Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Comments by Al Galves, PhD

Showing 22 of 22 comments.

  • rasselas.redux

    To equate what goes on in the mind or soul (I see them as synonyms) with “neurological events” is a huge mistake and is leading to the massive amount of harm that is being done by biospychiatry. Neurological events occur in the brain. We have learned quite a bit about the brain. But we have no idea (I am including all of neuroscience in that “we) about the relationship between the brain and the mind. The mind is the vastly powerful and facile faculty which we use to live our lives and do everything we do – build, create, problem-solve, understand, dance, relate, ski, play tennis, make art and love, compose music. We have no idea about the differences that occur in brain function when we do any of those things. Even though we have been studying it for 100’s of years, we have very little idea about how memory works or where it resides. We have no idea about how I am able to move my arm at precisely the count of 3. We have no idea about what happens when a human being has an insight that enables him or her to live more effectively.

    If we want to help people live their lives as they want to live them, we will help them use their minds, emotions, intentions, perceptions and behavior to do that. Neurology will not help them do that. Psychotherapy will. To think that studying the brain or neurology will help people live their lives in satisfying ways is to labor under the yolk of scientism – an exaggerated faith in the efficacy of the methods of natural science to understand social and psychological phenomena, solve pressing human problems and provide a comprehensive, unified understanding of the meaning of the cosmos.”

  • Checking into the etymology of “psychotherapy”. “psyche” means soul, mind, spirit. The first entry for “therapy” is “medical treatment of disease” which is way too medical model for me. But the word comes from the Greek word “therapeuein” which means “attend, do service, take care of”.

    So “psychotherapy” can mean attending to or taking care of the soul. Sounds pretty good to me. The problem is not with the word but with what some people, who use the word to describe what they do, are doing.

    By the way, I recommend Care of the Soul by Thomas Moore.

  • There are at least two states in which psychologists can gain prescribing privileges: Louisiana and New Mexico. There may be more now. I live in New Mexico. In order to get prescribing privileges psychologists have to go through a pretty rigorous training program including an internship with a primary care physician. According to one prescribing psychologist I know, practically all prescribing psychologist turn into junior psychiatrists – seeing patients for 15 minutes and doing nothing more than symptoms checklists and prescriptions.

  • Greg,

    Sensorimotor Psychotherapy was developed by Pat Ogden and people around her. It comes out of the work of Ron Kurtz, a little-known psychotherapist who wrote what I think is the best book I know of on psychotherapy: “Body-centered psychotherapy: The Hakomi approach”. Reading books by Pat Ogden will give one a good grounding in Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, especially her latest one entitled “Sensorimotor Psychotherapy”. That is a monster work with lots of detail and practical methodology.

  • Sam,

    All “symptoms” are what are holding people up. They are how people are protecting themselves, avoiding pain, feeling powerful, feeling in control, surviving the best they can. I’ve written a pamphlet entitled “Your Symptoms Are the Path to Mental Health”. If you send an address to [email protected] I’ll send it to you. The people who developed Sensorimotor Psychotherapy understand this very well.

  • Kindred Spirit,
    I agree that our society is toxic, oppressive, inhumane and that a lot of fixing needs to be done. I also think there’s value in helping people to live more the way they want to live inside of it.

    Krista,

    Yeah, we’re not doing a very good job of fighting Biopsychiatry. I belong to an organization that is dedicated largely to doing that. We have only 146 members. Compare that to the thousands of members of the Society of Neuroscience and the billions of dollars that are going into studying the brain, an effort that is not likely to help human beings very much in the foreseeable future.

  • TN,

    Here’s the problem with psychiatry.

    In order to be mentally healthy, human beings have to be able to love the way they want to love and express themselves the way they want to express themselves. They have to be connected to other human beings in satisfying ways – romantic love, sexual love, familial love, collegial love. And they have to be able to use their faculties, their abilities in satisfying ways. When they can’t do that they become agitated, upset, manic, obsessed, depressed, psychotic. Effective treatment consists of helping them learn to use their thoughts, emotions, intentions, perceptions and behavior to love the way they want to love and express themselves the way they want to express themselves.

    When psychiatry decided to become a laboratory science – paying attention only to things that could be quantified, measured, seen on brain scan, studied in a laboratory, it turned its back on human nature and became essentially useless to human beings.

    You can’t study human love and human expression in a laboratory and you can’t help people learn how to love and express themselves with a pill or psychosurgery. This is psychiatry’s dilemma. And, so far, it has been unwilling to acknowledge it and deal with it.

  • One of the things I glean from these comments is an undervaluing of the kind of psychotherapy I and many other therapists practice. I am trying to help people realize that whatever they are experiencing, no matter how painful, debilitating, bizarre is understandable in view of their histories and how they are reacting to their life situations and to concerns they have about their lives and themselves. So I am helping people use their “symptoms” to learn about themselves and to get to know themselves in an accepting and loving way. I am helping people become aware of limiting beliefs about themselves and the world, disowned parts of themselves, habitual, fixated responses that get in the way of them loving the way they want to love and expressing themselves the way they want to express themselves. I am helping them learn to manage their thoughts, emotions, intentions, perceptions and behavior to live more they way they want to live.

    I believe this kind of psychotherapy is way undervalued and underused in our society. Also, when we use the word psychotherapy I think we should include all of the ways in which people can be helped to love and express themselves in satisfying ways – yoga, support groups, all kinds of group and family therapy, exercise, sports, dance, help with relationships and work, meditation, spiritual practices, etc.

  • Micah,

    Thank you for this article. I think the idea of coming up with Principles of Change has potential, especially if the “corrective experiences” include the trauma therapies like Somatic Experiencing and Sensorimotor Psychotherapy which help patients integrate and resolve trauma by enabling their bodies to release the energy that was trapped in the body and to complete the orienting and defensive responses that were truncated and cut off at the time of the trauma.

    We have to be careful with the use of “evidence-based practice”. If by “evidence-based”, we mean practices which are supported by research which uses manualized, strictly controlled therapeutic protocols, many useful approaches which involve moment-to-moment adjustments based on what is going on in the session and which involve helping patients have experiences which couldn’t be manualized or strictly controlled are going to be left out. As psychologist Louis Wynne says, “Psychotherapy is not an experimental variable”.

    Also, I don’t think the National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH) is going to be very useful in this effort. The NIMH is still focused on finding the physiological substrates and explanation for mental illnesses. It is spending 80 percent of its $1.3 billion annual budget on studying the brain and interventions at the level of the brain, i.e. psychiatric drugs, electroshock and other psychosurgeries. That is a tragic waste of resources that is not likely to help human beings very much in the foreseeable future. NIMH should be spending much more money on studying the mind, emotions, intentions, perceptions and behavior of human beings. It should be using phenomenology, i,e. the study of human experience, to study psychotherapeutic approaches which help patients learn how to use their thoughts, feelings, intentions, perception and behavior to live more the way they want to live, to love the way they want to love and express themselves the way they want to express themselves. That the NIMH is wasting so much money should be anathema to psychotherapists. Those who are leaders in the Psychotherapy Project should be raising hell about it. Here is how Thomas Insel, Executive Director of NIMH for 13 years, put it: “I spent 13 years at NIMH really pushing on the neuroscience and genetics of mental disorders, and when I look back on that I realize that while I think I succeeded at getting lots of really cool papers published by cool scientists at fairly large costs – I think $20 billion – I don’t think we moved the needle in reducing suicide, reducing hospitalizations, improving recovery for the tens of millions of people who have mental illness.” The new RdOC approach that NIMH is pursuing is not going to make any appreciable difference in this tragedy.

  • This is right on the mark and well said. Mainstream psychiatry is struggling and faltering under the yolk of scientism (“an exaggerated trust in the efficacy of the methods of natural science to explain social and psychological phenomena, solve pressing human problems and provide a comprehensive unified understanding of the meaning of the cosmos” [Webster’s collegiate Dictionary]). It ‘s like the man who was looking for his keys under a streetlight. A passerby asked him what he was doing. “Looking for my keys”. “Well, did you lose them there?” “No” “Then, why are you looking there?” “Because it’s the only place I can see”.

  • One of the things I glean from these comments is an undervaluing of the kind of psychotherapy I and many other therapists practice. I am trying to help people realize that whatever they are experiencing, no matter how painful, debilitating, bizarre is understandable in view of their histories and how they are reacting to their life situations and to concerns they have about their lives and themselves. So I am helping people use their “symptoms” to learn about themselves and to get to know themselves in an accepting and loving way. I am helping people become aware of limiting beliefs about themselves and the world, disowned parts of themselves, habitual, fixated responses that get in the way of them loving the way they want to love and expressing themselves the way they want to express themselves. I am helping them learn to manage their thoughts, emotions, intentions, perceptions and behavior to live more they way they want to live.

    I believe this kind of psychotherapy is way undervalued and underused in our society. Also, when we use the word psychotherapy I think we should include all of the ways in which people can be helped to love and express themselves in satisfying ways – yoga, support groups, all kinds of group and family therapy, exercise, sports, dance, help with relationships and work, meditation, spiritual practices, etc.

  • I’m glad you’re doing the work you are doing and wanting to make a difference in how people understand the states of being associated with “mental illness”. I’m glad you are finding safe, humane, life-enhancing ways in which to help people who come to you for help.

    I don’t think things are going to change much until the general public understand what these states of being are and how psychotherapy can help people learn from the “symptoms” and learn how to use their thoughts, feelings, intentions, perceptions and behavior to live more the way they want to live.

    I agree that we need some other term besides psychotherapy although it is the one I use and am comfortable with. Although I’ve learned that, with some people, I have to say “non-drug psychotherapy”.

    Keep going.

  • Thanks for all of your responses. Thanks jw arndt for reminding us that there are all kinds of ways of getting on a healing path that don’t involve drugs or psychotherapy.

    I think Steve did a good job of responding to orbit’s objections.

    It’s good to see Frank Blankenship and Ted Chabasinksi still contributing to this battle we’re engaged in. Keep going.

  • I’m encouraged by the dialogue which has been triggered by Jack’s article.

    A few thoughts.

    I like Ron Unger’s idea of exposing the lack of scientific evidence behind claims that the antipsychotic drugs help people who are diagnosed with serious mental illnesses. The overwhelming evidence is that the antipsychotic drugs actually turn them into chronic mental patients and that when compared with help that doesn’t use drugs, those who use them are much worse off and much less likely to recover over the long run. It makes sense to do something dramatic that would pread the word about that.

    Whoever said that, when it finally becomes clear to the general public that psychotic drugs are not hepful and very harmful, mainstream psychiatry will plead that they were unaware of this and will plead that we just need to have better science, etc., etc., etc., had it right. What will finally kill biopsychiatry is the general public refusing to use the drugs.

    Mickey Weinberg knew that and his main purpose in the hunger strike was exposing to the general public the lack of evidence behind the claims of biopsychiatry. Of course, one of the problems with that strategy is that the general public isn’t much persuaded by scientific evidence. If the drugs make them feel better, they’ll take them, even if the feeling better is essentially a placebo response and even if they create damaging “side effects”, difficult withdrawal effects and high relapse rates.

    One idea that has been tossed around among the MindFreedom staff and board is the idea of creating Landing Zones to which we could take escapees from involuntary treatment. We would create something akin to the Underground Railroad that was used to help African Americans escape from slavery. What we would do is help people who are being forcibly treated to escape to safe havens where they would be able to recover in safer, more humane and more life enhancing ways. Doing that would require lots of work and is fraught with many dangers but it certainly would create a stir and put psychiatry and the drug companies on the defensive.