Psychosis Is an Expression of Early Childhood Trauma | Daniel Mackler

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Editor’s note: This Around the Web is to a video that was posted three years ago by Daniel Mackler. Ann Silver died in 2021.

From Daniel Mackler/Wild Truth: “A couple of days ago I was having a conversation with a psychiatrist whom I’ve been friends with for a long, long time. She’s actually in my film Take These Broken Wings, her name is Ann Silver. And we were talking about the subject of psychosis, a subject that has been near and dear to both of our hearts . . . so she spontaneously said to me, ‘You know I’ve been thinking a lot about this subject of psychosis,’ and she said, ‘You know what I think it is really? I think it’s just horrible things that little children went through when they were very, very young, terrible things that they went through that they couldn’t deal with and they buried and they split off’ — by the way, this is very much in line with my thinking — and she said, ‘what it is, is it’s just something that they didn’t deal with at the time, they pushed it down because it was too painful, and then later in their life when they’re 18, 19, 20, 21’ — that age when ‘schizophrenia often rears its head,’ according to what psychiatry says — ‘that’s a time when they go through something that’s sort of comparable to it, and all that early stuff just bursts out.’

I thought that was very insightful of her. And then she said, ‘It’s not really even a sickness or a disease at all, as psychiatry says. Really what it is, is they are just trying to reprocess. They’re trying to make sense of what they went through; they’re trying to understand it, work through it. And so it’s actually a very healthy process, to make sense of it.’ And I totally agree with her. Now what I added is, ‘that’s not at all what the mental health field says.’ And what’s also interesting, I said, is this: I’ve heard so many people . . . say, ‘Yeah, but that’s not what my son or daughter is going through’ when they had their psychotic episode at 17, 18, 19, 20, ‘because they never had a traumatic experience like that, they never had profound abandonments or traumas, they never went through severe loneliness or anything like that, that’s not something that my child went through’ . . . And what I said to Ann is, the problem when those parents say that is, to me, it doesn’t mean that they’re necessarily right at all. Because in my experience, when they say this it really is suggesting how much they’re actually out of touch with the emotional reality of their children’s early childhood. And I have seen that again and again and again, with parents, they have all sorts of different reasons for not wanting to really acknowledge or empathize with or even know, be aware of what their [young] children went through . . . it’s too painful, they have too much denial around it . . .

And a metaphor for this idea that parents can be so absolutely clueless about what their little babies or children are actually going through emotionally is how people treat their pets. Well in New York City it’s a common phenomenon that people have these tiny little apartments . . . and they have dogs, and what I hear so commonly is people going off to work for the whole day and they leave their dogs in these tiny little apartments. Dogs being kind of like humans in a way, they’re very social animals, pack animals, like humans, and what happens is they leave their dog . . . eight or ten hours later they come home from work and the dog by that time has given up and is in a horrible state of just saying, I give up, no one’s coming back for me . . . the owner comes home and the dog is thrilled to see the owner because it’s been so lonely and miserable and bored all day long and then what happens is the owner says, ‘Yay, see, my dog loves me too, my dog is so, so, so happy [to see me],’ and they don’t really know even remotely the emotional reality of what this dog has gone through all day long. And sometimes what happens is the only way they find out what the dog has gone through all day long is when the neighbors complain [and] the management leaves a sign on the person’s door saying, You have got to stop your dog from crying [or] barking all day long, your dog is going nuts and it’s bothering people. And then the person goes, Oh my god, I don’t want trouble, I don’t want to lose my lease. And then what happens so commonly in New York is, then they medicate the dog. They give the dog anti-anxiety medications or antidepressants. But they don’t deal with the fundamental problem [which is that] the dog is incredibly lonely . . . they just want to push the problem down.

And I think that those people are very comparable to a lot of parents with their young children . . . they don’t actually relate to what the child has gone through, and they don’t explore it, and then twenty years later when the kid is going through a psychotic experience and all this wild stuff is coming up, the parent doesn’t know, they don’t know where it’s coming from because they never related to what had happened in the first place.

Now what’s even more confusing about psychosis . . . is when people are having this eruption of early childhood trauma, what makes it so confusing for everybody in the world, especially for parents — parents who don’t want to see the history, and the mental health system that also doesn’t often want to look at the history at all, doesn’t even find it interesting or curious or just outright denies it — what it is when this eruption of early childhood abandonment, violation, pain, rage, terror, all these different things — loneliness, profound loneliness, all this stuff that’s bursting up — it’s not expressing itself through the lens of an early child. It’s expressing itself through the lens, through the body, through the voice of someone who is now an adult. And that’s what makes it so confusing. So what happens is it’s all the feelings and all the thoughts and everything that was going on in someone who might be six months old, eight months old, a year old, something like that — people who are pre-verbal, even — and yet now all these feelings are being expressed through the lens of an adult or an almost-adult self; through a verbal person, a person who can say things, who can argue, who can use intellectual arguments. But really the stuff that’s driving it and motivating it is not adult, it’s infantile — it’s toddler stuff. And so what happens is it comes out in incredibly confusing ways. And psychiatry says, ‘Oh,’ they give these fancy words, ‘they’re going through this or that or schizophrenic break’ or whatever it is, fancy old Greek words. Because we can’t understand what they’re saying, we call it ‘word salad,’ but really what it is, it’s just very, very early childhood stuff, and this can really throw people off.

And there’s no reason to think that someone who’s expressing really early profound childhood stuff would express it in an adult manner. And that’s why so many therapists don’t want to work with people who are going through these psychotic breaks in adulthood, or they’re very confused by it, or it makes them incredibly anxious. Because all they know how to do is these intellectual ways of interacting, intellectual ways of reasoning with a person, reasoning with them in an adult way, ‘Ok, let’s take a step back and intellectually study what you’re going through.’ That would never work with trying to be there for a child who’s going through a profound post-traumatic reaction. And it works just as poorly when someone who’s 20 or 25 years old is going through an early childhood post-traumatic reaction through the lens of an adult. Their behavior gets called ‘bizarre,’ ‘confusing,’ ‘makes no sense,’ ‘is out of touch with the reality’; whereas actually it’s incredibly in touch with reality, it’s just in touch with the reality that people aren’t aware of as a reality because it’s a very early childhood reality . . . and on top of that, it really is a desire to heal, a desire to express these buried feelings that got triggered by an adult situation that happened to be somewhat similar to that.

No wonder so many people go through this psychotic, first psychotic break between the ages of, what, 17 to 25? It’s a time where childhood is abandoned, where people have to become independent; all these ancient feelings are kind of parallel to what’s going on now. People are leaving their families; they’re being abandoned by their families; they have to function in the outside world; they have all this incredible pressure on them from the outside world and from their families and from within themselves. It’s a time that really goes right down into the ancient self of who they are, and if their foundation is not that good, that stuff really can burst out, no big surprise.

So now I’m going to share one last idea and that is what would be good ‘treatment,’ what would be a good way to help someone who’s 20 years old and is having an absolute eruption of stuff from 19 or 20 years earlier in their life, emotions, unprocessed emotions from back then. Well before I get into what good ‘treatment’ is, let’s look at what conventional ‘treatment’ is. And then when we look at conventional ‘treatment,’ we can see so often why conventional psychiatry, the conventional mental health system has such a hopeless attitude toward full recovery for people with these problems.

Conventional psychiatry restrains people and medicates them. And when they medicate them and give them antipsychotics, basically what they’re doing is trying to numb the person down. And fundamentally it’s taking all those emotions, all that stuff that’s erupting and putting a cap on it, putting a lid on it and trying to push it down . . . as fast as possible: let’s inject them with Haldol, let’s give them pills which knock them out; if they don’t want to take [the pills], let’s force them to take [them], let’s force them to take injections, we’ll put them in restraints if they act out too much.

It’s like: these are the worst ways to treat someone who’s going through an eruption of babyhood, early childhood stuff. Would we want to ‘treat’ a baby by injecting them with medication and restraining them? No. A baby needs love and caring and respect; they need lack of abandonment, they need more nurturance, more time, more gentleness, more empathy, more caring, more touch . . . I’ve learned that again and again, there’s no better way to make a connection with someone who’s going through these feelings than to honor that ‘You are going through something that actually makes sense, especially if we look at it in the light of your history’ . . . and just to assume that this actually is rational, what you’re going through, it might look irrational but in a greater context and a greater understanding of your history, this is rational. And so therefore I as a clinician [should] honor it . . . and what I found is that is incredibly helpful to people. And what I’ve also seen is the programs around the world . . . that follow this, each in its own specific way — and sometimes not even programs, sometimes just kind people, or therapists working in isolation, therapists like Ann Silver . . . what they do is they don’t medicate people, they don’t force them to be anything other than who they are and instead try to help them, and sometimes try to include even their family system in trying to gain new perspective on what this person went through, and don’t treat them like the dog in the New York City apartment who’s been abandoned, which is just — medicate it, force it, shut it up, put a muzzle on it. I remember once I had a neighbor who had crying dogs and what she did is she got a little contraption that anytime it would cry it would spray vinegar into its eyes. Because she was so terrified that the dogs would be taken away and she’d lose her lease, because she’d go out and abandon these dogs in her apartment all day long. It’s like, wow, spraying vinegar into the dog’s eyes every time it cried as ‘negative behavioral therapy,’ that sounds a lot like how traditional psychiatry works . . .

But in the long run the evidence [shows that] the more humane ways, the more respectful ways, the more ways of honoring what people are going through and considering it, as Ann Silver said, a healthy desire, a healthy motivation from within to work this stuff out, to make sense of what somebody went through, even if they’re not necessarily consciously aware of it — actually, by definition, they’re not consciously aware of it — and I think the therapist can help them become more consciously aware that they actually are going through something fundamentally healthy, even if to the outside world it doesn’t look that way — well, doing that, all these different ways that humans have figured out how to help people, how to honor them, how to bring them back into community, how to love them and nurture them and not abandon them all over again, not repeat that trauma of abandonment — these are the ways to help people move forward in life, grow, and become functional, happy adults again.”

 

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43 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Daniel, I would say so!

    Trauma can be the type of thing that returns under pressure and takes on the appearance of present day problems. But it is more than possible to get out of this.

    It’s always painful but once a person recognises how trauma operates, 90% of the work is done. I believe Trauma is behind all so called “Mental Illness”!

    I suffered from the peculiar nearly disabling trauma of Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal – and my only advantage was that I could definitely see it. My previous traumas as painful as they were, didn’t have the capacity to disable me.

    It’s good to see you again.

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    • I agree…it happened to me after a death..and many losses… the memory of going missing when i was 2 surfaced…my psychosis was a spiritual awakening where i saw the virgin mary behind 2 ankh keys….i was at the time trying to reboot my brain while typing on the computer in utter sleeplessness for 3 nights(i had an internet addiction and extreme lonliness and no one to talk in depth emotionally with…i thought i was autistic…then i was sedated sectioned and spent 3 weeks sedated after that i was medicated for 18mths i determined to recover myself with talking therapies and learning about ericksons levels of development….now ive learned about jung i can say with absolute certainty that it was the religious instruction and culture of old mysogenistc ireland that created my sickness…honour father and mother even when they f**cked up and no one intervened…the predatory aggression and internalised mysogeny of the emotionally illiterate…. abuse and destroy the emotionally vulnerable…jung cured himself with individuation…theres actually a paper written that argues that jung is autistic (schizophrenia?.. or psychotic).. the labels are unnecessary if all it is..is liminal space for the body to heal itself with expression and nvc (dr sarah peyton/pete walker etc)…for me ive learned to bypass and heal the mother wound and make peace with the divine feminine…way of the rosary, divine feminine etc…life is for once amazing and im saner than anyone i know who has zero diagnosis but enters into psychosis and fantasy when stuck in their dependences(sex drink drugs work etc)…status or isolation due to fear of shaming rejection will never be a substitute for authentic connection..its a pity its only authentically found amongst other recovering mental health patients probably due to the realisation the mh issues were all created by being the emotional dumping ground for emotionally immature parents families and societies….and notbeing allowed expresd greif or sorrow healthfully…thanks to colonization patriarchy oppression abandonment intergenerational trauma

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      • Wow, Oldnick. You really know what you’re talking about:

        “…my psychosis was a spiritual awakening…now ive learned about jung…jung cured himself with individuation…the labels are unnecessary if all it is…is liminal space for the body to heal itself with expression…dependences…will never be a substitute for authentic connection…its a pity its only authentically found amongst other recovering mental patients probably due to the realisation the mh issues were all created by being the emotional dumping ground for emotionally immature parents families and societies…and notbeing allowed expresed greif or sorrow healthfully…thanks to colonization patriarchy oppression abandonment intergenerational trauma”

        The so-called “psychotherapeutic” relationships/connections, with their endless supply of “diagnoses” and “drugs”, were by far the most inauthentic relationships/connections I’ve ever had.

        So what’s the most authentic connection anyone can have? The one you build with yourself, by yourself.

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  2. This article is speculative fantasy that brings up memories of the now discredited schizophrenogenic mother. There’s no proof at all that supposedly horrible things that happened in childhood cause psychosis decades later.

    Are some cases of psychosis the results of childhood trauma? Maybe. But maybe a lot of other things too, such as current trauma, drug use (illegal and prescription) and genetic propensity.

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    • There is a VERY high correlation between childhood sexual trauma and psychosis.

      https://www.medpagetoday.com/psychiatry/schizophrenia/23087

      It is not at all far fetched to suppose that childhood abuse can contribute to the eventual development of psychotic states. There is also strong correlation with being an immigrant and living in an urban environment.

      As in all of the so-called “mental disorders,” the situation is FAR more complex than the “mental health” world would like us to believe. There is “no proof” (to use your words) that ANY “mental illness” as defined by the DSM is caused by any measurable biological/genetic factor either. I’d agree that current drug use and current trauma are often overlooked as contributing factors in psychosis. Maybe the problem is regarding “psychosis” as if it must always be caused by the same things or “treated” in the same fashion. Maybe there are many “causes” that work differently in many different people, and we ought to scrap the idea that “schizophrenia” is a “thing” that has a specific cause.

      Steve

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      • I agree that there are probably many causes of psychosis that work differently in different people. I’m also not happy with the term schizophrenia.

        My objection to this article isn’t that there may not be some connection in some cases to childhood trauma and subsequent psychosis. It’s that the argument it presents is extreme and simplistic. It seems to blame supposedly clueless parents who don’t realize that their child was lonely or abandoned or traumatized in some way and eventually the trauma they’re responsible for expresses itself as schizophrenia. I would prefer to read more reasoned, convincing discussions of the possible causes of psychosis.

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        • As extreme and simplistic as the idea that “schizophrenia” is in all cases caused by genetic or biological malfunctions which no one has ever been able to detect but we KNOW must be there?

          I’m always the enemy of extreme and simplistic. I just want to make sure that everyone is fully aware of the extreme simplistic basis for these ridiculous psychiatric “diagnoses” and the insistence on “treatments” being determined by such laughably unscientific claims. The proper attitude toward any case of “schizophrenia” is that we have a NAME but very little knowledge of what is going on IN THIS CASE and need to explore what’s happening IN THIS CASE and what might work IN THIS CASE. Trying to generalize based on these laughable “syndromes” where two people can both be “diagnosed” and literally have no symptoms in common (try it some time, it’s quite possible in at least schizophrenia and major depression by my direct observation) is almost as far away from scientific as one can get.

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          • At least the views expressed in this article are sincere (if mostly wrong, in my opinion). Mainstream psychiatry is not only simplistic but riddled with corruption because of its ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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          • Contrary to what psychiatry would have us believe, the truth can be extremely simple, especially when it comes to psychiatry’s lies, which for some needlessly complicated reason, simply makes psychiatry’s believers extremely uncomfortable.

            Psychiatry’s believers ought to check this out: “Specious Reasoning: How to Spot It and Stop It” from Psychology Today

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          • https://youtube.com/@metabolicmind
            I feel I do have schizophrenia and that it is possibly caused by the way the poisonous diet researched on this medically explorative channel is affecting my brain. It is possible there are many other causes of schizophrenia and bipolar and psychosis, childhood trauma may come via poverty and a bad diet will also be in the mix. A traumatized adult cannot avoid sugar and carbs for it is absolutely everywhere. What I love about your view Steve, is it is embracing of many possible causes. This goes into regarding each “individual” on a case by case basis.
            As if all are “different”.
            And as if all are equal in their “differentness”.

            Trauma is real and can badly impact brain function.
            Pharma can badly affect brain function.
            So can nutrition badly affect brain function. Anorexics can become psychotic via malnutrition. Malnutrition does not mean starvation. It means not getting the right dietary components that bring balance to the brain.

            All of these paradigms may lock horns with each other, but they should work together and no one idea should say it is the answer for everyone.

            I need to go now.

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      • Absolutely! This! Psychosis and depressive presentation should be treated in the same way as a patient presenting with headache. We certainly don’t say ‘you have headache disorder’ and think we’ve explained anything, and we acknowledge rightly that there are many many reasons one might have a headache. But not with something like having a dysregulated nervous system? Why? Because the nervous system is so simple? It’s absurd.

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  3. It makes all the sense in the world for young adults to be susceptible to breaks with reality when suddenly left to function on their own in the somewhat alien and often unsupportive college environment. Without the familiarity of home, family, and neighborhood, which often are responsible for keeping memories of early trauma at bay, ancient feelings of anxiety can bubble to the surface, making falling into the hands of traditional mental health services something to avoid. There needs to be more insightful people like Daniel Mackler and Ann Silver in the mental health field, not to mention the world in general.

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  4. This popped up on my Google feed. You are recycling Freud’s position that in terms of schizophrenia the sufferer regressed to a state of primary narcissism and rehashing Szasz’s arguments that mental illness is a myth. However, you do manage to consequently trivialise someone’s suffering to that of leaving a dog alone. Not a valid comparison at all. Despite dogs being social animals, they are not and cannot be regarded as the same level of species as humans. They are a lower animal. You do humanity a great disservice.
    When people without expertise, begin to spout unqualified arguments, it does danage to those who are able to qualify their arguments.

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    • One article in an online publication has “done society a disservice!” Why refer back to Freud or Szasz to try and discredit the arguments of the author through the reverse “argument by authority” approach? Don’t you have your own arguments to make?

      It would appear to me you might want to re-read Szasz again, as he never claimed that the phenomena describes as “mental illness” did not exist, but that the idea that these were discrete and identifiable “disease states” of the body was mythological, as this concept is not supported by scientific facts.

      There is nothing “unqualified” about the argument that traumatic events alter people’s concept of who they are and how the world operates and what relationships are about. In fact, the entire movement toward “trauma informed care” is based on scientific proof that not only their behavior, but that people’s actual brain structures and activities can be dramatically altered both by early life trauma AND improved by healthy relationships later on in life. It is pretty regressive at this point for anyone to claim that traumatic events do NOT impact all of the so-called “mental illnesses” as defined by the DSM, however fuzzy and arbitrary those definitions may be. Even the most medicalized psychiatric supporters at this point know that the idea of a “chemical imbalance” or other purely physiological problem creating any “mental illness” being detectable by tests and repairable by drugs is completely unsupportable by scientific studies.

      Ironically, there is far MORE support for the remnants of Freud’s “trauma theory” through the “trauma informed care” movement than for the idea that any discrete “mental illness” described by the DSM is a scientifically valid description of reality. Even more ironically, the DSM itself admits these things in its introduction, where it says that:

      “In DSM-IV, there is no assumption that each category of mental disorder is a completely discrete entity with absolute boundaries dividing it from other mental disorders or no mental disorder.” (APA, 2000, p. xxxi).”

      And even more tellingly: “There is also no assumption that all individuals described as having the same mental disorder are alike in all important ways.” (APA, 2000, p. xxxi).”

      So not only can the DSM criteria NOT distinguish between having one “disorder” or another “disorder,” or between having a “disorder” or having “no disorder.” Worse, two people who both CLEARLY QUALIFY for a given disorder may not have the same problems, needs, or possible solutions! What is the point of having “diagnoses” where the people who are so diagnosed are NOT “alike in all important ways?” Isn’t the point of a “diagnosis” to group together people who have similar needs and issues and distinguish people who have similar presentations but different underlying causes? These two clauses admit outright that these “diagnoses” are scientifically and practically meaningless!

      So before you go about accusing others of “unqualified arguments,” it might be wise to spend some time to qualify your own arguments. No one arguing in favor of the DSM “diagnoses” being taken seriously in any scientific manner is in a position to criticize anyone else for being “unscientific!”

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      • Hi Steve, I have to agree. Personally, I find dismissal as “speculation” that psychological problems may not be disease or disorder but an outgrowth of unresolved trauma/environmental factors, inappropriate. There are people diagnosed as schizophrenic who recovered after finding emotion retained from trauma, they that hadn’t been aware of. I worked with people diagnosed schizophrenic and they all pointed to trauma as initiating their psychological problem. I think it’s irresponsible not to look at unresolved trama relationship to serious psychological problems. What’s the problem with studying it from that angle. I tend to think it’s a societal desire to have full responsibility for mental heath on the individual and recognizing unresolved trauma takes away from that.

        Question for Steve. There use to be a box you checked to be notified of new comment on an article through your email. I don’t see it anymore. Did Mad in America eliminate it?

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  5. I’ve been having severe mental problems and I’m very introspective, so I’ve been trying to figure out why. I came to the same conclusion as you have, and to see this is very validating. I can’t believe this article appeared stating exactly what I had been thinking. Thank you so much

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  6. Hi Daniel,

    I’m a clinical social worker and a certified EMDR therapist in Michigan. I agree with what you and Ann are saying 100%. I had this opportunity to use EMDR with a client who developed acute psychosis after a traumatic loss, and reached full recovery. I’m giving a presentation at NAMI State conference and I’m also delivering an advanced EMDR training to trained clinicians to share this case and my hypothesis: psychosis can be conceptualized as PTSD, dissociative subtype. All the unprocessed, unresolved earlier trauma material, severed from conscious awareness, built up and needing to be processed so urgently that it breaks the biological barrier to suppress dreams as we wake up. So in other words, you can think of psychosis as being awake and having nightmares at the same time! Therefore, EMDR can target the psychotic content the same way we target nightmares. We don’t need to question the content/logic of the content of psychosis, we just need to access the the wellspring of unprocessed intense emotional, somatic & cognitive material and get them processed.

    I’m so glad people like you and Ann are also out there demystifying psychosis! We need a revolution in how we see & treat psychosis. I’d love to connect and talk more if you are also interested.

    Sincerely,
    Liz

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  7. Hi, I agree; I don’t think “mental illness” is a disease. I think everyone carries emotion from their past. We don’t know what a child is feeling and thinking so we can’t assume a child isn’t traumatized by things an adult doesn’t consider traumatic. I don’t think a child makes a decision to push down the feelings. I think the mind/brain makes it for them. It’s not a conscious act. At least in my case, I know I found emotion from my childhood that I didn’t know was there and didn’t decide to push down. It does seem that when people or others can’t point to a reason for their behavior or emotion there is a tendency to think it’s an abnormality or disease.
    I, personally, think there’s a couple of factors that you don’t discuss. One is the relationship of understanding the behavior in traumatic event and holding on to the emotion from it. I believe that reason that much of the emotion one carries is from childhood is because human behavior is new to a child. They don’t have the information to process particularly dysfunctional human behavior. You can’t live in society and not be exposed to dysfunctional behavior as everyone exhibits it on some level. Parents are important but people are hurt by people who aren’t their parents too. My experience is if something falls under “I know why someone would behave that way” even if you don’t like it, the emotion from it, isn’t held on to. If it’s “I have no idea what that behavior was about” the emotion will be held on to or in other words stored in the mind/body. It’s not the same behavior that hurts everyone. People are going to be hurt by different behavior since what someone understands or doesn’t depends on the person. What they have seen before and what they can relate to. Some behavior is hard for an adult to understand, murder, rape, DV, suicide etc. Sometimes psych problem is about something that happened in Adulthood.
    A second factor is relating to psychosis. People can experience extreme trauma and not develop psychosis. That’s part of the reason that people tend to think schizophrenia doesn’t relate to trauma and is a disease. My experience is that the mind has an extraordinary ability to suppress and hold a huge amount of thoughts, feelings, information, memories etc. It, most of the time, just store what is there and send it to the surface as needed/requested. There must be something in the mind functioning that enables it to suppress or box things away. If you under stress for a long period of time, and had a extreme emotional experience, your nervous system can break down and the ability to box emotion away, can be lessened. That is likely to lead to thing like delusion, hearing voices, hallucinations etc. The problem can be temporary or permanent depending on the break down.

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  8. Fiachra says:

    “It’s always painful but once a person recognises how trauma operates, 90% of the work is done. I believe Trauma is behind all so called “Mental Illness”!

    I couldn’t agree more.

    Daniel’s many videos and books gradually filled in the gaping holes I’d always sensed were rife within and throughout the mental health system, starting with its misplaced belief in psychiatry’s diagnoses to its carefully guarded hypocrisy that most of the time rules the therapeutic relationship. His many works left no doubt in my mind that unprocessed childhood Trauma is responsible for causing much, if not most, so-called “mental illness”, psychotic or otherwise, and how unfortunate it is that people are expected to turn to a system that for the most part that insists on labeling and drugging what instead needs to be understood and respected in a genuinely supportive relationship. Listening to Daniel’s thoughts on Trauma gradually helped heal years of psychological pain and Trauma in me that traditional methods had only added to in many significant ways.

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  9. Agree, forced treatment and restraint doesn’t work. Anti-psychiatry promoted this anecdote

    But wow, some really outdated stuff here regarding Schizophrenia, which is not a psychotic “break”. Neurology has GREATLY advanced since 1980. It would be good to start reading up on the research.

    Sure, a parent being out of touch totally needs addressing. Especially undiagnosed Autistic and ADHD ones. We live in a society which doesn’t afford most this kind of insight. This is the first thing to change. If those with power are being ruled by the sword, they won’t have a benchmark to work with.

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  10. Not only is it the case that ACES are enormously high in people with psychosis, but disorganized attachment is extremely predictive of psychosis as well. Disorganized attachment is highly correlated with and often directly caused by parental neglect, abuse, or the more middle-ground phenomena of extreme ‘misattunement.’ The number one predictor of disorganized attachment in a child, is actually unprocessed trauma or loss in a parent: it predicts disorganized attachment in a child with up to 75% accuracy, an unheard of correlation in psychology. Has any of this information been ‘discredited’ as commenters say? The body of research establishing these facts is absolutely massive and it replicated over and over. To deny that childhood adversity and trauma is involved in the pathogenesis of psychosis is at this point to be willfully ignorant to the science. That doesn’t prove that parental mistreatment and misattunement and childhood adversity are involved in the etiology of all psychoses, but they are absolutely involved in many. Why wouldn’t they be? I always find it dumbfounding that people would want to deny this. Yes childhood trauma and adversity aren’t responsible for all cases of mental distress; yes people with ‘good enough’ parents end up with mental and emotional issues; yes there are people who endure childhood trauma and adversity that don’t end up psychotic or neurotic or addicted to drugs. But that does not say anything against the fact that the pathogenesis of neuroticism and psychoses can and often does involve childhood adversity and trauma, and that these experiences are implicated in the mental and emotional issues in children and adults. Not everyone who smokes cigarettes develops lung cancer but many do and the lung cancer is caused by the cigarettes. Some people may even benefit from smoking cigarettes and this still doesn’t prove that if you smoked and developed lung cancer the smoking wasn’t the cause!

    Who in the world would really want to deny that family dysfunction and trauma has no possible effect? Or that we shouldn’t study this? Or that it wouldn’t be important for people to know about it? Do these same people also maintain that having great parents has no positive effects on personality development and stability? You’d have to go both ways! And what of the people who have no attachment figures at all? They exhibit extreme dysfunction and distress: we’re all comfortable with saying that that’s because of their lack of attachment. But having horrible attachment experiences with a present caregiver, or experiencing neglect from an attachment figure who is present has no effects and isn’t implicated in pathogenesis? Please! Give me a break! It’s not reasonable or scientific to believe this: like is said above the correlations are robust and replicable causation is established in many cases and the literature is massive.

    For those of you who prize biology, the development of the infant brain has proven to be entirely dependent on attachment experiences. So adverse ones will not impact the development of the nervous system?! Give me a break! No one should seriously believe this and at any rate it’s been entirely disproven.

    As an aside, Denial is extremely high in cases of parental abuse and it may even be the case that the parents themselves aren’t aware of what they’ve done—clinicians in one case study of disorganized attachment I read watched a father squeeze his 6 month old child’s arm so hard she began screaming in agony. And he would do this, after wincing himself, EVERY TIME she expressed distress. the father went on to say that he hadn’t done that AT ALL and had no idea why she was screaming. I prefer to believe he was dissociating rather than lying. Just like I prefer to believe the same of my own abusive and neglectful parents.

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  11. Dr E. Fuller Torrey (I believe) has stated that transient “Psychosis”was common in Africa and that this was why African people often recovered automatically. Other people would maintain that the absence of “medication” caused the transience.

    I don’t see much difference between a (‘non psychotic’) individual who’s being genuinely bullied in the workplace, and “who pre occupies themselves with distressing bullying scenarios ” – and a (‘psychotic’) individual whos being genuinely bullied in the workplace, and “who hears bullying voices”.

    Coping with “PTSD” effectively –
    Russell Brand
    https://youtu.be/CqLU8nKau1M

    In Crisis
    Dr David R Hawkins
    https://youtu.be/YWvIZ9Dcyb8

    I know for a Fact that this Approach works. As this is how I was able to ultimately withdraw from “Antipsychotics”.

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  12. Well that about perfectly summarizes what my wife experienced with her dysfunctional/traumatized parents, and how we as a family have walked with her thru the healing process these last 16 years. I don’t even like the term ‘psychosis’ because of its inherently negative connotations. They are, indeed, dissociated memories which burst out and overlap/overwhelm present realities and become jumbled…and I got the privilege of helping her sort all that stuff out and reconnect to all of it. It really is something family must be a part of because my wife only allowed me into the deepest of those memories and our adult son into some of them, and her counselor was a distant 3rd place in what she had access to.
    Sam

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    • Sam says, “They [psychotic reactions] are, indeed, dissociated memories which burst out and overlap/overwhelm present realities and become jumbled…”

      You’re spot on, Sam. And your wife is very lucky to have a husband like you.

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