our heads. It was seriously hypocritical since the therapists didn’t seem to follow their own advice.
As far as language, with all due respect to you, Julie, I am going to continue using that word here because to me, it is universal, and not from the psychology world. I’m not sure what word would work for you–maybe ‘personal space?’ Something like that. But I take it from what you write that you get the spirit of what I mean, that translates into simply respect and conscientiousness, as well as self-compassion (over guilt) when I set them with others.
I do agree with you that boundaries are learned, and we often learn by trial and error. I do think boundaries value from culture to culture, including family cultures, and are different socially than professionally.
And you’re right, it is our experiences in life which teach us, and we all screw up with this. That’s one powerful learning tool, our own mistakes. I believe it is a lifetime practice and we refine as we go along, give ourselves that learning curve.
I didn’t learn this in psychology, though. In fact, the issues of boundaries were sorely missing. I felt that boundaries were constantly violated, that this was part of the education. I’m not a big fan of ‘working in transference,’ as I feel this perpetuates an illusion. I know how it is supposed to work, but I feel it fosters dependence. I feel it’s presumptuous and extremely violating of boundaries to elicit a transference in psychotherapy, rather than dealing with the reality of a strictly professional relationship. That doesn’t mean cold, but it does establish what I feel is a healthy boundary, without which, healing is compromised, and in some cases, it can be double binding for the client, in that they are afraid to assert themselves or go against the therapist in any way.
I think it fosters powerlessness, and that all sorts of delusions come from transference, which I consider to be a major boundary/personal space violation, and it is taught that this is the way to do it, it’s basic training in counseling psychology.
I learned about boundaries, and their value and purpose, in the healing school I attended, where I first learned about energy. That’s where started working with boundaries, as a visual. Since then, it has served me tremendously to know this, life changing in fact. Really cleaned up my personal space so that I could focus on what I wanted from life, rather than worrying about what others were doing or thinking.
After having had absolutely no concept of this, I finally learned what it meant to have good boundaries, and it starts with energy.
Oh, and even though I feel I can define and even exhibit what I consider to be healthy boundaries, I often screw up with this, too. For me, it’s a never-ending learning process. Boundaries can be tricky! Good, clear, respectful dialogue can often clear this up, if we can muster it.
“Human suffering has never been a brain problem. It is a human problem, and it has been so since the dawn of time.”
This is an important message that cannot be repeated often enough. Thank you for these words.
However, I must say I don’t agree with that:
“The appropriate treatment is the psychotherapy of character. Psychotherapy is a specialized form of human engagement that repairs the damage to one’s character”
It’s another way of telling people they’re broken and defective and need to be “repaired”. While I do agree that conscious effort to overcome one’s habits and change bad coping strategies may be helpful for some people under some circumstances and some people need a friend or maybe a therapist to point them in the right direction I strongly disagree with the idea that badly developed personalities are to blame. More often than not it’s the society that drives people “crazy”.
“It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” – Jiddu Krishnamurti
B, I love your comments. I agree. “Character problems”…it’s baloney that a person’s character is so fatally flawed that only a psychiatrist can “fix” it. People have problems and almost all are temporary. Even those things that we think of as issues of character. I can give an example. I knew someone that I recognized is a chronic liar who was dishonest for the sake of being dishonest. I wondered why? Is it really true that people are born that way? I don’t think so. We see people for only a brief segment of their full lifespan, and although something may appear persistent, or, “chronic,” these are often, in fact, fleeting. Three weeks of depression doesn’t mean chronic or permanent, though of course it’s uncomfortable, often unbearable. So I had to rethink “chronic liar” and ask why this person became a liar. I realized, through observation, exactly why. This was iatrogenic, simply habitual, not a compulsion as it appeared. All due to psychiatry that had started at a young age for this person. I knew that if I said to this person, “Your problem is lying, and if you stop lying, all your difficulties will end.” This would sound too pushy. I am learning not to be pushy, and to hold back sometimes since folks can’t necessarily digest everything if it’s shoved into them. Psychiatry is King of Pushing and Shoving.
Instead, I worked subtly, suggesting but trying to stay mum usually when I watched this person fail time and time again due to dishonesty. One day, poof! The message got across. I see now yet one more stronger and wiser person who will likely defy the psych prediction, and succeed.
Character assassination is irreparable without unlimited, abundant resources and even then, may still be impossible.
Humanity still has a need for conformity, for the sake of comfort. When the majority of people are all the same, or as similar as can be, and nobody is different or unique, and nobody stands out, except for the select chosen ones, of stardom and fame – idol worship – all is well in the world.
I want to address what I feel are some misrepresentations. I must say that therapy is not ‘telling people they’re broken and defective and need to “repaired”’. And there is no implication at all that ‘badly developed personalities are to blame.’ People suffer because of how they adapt to trauma. The last thing in the world is some idea that they are to blame. Therapy is a respectful process that allows one to deal with their pain. In the context of boundaries, responsiveness and caring, one heals and recovers through their own authenticity. Therapy empowers the individual to fulfill themselves in their own way.
In no way is it the imposition of some theory. It is listening to the story and following it wherever it leads. A therapist is not superior in any way to his patient. That would violate ‘respect’ itself, and would be adding violations on top of violations.
Therapy is not about blame. We need to be clear where violations happen in order to face them an deal with them. Like Steve said – that we may raise our own children well.
In addition most mothers are good mothers and that is the most important basis of love in the universe. It is what makes our children flourish and thrive. As I said before – there are all kinds of damaging traumas. These all need to be addressed. This does not mean some incorrect idea that I’m saying the real hidden cause is bad mothering. That is certainly not what I mean at all. It means that attending to and mourning the traumas of life is what therapy is about.
And finally it is my experience that good therapy is a wonderful thing that frees people to be themselves, and to live and love well. That is what it is all about. It is not about control, or ego, or power or anything like that.
In addition, I do not think it is the only way that people can deal with their struggles. What Alex talks about I also completely agree with. For me, psychotherapy is how I make my contribution.
I like how you put this, Dr. B., I think it clarifies and rings true. I also feel pretty certain that you realize so many of us have been so very violated in psychotherapy, and in my case, I can see how the education can provide a skewed view of humanity, personality types, etc. quite fraught with judgment and duality. There is a lot of very judgmental blaming that, if not overt, is quite present in subtle but powerful ways in the world of psychotherapy and social services. I sense strongly that this is not from where you are coming.
I’ve always liked your theater of consciousness metaphor, and agree with how you talk about following the story and mourning trauma–as long as this process transmutes that trauma story into one of personal enlightenment, leading to freedom from post traumatic stress in favor of finding meaning and purpose to the experience, and releasing resentment, so the healing process can make us feel whole again. I think it’s about feeling better, more than anything, relief from the stress of post trauma.
In Shamanic terms, I’d equate this with ‘soul retrieval.” I think when we suffer from post traumatic stress, we are looking for a part of our spirit that became wounded, for the purpose of healing that wound.
I especially like this statement: “People suffer because of how they adapt to trauma.” I agree, we can carry it a variety of ways, and it makes all the difference in how we feel, and in our experience of life.
You say: “ This does not mean some incorrect idea that I’m saying the real hidden cause is bad mothering.”
I want to believe you mean this, but if so, I think you need to rewrite or retract this post. (Or at least explain to me how I misinterpreted the following quotes). There are things you write that I am unable to ‘read’ in any way, except that you are saying bad mothering is underlying ALL psychotic conditons.
For example you say the following:
“ALL psychiatric conditions are the result of trauma – deprivation and abuse – on our emerging personalities….”
I have broken down the types of human suffering into three groups. The FIRST is the constellation of temperaments in the context of MODERATELY PROBLEMATIC MOTHERS AND FATHERS; The SECOND is the constellation of temperaments with SEVERE MATERNAL DAMAGE; and the THIRD is about PSYCHOTIC character worlds.
and then you say:
FINALLY , we have the PSYCHOTIC CHARACTER WORLDS where there is a fragmentation of the intactness of the self persona and a rupture of the cohesion of the play itself. This DERIVES FROM a damaged Authentic Being, DUE OT SOME COMBINATION OF EXTREMELY EARLY MATERNAL DAMAGE and……….”
In other words it seems to me you are saying that all people who experience psychosis suffer from early maternal damage and you imply this damage must have been severe.
My issue is not about ‘blaming’ or not blaming’. It is also not that I don’t recognize that people in power (such as psychiatrists, teachers, bosses and most definitely primary caregivers such as mothers and fathers who have enormous influence,) are able to inflict greater harm (or help) on people (such as clients, children etc.) than those who are not in positions of power. I believe that extreme maternal abuse or neglect could indeed be the cause of psychosis for some people. I also believe that ‘relationship is key’ in regards to human suffering and we all can have great influence both positively and negatively on those around us. I also believe that most, in not all, parents are far from perfect, have ’baggage’ and if their child has psychosis, is it even more critical than ever for those particular parents to try and sort out relationships in order to promote a ‘healing home’ environment. That is why I have found approaches such as open dialogue, compassionate based therapy, Ron Unger’s cognitive therapy for psychosis and more recently a brilliant book entitled “Recovery Sanity” by Edward Podvell, so helpful in guiding the way we support our loved one.
No, once again, I must stress that I find this post of yours very dangerous because you are a person in power who, (at least judging from the quotes above ), does seem to be ‘imposing a theory’ that could lead to very damaging results in the hands of the ‘wrong therapist’, or in the hands of the ‘psychiatric system’ (you know -that system that incarcerates our children). You state your theory as fact and imply it applies to all cases. ( e.g. You do not say ‘you think ‘ or ‘you wonder’ or ‘in some cases’or ‘in my experience with x number of clients this percentages of them’…..etc.)
In your past posts I found many aspects of your theory of the psychotherapy of character interesting and I even bought your book. But when I read this post, I felt I finally understood what happened about 40 or so years ago that drove so many families to organizations like NAMI, and why so many families were so easily betrayed into believing ‘biological reductionist’ theories of illness. Families must have been so afraid 0f the kind of ‘emotional reductionist’ theories that abounded at the time. In their heart of hearts they knew these theories simply did not give the complete picture, and that these theories could do so much damage in the wrong therapist’s hands; and so they ‘ran’ .
No, once again, I must stress that I find this post of yours very dangerous because you are a person in power who, (at least judging from the quotes above ), does seem to be ‘imposing a theory’ that could lead to very damaging results in the hands of the ‘wrong therapist’, or in the hands of the ‘psychiatric system’ (you know -that system that incarcerates our children). You state your theory as fact and imply it applies to all cases. ( e.g. You do not say ‘you think ‘ or ‘you wonder’ or ‘in some cases’or ‘in my experience with x number of clients this percentages of them’…..etc.)
I find this to be in poor taste
“No, once again, I must stress that I find this post of yours very dangerous because you are a person in power who, (at least judging from the quotes above ), does seem to be ‘imposing a theory’ that could lead to very damaging results in the hands of the ‘wrong therapist’, or in the hands of the ‘psychiatric system’ (you know -that system that incarcerates our children). You state your theory as fact and imply it applies to all cases. ( e.g. You do not say ‘you think ‘ or ‘you wonder’ or ‘in some cases’or ‘in my experience with x number of clients this percentages of them’…..etc.)”
I believe these issues are far too serious to be talking about whether or not comments are in ‘good’ or ‘bad’ ‘taste.’
If you think my comments are INACCURATE or if you think I have read the article wrong then please speak to the ISSUES and in particular to the quotes I highlighted that seem to me to be so problematic. These comments seem to me to say (intentionally or unintentionally) that all psychotic persons have had severe abuse or neglect FROM THEIR MOTHER(‘ maternal damage” ) as either an infant or toddler (or whatever Dr. B means by ‘extremely early’) . This is an incredible statement and an incredible assumption.
You figure when it comes to professional people, there are a range. If you go to a mechanic, you find almost all are trained enough to know the basics. Some are amazing, they work like detectives and know your car inside-out. A small minority are dishonest, they might put in cheap replacement parts or overcharge. Same with any other professional who provides a service. Therapy by all means should work if it is done respectfully. I don’t see a similar bell curve with therapists. Almost all are incompetent or abusive. Maybe 1% are respectful. Actually, I think showing respect, which most of us got little of in the past, is 99% of what most people need to heal. Respect is the core of human rights. I’d say education is the rest of the percentage. Again, it’s a matter of right to access information, all human rights issues.
An acquaintance of mine was upset because he’d had a vasectomy he later regretted. He considered suicide. He went to therapy. It lasted ONE SESSION. She didn’t label him. Instead, she respectfully informed him that a vasectomy can be reversed. No one had given him this vital information. He told me later she saved his life, and he never considered suicide after that. He didn’t need further therapy.
I personally had the “transference method” done on me rather deliberately once. This is how it happened. I was around 28 or 29 years old. I was coerced into attending day treatment. I don’t know how this happened, but I fell in love with my administrator there, who was in her 50’s at the time, maybe the age I am now. I told her directly how I felt. I recall the extremely uncomfortable expression on her face. Then, suddenly, she undid her uncomfortable face and put on a smile and said, “It’s normal.” But nothing she did was normal after that. She kept me in that program over three years, when I didn’t even need the program. She flirted with me, allowing me to whisper “I love you” into her ear, giving me all sorts of extra time, claiming I needed it, even came to my home. Her physical contact with me was totally inappropriate. All the clients were aware of my “special” relationship with Liz. I felt so, so embarrassed after a while. So the last day I was there, I was on my way out and I overheard the therapists congratulating her. That’s when suddenly I snapped out of it and realized I’d been abused. I was standing downstairs at the door and I recall looking up the stairs where all the staff had gathered. They didn’t know I heard them. I fled out of there and never looked back.
Years later, in 1997, I found out a few interesting tidbits from another “graduate” of the program. After I had left around 1991 or 1992, five patients were hospitalized after the director resigned, even though she had told everyone well ahead of time. Apparently they were so dependent that they couldn’t handle it. Another staff suddenly announced that he and a female client were getting married and were leaving the program. Then, a long-time client suicided. So you see what happens from bad therapy.
There is a fine line between caring and abuse. There is no question in my mind that my therapist at that program had crossed over the line of respect, deliberately, thinking her “love” was helping. I tried to tell my next therapist but it completely flew over her head. I remember the day I told her. My boyfriend was in the room.
I don’t see a bell curve when it comes to therapists. I see tons who abuse, others who justify the abuse done by other therapists and back them, many totally incompetent, many dishonest, and a select few (1%?) who are truly good. Who are the good ones? How much are they charging? I ask because I see a split. You don’t see many of these exceptions who don’t charge a fortune. A person who is out of work cannot pay $100 a session once or twice a week, but many of these charge much more. Charging insane fees is disrespectful, so are they really that good? I’ve seen $300 or more per session from some of them. Therapist for the rich? I guess so! At the overcrowded clinics, a person is on a waitlist for months, then takes whomever is available. Many clinics turn patients away and won’t even put them on a waitlist. In those clinics, I’ve noticed very few are decent and respectful, and they don’t stick around. I’ve noticed the pay is very low, few or no benefits, and working conditions can be deplorable.
Hey you guys, Here we have criticized Dr. Berezin’s statements regarding “bad mothering” (however you want to put it) and then, Dr. Berezin backed down. I am wondering if he meant what he said, and then, says he didn’t mean it to appease us.
I’ve been caught in the same ordeal. I might say something others think is incorrect or, on my end, I worded it in an ambiguous way. I get attacked. If what I said was correct, I reiterate my stance, firmly. If I realize I was incorrect, I SHOULD say, “I’m sorry, I was completely mistaken and I am sorry I misled you.” However, if I am attacked in a rather vicious way or repeatedly, I might get all flustered, lose my concentration and tact, and say, “I didn’t really mean that, I guess I was unclear.” This response on my part is also rather rude and in fact, defensive when really, I should concede or admit fault. It’s hard, though, under such pressure. Since I haven’t, the others usually attack me again, “Well, then, why did you say that?”
Isn’t this what’s happening? This is a published article and enough of us have contended it (with examples) that I think Dr. Berezen should do the PC thing and concede. Or maybe put up an addendum to the article or ask the editors to allow him to rewrite a few paragraphs.
We don’t often see this kind of thing in journalism. Often, when an article is published, the publication editors won’t stand for argument and edit out any comments that contend the writer’s stance. Bravo to MIA for allowing such diverse discussions.
…and bravo to you too, Julie Greene! I love this comment – yes it would be wonderful if this conversation ended up with greater understanding all around!
I think conditional love from the mother can be insidiously traumatic, and creates internalized feelings of lack of safety, splitting mixed messages, and the belief that we always have to live up to someone else’s expectations, which is a bottomless well of dependence and resentment.
It also can create this dynamic of always giving our power over to others, by habit or compulsion, because this is what many are taught to do, out of fear. Unfortunately, I think it’s pretty epidemic. Unconditional love is a rare commodity these days.
But if we want safety, clarity, grounding, self-nurturing, and well-being, I don’t think it’s going to come from conditional love–that is, “I will (act as though I) love you as long as what you do and who you are make me feel good about myself.”
That’s an impossibly tall order, yet I believe that, at least covertly, it is the message put out there in a lot of cases. It was helpful to me when I noticed this was true about my own upbringing, which had caused me a lot of anxiety and confusion in the world. Then I could re-write that false belief that my life was not my own. Of course it is. The only approval I need is mine and those with whom I lovingly share my life, and that is by choice and permission on my part.
My expectation of myself is now the standard by which I measure my life experience. That was more healing, clarifying, and calming than I can say to realize this, and to start living it as truth.
Indeed, my mother has had to adjust, and it’s been hard for her. But she’s hanging in there, bless her heart. That’s *her* healing and personal growth.
I do love her unconditionally, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy for me to be around her, nor does it mean that she can get away with being demeaning and controlling. Probably why we live 3000 miles apart. But we definitely maintain a relationship. I’m just really good at setting boundaries with her now, something that led to having hell to pay when I was a kid. Who was I to have boundaries, and with my mother of all people?? She’s had to learn to accept that this has changed. Good for her!
When I finally got grounded and clear after a long period of disability and confusion, the rest of the family had choices to make, because the play had changed, along with my character, whether they liked it or not. Most got on board, one can’t handle the shift. And so it goes…
You certainly don’t need me to tell you that you are spot on. But I applaud you nonetheless. Boundaries and love…
But the agreement feels excellent! Thanks for your good work. This discussion helped me remarkably in achieving clarity through your framework.