Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Comments by Ed Childe

Showing 41 of 41 comments.

  • I was very interested in the physical sciences until I discovered Freud’s efforts to understand the human psyche. This led me to a 50 year career as a psychotherapist, but I was greatly disappointed that no one wanted to hear how psychotic patients could be saved from drugs and institutions with humane insight oriented therapy.
    It made me realize that transforming from spiritual religious beliefs to the study of objective reality has had a very negative effect: it has left the human psyche, the soul, neglected and abandoned.
    This has led to the pandemic of mental illnesses and addictions that we see today.
    I also note the increase in novels and literature, which tells me that people are turning toward this in order to communicate with the inner selves of others in a way that is often lacking in our lives.
    I found that a great majority of patients I saw were grateful for the opportunity to express and explore their inner lives in order to improve their lives.

  • Please read Bruno Bettelheims book Freud and Mans Soul.
    He was from Vienna and says that Freud is /was mistranslated from German, and that he was trying to understand the soul.
    I saw psychiatry dump Freud in the 1950s, and turn to toxic drugs to suppress the symptoms of mental pain that were coming from the soul, or the unconscious.
    I had a 50 year career as a psychotherapist and am writing an essay now for Robert Whittaker, which I hope he’ll publish. No one else will.
    I found that psychotic patients became the most challenging and hardworking of my career, as they struggled to escape from their agony.
    It was wonderful to see them able to transform into happy people who loved to help others.
    One can understand why psychiatry wanted to think that emotional disorders were caused by brain defects; we’ve had such phenomenal success in understanding the physical world that our psychological world , our souls, have been neglected, leading to the pandemic of mental illnesses and addictions that we see today.
    But emotional disorders are only secondarily physical.
    They are primarily experiential and psychological.

  • Did you know that Bruno Bettelheim wrote a book saying that Freud has been mistranslated into English, and that he was really attempting to understand the soul.
    When I had my first psychotic psychoanalytic patient I was completely blocked by his thought disorder. Fortunately my supervisor was Dr Donald Winnicott, who suggested I stop talking (nonsense), and listen. I was eventually able to hear his tortured true self, his soul, and he was able to build a real life based on his emotions and having a good parental figure.
    I’ve since learned that the true self, the soul, lives in our right brains, and that personality transformation is possible even with “hopelessly damaged psychotic “ patients.
    Our society values our left brain functions so greatly that our souls get neglected, and we have a pandemic of mental illnesses and addictions.

  • Charles Whitfield has written book about his findings that environmental traumas cause most psychiatric disorders. Perhaps because I went into medicine from postgrad science I always looked into patients personal histories for the cause of their emotional disorders, and found that this was so successful that drugs were seldom needed. I had several courageous psychotic patients who trusted me enough to work with me to discover the trauma that had caused their condition: it was in infancy, when our right cerebral hemispheres are learning and developing, and our left brains haven’t yet developed their linguistic abilities.
    Recovery required not only insight, but often nurturing to replace what we mammals require. Darwin had to remind us that we are animals who’ve evolved, and I sometimes wonder if we forget that we are mammals who are born very prematurely in order to get our big heads through the birth canal.

  • Harry Harlow produced monkeys who couldn’t relate to other monkeys by raising them with artificial mothers, instead of real mothers.
    I treated psychotic patients for many years and discovered that they had experienced maternal deprivation in infancy, and that they usually required nurturing with a babies bottle during sessions in order to become well and healthy.
    They had often been able to pretend to be real, until this false self collapsed.

  • Perhaps I was lucky; I went into medical school from postgrad physics and math,which I’d found dehumanizing, and discovered Freud’s scientific attempt to understand psychiatric disorders, as well as very humane descriptions of people suffering from anxiety, depression, etc, etc.
    It was a relief to have a knowledgeable European gentleman, Dr Heinz Lehman, at McGill, not only put a name to the conditions that bothered me but also point out a direction I could go for help, and perhaps even a career.
    When I eventually began psychiatric residency it seemed entirely natural to take a personal history, to get to know my patients, and together we seemed to find the causes of their distress, and this relieved their symptoms.
    Like me they had struggled to keep their feelings bottled up inside.
    This worked fine for over a year, although I recall some of my supervisors skipping sessions with me, until one of them told me to drug a recovering depressed patient. When I declined, and then refused to do so, he attempted to have me thrown out of the residency.
    I realized I was in the wrong profession: psychiatry aimed to treat symptoms with physical agents, while I had what seemed to me to be the scientific approach of searching for the cause of the problem.
    This led to fleeing McGill and Canada for psychoanalytic help in Britain, where by total accident my second training case suddenly became psychotic, and my supervisor, Dr Donald Winnicott, helped me to shut up and listen, and helped penetrate his thought disorder.
    I worked for years in crisis intervention and adolescent psychiatry at Fort Logan, Denver’s mental hospital, but these units were closed because we weren’t drugging people, so I spent the last 20 years of my career in Ottawa, where I could get paid by OHIP to do psychotherapy until patients became well. The most interesting and challenging patients were psychotic or had failed to be helped by repeated biological agents, and we often had to track the trauma to infancy.
    The professional groups to which I belonged didn’t want to hear this. My wife, who had been a top therapeutic community nurse in Britain when we married, and had helped me with psychotic patients, said that I was 50 years ahead of my time, but I fervently hope that humane help is offered to people before then.
    Perhaps I should write more detailed descriptions of how my patients and I did this, but there has been so little interest in my efforts that it’s discouraging.

  • I was a psychotherapist for 50 years and my patients and I discovered that psychotic patients could be cured with insight oriented psychotherapy, and suitable rehabilitation.
    I thought that this would be wonderful news for a society burdened with an epidemic of mental illness.
    But exactly the opposite happened! The professional organizations to which I belonged virtually wrote me off, and certainly weren’t interested in how we did it, although they continued to send me ‘hopeless ‘ cases.
    I sometimes wonder if science has been narrowed excessively: it has been great at discovering secrets of the physical world, and saving us from being dominated by religious spirituality, but it hasn’t yet accepted that scientific method can be used to great benefit to study the subjective, spiritual, psychological world, and to help those trapped in nightmare like conditions.

  • Perhaps because I came to medicine from science, I thought of symptoms as a guide to the origin of the suffering, not as something to drug or shock away. The same holds for physical symptoms; they help find the physical pathology, if any.
    With psychosis or other deep seated pathology, we often found that the trauma began in infancy, and that healing required attempting to supply the missing nurturing.

  • I’d thought about doing a presentation to TED, but when they wanted peer reviewed backup I gave up!
    Am I the only therapist who took a history, got to know my patients, and helped them find the connection between their symptoms and past trauma?. This seemed to enable them to make sense of their lives, and their symptoms abated.
    By chance I got a psychoanalytic training case who became psychotic, and with the help of my supervisor, Dr Donald Winnicot, was able to penetrate his thought disorder and help him get well.
    When psychiatry closed our psychiatric units because we weren’t drugging people I retreated to private practice in Ontario, and discovered that psychotic patients could become spectacularly successful.
    But I don’t think TED would be interested, just as psychiatry and psychoanalysis aren’t interested.

  • I was a therapist for 50 years, and I guess I did take it personally!
    At 90 I am still trying to change psychiatry: to encourage listening to people, trying to understand them, and especially trying to help them to understand themselves. I think of it as a human approach, and feel it contrasts with trying to find a drug that will relieve symptoms. Some patients prefer the latter path, and can be referred.
    I had a background in science, with interests in journalism and drama, so it seemed natural to take a personal history, to get to know people, and to find the connection between past trauma and present symptoms.
    This approach did not endear me to psychoanalytic or psychiatric former colleagues.

  • Why was it that I found that taking a history, enquiring about patients lives and traumata, provided an explanation for their symptoms?
    I was in science before medicine, and a scientist tries to look more deeply into something in order to understand it. Perhaps an interest in journalism and drama also helped.
    Eliott Valenstein, in his book Blaiming the Brain, also demonstrated the poor science behind the claims of correcting chemical imbalances, and the harm that these false beliefs could do.

  • Thank you for your honest description of hell!
    I was a psychotherapist for 50 years and discovered, the hard way, that when you help someone escape from psychosis you shouldn’t abandon them, but should follow through with them to find what caused the condition.
    The cause, in the people I treated, dated back to trauma in very early life. Therapy required a simulation of what had been lacking: in 2 cases it actually was helped by 2 years with a baby’s bottle of milk during sessions.
    Integrating one’s mind requires a patient parental figure- something good enough mothers do virtually every day, and need help with.

  • Science has been amazing in helping us to develop knowledge of the physical world. I realized, when I was taking postgrad courses that it was also dehumanizing, so I switched to medical school at McGill and was delighted to find our lectures in psychiatry to be extremely human.
    This was in 1952 and the lecturer was Dr Heinz Lehman, an empathic European gentleman, who the following year discovered that chlorpromazine could help his incurable schizophrenic patients.
    Unfortunately this precipitated the drug revolution that assumes that our psychological and spiritual problems are physical in origin, and not human relation problems.
    False science is causing tremendous damage to people, who get treated like objects, instead of like the human beings they are.

  • I began psychiatric residency in 1957 and found that by talking to patients and understanding their lives it seemed easy to understand where their symptoms originated. Since we’d done this together the patients were better able to understand their lives, and the symptoms moderated and disappeared.
    Psychiatry wanted to keep up with the wonderful achievements of physical medicine and preferred to think of these disorders as biological and genetic in origin, and quickly turned to the plethora of new drugs that they hoped would keep them in the business of being in command of what are primarily psychological and spiritual disorders, as you describe the healers dealing with.
    I had a young African man, a student, who was tormented by persecutory voices. I was fascinated to hear him come to an understanding of who was sending these hateful messages, and he recovered in 2 months!
    Later on, in my psychoanalytic training, I accidentally got a patient who suddenly became psychotic with an impenetrable thought disorder. The patient and I both felt doomed, but by great good fortune my supervisor was Dr Donald Winnicot, who suggested I stop talking, and listen.
    Eventually I understood something and with 4 years of therapy the patient thanked me for helping him to feel human.
    When psychiatry closed the units we were running on psychotherapeutic lines, I went into private practice in Ontario where I could get paid for seeing anyone, and discovered that psychotic patients were the most dedicated, demanding and rewarding that I had.
    It certainly reinforced that many mental illnesses are spiritual, although psychosis can be caused by physical disorders.
    I discovered that the most long term psychotic patients had had severe maternal deprivation from early life, and required feeding from a baby’s bottle as part of healing.
    E.A.Childe. MD

  • I began psychiatry in 1957 and found that by getting to know my patients and their lives it became evident that their symptoms were a result of previous traumata. Since we’d done this together it enabled the patients to make better sense of their lives, and well.
    With psychotic patients the trauma was usually earlier and deeper, and required longer therapy, sometimes even bottle feeding to fill the void of nursing deprevation.
    Since I discovered that patients could become healthy and well, I would agree that mental illnesses are psychological and spiritual in origin, and usually do better with human help rather than with toxic drugs.

  • Thanks. We discovered that mental hospital units in Denver, in the 1960s and 1970s, could be run using various forms of psychotherapy, rather than drugs or confinement. Unfortunately the government and the psychiatric administration changed, and these services were closed in favor of drugs, which were thought to be quicker and cheaper. (Remember Ogden Nash’s:
    Candy’s dandy, but liquor’s quicker). We now see the result with the epidemic of mental illness and the profits of psychiatry and drug companies.
    I was driven into private practice, but went to Ontario where they paid for psychotherapy, and we discovered that even long term psychotic patient often were motivated to escape from the nightmare of mental illness and forced “treatment “.
    I am writing an article about this for MIA.

  • I was a psychotherapist for 50 years and found it much more productive and satisfying to talk to patients and take a history than to try to drug their symptoms out of sight. With nonpsychotic patients who were willing to talk with me it wasn’t difficult to understand the trauma that had produced the symptoms. This helped the patient to make sense of their life and feelings.
    With psychotic patients the trauma was often from an even earlier stage of life, and the therapy not only required understanding and working through, but often required therapy with a baby’s bottle to counteract the damage done by the absence of good enough mothering.
    We often seem to forget that we are mammals, and in nature animals that don’t get good mothering die. But we humans are born very prematurely in order to get our big heads through the birth canal, and are sometimes kept alive without good enough mothering.

  • It transformed my life when I began medical school, after many years of science and arts, and learned of the concepts such as anxiety, depression, paranoia ect, that I suffered from. I also learned that, thanks to Freud, it was possible to get help, and to learn how to help others.
    Luckily this was in 1952, before supposedly effective drugs began teaching physicians that mental illnesses were really due to physical causes, as Kraepelin had surmised.
    When I began psychiatric residency I tried to get to know my patients and found that their traumas explained and relieved their symptoms, and this simple discovery led to a 50 year career. Part of me paid attention to the psychiatric diagnosis, but a much larger part was interested in the drama of their lives and pursuing this to the core of the problem, as science had taught me.
    By total accident I also discovered that it was possible to penetrate the brick wall of thought disorder that psychotic patients suffer from.
    Unfortunately I wasn’t able to penetrate the brick wall of psychiatry and psychoanalysis, to let them know of our successes.

  • The US needs a socialist political party!
    They have a far right party that seems as feudal as the empire they tried to escape from.
    They have a middle party that desperate people sometimes have to vote for.
    But Bernie Sanders and Ralph Nader made me realize that you don’t really have a people’s party.
    Of course a socialist party can go too far and hurt the economy, but in a healthy country the electorate can hopefully change course, if they have the option, which I don’t think they now have.
    After our psychotherapeutic psychiatric units were closed in the US because we wouldn’t drug people, I had to return to Canada to get funding to give people psychotherapy.
    It saves money to get people better than to keep them drugged .
    I’m glad that the old saying is proving correct:
    An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

  • Drugs tend to be dehumanizing agents. I had a 50 year career as a psychotherapist and found that it was necessary to get patients off of drugs in order to help them to express honest emotions and to recover.
    My mentor, Dr Donald Winnicott described the True Self, which came from the right brain and the body, and I found that this was the key to helping psychotic patients escape from the hell of mental illness.

  • Perhaps psychiatrists should join the medical profession and first do no harm. I had a 50 year career as a physician who wanted to help people understand themselves, and drugging people to do it never occurred to me. But I thought it was wonderful that chlorpromazine could save an acutely psychotic person from a possible lifetime of mental illness.
    By great good fortune I accidentally got a patient,in my psychoanalytic training, who became psychotic, and my mentor suggested I listen . This I did until I began to be able to understand. This eventually led to the most satisfying part of my career: understanding psychotic patients and helping them to work through the traumata , sometimes from birth, that had driven them crazy.

  • I fled McGill psychiatric residency and Canada in 1959 when it became clear that we were being taught/forced to attack patients rather than to help them understand their lives.
    Psychoanalysis in Britain was a great help. I needed, like most of my patients, to be able to be open and honest with a parental figure I could trust. Freudian theory, aside from perhaps conscious and unconscious, didn’t mean much to me, but when my 2nd training case, a young professional man unexpectantly became psychotic, we were both lost.
    What saved us was that my supervisor was Dr Donald Winnicott, a gifted pediatrician/psychoanalyst who had told me he wasn’t a good supervisor.
    He suggested I stop talking (nonsense) and listen.
    Having no other choice I did that, for several sessions, until I finally understood something in the patients thought disorder.
    I gave a positive noise, then later a positive word, and gradually we began to be able to communicate. The patient’s life had completely disintegrated, but gradually, over the next 4 years he built a new, meaningful one.
    Dr Winnicott , true to his word never looked down on me. I would go over my notes from a session, and he would talk about a person he was trying to help, which would somehow inspire me to talk about my patient: and so back and forth for the session- like we were helping each other and our patients.
    At the end of the session we would warmly thank each other! And I rode home on the double decker bus and see over the wall into the Buckingham Palace grounds.
    I gradually realized that Dr W was somehow different from other analysts, but it wasn’t until years later that I read his paper on the true self and the false self that I could verbalize his difference from Freud.
    Freud described the id as demonic and evil and drew it on the right side of the head. The logical left brain was supposed to become dominant enough to overcome this utterly selfish self.
    Dr W’s paper reversed this: the true self is the emotional self, and the false self is the often phoney self that we are taught to use to get along in the world. His thesis was that my patient , with both his parents preoccupied with the war, had learnt to be good, rather than a more balanced person.
    I was fascinated by split brain research, and realized that Freud had discovered this, but hadn’t been able to reach out to the troubled right brains of schizophrenic patients.
    What I found with the psychotic patients who could make it to my office is that the trauma in their lives predated the development of the verbal, rational left brain, so they needed right brain help because that’s where the trauma was stored.
    It also seems to explain why schizophrenia strikes young adults. They manage on a false self basis as long as they can, but then get overwhelmed by the nightmare in the right brain.
    With 2 of my most psychotic patients, who had also suffered the abuse of many years of psychiatric treatments, once we had identified the neglected infant in them we found that a baby’s bottle during sessions aided recovery.
    Of course I also wonder if many of the current problems of drug abuse and sexual identity disorders may have similar deep seated origins.

  • I began psychiatric residency in 1957 and the terms used then for psych drugs were chemical straight jacket and chemical lobotomy. I was interested in helping people to discover themselves, so I was unwilling to drug them. Since I also wanted to find a better part of myself i chose to flee psychiatry for psychoanalysis, and work through my sadness and loneliness.
    This seemed to provide a good foundation for a long career as a psychotherapist.
    I appreciate your work, and your book Toxic Psychiatry was the first one that seemed to confirm my beliefs and observations.

  • Unfortunately severe emotional problems have fallen into the realm of physicians/psychiatrists, who naturally think in physical terms. This isn’t too surprising since we have spent the last 500 years escaping from spiritual domination and developing an amazing understanding of the physical .
    I had a 50 year career as a psychotherapist and discovered that “mental illnesses ” were usually spiritual, not in the religious sense but in the sense of relationships with the people in one’s life. The spirits of our mothers, fathers and those who have affected us.
    An investigation into this with patients who were willing invariably showed a connection between symptoms and early life traumas.
    My most dedicated and hard working people were those trapped in psychosis, which was like being trapped in a perpetual nightmare!
    It sometimes took years but we discovered that they could escape from hell and become marvellous, giving people.

  • I was lucky enough to discover an ability to understand many seriously disturbed psychotic patients. My background was in science, with undeveloped interests in journalism and drama. I also came from a family with serious mental problems originating from unhealthy infancies.
    I had a natural interest in psychotherapy, but never thought this would extend to psychotic patients until, totally by accident, my second psychoanalytic training case suddenly became psychotic!
    I became very panicked, and this made my patient feel doomed.
    What saved us was that my supervisor, Dr Donald Winnicot, suggested that I stop talking (nonsense) and try listening.
    Since I had no other option I tried keeping my mouth shut.
    The patient, a professional man in his 20s, kept coming despite his life falling apart and his incoherent thoughts. He had no other option either.
    But then, after a few sessions I finally felt I understood something. So I tried to give a positive sound. This led to a positive word, and then gradually to positive communication.
    The patient was then able to put himself together, get a girlfriend and develop a life.
    Dr Winnicot hypothesized that he had developed a false, conforming personality during the war when his parents were busy with war work.
    But this therapy took 4 years, and I realized that psychoanalysis could be a wonderful framework for treating psychotic conditions.
    Since psychiatry didn’t want us running psychiatric units without drugs, I eventually gave up on it and withdrew into private practice in Ottawa, where the health service paid for psychotherapy.
    There I found that treating seriously unwell psychiatric patients to be the most interesting, challenging and rewarding part of my career.
    There were many psychoanalysists in town, but since they had little interest in treating the severely ill or disturbed people this gave me opportunity to earn a living for my family, and see if a scientific, analytic approach to cracking the code of mental illness was possible.
    Perhaps my most difficult patient was a woman who had been damaging herself with suicide attempts for many years. She’d had frequent hospitalizations, courses of ECT and drugs, but was still virtually unmanageable on inpatient university wards.
    For some reason she came to see me 5 times a week. She talked but I found her difficult to understand. One day she pulled out a butane lighter and sizzled her forearm, which already was heavily scarred. I had to struggle to stop this without ending the therapy, as another psychoanalyst had done.
    She did stop but did make serious suicidal attempts. The hospital she occasionally went to considered her brain damaged, and I remember, though I’m not religious, thinking it would take a miracle to save her.
    But then something amazing happened!
    She must have mentioned that she had had a difficult birth and had spent some time in an incubator. I already knew that she had developed a deadly, but managible, disease as a young child.
    It suddenly occurred to me that she probably had received very little nurturing as a young child and what she was doing was attempting to silence/kill the screaming, deprived infant in her.
    This certainly surprised her, but in a few days we began to work together to see what we could do for this abandoned inner self.
    I knew that Dr Winnicott had given some patients tea, as well as kindness and understanding, and a close relative of mine had had severe maternal deprivation, so I suggested that I give the patient a baby’s bottle of milk during sessions.
    She readily agreed, and we did this for a couple of years until she weaned herself. She also developed a very positive relationship with my wife, who was a senior therapeutic community nurse when we married, and who breastfed all our children. My wife had accompanied me on midnight home visits when the patient had learned to call for help instead of attacking herself.
    She became a wonderful person who enjoyed helping others, as well as herself.
    This reinforced my ability to help chronically impaired people by helping them to understand and work through what they had endured.
    Ordinarily we mammals die without adequate maternal care, but now we can keep babies alive through other means, but often with severe emotional damage.
    I found this can apply to people diagnosed with labels such as paranoid schizophrenia, OCD, clinical depression etc.
    Unfortunately when I did presentations of our work to the psychiatric and psychoanalytic associations I belonged to they weren’t interested. They seemed to want to continue to think of severe mental disorders as biological and genetic, despite the failure to prove this.
    I note that Nobel prizes have been given for physical treatments like lobotomy, rather than for psychological or spiritual approaches.
    I suppose this is understandable since we have made such amazing progress in the physical world since we escaped from the religious, spiritual one.
    Thank you for talking about Matt Stevenson, which inspired me to write this.
    Edward Arthur Childe BSc MD


  • Did you read Daniel Smith’s book Muses, Madmen, and Prophets?
    The family discovered that their grandfather heard voices and used their input to help! Eg , playing cards.
    But his father felt that the voices were a sign of mental illness, and I think killed himself.
    I had a wonderful psychoanalytic supervisor, Dr Donald Winnicot, who saved the day, and life, of my patient who became psychotic. He suggested I stop talking and listen to the patient. After a few sessions I began to understand something, and this gradually led to the young man’s recovery.
    At the end he thanked me for helping him to feel human.
    Years later I came across Dr Winnicot’s paper on the True Self and the False Self, and realized that true therapy must get to the true self to be effective, and hearing voices or thoughts, as well as dreams, is a great way to do this.
    De W talked about the need for regression, and I interpret this as a need to get into the right brain, which develops before the left, and picks up the moods of the mothering person before understanding words.
    If trauma occurs before verbal memory patients need help with this, or they can have the right brain be a chaotic, demonic id , like Freud described.

  • Thank you for being so forthcoming, so authentic.
    Although I was a “physician ” I became oriented to psychotherapy in 1st year med school, and enjoyed being a psychotherapist. And leaving psychotic patients to biologically oriented psychiatrists.
    UNTIL, when training in psychoanalysis one of my patients suddenly became psychotic!
    I couldn’t understand him and he couldn’t understand me and he felt doomed!
    What saved us was that I had a pediatrician/psychoanalyst, Dr Donald Winnicott as a supervisor. He suggested that I stop talking (nonsense) and try listening. Since I had no other option, I did so…..
    The patient kept coming and kept talking and , much to my surprise after a few sessions I understood something. I gave out an affirmative noise. Later I understood something else, and said a word. This built and we developed a working relationship with each other, and this gradually allowed him to begin to feel real and develop a life.
    Dr Winnicott, who had helped children to survive the war, hypothesized that he’d developed a false self in groups with his parents doing war work.
    It took 4 years but at the the patient thanked me for helping him to feel human!
    We ran psychiatric units using various forms of psychotherapy, but psychiatry and governments shut us down, saying that drugs were quicker and cheaper. We could see the revolving door start, keeping patients as patients for life.
    I eventually gave up on psychiatry and moved to Ontario where the provincial health insurance paid me to do psychotherapy on any resident, and the happy result was that some of my patients were psychotic and had never had the opportunity to find a therapist who would try to understand them! It was very challenging work, but extremely satisfying.
    Unfortunately, however, my “colleagues ” didn’t want to hear about this work, so I really appreciate Mad in America for their interest!

  • I wonder if attempts to be “scientific ” hurts our efforts to help people in mental distress.
    I was lucky enough to have a 50 year career as a medical psychotherapist,(but unlucky enough to have it in an age when professional bodies thought drugs were cheaper and better).
    The vast majority of the time I found that talking with patients and helping them to understand themselves seemed to help them to feel better.
    With psychotic patients it was different: they seemed to need antipsychotic drugs in order to become comprehensible.
    My final supervised case in psychoanalytic training at the British Institute unexpectantly became psychotic. The patient and I both became hopelessly confused, and he felt doomed…..
    But fortunately my supervisor was Dr Donald Winnicot, a gifted pediatrician/psychoanalyst, who suggested I stop talking and listen.
    This was very difficult to do, but since I had no other option I tried it.
    The patient, who’s life had completely disintegrated, kept coming and talking. I was reminded of the hundreds of schizophrenics I’d done mental status exams on as a medical student at a huge mental hospital on the Hudson River.
    But one day suddenly I felt I’d understood something he’d said. I gave a positive noise. Later I was able to give a positive word, then a sentence, and we gradually became able to communicate.
    Dr Winnicot was helpful in an unusual way: in our first session he’d said that he wasn’t a very good supervisor and wouldn’t be able to tell me what to do, and he stuck to this. What he did, after I’d read my notes written after sessions, was talk about therapies he was struggling with. This would somehow stimulate me to talk further about my patient and myself, which would stimulate him, and so forth back and forth .
    At the end of the session I would thank him and he would thank me!
    It felt wonderful: and the patient became well after 4 years therapy and thanked me for helping him to feel human!
    This is the kind of reward on gets from helping deeply disturbed people.
    Not much science involved, except that all of them had early life trauma that they needed help with. I’ve thought that Freud’s conscious/unconscious split and Sperry’s split brain work told me something about our efforts to help our children to have integrated personalities and brains.

  • Thank you so much for your article. I have been trying for decades to show that psychotic patients can be treated and helped to become well with insight oriented psychotherapy. Perhaps because I had many years education in science, I think it was science that helped me to compare psychotherapy with drugs and prove to myself, as least, that therapy seemed more efficacious and human.
    I quit psychiatry in 1982, and psychoanalysis in 1992, because neither group showed the slightest interest in my presentations of our work showing how psychotic patients could escape from long term abuse by drugs, ECT, and hospitalizations, and become healthy.
    I discovered that early traumas had caused these conditions in the first place. I have suggested strongly the financial gains we could achieve by helping people to recognize and get help with their traumas, rather than try to hide the symptoms with drugs.
    I tried to follow the symptoms to their roots, which any good physician does with a physical disorder. This seems scientific to me. Remember that science becomes uncertainty and probability.
    I will gladly send you articles I have written on this

  • Although I I trained in science, psychiatry and psychoanalysis, I was lucky enough to break the code and begin to be able to communicate with psychotic patients. In the back of my mind I knew the psychiatric diagnosis, but I suppose the scientist in me was curious to see if we could find a psychological cause for the disorder, as was possible with nonpsychotic disorders.
    In fact , usually the more severe the disorder the harder the patient tried to help me with this. It’s as though they were trapped in a personal hell and some human showed up who showed some willingness to rescue them. Even people with the most long tem severe disorders such as schizophrenia,OCD, Psychotic depression were able to make amazing recoveries. Perhaps recovery is the wrong word because they seemed able to become better, healthier people than they had ever been.
    I’m afraid we haven’t listened to Bleuler who tried to get us away from “dementia of the young” for functional disorders, to fragmented , schizophrenic people.

    I suppose diagnosis helped me to be patient , but it seems unscientific to try to put a complex human being into a slot and drug them without attempting communication.

  • Although I trained in psychiatry it was just at the beginning of the chlorpromazine induced drugs era and I discovered that the vast majority of the patients improved just by talking with them about their problems.
    Unfortunately though, psychiatry , despite a lack of scientific evidence, wanted to think of mental disorders as physical rather than mental and have created vast industries that have hurt countless numbers of people.
    There are many studies that now confirm this, but in our mechanized, dehumanized world this is ignored in favour of profits. We need to bring back human understanding.
    Robert Whitaker has shown us the history of psychiatry, so that we can learn from it.
    Eliot Valenstein has shown us the bad science that has promoted this disaster.

  • Classifying patients into slots and then drugging them according to instructions somehow seemed scientific. But it is dehumanizing and is causing the epidemic of mental illness that we see on our streets, hear about in our prisons and in our media. In Ontario they paid me to talk with people and I discovered that even those with longstanding psychoses could become well when they pursued the origins of their disorders with me.
    A simple human approach, perhaps like Pinel used….

  • Thank you so much for your article and your work.
    I trained in psychiatry, psychoanalysists and crisis intervention. We discovered that it was possible to run psychiatric units in a mental hospital in Denver, a general hospital in Edmonton and teach at a Canadian university.
    But it never lasted! People thought that drugs and ECT were faster and cheaper, and we could see the revolving door beginning with huge profits for psychiatry and the drug companies.
    Remember Ogden Nash: Candys dandy
    But liquors quicker.
    Psychotherapy is slower but it can prevent lifetimes of expense and suffering.
    I don’t know CBT, but I found that shutting up and listening to people, especially psychotics, usually allowed us to get in touch with each other and for healing to occur
    Also our health insurance program in Ontario allowed us to finish the therapy beautifully.
    It’s hard to understand why people aren’t interested in this.
    I can send you some papers I have written on this.
    [email protected]

  • I trained in science for many years, but when I began med school at McGill in 1952 and heard of Freud’s helping people to speak freely about what was on their minds, this seemed like a scientific approach.
    When I began psychiatric residency I found that patients seemed to naturally recover when they were helped to talk. Unfortunately though “antidepressants” had been developed, with flimsy research as it turned out, and I was threatened with firing for refusing to drug recovering patients.
    Psychotic patients were different, at first. But by great good fortune I had a gifted psychoanalytic supervisor in London, Dr Donald Winnicott, who suggested I stop talking (nonsense) and listen.
    This turned out to be the key for me, and led to the most satisfaction I had in a 50 year career.
    With some nonpsychotic patients it wasn’t always clear how effective psychotherapy had been, but with a psychotic it was night and day: from an incomprehensible nonperson alienated from the world to someone who felt human and went on to help others.
    Unfortunately the professional societies to which I belonged weren’t interested. It wasn’t biological, although one scientist patient did say she could feel her brain changing, not surprising since she changed from paranoid schizophrenia to helping homeless people.
    Many of us fled from the spirituality of religion to science, but we are filled with the spirits of the people and culture we have known. Having helpful therapists helped me and allowed me to help others.

  • Wonderful! I was a psychotherapist for 50 years and accidentally, with help from a gifted supervisor, discovered that it was possible to learn to listen to and understand a psychotic patient. This was in London in the 1960s where it wasn’t uncommon for therapists to attempt this work.
    My patient became well with 4 years of daily insight oriented therapy. My supervisor, Dr Donald Winnicott , postulated that he’d developed a false self in group settings when his parents were away during the war.
    Dr Winnicott taught me to look for the true self in myself and others, and I’m sure that this helped us to run psychiatric units in the mental hospital in Denver without the use of drugs. Unfortunately, though, politics and administrations changed and drugs were thought to be quicker and cheaper and our units were disbanded.
    And so the lucrative revolving door began.
    After being a professor at a Canadian university for a few years I gave up on psychiatry and did private practice in Ottawa where health insurance covered open ended psychotherapy, and this began the most interesting last 20 years of my career.
    I had several patients who had gone for help but had had psychotic symptoms and so were deemed to have biological, genetic disorders that required physical treatments and repeated hospitalizations. This trapped them for life…..but having the luxury of being paid to listen to them allowed us the opportunity to discover the childhood trauma that had led to the psychosis, and then eventually to recovery, good health and ability to help others.
    I thought that this would be good news to the psychiatric and psychoanalytic groups to which I belonged, but they didn’t want to hear it. I even, wrongly, thought the media might be interested since health care is so expensive for Canada that other vital services are being squeezed. Our prisons and streets and cemeteries are being filled with the mentally unwell.
    I have been indirectly in touch with Canada’s health minister about this and she and the government are offering the provinces extra money for mental health issues, but if it’s used to stifle the voices of the suffering….
    I will try to write a short, simple article for the Canadian medical association journal about this, although my writings have been ignored.
    Science classifies things, but we have made a huge mistake to think we can classify distressed people into slots and drug them into silence, instead of helping the to sort out who they are and what has happened to them.
    Edward Childe BSc MD

  • I have found that some psychotic patients seem to be able to be cured by psychotherapy. I had several people who had had many years, even decades, of repeated hospitalizations, drugs, ECTs, who seemed willing to come to see me and to talk about their lives and problems. At first I found it impossible to understand their confused thoughts, but by total good fortune I had a gifted psychoanalyst/pediatrician in London who told me to stop talking and to listen.
    With no other choice I did. Much to my amazement I was gradually able to begin to understand him and we began to be able to communicate.
    He became very well and thanked me profoundly for helping him to feel human. It had taken 5 years of daily psychoanalytic sessions. The root of the problem was in the war when his parents were away or working and he’d developed a false self.
    For the last 20 years of my practice I saw many people with long term psychotic and neurotic disorders. Those who were willing to talk were able to also discover and work through the roots of their disorders and become well.
    Unfortunately in our rational, materialistic world it seems difficult for many people to accept that this kind of work can be real and valid. Religions have dominated the spiritual world for so long that it seems difficult to help people with the spirits of the people who have been in their lives.
    And the would be therapist becomes a spirit in theirs.
    And they in ours.

  • In my 50 year career as a psychotherapist I generally found that psychiatric drugs interfered with patients being able to discover the source of the trauma that led to their symptoms. I suppose that many years in science had taught me to look for underlying fundamentals when there was a problem to be solved.
    Psychiatrists seem to aim to relieve patients of their symptoms instead of following the symptoms to the source of the problem, and I did have patients who just wanted to have an instant cure.
    Frequently the patient knew of the trauma but had not connected it with their painful symptoms because of the time lapse, and also because no helping person had helped them make sense of their life and integrate themselves.
    The most psychotic patients I saw had missed out on normal human/mamallian nursing and it seemed that a lot of their angry self destructive behaviour was for their inner child that was screaming out for succour. They needed lengthy help and understanding, as well as, in a few cases a baby’s bottle.
    Fortunately in Ontario the health care system never questioned the length of the therapy and the patients were able to become healthy and to help other people.

  • I trained in psychiatry, psychoanalysis and crisis intervention and since I couldn’t make a living doing psychotherapy in the age of drugs and custodial mental hospitals I was lucky enough to get a job with Dr Paul Polak at the mental hospital in Denver. We had a team that treated new admissions with intensive family therapy and seldom needed drugs and we had 1 week to try to resolve things so that admission to a longer term unit wouldn’t be necessary.
    I thought this was extremely successful, but a few years later the unit was disbanded and its duties assigned to mental health centres who didn’t have the staff to do the job.
    I ran the adolescent unit there for a few years using individual, group, and family therapy, and very seldom needing drugs, but the politics and the hospital administration had changed. They thought it would be cheaper to use drugs and increase the admission and discharge rates.
    And so the revolving door began.
    I went back to Canada and ran a crisis intervention service at the general hospital in Edmonton until the psychiatrists decided they didn’t want us keeping people out of hospital instead of getting more hospital beds and giving them proper medical treatment for their medical illnesses.
    After doing 2 years as an associate professor in the department of psychiatry at the University of Manotoba, and discovering that they were only interested in their supposed biological approach to mental illness I gave up and went int private practice in Ottawa, where there were quite a few psychoanalysists.
    Strangely, though , my patients were mainly people who had failed to recover with many years, even decades, of attempted therapy and hospitalizations.
    This presented a huge challenge, but by great good fortune I had had , by total accident, a psychotic patient as a training case in London, along with a gifted supervisor, Dr Donald Winnicott. He had helped me to calm down and to listen to my patient until I actually understood something.
    This gradually worked and the patient became well.
    I did this in Ottawa but , unfortunately neither the psychiatric nor the psychoanalytic groups I belonged to were interested. One group wants to treat severe mental illness as a physical disease, and the other wants to avoid it, perhaps because Freud called it “narcissistic neurosis” and said it was untreatable.
    I have had little success communicating with Canadians about this, although it was Canadian health insurance that funded the therapy and the research.
    After I retired at 75 I tried to interest newspapers and the CBC but to no avail.