Thursday, October 28, 2021

Comments by Brent Potter, PhD

Showing 37 of 37 comments.

  • That is correct, B. It is all of those things, plus a part of a social-historical narrative of women going back more than 4,000 years. What is called ‘BPD’ doesn’t simply show up in the DSM-III, it is the logical outcome of a line of thought about women.

    Also, as an interesting fact, all of the Axis II diagnosis are variations on BPD. It is the ‘blueprint’, if you will, of all personality disorders. Also, as you point out, it continues to be primarily attributed to women, despite research demonstrating that (of course) men can be distressed in similar ways.

    Thanks for your comment!

  • Hey Melodee, without knowing it, you summarize our book very succinctly. Totally and completely agree on all accounts. I am glad you’re holding the line, as it were, AND working in the field from that perspective.

    We need to ditch all psychiatric labels and let psychiatry receded to the archives of other failed quasi-scientific projects, like phrenology.

    Thank you for your comment.

  • Hey acidpop5, I like a lot of what you have to say here. I am definitely noticing a ‘us’ vs. ‘them’ current in yours and other comments both here and in other groups. I am always a little wary of binary thinking but maybe that’s just me. I often find that truth lies usually in complexity and varying shades. I suspect that one reason people resort to binary, literalistic, moralistic thinking (much like a lot of psychiatry) is that it provides the illusion of a safe haven, of sorts, from the complexity and unknown qualities of life.

    In any event, more importantly, I really appreciate the things you have to say about brokenness. In a lot of recent interviews and in a different upcoming book, I talk a lot about trauma and truth. Trauma (brokenness) isn’t a ‘thing’; it’s a lot of different kinds of things manifesting, often, in a variety of different ways. One kind is the kind inherent in life. Trauma is interwoven into the fabric of being human. No matter how resourced, intelligent, etc. etc. one is, he or she will still be subject to illness, loss, grief, jilted love, heartbreak, etc. It is, as you say, part of the human condition. I hope all us can move away from the illusion of normalcy. There is simply no such thing.

    Also, your definition of insanity is very similar to R.D. Laing’s and Wilfred Bion’s, which is really interesting. ‘Insanity’ as a strategy of survival. Thanks for your comment and quote.

  • Hello again, B! Thanks for your comment. I agree with most all of what you’re saying. The label ‘BPD’ it too broad, in my opinion, and can basically be translated to ‘crazy woman’ as determined by the (predominantly male) view making that judgement. It is important that labels be tossed out and replaced with a relational understanding of someone. Thanks for your comment.

  • I replied above, Zippy321 and will also say here: You have absolutely nothing to apologize for. Like you, I know first-hand and have been impacted by the things of that you talk about. I have no way to convincingly convey this over a thread, but I’ll ask that you take it on faith. It is traumatic and, as I mentioned above, some people choose to remain addicted or attached to misery rather than otherwise. I am sorry to hear that you had to endure this and hope things have improved significantly for you.

  • Actually I have, Zippy321 and so I know first-hand of the things of which you speak. And I have seen, for the most part, positive outcomes (personally, professionally) in my engagements with emotionally chaotic people. Living with someone who is emotionally chaotic, as you describe it, it truly painful and traumatic. But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t hope and the possibility for growth. Our character doesn’t show itself under pleasant circumstances, but when it’s under fire, as it were.

    I am sincerely sorry to hear that you lived with someone who was destructive for such a long time. I can empathize and sincerely hope that you’re recovered from the experience or, at least, are not in similar circumstances now.

    Emotionally chaotic / destructive people are wounded people. This heightens the demand for compassion and hope, not lessens it. And we have to manage our own way too. It is true too, sadly, that some people are just unwilling, incapable and/or confused about wellness and, no matter what, will remain chaotic, destructive, negative, hateful, angry, etc.

    I appreciate your comment — thank you!

  • Oh, I forgot to mention something, Sinead: I am still reading and re-reading your post. It’s very interesting, at least to me. I hope you’re doing some writing out there somewhere. The field really needs your voice. If you or anyone else wants to connect, I am on Facebook:

    I am there more than here chatting with quite a few people about such topics. Anyway, thanks again and I hope you’re having a great day!

  • Hello Sinead,

    While your comment is directed @ Sharon, I hope it is ok if I comment here. I’ve been reading your post over and over — you’ve covered a lot of ground in a very concise way. A lot of it hits a nerve with me in the best possible way.

    A lot of people, typically who endorse a professional / survivor (peer, etc.) binary, assume that the ‘professional’ does not have his or her own story. The “doctor, who knows it from the outside in, who references clients and not people” makes a few assumptions and, as you point out, this is made especially easy to write from behind a remote computer screen.

    More interesting, at least to me, are your comments on the (attempted) pain-producing maneuvers and concordant double-bind the friend, therapist (or anyone else in the vicinity, really) finds him- or herself in. You clearly have a sense of these dynamics, which are pretty slippery and quiet, but concretely present for those experiencing them. We take a run at this in our book. This and a few other things I simply haven’t addressed in the MIA posts thus far. I can’t get to everything, except for in book form and even then, there are still things left unmentioned.

    Anyway, I won’t go on and on. I guess I am saying that I appreciate what you had to say here and hope you write more. Thanks!

  • I am very happy you enjoyed the article, Cataract. I appreciate too reading your comment. I suspect that one of the things that made this book appealing to the publishers is that it is unlike any other book on the topic out there. It is so in that we (1) focus on trauma — not biology — as the source of distress, which is consistent with the current research and (2) our unwavering belief in people’s growth potential. Despite what psychiatry and countless other professionals say on the topic, *is it always possible to grow, learn and to be happy, centered, and well (as the individual defines that for him- or herself). It is possibl to recognize trauma and to heal from it! Thanks again for your comment.

  • Thanks, Ann!

    I am curious to see what the report has to say. I admit that I am slightly less than optimistic, as the APA seems to have been somewhat ambivalent on its stance with such things. I hope I am wrong that that someone there steps up to say something. You’re correct that it’s really up to us to, in our own ways, do something. If we don’t, who will?

    Thanks again, Brent

  • You’re very welcome, Donna! I am thrilled that you enjoyed the brief article!

    Wow, you really know your history! I think that a thorough understanding of history helps contextualize what (we’re told) are psychiatric diseases, the products of chemically imbalanced or otherwise malfunctioning neurochemical ‘machinery’. Psychiatry presents that these things are biological facts of nature, not unlike other natural forces (wind, gravity), but (of course) they’re not. They have a history and arrive to us in 2014 with a long story behind them. Usually such stories are really stories of power struggles — typically white guys trying to establish and maintain a hegemony of oppression.

    Anyway, I think that psychology as a natural science and psychiatry have failed. They are just now waking up to that fact. I think you’ll find them receding into the background. There have been many failed quasi-science projects throughout history. I outline in the ‘bpd’ book the history of such happenings. Every successful paradigm sees itself as the highest achievement. Concerning hysteria / ‘bpd’, the doctors of the middle ages saw the wandering uterus as ridiculous and viewed their theories of women being in league with the devil as superior (etc.).

    Thanks for the recommendation of Political Ponerology — I’ll check it out.

  • Hello acidpop5! Well, I am sincerely sorry to hear about your experience. Sadly, tragically, it is not uncommon these days.

    If you’d like, I’d be happy to chat on FB:

    I promise that I really use that area to chat with like-minded people and not to spam or otherwise try to sell people things, etc.

    If you’re interest, please send a request. If not, then I understand and wish you the best on your journey. Thanks, Brent

  • Hey martlisa! I really like you’re notion here and no, at least by my thinking, you’re not way off base. Here’s some information to provide some context:

    BPD is considered the ‘mother’ / blueprint’ of all the other personality disorders which aka as Axis II disorders. There are three features to it: tenuous stability, adaptive inflexibility and fostering vicious cycles. People don’t hear about these, generally speaking, as it’s in the DSM above the little box with the brief-form of the criteria — clinicians usually go straight to the little box (it’s easier). Any one of these and one is on the ‘fast track’ to making an Axis II diagnosis.

    So some of the items that you mention could fall under one or more of the three general features and thereby lead some clinicians to lean more towards the Axis II more so than an Axis I autistic spectrum disorder diagnosis. (Aspergers was axed in the last version of the DSM…which is an interesting topic for another time).

    You’re question is also not off base, in my opinion, in that there is a certain sense in which some (not most or all) persons who have experienced developmental stress and/or trauma may withdraw. In fact, if you read Theodore Millon and some of the psychoanalytic literature, there are discussions of passive ‘borderlines’ and certain states in the ‘borderline’ spectrum that lie more on the ‘autistic’ side than an actively self-destructive or aggressive side.

    Moreover, you’re onto something too in the sense that there has been a huge amount of discussion on what exactly ‘borderlines’ are on the ‘border’ of — depression, anxiety, psychosis, etc. or some combination therein…many clinicians have considered, especially historically, autism to be, in varying ways, on the ‘border’ of psychosis, without ever fully dissolving into a psychotic state.

    I could go on — you raise a really good question — but think I’ll stop here. Thank you for your comment!

  • Hey Andrew, I appreciate your comments and agree. It’s great to see folks, like you, who are (or have) worked in hospital / community mental health and similar settings step up and express your views on psychiatry.

    I agree. And I appreciate your accent that, in fact, we do know wrong approaches to the various forms of distress that exist. Those in the so-called ‘helping professions’ have done great hard, at time, and often unknowingly. Fortunately, these are not the majority of people who get into the field. And we have enough data now to know that psychiatry is really not the way to go for a host of different reasons.

    Also, on that note, I don’t identify myself with the ‘anti-psychiatry’ movement. I would consider myself more ‘critical psychiatry’. If someone does feel that he or she has benefited significantly from meds, then far be it for me to tell them otherwise. Moreover, I don’t believe anyone should be in the position of telling others what they should put into their body…this is tantamount, in a sense, to telling them what books they can read.

    In any event, thanks for your comments. I am on FB, if you’d like to connect:

  • Discover and Recover: I agree with most of what you’re saying and I’ve said — repeatedly in talks, publications and interviews — that psychotherapy can be lifesaving, helpful, supportive and, generally speaking, work wonders in some people’s lives. HOWEVER, unlike most of my colleagues, I do *not* believe it is somehow the best or ‘highest’ modality for everyone. Sometimes it is and sometimes it is not — it depends upon the individual asking for support and what his or her individual needs are. Sometimes, actually more often than not, it is a combination of things. Many years ago, when I was working for an inpatient facility, I had to have the humility to recognize that the nutritionist actually was able to have more rapid and dramatic impacts on clients than psychotherapy. Also, I have seen great results with people simply getting out into nature, perhaps enrolling in some program that restores trails or simply a hiking group.

    I also would like to accent what you call a ‘spiritual’ dimension to the process. This is why I accent (following the Greeks, Jung and Laing) the notion of metanoia.

    Finally, as Bob Whitaker points out, sometimes nothing is necessary. Incidents of spontaneous recovery were well documented until relatively recent years.

    I’d like to go on, but I have to run…anyway, thanks for your comments. I am grateful for the comments.

  • Glad you liked it, John. I appreciate too your mention of Lucy’s piece. That is the way to go, at least in my opinion. There’s absolutely no reason to have labels whatsoever. It is entirely possible to simply stick with someone’s own description of where he or she is ‘at’ and what he or she is asking for. This and similar avenues are what I try to present towards the end of the book. I am grateful to a number of different non-psychiatric organizations for allowing me to publish them as resources. Anyway, thanks again!

  • Thanks, Melodee! I have had a similar experience in the ‘peer’ / ‘recovery’ movement. It seems that the stigma and anger towards this specific label isn’t restricted to the fields of psychiatry and psychology. It is also no accident; it arrives to us as the logical outcome of a long-established history. I outline a lot of this in the book. Anyway, I am glad you enjoyed this article!