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There’s a lot less wrong with people’s minds, than with the environment they are in.
Born into a hostile environment, our mental parts assume roles of labeling, guarding, and controlling. They must do that, or it would betray us to hostile world. If we were in a friendly environment long enough, the parts might consider changing. Then and only then can we make that request and hope they will. Then they might stop the anxiety, depression, or volatile feelings, those instruments they needed to use when it wasn’t safe.
You can’t drive a car up the side of a building, but that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with the car. It wasn’t designed for that. People were designed to be in groups of families or tribes, with close cooperation, knowing each other, and making their living by division of labor. When that’s missing, the mind detects a hostile environment, and puts up defenses designed to make us survive. Fear makes us sensitive to threats, depression keeps us out of view and therefore safe. Volatile feelings change our strategy to meet the perceived dangers. We only can find dangers by comparison to our experience, so we may make mistakes, but it’s the best we can do. Here we are surviving, and they say there is something wrong with us because we couldn’t do without our needs, the ones “they” have but we don’t.
People feel connected when they feel known and understood. And that is a human need, something that gives us strength.
Wouldn’t we feel helpless and unworthy if we never connected with our parents? If we never felt known or understood by them it presents an almost impossible situation to the mind, since we come with the need to feel present in some other minds. Madness could be the way the mind tries to find a way to manage our life when what we need for survival is absent. And maybe we underestimate the level of connection we need.
We spend our lives trying to get in to those little spaces in the minds of others around us, to put there what we want them to know if they have enough tolerance and compassion. We hope if we do the same, they will keep us and let us be there and always want to know the latest. It’s how we are together, we can’t avoid wanting to just be human.
The best promise from a politician is that they can persuade people to be kind and decent to their little children, to nurture them and treasure their feelings, create solid connections with them, so they will not need psychiatry or social control.
They counter the evils of dysfunctional families with the evils of drugs.
Maybe the causes of mental distress are too obvious to be noticed. People seem to look everywhere. Doesn’t it have to do with basic needs, especially in childhood? When we get our needs, we turn out strong and resilient, and when we don’t, there is all this confusion about what could have happened.
I just read a little about Internal Family Systems, and in it, Richard Schwartz, the person behind it, has an interesting point of view, that we are multiple personalities, divided into two types, exiles, and protectors. The exiles bear the burdens, or pains, from life, such as abuse and neglect, and threaten to overwhelm the conscious. The protectors try to keep them at bay. One of the protector class is a suicide part, which is the last ditch effort to keep us from feeling more pain than we could bear, or so the parts think. I also sometimes wonder if most people don’t believe they have worth except from their achievements, so it becomes a life long quest to keep finding any way at all to feel worth. They keep looking and trying things, only to have failure, and face starting over again. I wonder if this compares to your example of pushing the stone up the hill and it rolling down again, as maybe continually trying to work things out in your inner system to find worth that keeps the pain away, only to have it fail again, and have to start the process over.
I got a lot of resistance to the idea that whatever I thought happened and whatever I thought it meant, was what it was, because that is what is in my mind. It seems so elementary, but no one in the helping professions I encountered seemed to accept that. What we thought and felt at the time is what we have to work with, you can’t just dismiss it and get anywhere.
If the drug companies were any good, they would just substitute placebos for the anti-depressants, not tell anybody, get the same results, but not hurt anyone, except fool them a little bit.
Give me a little place in your mind, where I can really be and feel it, and I’ll give you one in mine, where you know the real you is kept, and together we are much more than adding us separately.
The mindset is toward “getting” the social and emotional things needed in life, if you have a problem, you should learn how to “get” what you need. It makes for a competitive, unhealthy society. When some get, some naturally give. If you wanted a healthy society, the mindset would be toward giving. Where there is lots of giving, there is lots of receiving, out of the abundance. Why is this so hard to figure out if there are so many smart people in the world?
Bad things happened and the message you gave to your subconscious was, I don’t like this and I don’t want it to happen again. Your obedient mind then formed parts which were dedicated to protecting you in the future, and the feelings they produce are interfering with life, so the feelings get labeled as the problem. If you came up with a way to look at the whole picture, really describe reality, then you could have a diagnosis. It wouldn’t be just a simple label thing, it would be longer. They just need to stop side stepping reality, and it would work a lot better, so they could have some way to classify problems because that is the need for officialdom and bureaucracy.
I think this is a good point. I had this experience too, not feeling the effects of things until many years later.
Maybe our social nature requires that we need to be needed, and firmly a member of some collection of others who are succeeding in securing their lives.
Instead of thinking, I have a condition, maybe I should say, my mind is valiantly trying to manage my life by producing feelings that might direct me to make changes. I would rather think of it that way.
I think the culture is geared to fail one basic need, especially with children, to have their lives, which is their feelings, known to those around them. The internal equation is, my feelings being known and accommodated, equals life. I think this is being ignored in our supposedly advanced culture.
I read the words, heard, respected, and understood. It seems like that’s really the most basic types of things every human being should get all along. Is it just ignorance on the part of parents or whoever is there for them, or is it the culture which says we should be ashamed of being needy. Needy is a strength not a weakness. We took over the planet with it because it makes us cooperate. If we keep deciding it’s really a weakness, we will begin to lose it.
The feelings come from a personality part that believes the behavior is beneficial, so like you say, it isn’t a disorder, it’s a functional part of the mind, the goal would be to be able to reason with this part and persuade it to change its beliefs about the washing keeping the person safe.
I think the labels and names only have any power when they break the linkage from cause to effect. The evil in them is that the cause is absolved of responsibility. The victim bears the dishonor of the damage, instead of those who caused it.
I think it’s not just the present hardships, but past history, that causes suicidal impulses. In the first 5 years of life, you get whatever emotional foundation you will get, based on whether your feelings were important to someone. That was the big message you needed: your feelings welcome here, your feelings matter, that forms the foundation for resilience. It’s like putting in earthquake protection, when the jolts and shaking comes, the building doesn’t crumble. We also then must have material means and social supports, no question. You have to look at all the supports to see the full picture.
It seems here almost like the idea that the mind is running a bunch of processes in parallel, each one almost like a separate entity, with a central awareness or self. Like the IFS idea. Probably, if we didn’t run many parallel detections and interpretations of our environment, we wouldn’t ever have been able to survive, because we would have taken too much time to figure out threats or opportunities. The formation of our minds is when we assign various tasks for the parts. That would be heavily influenced by our experience with abuse or neglect, or care and attention. The brain doesn’t come subdivided, it’s mode of operation is to make separate parallel functions as needed, so we have various numbers of parts. The extreme parts are making the distressful feelings, so if you get to them like with your multi lens idea, that would be good. Of course, this is all just my conjecture.
It seems like therapists or psychiatrists feel they have to be in control of the situation to feel like they are doing their job right, and anyone who is not impressionable enough, and needs more listening to than is comfortable for the psychiatrist, will just get a label. It ends the conversation, and puts the psychiatrist back in control.
Here’s an explanation of voices which I think is in agreement with this article:
We say, if only they knew, if only they could feel it the way I do. We look for someone who says, if only I knew, if only I could feel it the way you do.
The mind having many parts, each one like a member of a committee, when we work on ourselves, we’re having group therapy. You try to get all the parts to assume more cooperative roles. People working in groups would have so much complexity, no one could tell what was going on, unless they were all aware of their parts, and what each part was doing relative to others’ parts.
I saw my psychiatrist, he says I have Mary Poppins disorder, I seem to confuse umbrellas with parachutes. There’s no cure, he says, I’ll be on a spoonful of sugar for the rest of my life.
In the IFS model of the mind, I don’t think there is any such things as psychosis, just parts of the mind which have taken on extreme roles. They try to work with those parts, to persuade them to assume more beneficial roles. Makes a lot more sense to me than just using the concept of the whole mind being in some state or other. My mother had her trials with this sort of thing. There are quite a few IFS trained therapists now, I think, they have something called the Center for Self Leadership. Worth a look.
Maybe people at large should take on the mental health care provider role. We’re human, so we know how we feel, and what makes us feel better or worse. Then we ask those in distress all about how they feel, we listen carefully, we get more kind than we have ever been before, and who knows, it might even work.
Childhood with angry disinterested parent(s) would have a lot to do with depression. Happened to my mother, and me also, except mine were emotionally dead as well as disinterested. I think the mind makes a lot of parts, each one almost a person in itself (IFS model), and they are all doing their thing, which explains the chaotic nature of feelings in life. The mind is complicated. If you knew all the parts and what each one was up to, it would make sense.
In the IFS model, the mind is not unitary, but in parts, kind of a committee, and so you have to know about the parts and what each one is trying to do. It seems like recovery stories would have a lot of variability between people, but maybe you could generalize the technique.
You wonder about people’s sense of worth, whether it typically comes mostly from achievement or talents, or whether it’s a free parental gift as they grow up. Maybe it would explain why some celebrities reach a point, and then seem to wilt.
It might be a talent best learned in childhood, how to bring what’s on the inside to the outside so that it improves things instead of making them worse. I never learned it, my parents, I think, thought they should teach me how to behave so I would be successful in life, at the cost of keeping it all in, which hasn’t worked out very well.
People seem to be trying to do whatever gives them some social traction. This might be a clue about what is missing. Maybe enough tolerance and compassion for people we think are weak and shameful, will help turn them into people of emotional strength.
If shame was a good tool to help people, we’d all be perfect by now.
Since it’s the beliefs, ideas, and concepts that are the source of the signs and symptoms, they should spend their effort getting to those, rather than just some new way to relate the symptom types.
I think it all shows just how much human beings need to have what’s on the inside, be able to show up on the outside. Seems like this is a survival thing, built into us, so we can, together, meet the environment successfully. For children, if the adults know all about them, keeping track of them, they are more likely to survive. We are, by nature, kind of mismatched to our organized society.
Those who can recover from the treatment of the sick culture must have a basic self respect in them that the culture couldn’t remove. This is something we should study.
We live in a culture in which normal is considered healthy, but in general, normal is too disconnected to meet our needs. The treatments and drugs mostly serve the purpose of distracting and inhibiting our minds from the pain of disconnection. People use the rules of culture to compete for something that should not require competition. Why?
Will this list of things include, “do you feel anybody knows (now or at any time) the real you, even what could be embarrassing, and has tolerance and compassion for you?”
I think what secular and maybe some religious authorities want the most is to stay in power, so they will go with whatever is the most popular thing. If most people believed psychiatry was useless and harmful, I think the authorities would be saying that. It seems like down through history, some wars had religious aspects to them, so I’m not sure I would call all religions civilizing. I wouldn’t compare religions to psychiatry, I would compare psychiatry more to culture. I define culture as the way people do things, for no reason other than that’s the way they are doing them.
The right “mothering” and/or “fathering” is really the only answer to all these disheartening statistics, which represent lots of suffering. The instincts to provide for the rising generations have been lost, or at least a lot of them. They will be passed on to the next generations, if they exist, otherwise nothing or something inferior. Parental managers who don’t know their kids in depth don’t believe anything is wrong, and the kids don’t know it either, until much later in life when they “come down” with some “mental disorder.” And then they don’t want to admit how bad their childhood was, and the parents need to be spared from any more grief, so the truth never comes out, and we’re in dark, and believe we can’t stand the light. Somebody should write something to the effect, turn on the light, let’s see where we are, really.
Children learn about two kinds of worth, one is a given, an unconditional gift, and the other comes from achievement. The first kind is the one we are born to need, and the second kind is how we try to fill in the hole left by not getting the first kind. The trouble is, it’s not easy to get the second kind, and it doesn’t last.
Instead of drugs, a child needs to come home and tell his mom what happened, how he felt, what he thought, withholding nothing, and she would absorb it all, and somehow, she could handle it, explain it, and then it wasn’t so bad after all.
School seems to be where kids are compared to one other, so it is where some are valued and others devalued. No wonder there is fear, none of us like to go where we are devalued.
The bad stuff that happens to people in the first few years of life doesn’t necessarily show up right away in how they behave or how they feel. They are able to go on as if nothing bad happened to them because that’s what society expects, or what their parents expect. It’s probably a survival trait, to give them time to survive on their own. Later on, as I know from my own experience, all that stuff comes up to be dealt with. It’s almost a complete surprise. My point is that the current increase in people trying to find anything which will help them cope with how they feel may not be entirely due to current circumstances, it may also be from past history.
In terms of recognition, feeling known, tolerated, and valued, if more were giving, more would be receiving. But the culture of the day is more about seeking, getting, and taking. The pivotal point is what parents teach their kids by example, about how needs are met. The idea at present is you must attract them through seeking admiration, you kind of extort them, extract them, through competition, such as in sports, for example. You have to earn what you need. There is scarcity, some win, some lose. If you could change a lot of minds about what to teach the rising generations, the culture could change, be more giving, but people are afraid we wouldn’t have excellence if we didn’t compete for basic needs. I disagree, I think the society would be improved.
Suicide is the last resort “emotional pain reliever” so maybe it would be better to ask them to describe their feelings and how intense they are and how they usually deal with them as they come and go. That might lead to a discussion of what happened to them in the past that is causing their pain. Most doctors wouldn’t have time for that, but maybe they need to decide if they really want to help people or not.
Our competitive culture is also designed for loneliness.
I think we start out in life very weak and vulnerable, but if we get what we need and are not injured before we reach maturity, which is somewhere in the mid 20’s, we are then quite strong and able to handle what comes. I think the mistake society makes is to make us grow up too soon. We need the time to form our minds without them being overwhelmed during the process. I think the belief that stress as a means of making resilience is misguided, even though it is universally believed. What counteracts stress is a deep belief in our own worth and value, and it takes time to put that in place.
I wonder if a lot of the fear I have today from just living in the competitive world, are not magnified many times by the childhood fear of abandonment, which I don’t consciously remember. Very interesting article.
I think the mental health care system reflects the sickness of the culture. Also, without meaning to pry, I always wish when there are articles about personal experiences, they would give a brief overview of their life, especially their early life, because it might help others of us to understand ourselves better. Most of the reason I read this website is to gain insights into my own situation.
It’s trust that makes a community work, so they have to stop designating people as “having a disorder,” and instead educate people about what happened in that person’s life, and what the effects are. Help them understand each other so they can have some trust. In my experience, whether it’s family or community, the feeling one has is “nobody understands.” So, they don’t know what to do, and a person not understood doesn’t really know what to tell them, because past experience is they don’t believe anything you say.
I’ve always liked the idea that the mind was more like a committee than a single personality. And who can really understand what is happening in a committee?
One devil was telling the other devil how they would destroy a particular society. What we do first, he said, is we work on the families, to remove kindness and tenderness towards their children, because it makes them weak. Kids need to be tough, without feelings. Don’t wait for them to grow up, make them. Evaluate them thru competition. It’s all about winning. If we convince enough of them, the devil went on, in a few generations, they’ll do it to themselves.
I missed seeing any mention of development in childhood, such as emotional neglect or abuse being related to adult anxiety. I’m sure there is a solid connection there. I think if there are disorders, they are in parenting and what happens in schools, and even churches.
Sometimes I think that early in life, depending on how parents respond, a child can come to believe that seeking attention is shameful, and this rule becomes stuck at a basic level. Later, when there may be opportunities to connect, the rule makes it unsuccessful. People around them believe they would rather be left alone, and so, oblige them. All the while another part of the mind is wanting very much to fit in. Believing that we have unitary and freely accessible minds justifies blaming the individual, who they say should just change his mind.
We live in a culture of competence, ability, achievement, excellence, responsibility, etc. It matters how good we are at doing something. What has happened, however, is that these things, no matter how good they are, have become the foundation of our mental state, our foundation in life. We get fed this story of doing our best from when we are little, and it’s become the principle story. The other story, of our unconditional value and worth, comes in second place. Whatever we do, we are going to be compared and scored and classified. In my opinion, the spirit of competition has become so ingrained in almost everything, it’s making us sick, even some of those who excel.
The only therapist I felt like taking any advice from was one that actually seemed to care what I thought or felt. The rest of them just wanted to use either some authority figure approach or some kind of method approach. I think we have to feel like our attitudes, feelings, opinions, are first accepted as important, worthy, and honorable, because that is what we have to work with, that is what we are at the moment. But when they just brush those things aside, I seem to just automatically reject their advice.
You used to hear about when a child had something go wrong, he could just go home and tell his mother, and somehow, she would absorb all the hurt and the tears, and make it come out right. In the process, she would teach her child resilience and strength. What happened to those mothers?
Maybe what is within us is close to what is between us.
But is the use of digital media a cause, or an effect of something else, like the failure to provide the emotional needs of children?
I understood CBT to say basically that since feelings are derived from the consequences of beliefs, and the beliefs you have were almost certainly arrived at through faulty reasoning, it must follow that they are not necessarily true, and therefore questionable, and when seen correctly, must be false. So, if you buy all that, logically, you give up those beliefs, and feel better, find yourself able to do that which is validating, satisfies your needs, conquers your fears, and improves life. It sounded good, except for the feeling that beliefs were somehow so basically ingrained that to challenge them with reason wasn’t going to budge them because they were learned emotionally, and it takes an emotional approach to influence them. To me it was that I was going to have to feel something to change something, and CBT was just missing that. Their solution is exposure therapy, and I had enough exposure to bad situations already, I thought it was bad experiences that created the problem, so why just keep doing that over again. I suppose my beliefs had to change first, but then how does that work? It all seemed to rely on you being over awed by the authority of the therapist. IMO it takes some good experience to overcome some bad experience, but with CBT they seem to like to throw you to the wolves.
I was reading about childhood emotional neglect, and it said this is a very big problem, where children don’t get the right emotional responses. Another place I think said that as children we learn what our feelings mean by first feeling we have transferred them to a parent or adult, and then from their reaction we get the meaning. So, if we never got this, maybe the problem is not so much the feelings, but that we don’t know what they mean, we don’t know how serious they are. It’s the unknown that makes them so hard to live with. And perhaps the most intense one is that we are not known at all, and thus our survival is in peril. It seems like the answer is to provide the kind of signals and signs that our feelings are at last received and correctly understood, and then by watching the reactions of those who received them, we get the meaning. Maybe our subconscious mind doesn’t respond to a verbal explanation of what our feelings mean. Maybe the helping professions are not giving the right kind of feedback to those in distress. My experience was always feeling like something fundamental was missing.
I’ve read where most of the personality is formed in the first 5 years of life through interactions with adults, usually parents. Since psychosis does involve some kind of external influences being thought about, perhaps it could be the brain still looking for what it needed in those first years but was unable to find. I read they think that infants first feel like they are one with the mother and then later separate to form a separate person. And that a child growing up needs to feel their experience and feelings are known to their parent, who can be trusted and tolerant. There is a lot that can go wrong on the way to maturity. If we really knew what happens to people, maybe we would be a lot more sympathetic.
I think the system we have in our society must be defined to include the family of origin, and how dysfunctional it is. I came from a very dysfunctional family, and so were the families before them. It gets passed down until it is interrupted by chance or intention. This is the part of our society’s “system” that, if changed, would really do something good. Once the damage is done, I don’t think the methods to correct it are very effective, at least not in my experience.
One of the best articles I have read here. Very relevant and well done. Amazing.
I think if you do something, possibly anything, that you expect might make you feel better, it probably will. And if you were in a study, and someone was acting even sort of half way like they were interested in how you felt, that would help you feel better. I tried a light like that once, and it didn’t seem to do anything, but I wasn’t expecting it to. What helps me is when anyone shows what I perceive to be a genuine interest in what I think or feel. I have never understood how therapists or psychiatrists hope to do anything with their cookbook methods.
I think people really believe that our nature as human beings has changed as our mode of living has changed. People have become more separated from family, more mobile, we have lost a little with each new generation, of the things which really we evolved or were designed into as our natural habitat. We need to be in our clan, tribe, community, and have a sense of common identity. Now, people get evaluated, classified, sorted, and treated like objects. We are taught to compete in just about everything. If we put an animal out of its normal habitat, it’s considered cruel. But we allow ourselves to be put out of our natural habitat, and we call it progress.
The one I could do without is “self-esteem,” as in “you have a self-esteem problem, you have to work on your self-esteem.” I think it’s just a way to blame the victim.
Most of the time I think I would rather feel invisible, than face the things people do when they believe they are helping me to feel visible.
I too had parents who barely spoke to me as I grew up. I think it became like a sentence handed down from a court, that I should never be known to other people, because they say that what a child interprets from his parents is taken as very final. But we all have a powerful need to be known, to be social, and so these two forces are in conflict, and this has lasted my entire life, and been a source of a lot of misery. I never got involved with the mental health system hardly at all, and I suppose that is fortunate. I don’t have any answers, but I came to the same conclusion, that the system doesn’t either.
Well, aren’t we basically social creatures, and when we have those needs met, we feel reasonably good, and when we don’t, we feel bad. It’s built into our brains to make us feel bad, so we will be motivated to somehow get our needs met, and thus it makes us more likely to survive. Those who can’t get what they need feel bad, act differently, have internal conflicts, and when society, that is, people, don’t think it’s important to meet a certain person’s needs, then it suits them to label the aforesaid person as “ill” in some way, to label them, to help justify casting them on the scrap heap. Our social nature can go different ways, one competitive, where winners create losers, and the other cooperative, where each person is an asset. Maybe it is instinctive which way people choose, based on conditions, beliefs about what is valuable, or what may happen in the future.
Maybe they could call what they are treating for by its cause, such as lingering effects of childhood abuse, or latent effects of childhood emotional neglect, or emotional injury from abusive spouse. They don’t need to say anything about disorder, or to say that a person has something. When they use the word disorder, it implies something wrong with the functioning of the mind. But people’s minds can be functioning fine, it’s just that they are working on really awful data.
Take away the “drug” and the problem is still there. Maybe they will find an even more harmful “drug”.
From abuse in childhood, we learned the world is hostile, and we don’t have the power to defend ourselves. The feelings we get later in life are meant to defend us, to save our lives. But the mental health care system, in a way, tries to remove even this last defense we try to muster. What we need is power, not to have it taken away. Power comes from social solidarity, the kind of thing you get from your feelings being known and highly respected. That’s the way I see it.
It sounds sort of solitary living in a room in your mind. The way I look at it, we spend most of our time wanting to be known in other people’s minds because of our social nature. That’s a child’s biggest need.
What a tragic thing. It was mentioned that he endured child abuse. I know from my own experience that can create life long feelings that are very persistent. I have come to believe that it’s not the feelings that are the problem as much as the under expression, and under reception, of those feelings. That is mostly the message of abusive or neglectful childhoods, that feelings don’t matter, and should not be talked about. People in general and therapists that I have encountered are not the “reception” business like they ought to be. They are more in the “deflection” business.
I think the comparison of toxic stress to actual diseases is a bad idea. In a disease, there is some process that affects the cells and what they do, but stress is a cognitive thing, so the brain is forming memories, ways to cope, and cognitive defensive reactions. The brain is not damaged like in a disease, there are new connections and additions to fend off the threats that come from dysfunctional environments. We should keep making the distinction that drugs are for actual diseases, but for mental states, we need something else, because those are not actual diseases.
I think psychiatrists are like other people, in that when they feel that certain things must be so, and that feeling is very strong, they come to a point where they consciously decide that they should believe it. They no longer leave it as an open question. They know somewhere in themselves, that they can’t possibly be certain, but they have given in to the feelings, they have surrendered their reason to their emotions. When other people do that, they call it psychosis, but when the professional people do that, they call it something else, more honorable, but it’s the same thing.
I wonder if people might think they would have to give up their comfort foods, and go on some kind of a diet that they didn’t like. Maybe if you could help them understand what was involved in getting these micro nutrients.
The way I see this is that each person’s experience with a given drug is one anecdote, as in I know this person who…. and so on. I thought the point was, if you then plot each anecdote on the graph (I assume there would be more dots on the graph than shown), you would see the aggregate picture, you get to see all the anecdotes in one place. Then you can get a rough idea of the odds that you will be helped or harmed by this drug. Along the horizontal axis in the time line, so this is when the anecdotes were recorded. I think the graph makes the point.
I think that everyone has the need to be seen, heard, understood, and their feelings respected, no matter what those feelings are. And that ordinary people who want to help another can supply this need to those around them if they are determined. That to me is better than any therapy applied by the current system.
One thing I have never heard mentioned on this site is the Internal Family Systems model and therapy that I read about by Richard Schwartz. It says that we are all multiply part personalities, and it’s about being friendly and considerate to all our parts and allowing our true self to be in the leadership of our minds. It seems like a good idea, certainly kinder and more considerate than the psychiatry system. In that system you fulfill the need to be heard of each part of your mind to get them all working together. And if our minds are multiple parts, then that explains some of the intricate ways in which symptoms present, and to me invalidates the DSM labels.
That actually sounds like some kind of military training, where there is a lot of screaming and toughening up. It reminds me of the Daniel Mackler video, where he says that most psychotherapy just helps people dissociate from their feelings, and that makes them actually feel better. But then they end up doing different harmful, addictive, dangerous things to keep their feelings blocked. I have read that there are a lot of sociopaths in the world who are very successful because they don’t have any feelings of conscience to interfere with their business practices.
I would think if therapists had many effective methods, and just needed to find the right one, they would want feedback. But since they usually don’t, I question that they really have that many tools. Unless the client can tell them how to do their job, they wouldn’t know what to do with the feedback.
It’s not that mature adult leadership for teenagers would be nice, it is essential. The premise that if only kids would be nicer to each other, you can avert tragedy, is flawed to begin with. What I think should come out of a story like this is that what is considered normal for adolescents is in fact a complete aberration of human needs. You can’t combine immature individuals together and expect mature results. And yet for typical teenagers, they are left to their own devices, because adults, the parents, have lost their instinct to assume the role they should have.
Metal health professionals typically take a mechanical approach to emotional needs. It doesn’t work that well. A child needs an emotionally responsive go to person who has a stake in the child’s life. A child needs to have power in this relationship so he can share his inside world of feelings with a person of some importance. This is foundational, what is needed without question, in every life.
My mother was paranoid, and one of her beliefs was that people would put things in her food. I would get her groceries and she would ask if I had put something in her milk, and I would say no. But she would say she knew I did that. Sometimes I would get outraged about it, but she was undaunted. Now I wonder if I had said, oh, you feel like I spiked your milk, and just let the conversation go from there, never telling her my version of what I knew to be reality. Maybe a lot of why she felt that way could have been revealed. She saw many psychiatrists, took many drugs, and never did change her mind.
I’ve talked to a handful of therapists, and most have not helped, so I have had various theories about what they should have been doing. My latest thought is that a therapist should make expressing your feelings a positive experience, and nothing more. When they give advice, it just makes things worse. One that I spoke to listened for a short time, and then told me I should go home and take up knitting, and he even wrote it down on a piece of paper and gave it to me. I wish I was making that up.
I think if parents listen, respectfully, to their child’s feelings, not rushing to judgment, or giving advice, but just listening, so their child feels known as they really are, it helps a lot.
There’s a bias towards the biological cause because there is a lot of approval and money in giving parents a free pass on treating their kids any way they feel like and having no guilt.
I am just curious about how they determine cause and effect. Maybe people with fewer issues are better able to gain access to these natural environments.
I agree with the comment about not telling people how you really are because then they just want you to go somewhere and get it fixed, and that turns off socializing, which is what you really needed. I liked what was said about reverting to the old style of socializing, away from the electronic kind.
It seems like what’s needed is a more humane and ethical treatment of people in distress. What if someone very influential wrote something which changed the public’s perception of those who have painful emotional problems?
What it could say is that the brain is like a computer, and has software and hardware. The hardware is the neurons, and the software is the meanings in the organized connections between the neurons.
Now the basic idea with the article is that mental distress is mostly a software problem, not a hardware problem. In fact, the brain’s hardware conforms to the software. It increases or decrease it’s resources to accommodate the software.
All that is done by drugs is to interfere with the hardware so it can’t efficiently run the software. But this is an impossible job to do without undesirable side effects, just like in a computer in which you sabotaged the hardware by cutting wires and circuit traces to inhibit some rogue software.
And now the clincher is that you say something like, if a person can become part of a social grouping in which they are unconditionally accepted and acceptable, their brain software is gradually rewritten and new software put in place that will allow them to feel much better.
The goal is to have an analogy that ordinary people can understand. Of course it would be written better than this, but I hope you can see what I’m getting at.
Insanity is probably defined as when a person’s feelings are so extreme and disabling that they can’t function as the culture they live within requires. And culture is defined as the way people do things because that’s the way people are doing things. Our culture is becoming more heterogeneous than we humans were designed for.
I have been a very anxious person throughout life, and talked to several therapists, tried a couple of medications which didn’t do much one way or the other. None of these therapists really had any insight to offer about my problems, either what to do about them, or where they came from. Since reading on the internet, I have come to realize that early developmental emotional neglect is the source. I have come to wonder if developmental traumas are not the source of most distress. But it seems like most people are not very curious about whether that could be true. It’s almost like they are fond of their own ignorance. People seem to instinctively avoid any area of discussion which could make them responsible for some one else’s problem, even if they were ignorant of what they were doing at the time.
If you look at it as a supply and demand problem, there is a huge demand for the relief from distress, and a limited supply of remedies. So it is appealing to use a substitute like medications. It is like putting sawdust in bread when you don’t have enough flour. The question is why we don’t have enough flour?
Sometimes the language in the articles and replies is hard to follow, but I think this article really captures what others on this website have said, that the social and emotional connections in childhood really are what causes later mental distress. And the distress is a reaction of the brain to an unnatural environment, and not something wrong with the “hardware.” And the point of trying to work at prevention is also very important. But it is hard for people to just read about how to provide the right environment for their children and then actually do it. And it seems very hard to provide a way to remedy mental problems once they happen, but I think that the social and emotional connection remedy, if it can be done, is vastly better than even considering medications. My own mother lived most of her life on several meds for schizophrenia. It is too bad that some other kind of help was not available. For some reason I will never fathom, it seems like we do just about anything for people with problems other than the one thing that will really help them, and I think this article kind of makes this point.
Good comment. I think there is a subtle but important message that we need to get from parents or from others, which is “you’re just as human as I am, and you’re a real person just like me.” We really need to be “one of” and “ourselves.”
It would be interesting to hear about what happened in your childhood, how you felt at that time, and what messages you feel you got from your parents.