Sunday, October 20, 2019

Comments by Sam Ruck

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  • Hello Ruth,
    I am a fellow caregiver. I’m sorry for the terrible experiences you and your daughter have had. I’m very intrigued by the Open Dialogue Champions group and will try to check it out. My wife, son and I have mostly gone on this healing journey on our own, and I’ve always wished we had more support, so I can definitely empathize with you. We were just very fortunate/lucky that she never got caught up in the mental health system.

    I’m glad you are finally getting some support. Maybe some day we will, too, though I’ve about got her thru things at this point.
    Sam

  • Hello Susannah,
    well, I’ve taken a very pragmatic, humanistic approach, but I would never demean anyone’s perspective that takes a more supernatural or spiritual approach as you seem to have suggested. I just don’t seem to have access to those kind of things no matter how hard I tried to gain access to that realm for most of my life…

    Anyway, when my wife first started hearing voices I remember telling myself they could be A) part of herself, or B) something supernatural that only she had access. And even though I couldn’t disprove B, I thought A was the easier to believe and work with. And so I’ve always followed that course, believing the voices were part of my wife’s larger self.

    Over the course of the last 11 years, my understanding of voices has definitely expanded beyond that very elementary understanding, but I’ve never seen anything in her personal experience that contradicted that understanding. Today I would add the voices are ‘dissociated parts’ of herself caused from the initial trauma. I was also, always careful NEVER to play favorites with the voices: some were kind, loving and easy to get along with, one hated me, others were scared of me…but if they were all part of my wife’s larger whole, then as a husband I felt called upon to love ALL my wife and not just the easy parts.

    I would also add that because of the wonders of the mind, those dissociated parts take upon themselves their own, distinct personalities, and I always honored that part of the ‘phenomenon.’ All but one ‘voice’ had a personal name she had chosen and so I saw/see each by her name and interact with her based on her desire even though philosophically I view them as ‘part’ of my ‘greater’ wife, if that makes sense.

    And so I never wavered from my respectful, gentle and hopefully loving interaction with each of the ‘voices’ and over the course of the last 11 years, the fearful ones became stronger and less afraid. The angry one realized she wasn’t alone anymore and could trust me to help keep the others safe (and eventually she even asked to start dating me). And all of them began to mature and interconnect with each other to the point that they are more a heterogenous group of ‘friends’ than the disconnected group of ‘voices’ that they started as.

    My wife as a ‘whole’ person has expanded as she incorporates each voice into her larger collective self and so we validate the voices rather than having their ‘annihilation’ as a goal which so many experts pointedly express.
    There’s so much more, but that’s some of the highlights…
    Sam

  • Steve,
    since you put your comment under mine, am I correct to assume it’s directed toward my comment? If so, I think we may be talking about completely different issues. My comment has to do with the question, ‘what fundamentally is a ‘voice’?’ Your reply seems to have more to do with ‘how to handle voice hearing’ on an individual basis.

    How one answers my question will fundamentally affect one’s approach to voice hearing no matter how it is applied on an individual level.
    Sam

  • This approach is a good start, but there really is so much more to it. The thing I observe from the article is that talking about ‘voices’ in the abstract creates for a fuzzy base upon which to act. It’s no wonder there is such wide spread disagreement on whether and how to engage the ‘voices’ when I’m not sure most people, experts and hearers alike, even have a good answer for ‘what are the voices, fundamentally?’ Once you answer that question, the whether and how kind of take care of themselves.

    Sam

  • I didn’t realize this was such an old blog already, but I’ve never forgotten it and the unsatisfying way that the experts have defined dissociation. I finally got around to writing a 3-part discussion of dissociation after my wife and I have lived and breathed it for the last 11 years. This is what our experience has taught us about dissociation if anyone cares.
    https://samruck2.wordpress.com/2019/07/17/the-nature-of-dissociation-part-3/
    Sam

  • People in my position are desperate for help and support: NAMI offers it. I contacted them a long time ago and met with the leader of our local group, but I never ended up going to the meetings. It was only later that I started to frequent this website and realized they had been co-opted by big pharma and psychiatry.

    It’s too bad MIA doesn’t have a vision to offer a counter balance to NAMI: it’s a huge need, learning how to deal with all the things that manifest in a distressed loved one and also cope with the hurt and pain those things cause in the relationship. Maybe some day my wife will be in a position to allow me to start something…
    Sam

  • In the spirit of scientific inquiry, I’m sure this is a good thing, and those who struggle with ‘voices’ probably would love to ‘control’ them, but I’m afraid this may not really help move the person toward ‘healing.’ This would seem to be a way for people to put another layer of ‘lids’ over the original trauma. My wife and I embraced the voices: the good, the ‘bad’ the vitriolic, all of them. We didn’t control them; we unleashed them, so to speak, and it made all the difference.
    Sam

  • Kindred Spirit,
    since I specifically mentioned Open Dialogue, why would you bring in NAMI which we all know is generally disrespected on this website as a tool of Big Pharma and Psychiatry. Furthermore, since you just posted a positive comment about Open Dialogue on that thread, why would you try to twist what I say here?

    I’m sorry for the things you have shared in the past about your abusive ex, but I am NOT him, and there are a lot of us spouses out there who are in it with our loved ones whether you choose to believe that or not. And until this website can come to some kind of accommodation for both sides, those with abusive families and those with supportive families, I think this movement will continue to falter.
    Sam

  • “We are like a little gnat buzzing around a great big elephant that can be swatted away with a quick flap of the ear. But our new 10-session course will at least explore this landscape of “systems change,” with the presenters bringing to this topic a diversity of experience and perspectives. The presenters include psychiatrists, leaders in peer services, former directors of state mental health programs, and trainers experienced in helping providers implement trauma-informed care.”

    Respectfully, Bob,

    but for as long as I have frequented this website, I have tried to get people to expand your collective vision past those whom the system has wronged. I don’t ever want to demean the experience of those who were caught in the system and abused by it, but the overwhelming majority of Americans haven’t had that experience, and yet they are still touched by this issue. Additionally, no matter how many times I remind this website that the first line of defense in keeping people out of the system is to train people like me, the primary attachment figures, how to help someone in distress, my call seems to be ignored. I had to learn it on my own, but it is possible. What my wife and I went thru, most therapists won’t even touch, but we got thru it together and without any contact with ‘the system.’

    But when I look at your list of contributors, there is no one on it who represents my group, those of us in the trenches, 24/7, who deal with the hell that our loved ones are experiencing. Some of us have even figured out how to help them thru it: I’m not the only spouse out there who has walked his loved one thru all the crap that we’ve gone thru.

    I like Open Dialogue so much, even though we never had access to it, because it understands the families must be brought into collaboration for the healing journey because we are the ones who get awakened throughout the nights, on the weekends, on vacation, during intimate times and every other situation in life. And so we have to help walk the person thru the night terrors, the panic attacks, the dissociative issues, and so many other issues no matter where they hit life and the relationship that I won’t belabor the point here.

    Yours,
    Sam

  • RR,
    I’ve done this for the last 11 years with my wife, and I’ve publicly shared the journey and what I/we’ve learned on my blog. You are welcome to come and see what you think. I welcome dialogue and even debate on it.

    But our experience is so completely different than what I read on this website that we aren’t even in the same universe when I read experiences, understandings and solutions on here. And so I’ve had to realize I will always be an outsider here and seen skeptically rather than embraced as someone able to point the way to the very things this website seems to desire…
    Sam

  • rasselas.redux,

    “It is a significant, life-changing, restrictive, challenging and potentially dangerous choice to make, to help someone severely mentally ill, without the resources and legal protections of a governmentally-sanctioned system.”

    It can be done, but I agree there are few out there doing it, and I find it extremely sad that no one on any side of the debate seems to care about our perspective and what we’ve had to learn and do to make it thru this journey with our loved ones.
    Sam

  • Bippyone,
    thank you, but I don’t feel very amazing, especially as we’ve been stuck trying to help girl #8 connect to the other 7 for the last 4 years. If you really have interest, you could visit my blog on WordPress. I lay out much of my application of attachment theory and other things I’ve done to help my wife heal there.
    Sam

  • Hi Bippyone,
    hmm….written responses are so difficult to convey meaning…and none of what I say is meant to criticize what you did…so I just want to say that up front…

    But when I talk about understanding what was going on with my wife, I kind of meant it in a more technical way, though still in laymen’s terms. For example, when my wife went catatonic, I had to learn that what actually happened was one personality left executive control, but no one else came out to take control… so the “lights were on, but (literally) no one was home’ or out front. Once I figured that out, it just became a matter of me calling or pulling another girl out, and the catatonic issues were largely resolved.

    When my wife suffered ‘mini-seizures’, well that was a different issue. That was more like a computer program that had glitched while changing programs…and my wife had ‘glitched’ when switching from one girl to the next. And so I learned to ‘help’ her thru the switching and the seizures ended.

    The flashbacks and panic attacks were another issue. That was caused by the overlapping of past, dissociated, traumatic memories that were controlled by one girl breaking thru to another girl who was in executive control on the outside. And so I had a number of ways, mostly based on attachment theory’s understanding of safe haven and affect regulation, to calm her and help her integrate those new memories in the ‘overall narrative.’

    I also had to learn that some part of my wife was ALWAYS accessible, even when it appeared otherwise on the outside. And so even if she didn’t respond, I would still speak to her, using my attachment points to remind her she was no longer alone, she was safe now, etc, etc, etc… And so I learned to effect healing even when she didn’t appear to respond to me.

    So it was a matter of becoming able to diagnosis what was going on internally with her, and tailoring my response to her current reality…and little by little as I provided her that safe haven, affect regulation and proximity maintenance, the trauma memories no longer overwhelmed her because she had the additional support of my presence, and so she could slowly integrate those memories into her overall narrative…and thus they were no longer able to overwhelm her from a dissociated area previously inaccessible to her.

    Clearly, I can’t tell you what was going on with your husband or son, or make any judgments about you or them, but by walking this journey WITH my wife and learning to listen and become ‘in tune’ with her, I was able to facilitate some pretty dramatic healing to the point that most of the ‘extreme stuff’ is a distant memory and we are only dealing with tearing down the vestiges of the dissociation between the various girls, and that requires another, different approach based on attachment theory’s understanding of the inner working model.
    Sam

  • Rachel,

    I don’t like those terms (and I would include psychosis with them) because had I perceived my wife in any of those ways, it would have absolved me from any need (and more correctly, any ability) to understand what she was experiencing…and it was only once I really understood things from her perspective that I was able to help her heal and move forward and be a good healing companion. Once I understood what she was experiencing during panic attacks and flashbacks, her going catatonic, etc, I was able to help her thru them and permanently heal the underlying causes such that she hasn’t experienced that stuff in years at this point.
    Sam

  • Hi Bippyone,
    you are correct that it takes a lot more than a nebulous ‘loving someone’ to help them thru extreme forms of mental distress and trauma, and I’m sorry if I watered down my reply to the point that it looked simplistic to you. I wish there was time and space here to tell you all the ways I have systematically and intentionally helped my wife heal thru some of the worst ‘extreme states’ you could imagine, but my doing so required no medication and though I would have been happy for additional help, as her primary attachment figure, the majority of responsibility was always going to be on me anyway, though our son was a huge help in the beginning.
    Sam

  • Hello Bippyone,

    I do understand what you are saying and absolutely agree with your statement, but I think my use of ‘wrong’ had a different intention.

    Today’s biochemical model of mental health posits that some people are fundamentally flawed, in their dna, and they are ‘broken’ without any hope of ‘repair.’ Whereas the paradigm I use is the trauma model. I believe that what is ‘wrong’ with my wife is the result of trauma, and with love, help, and strong attachments she can heal.

    Restated: the biochemical model says there is a category of people broken, ill and fundamentally flawed. The trauma model just believes the mental distress and other issues like my wife’s d.i.d. are not ‘inherent’ in the person but the natural cause of pain and fear from life’s traumas and those CAN be healed.

    So the best I can tell you is we are using the same words but they have radically different meanings.
    I hope that helps!
    Sam

  • Ekaterina,

    I’m honestly not sure why I NEVER saw my wife as ‘crazy’ or ‘mad’ or ‘ill.’ I don’t like any of those terms, and I really don’t even care for the attempts to take back ‘mad’ and turn it into some kind of badge of honor or ‘in your face’ retort.

    I see my wife as traumatized, no more or less than someone who suffered a severe body trauma like my brother-in-law who fell 30 feet in a hurricane and crushed one side of his body and spent years in rehab and surgeries and still struggles with issues caused from that. My sister and he still have to deal with those issues, but no one looks at him like something is wrong with him because of his injuries. The entire family accepts his struggles and limitations. My sisters tells about the period where she had to ‘wipe’ him after he’d go to the restroom because he couldn’t do it himself. They are ‘in it’ together just like my wife and I are in her issues together, and yet I’m told ‘something is wrong’ with my wife because of her struggles, and they wonder why I don’t feel like being around them much…sigh.

    I’ve often wondered about the various reactions of people to other’s struggles, but I typically assume it tells me more about them than the person struggling.
    Sam

  • Quote: “I am, to put it quite plainly, a true schizophrenic, and that means I’m schizophrenic all the time. It doesn’t change. It’s all day, every day — no exceptions. I will put my “crazy” up against your “crazy” any time, no matter who you might be, and I’m pretty sure I’ll win. I hear voices that talk about God, the aliens, and about secret government programs all day long and sometimes even all night long, and I believe in practically all of it. Its sheer logical consistency has me convinced.”

    Eric. I know this was more of an aside, but I just can’t seem to get away from your statement here. It breaks my heart to hear you say this, even though you put ‘crazy’ in quotes. I never saw my wife that way even though she could easily match you in every way.

    I hope someday our culture radically changes it perspective on hearing voices. I’m very sorry for how you have been treated because of our cultural and scientific ignorance.
    Sam

  • At the start of our journey 11 years ago, my wife tried to hide the other girls from our son (then 17) because all the experts said to do so. But it only divided our family. So I worked with him and the first girl to bridge the gap, and she finally couldn’t contain herself and outted herself to him on a family vacation. He’s been invaluable on this healing journey we’ve taken as a family ever since.

    I didn’t want him to see the effects of her mental trauma as something strange or scary like the rest of the culture does, and so I set the tone and he just kind of followed my lead. I wanted him to be a young man who understands that ‘sh!t happens’ and not be scared or turned off by it when it happens to a loved one, but instead learn that we rally around and help someone who has been traumatized.

    My wife and I have shielded him from some of the darker stuff, but that was more by his choice of disinterest than because we ‘hid’ it from him.

  • Hello Sera,
    thank you for entrusting us with your experiences, your pain and your rage. I hear you. I’m sorry you had to go through those things alone. I hope some day your husband can learn to be a safe haven for you and help you hold those lost memories when you are ready.

    I wish you deep healing and all the best.
    Sam

  • Hi Lucy,

    I’m so glad you’ve taken such a nuanced position here and in the PTMF. And I’m glad that ‘carers’ are recognized as a group worthy of being heard. I’ve given the last 11 years to my wife’s healing and we’ve seen amazing things using attachment theory and other things we’ve learned along the way.
    I’m working my way thru the PTMF. It seems like you welcome responses and reactions to the document, but I don’t see any where to send them.
    Wishing you the best.
    Sam

  • Steven,
    as someone with a theology degree, I’ve got to admit I’ve never seen or heard exorcism explained that way. Now on a practical level, I can see how exorcism was abused by those in authority to become what you have stated, but certainly on a theological level I think most scholars would strongly disagree with your statement.
    Sam

  • Wow, Steve, Rachel and Julie, the cynicism is pretty thick here. I’m truly sorry if that’s the only kind of people you know. Maybe that’s why I’ll always be an outsider on this site, but, there are actually families out there who protect and care for their own. But when things get going extreme in a loved one, it is a little scary, overwhelming and/or bewildering.

    The following things never got covered in my “Being a Good Husband: 101 class” like my wife falling multiple times down the stairs, nearly breaking multiple limbs and being black and blue from head to toe for the first few years because the littles who joined us didn’t know how to use ‘the body’ very well; hiding in stores for fun or because various ones were terrified, almost getting run down by cars or trying to jump out of a car moving at 70mph (multiple times), going comatose (multiple, multiple times), looking like she was experiencing some kind of seizures, feeling like I was in an exorcist movie the first time I met one of the most angry girls, going comatose in a standing position so that I had to lunge to catch her before she hit the floor (for more than a year), and these were just A FEW(!!!!!!!) of the highlights of our first 5 years the others joined us (oh forgot coming home to our house being flooded while one of the new girls serenely read her book in an adjacent bedroom). And that didn’t include the task of simply winning the hearts of 7 disparate girls who were scared, traumatized and/or angry into my marriage and family so we didn’t turn out like the United States of Tara scenario.

    Somehow I muddled thru it all with the help of our college-aged son who helped me provide literal 24/7 coverage those 5 years, and in time I actually figured out how to help her/them heal so none of that happens anymore, but it was still overwhelming and scary at times.

    I’m sure it’s the same feeling for others, and so many of the SO’s and families turn to get help and instead get something worse than being all on their own thru it like we were.
    Sam

  • “I think you’re right, it’s not very well understood, generally speaking.”

    I’m just sad how poorly understood it is on this site but even more by the ‘experts’ of trauma and dissociation like over on ISSTD. But I do understand they only see it in clinical settings. They’ve never seen it 24/7 for 11 years like I have in every aspect of my relationship with my wife, and having to make every aspect not only safe, but healing as well. And seeing it laid plainly out between the 8 girls in my wife’s system, and how they each have strengths, but also gaps in their abilities and personalities, has really helped me understand how all of us function on a foundational level as I have helped them slowly become an integrated, cohesive, collaborative group.
    Sam

  • Hi Eric,
    you know, my wife’s d.i.d. has taught me so much about myself, to the point that I talk about myself being a ‘non-dissociated multiple’ on my blog. And as I have helped all the girls in her network learn to live together in harmony, I have learned to harmonize all the various, disparate parts of my own personality, especially the uglier parts of myself that I used to try to suppress, now I channel them instead, kind of the ‘benevolent monster’ like we see in Kong: Skull Island or even Tom Cruise’s Mummy.

    Anyway, I appreciate your attempts to expand how people are seen, away from the simplistic, narrow lenses that most psychological frameworks espouse.
    Sam

  • Hi Lenora,
    dealing with my wife’s dissociation is actually kind of easy: because it’s out there on full display and she knows it’s happening and I know it’s happening and so we can deal with it appropriately.

    I actually find it much more difficult to deal with other people who don’t understand what is going on because there’s no way I can just say, “Hey, do your realize your showing signs of dissociation?” And so many, many people dissociate various things. Like you said, it’s on a spectrum and most of us do far more than just ‘daydream.’
    Sam

  • Someone else,

    I do understand that for those who have taken any number of psychiatric drugs, or for that matter, all kinds of mind-altering substances, your statement would be correct.

    But there is a real phenomenon of hearing voices, like my wife experienced, and she was NEVER on any kind of drugs psychiatric or otherwise. My best guest is these ‘voices’ come from dissociated parts of the brain/mind and so they seem foreign to the person at first, but with time and work and help, those voices can be welcomed into the person’s narrative and eventually take part in the overall personality.

    At least that has been our experience.
    Sam

  • PacificDawn,
    perhaps if you have no interest in discussing anything except activism, you should approach the MIA staff and see if they would start a corner for those with similar feelings, and also to keep track of national rallies and other events of that nature. I say this genuinely because you seem to have no interest in discussing anything else and label all other topics as means of controlling people.
    Wishing you well.
    Sam

  • Ron,
    thank you for the link. I will definitely check out this group as my wife and I have been living with her ‘voices’ for the last 11 years, engaging them respectfully, lovingly, helping them heal first and then integrate into a community with each other. There’s so much that SO’s and family and friends can do. My wife’s angriest voice that despised me is now deeply attached to me and engaged with me. The hurt and traumatized ones have healed and are now full of life.

    People are afraid of legitimizing voices, but that’s exactly what we did and it made all the difference. Instead of the United States of Tara scenario, all the voices are fiercely loyal and thoughtful at this point to our family and relationship.

    Sam

  • Rachel,

    I have learned so much about the horrors of the mh industry from you and others here, and I try never to belittle that, but that’s also why it’s so hard for me to communicate here because my wife’s and my experience is like a polar opposite where I always honored her and her desires; she never had any contact with the mh industry or its drugs, and where I never, ever, ever treated her as ‘crazy’ or any other kind of belittling way.

    At first she would quip that I was the crazy one for NOT seeing her like the rest of the culture, but I simply never did, and the more I understood her world, the more it truly made sense to me as I walked/walk with her in it as we find a way out of it together.
    Sam

  • No Rachel, I don’t even know what you are talking about, sigh.

    Like I said dissociation is a huge issue and how it affects mental health as well as a person’s ability to fight mental distress, and if I hadn’t had to help my wife literally put all the disparate pieces of her self back together again, I would have never understood it either. That’s probably why I lack the words to convey it because our experience has been in a completely different universe than most here and elsewhere, and everyone tries to interpret what I say thru their experience, and I just can’t seem to figure out how to overcome that barrier. 🙁

    Sincerely,
    Sam

  • But since there is no KNOWN link to brain problems how can psychiatrists fix it? How can random acts of brain damage help anyone?

    Rachel,
    I wish it were that simple. On the side of the biochemical model you’ve got people spewing ‘chemical imbalance’ foolishness, but in reaction to that provably wrong belief, many on the anti-psychiatry side want to say there are NO brain factors in mental health distress, and I disagree with that, as well. But since I’m ‘just a husband’ neither side will listen to me. The former think I’m a moron since I can’t put little letters after my name (though I do have an unrelated BA), and the latter think I’m ‘speaking for’ my wife and so they won’t listen either.

    I’ve had the privilege and responsibility to help my wife literally rebuild her personality from the ground up these last 11 years. And I’ve seen what dissociation which causes neural atrophy can do and how it most certainly affects mental health and the ability to fight mental distress. I’ve tried to discuss it a little here in the comments sections, but it’s such a huge issue, and since no one ever ‘bites’ when I try to throw out nuggets I’ve learned, I typically drop it.

    It’s too bad. It’s not the only issue in mental distress, but dissociation is a huge one, and neither side gets it. Even books that are touted here like The Body Keeps the Score, are incorrect, but because he’s never gone as deep as my wife and I have with dissociation or seen it as laid out as we have 24/7 for 11 years, he (van der Kolk) doesn’t understand it’s the dissociation and NOT the body that is the issue.
    Respectfully,
    Sam

  • LittleTurtle,

    sadly I see more and more comments that seem to take that view and want to turn all mental distress into a motivation for class warfare on this site. Some act as if all mental distress, illness, trauma, dysfunction, or whatever one wants to call it is completely fabricated by the mental health industry and society in general as a means of social control.

    I don’t believe that the Big Brother of the mh industry, big pharma, and gov’t shills really has his hands on the majority of society, at least not yet. Only 1 in 6 Americans are even on psych drugs or connected to the mh industry. That means the overwhelming majority like my wife and I are ‘untainted’ and yet I see a TON of distress and dysfunction that reaches throughout ALL classes of Americans. Hell, the 1% are some of the most dysfunctional of us all: just read the news to see that money and power do NOT make one impervious to such things.

    So it really is too bad for the simplistic assessments that often pass and go unchallenged on this website.

    I’m with you, LittleTurtle and critical psychiatry. There have to be others, but it is too bad they don’t take the time to comment more often.
    Sam

  • Is there any miracle of events, any set of circumstances that would now be presently unfathomable, that could leave us in a place of looking at each other across “the table” and even mustering up forgiveness, acceptance and a path forward? Any?

    What would it take to at least begin a path in that direction? Or the the toast too burnt to even consider recovery?

    Maybe it is that just a pipe dream, an event that only can live in imagination and nowhere else? Or maybe, just maybe….. ?

    Fred,

    I can’t speak for the others on this website, but when my wife and I first down the path of healing, I had to deal with the anger that kept her and I separated. I realized that some of her anger toward me was completely justified, but also some of her anger was truly because of the abuse she had suffered as a child and I was simply a convenient object for her to vent upon.

    It took me about 6 months of asking forgiveness for anything and everything she accused me of. I NEVER defended myself because I took the position that IF she felt this, then I would value our relationship over who was right, or trying to give my side of the story.

    About 6 months later her anger was extinguished. A couple years later she even came back and apologized a little for her part in things…but until I had extinguished the anger, she simply couldn’t see past it.

    I understand your commitment level is probably a lot lower here than mine was to my wife, but that’s what it took to bring her and I completely back in harmony with each other.
    Sam

  • I’m sorry no one understood how to enter into your world and walk it with you. One of the first things I had to learn was to ‘get out of myself’ so I could enter my wife’s world. Too many people try to ‘drag’ people out of their worlds into ‘the real world.’ If you look at Jesus, that’s not what He did. He incarnated Himself into our world so He could understand us in ALL our weaknesses, and then He made a way out…thru Him. That’s kind of what I’ve done with my wife. I don’t demand she join ‘the real world’. Instead I walk with her, on her terms, in her reality, and slowly we are finding our way out TOGETHER.
    Sam

  • “They couldn’t reach me anymore.”

    Do you mean physically or mentally? It took me awhile to learn how to ‘reach’ my wife when she was going thru some of her more ‘extreme’ things like flash backs, panic attacks, etc. Attachment theory has the concept of a ‘safe haven’. Think of it like a boat in a hurricane that finds a sheltered harbor during the storm. That’s what I had to learn to become. I realized she could still hear me even if she couldn’t respond to me. And so I would literally wrap her up in my arms, gently and loosely, so it didn’t feel suffocating or constricting, and then I would speak gently and softly to her, pulling her out of her mental storms and confusion. Things like, “It’s ok, Honey. I’ve got you now. You aren’t alone anymore. You are my girl and I take care of my girl…” The warmth and safety of my enveloping presence and the calming of my voice would slowly stabilize her and blow out her mental/emotional hurricanes. And after a time, those hurricanes became less and less volatile…until at this point, they are mostly a distant memory.
    Sam

  • The concept of “mental health”/”mental illness” is the primary lie/fraud.

    I can’t speak for Ron, but at least for me, I don’t agree with this assertion.

    I might word it slightly different because ‘mental illness’ has been corrupted by the biomedical model of mental health with which I 100% disagree, but I do think there is such a thing as mental health/mental dysfunction that is often trauma based. Moreover, I think there is a biological component because the brain/mind is biologically based, even if we don’t understand how.

    The most obvious biological component of mental health/dysfunction that I am aware of, because of our personal experience, is trauma-based dissociation which ends up re-mapping the neural pathways of the brain. And undoing that dissociation has caused my wife massive, debilitating headaches. I don’t understand it, but for every step forward as we tear down the dissociation, the headaches are so excruciating she can barely function.

    Moreover, we’ve spent the last decade retraining her mind to access those previously dissociated areas of her brain where the neural pathways had atrophied. And as she has gained access to those areas previously walled off to her, she has begun to display new personality traits and mental abilities she never had during the first 20 years of our marriage.

    I don’t understand the biological component of my wife’s mental trauma or healing on a technical level, but I mostly definitely understand it and have had to develop strategies to overcome it and work with it on a practical level.
    Sam

  • Hello May-May,

    my wife used to experience a lot of dissociation. From the ‘official diagnosis’ one would expect her to experience a lot of psychosis as well. But as she and I have walked the healing path together, I’ve wondered if psychosis (that isn’t caused by drugs or medications) is just a result of the mind trying to bring those dissociated, trauma memories back to the front so they can be processed and entered into the person’s current narrative.

    I never really thought of my wife as psychotic. In the beginning she felt it was scary and disorienting, but slowly, as I learned to stayed calm and acted as an anchor for her to the present, her fear subsided, and we were able to help her brain/mind integrate those old memories into a way that she could deal with in the present.

    I can’t tell you what you are experiencing, but I don’t really believe psychosis is a helpful word or concept: it just has too much baggage because of how it gets portrayed in the media and by mental health ‘experts.’ This is what worked best for me/us: viewing this phenomenon as ‘overlapping realities’, one past and one present, and my ‘job’ as my wife’s healing companion was keeping her grounded and safely helping her sort things until at this point most of the dissociation is gone, and thus, so is the psychosis.

    Wishing you well.
    Sam

  • “If we have people promoting Therapy, Life Coaching, Recovery, or Salvation Seeking, then that means that survivors are being abused. It amounts to second rape.”

    I don’t expect PacificDawn to listen, but for others, I want to state that, imo, this is so over the top, I wish it were addressed. I’m not even sure where I would begin to address all the generalizations, slander, black and white fallacies, and so forth. I’m guessing(?) this comes from her own traumatic experiences, and for those I am truly sorry, but it doesn’t help to throw around accusations at huge swaths of people who have found these things to truly help. Though I don’t consider myself an evangelical Christian anymore, the caricatures that routinely are hurled from the Left toward Evangelicals are simplistic and insulting. Sure there are abuses, just like there are in any and every large enough group that one looks at, but there are also a lot of people who sacrificially give of themselves to try to help others the best they can. My own life and how I try to help my wife is still governed by many of those principles that were hammered into me from my Christian upbringing, and I get tired of others flippantly making accusations and the majority on the Left approving whole heartedly. Honestly, this website ought to do better, imo.

    And as for the wide swath of other accusations and caricatures she is lobbing at Life Coaches, therapy, recovery, and whatelse, I’m glad my wife decided she DID want to address the trauma and pain in her life. Her decision has taken both of us on a wonderful healing journey of discovery and growth and healing for both of us. It’s been hard as hell in many ways, and yet I’m so glad we made that decision 11 years ago. I’m glad I’m NOT the same man that I was when we first started, nor is she. Hopefully we are both much better versions of ourselves.
    Respectfully,
    Sam

  • Hi Fiachra,
    in some ways the brain is just like a muscle that atrophies with disuse but can be strengthened with use. Think if a person who has been bedridden for 4 decades suddenly finds a new medical procedure that allows the person to regain control of his/her limbs. Well 40 years of disuse can’t simply be undone overnight. It would take years of pointed exercise and physical therapy to regain full use of those limbs.

    That’s kind of similar to what happens with people who have experienced extreme dissociation. Those areas of the brain/mind can’t just naturally reconnect and be fully utilized by the rest of the brain/mind. And when the ‘experts’ add their ‘medications’ it only makes things worse and zombifies the person at best and wreaks havoc at worst and actually hinders the person from accessing and strengthening those affected areas. And so we’ve found it just takes hard, repetitious work that engages all affected areas of the brain/mind as they are incorporated into the whole of the person.

    We’ve found it can be done, and done with minimal secondary trauma when drugs aren’t introduced into the mix. But it’s just a slow, tedious, day-by-day process. No miracles cures, and definitely no magic pills!
    Sam

  • Bruce,
    perhaps you should define your terms. Many on this website think that anything less than being ‘anti-psychiatry’ is being a sellout and being a ‘middle grounder’ and yet you hold up Bob Whittaker as someone who isn’t a sellout and yet on the rare times he visits this website, he has professed to be ‘critical psychiatry.’

    As this culture continues to fracture and both sides become more and more extreme, I sit firmly in the middle. But to me that doesn’t mean I take a ‘middle point’ on all the issues. No, what that means is I give a fair and thorough hearing to each side and then I eclectically pick and choose where I believe each side has gotten issues correct. I firmly stand against the biomedical model of mental health, and yet, after 11 years of helping my wife heal from extreme dissociation, I understand how the dissociation structurally alters the brain…yet not permanently, and not because of genetics, but because neural plasticity teaches us that if we don’t use it, we lose it. And yet, that same principle gives us hope, as I purposefully help my wife bring back to health those atrophied neural pathways.

    This isn’t the only place I part pathways with the anti-psychiatry crowd, and yet for you to call ‘the middle grounders’ “dangerous”, to me is a sad statement on our fracturing culture. I’m guessing you don’t consider Bob a middle grounder, but I know his critical psychiatry position grates on many commenters on this website. Maybe he’s not dangerous to you, but this kind of talk is NOT helpful. It just further divides us.

    Eleven years ago I had no clue about any issues concerning mental health; now I’ve had to become an expert on dissociation to help my wife heal from things even ISSTD hasn’t figured out yet. I prefer not to have litmus tests because we are all on a journey, and yes this is life and death in some respects, and yet not everyone gets it as quickly as others. My own wife still believes all the biomedical mental health garbage, and I just tell her, “you are lucky that I don’t.”

    Wishing you well,
    Sam

  • Fred,
    respectfully, the diagnosis was critical. If you’ve never lived with someone who dissociates and yet is a master at hiding it(like many are), you may not understand how confusing it can be to both people. Neither of us understood what was happening. Once we got the diagnosis that was my ‘aha’ moment, and things began to make sense and I could then reorient my thinking to include something I had never before considered and then begin to grow in that understanding.

    Yes, the relationship was key to staying at this and walking this TOGETHER, but one can’t fight and overcome something if one has no concept of what is going on like the first 20 years of our marriage.
    Sam

  • Rachel,
    at the most basic, neural plasticity, I believe, can be summed up as ‘the brain rewards what we use, and punishes what we don’t.” It’s really the same with the rest of our bodies. Muscles that we use a lot become stronger; muscles that we don’t atrophy.

    The brain is essentially the same: when we exercise parts of the brain, those pathways are strengthened and fine tuned, for example creating the skill needed to play a piano thru years of practice. But when parts of the brain are ignored, or worse dissociated from trauma, then those pathways are neglected and atrophy.

    And to un-do years of extreme dissociation, it’s no simple process to just ‘flip the switch’ and start accessing those areas of the brain again. It’s been a far, far, far more difficult process to help her gain access to those dissociated areas, than helping my wife deal with the actual issues surrounding the trauma.

    As for other people’s experiences on this website, my statement was not intended to belittle anyone’s experiences or victim blame them for being caught up in the system. We were fortunate, but not because we were so smart and wise. It just was outside our natural bent to go for help, and it was only later that I realized how fortunate we were to have missed the horrors that so many describe on this website. But sometimes when I read comments, the reaction toward the abuses of the mh system are so focused on just that, that the original issues get lost in the context. I understand why that is so, but I wanted to clarify that our case may be considered a ‘control group’ in that we have not been tainted by the system at all and yet we are still struggling 11 years later to undo the real issues caused from her childhood despite her tremendous healing and progress.

    Sam

  • Hi Fred,

    for 20 years my wife and I struggled in our marriage. We loved each other but things just weren’t right, and when she finally agreed to get some counseling after I led the way by working on my own issues, it was suggested she might be experiencing some severe dissociation as a result of her early childhood trauma…and that was the key that finally unlocked our confusion and the impasse of 20 years.

    Now we didn’t go the typical route to deal with said trauma and dissociation. She never had ANY contact with any professional ‘mental health experts.’ But we kind of fell into attachment principles and when I learned more about that, I became more intentional about some of the key concepts from that theory that helped address her attachment issues, dissociation issues and other things. But it did start with that ‘possible’ diagnosis.

    As much as I firmly stand against the bio-chemical narrative of mental health, that doesn’t mean there aren’t real issues like dissociation, neural plasticity, trauma, ptsd symptoms, etc that have to be addressed. Neither my wife nor I ‘wear’ her diagnosis as a badge. Other than me, our son and her non-traditional counselor she refuses to tell anyone else and most would be surprised, to say the least, that she is dealing with anything. She tells me she’s one of the few in her group of friends and acquaintances who doesn’t take any kind of medicines for stress, anxiety, etc.

    I know we are an anomaly; I’ve been told that repeatedly on this website. But this website is strongly tilted by those who have had HORRIBLE experiences within the mh system. And I’m not belittling that at all, but I do take issue when people try to blame ALL their mental health distress upon the system as if nothing really drove them into the lion’s den at first and all their problems came as a result of the mh system. People suffer from real mental health issues, and when I finally took those seriously in my wife, that’s when I became effective in helping her heal and move forward.

    Wishing you well.
    Sam

  • Hi Eric,

    it doesn’t seem like you respond much to comments, but I’ll put it out here anyway. Much of this blog is spot on, and maybe you’ll clarify in a future blog, but it’s REALLY important that one understands the difference between trauma and dissociation. Though trauma causes dissociation, trauma and dissociation have very different effects upon one’s personality. Dissociation has been the much more difficult issue to undo in my wife’s life than the original trauma, though the two get intertwined at points.

    If you had interest, I could discuss it further.
    Yours,
    Sam

  • Bruce,

    the superficial analysis you state about the Right isn’t anymore helpful than when the Right spews the same about the Left. I may have moved to the center, but my wife’s and my upbringing on the Right, its focus on individualism, independence and pulling oneself up by the bootstraps is what gave us the fortitude to homeschool our son through his graduation when our family all thought we were crazy. We produced a world-class scholar who is in his PhD residency at one of the elite schools in the Boston area.

    And so when my wife began to show signs of distress from her childhood abuse, I may have felt overwhelmed at first, but I never felt out of my league to figure out how best to help my wife as we walked thru the healing process together. And as we both healed and grew and learned, I realized the elitist experts who openly sneered at me were full of crap for the most part.

    I’ve learned a lot from the Left, especially since it isn’t my default position, but to suggest that all our ails regarding this subject are from the ‘authoritarian’ Right and the ‘state-corporatist rulers’ is a simplistic misreading of that position in my opinion. There are anti-authoritarian tendencies on both sides of the spectrum just as there is the tendency to mindlessly follow authorities: they simply come from different perspectives and beliefs.

    Sam

  • Hi Teresa,

    I’m sorry for all the pain you and your family are in. I wish there was some place for families to heal. Soteria and Open Dialogue seem appealing to me from afar, but they aren’t available in small-town Midwest where I live, and so we’ve had to find our own way to healing individually and as a family. It wasn’t easy, for sure, but I refused to let my family fall apart or continue the dysfunction on both sides of our families for the sake of our son. For us attachment theory gave us the roadmap.

    I wish you well.
    Sam

  • Hi Sera,

    I’m sorry for the many ways you and others here have been invalidated. I wish I could say it was better on the outside of the survivor’s community, but I haven’t found it so. People have a herd mentality, and if one doesn’t submit to the group-think, then one is ostracized and marginalized. And beyond that the power structures and gate keepers always look to retain their power and influence no matter what group or movement one is part. I wish it were otherwise, but I’ve spent a lifetime screaming in a vacuum for change on various issues and no one giving a [email protected] Like lemmings people happily follow everyone else over the cliff…

    Wishing you the best.
    Sam

  • Megan,
    I’m truly sorry your side of the story was invalidated. It’s not the church: it’s just people in general, but sadly the Church was supposed to be something different, and I, too, have found it one of the most destructive things in my family’s life even though my wife and I still attend as it’s our only decent source of companionship in a little town.

    I’m sorry most that your husband turned on you instead of uniting with you.
    Sam

  • Eric,

    I’m honestly not sure what you mean by ‘investigating.’ The most beneficial thing I’ve ever discovered is attachment theory. Thanks to John Bowlby and those who followed, it gave me the keys to help unlock my wife from her traumatic childhood. No therapist could possibly do what I have done. What our son has done. But a therapist could have been a great facilitator and taught us the ropes instead of me having to figure it out on my own while I was also dealing with my own issues that hindered my ability to help my wife.

    A paid therapist lacks the credibility that most people need: trauma victim or otherwise. We need to know that person is ‘in it’ for more than just the money, and when all hell breaks loose and the money dries up, his/her help won’t vanish.

    Respectfully, you can never do what the SO’s, family and friends can do: and that’s ok. It’s not your place. But the breadth of knowledge an ‘expert’ can have is something I simply don’t have time or energy to replicate, and that is a place that I feel can be served by those in your position to help those of us in our position.

    Wishing you well.
    Sam

  • No, Rachel, neither of us have taken an medications for any distress or anything else. I don’t know…maybe it was the way we were both raised, but I don’t think either of us have ever really considered doing so. At least I haven’t. Can’t really speak for my wife on that issue, though sometimes I do know she wishes she had sleeping meds…
    Sam

  • Alex,
    When Lawrence wrote this article it spoke to me as a coach might speak to his football players while giving them a pep talk before a big game. It spoke to that part of me that seeks an easy way out, that wants to find a short cut and reminds me that there is no gain without a willingness to endure some pain.

    I never suffered severe childhood trauma, and I never have had any of my rights taken away as an adult. And I’ve always been fortunate to have been in the middle class of America even if it’s not to the level in which I was raised. And so to me, Lawrence isn’t accusing me of anything: he’s sounding the alarm that we are suffering ‘first world’ issues because we’ve forgotten all the sacrifices that those who came before us made so we could live how we do in the 21st century.

    I really and truly do think I understand why the majority of the comments are the way they have been. I found your and KS’s comments especially powerful and moving, and it reminds me that there are others who have been thru even worse hell, in some ways, than my wife and I have been. I understand as much as I can, why you would see Lawrence’s words to be harmful and maybe even arrogant and definitely victim blaming and continuing harmful stereotypes.

    And so to address your second comment: whose truth is right? Whose life experiences get to dictate how Lawrence’s blog is received’? My son once wrote a paper to argue that there are ‘levels’ of truths, and not ALL truths necessarily apply across all peoples, times and situations. I think that might be applicable in this situation. I think, maybe, Lawrence could have addressed this blog to people who comfortably live in middle and upper class situations and try to wake them up from their desires to live ‘distress free.’ But when he addresses it to a website in which the majority of commenters are survivors of extreme trauma and/or the mental health system, his comments sound accusatory and victim blaming.

    Most of the time I don’t even look at Lawrence’s blogs. They usually don’t speak to me even though I know he’s fairly popular on this website. But this one spoke to me and MY life experiences, and yet I can accept why the majority on here found it otherwise.

    Sam

  • Kindred Spirit,
    I am truly sorry that you find my position as if it’s a personal attack on you. I don’t see your opinion for your life as a threat to me and my wife.

    HOW did I ‘ask for it?” My original comment had absolutely nothing to do with Lee’s statements about d.i.d. and a ‘holocaust’ of those falsely accused or his understanding of d.i.d. My original post was about how people’s fears of ‘extreme states’ is part of what gives this entire issue any power, and I still stand by that assertion even if I concede it’s not the whole issue. WHY do people call the authorities when someone is in a distressing or ‘psychotic’ state, if there is such a thing???? I would never even dream of doing that because at this point I know that I am the person with the most power to stop any kind of mental distress in my wife and NOTHING we have gone thru makes me ‘fearful’ anymore. Those 3 examples were just a tiny sample of the hell she and I have gone thru, and yet one by one, we faced all those fears and overcame them together.

    Sam

  • Steve,

    I’ve been thinking about this all night and your statement kind of encapsulated some of my concerns: how Lee jumped to completely discount my wife’s experience and the validity of dissociation, and his apparently blind deference to the ‘holocaust that has come to the thousands of persons falsely accused.”

    I tried to figure out where he stood from his website. It’s a weird format to read his stuff: probably did that in the hope people would buy it, and some/much of it is older, like from the 70’s, 80’s and early 90’s, but he seems to hold on to the fantasy of an epidemic of falsely accused people while ignoring the true pandemic of those who have been abused emotionally, physically and sexually and then are discredited and shamed by our culture’s power structures if they do speak out. Is he against the #MeToo movement as well?

    I’d love for him to clarify, but he seems to be ignoring anything I actually say because of his apparent distaste for d.i.d..
    Sam

  • Julie,
    I’m not refuting the idea of false memories. The science is pretty solid that shows how easily our memories can be manipulated and changed and even ‘created.’ But the FMSF takes it to an entirely new level to discount any and all memories that might be recovered during the process of healing. I won’t get into the politics of the group, but they had a lot riding on their vehemence to mpd/did and sadly, the excesses of the so-called trauma experts lead right into the FMSF’s hand to try to discredit mpd/did.

    But like I said, that was decades ago, and yet some still hold onto the hype and excesses when therapists used to parade d.i.d. patients around like a circus freak show on the various talk shows, and so the critics point to that as their reason to discount EVERTYHING about d.i.d. Happily, ISSTD learned their lesson on that front, even if they haven’t made a lot of progress imo about how to best help people like my wife.

    Sam

  • Ok, Lee, well, I was able to get the previous comments by you to work this morning…and you’ve only made 13 in total on this website. None of them was directed to me. Now if you are referencing the ‘spirited’ dialogue between me and Kindred Spirit about d.i.d., at least I have a reference point.

    It would appear from your comments about the ‘holocaust’ of falsely accused persons that you are trapped in some kind of time warp back at the beginning of the mpd movement and the hype and excesses that went on. Are you a member of the False Memory Syndrome Foundation as well? If so, there’s really nothing I can say to open your eyes that even the so-called trauma experts have left those excesses behind decades ago.

    And if you don’t believe in dissociation, there really is little basis on which to have a discussion when that concept is about as accepted as gravity. But again, I’m sure you can point to the ignorance of ISSTD and make your case from strawmen about something that doesn’t really exist.

    I’m sorry if ISSTD is driving your understanding of trauma and dissociation. It certainly doesn’t drive our understanding of things, or my wife would never have made the progress she has.

    Sam

  • Hi Steve,
    well, just as you and I agreed on the other thread that attachment theory isn’t a ‘cure all’, I would suggest that this subject is complex and multi-layered, and I don’t think any one perspective will ever do it justice. But what I’m suggesting is that Big Pharma and the APA are the modern-day equivalent of those selling ‘magic elixirs’ and ‘snake oil’ cures a few centuries ago. They prey on people’s fears of whatever was/is ailing them at the time.

    Steve, this problem affects EVERY class despite the suggestions of the Marxists on this site, and though it may hit the lower classes the hardest, neither my wife nor I grew up there. What I see is fear driving this and Big Pharma and the APA simply capitalizing on that fear. Take away the fear and people would have no need to turn to them. Teach them the things my wife and I learned, and mental health issues move from the category of fear of the incomprehensible that only the APA priesthood can divine, to mostly the same hardships and annoyances of a severely broken leg until it is healed.

    As for Big Pharma and the APA, of course they are going to fight this: I completely agree for them this is all about money and power. But they can’t force any of this on us despite the laws suggesting to the contrary if it weren’t for fear. I overcame my fears and never even considered committing my wife despite how hard things have been, and so they had no ability to touch my wife despite all the laws out there used to incarcerate so many on this site.
    Sam

  • Lee,
    hmmm…I tried to go back and find the discussion between you and me, but either something is wrong with my browser or this website. So I’m sorry if I don’t remember it.

    I’m not sure why you would characterize me as “so strongly dedicated to the label of d.i.d.” We’ve had this debate ad nauseum on this website of whether or not to use the common vernacular or do we start from scratch every time for the benefit of newcomers? I do understand that to those who have had those diagnoses weaponized by the mental health system have a far more adverse reaction to being diagnosed than either I or my wife does since the ‘diagnosis’ simply gave us a starting point and then we pretty much went our own way from there.

    As for your dislike of the ‘trauma experts’, take a number. I downloaded the guidelines from ISSTD and did a line by line critique of them: pretty much if you take their guidelines and do the EXACT OPPOSITE, it would give you a pretty good idea of how my wife and I have approached her healing. So if you are going to judge me by their ignorance and excesses, you would be greatly amiss, but whatever…

    Since you feel you have nothing to learn from our experience, I will try to remember THIS discussion and not bother you again.
    Sincerely wishing you the best,
    Sam

  • “If it were recognized by our people that science is irrelevant to the debate over whether society’s fears should trump individual rights to liberty, then we could begin what will be the long struggle to win such a debate.”

    Lee,
    I wonder if you and so many on this website are kind of missing what I see as the key issue because of the hatred of psychiatry. Psychiatry really is nothing more than a tool despite some giving it anthropomorphic qualities on this site. I agree with most here that it’s a terrible tool and it’s based on misinformation and it is anti-scientific in many ways. But in the end, it’s just a tool.

    But I think so many of these debates miss the real point. Psychiatry is a horrible tool that people feel compelled to use because of their fears of mental health issues based on their lack of understanding what is going on. Even on this website, people use the term ‘extreme states’ but outside of drug-induced states, I’ve always wondered why the survivors would be wiling to use this designation as it seems to lend credence to the fears others have of these manifestations.

    My wife has d.i.d., Lee. The first time she dropped to the floor in what I thought was a catatonic state, I kind of freaked out. But then the next time it happened, I kept my brain working, and I tried something. I went thru the current list of alters and lo and behold, Ally the defender popped out. I learned a lesson that day: she wasn’t really catatonic: I just had to find out to whom the baton had been passed. A fear is vanquished.

    The first time my wife went into what looked like a series of mini-seizures, I about freaked out again, as her eyes rolled back into her sockets and they fluttered in rapid motion. But the next time, my brain was working again, and I realized, “Oh, this is kind of like a computer that is glitching when it tries to switch programs but gets stuck.” So then I learned to help her thru those switches that get hung up for some reason. Another fear gone.

    One of the original times my wife went into a flash back, I was back in freak out mode, her fear driving mine, and then midstream, I chilled out, and I began to speak calmly to her, remind her she’s not alone, I’ve got her now, she’s safe now, and I pulled her out of that flash back. Another fear gone.

    One by one the issues that we had to confront because of her d.i.d. lost their ability to induce fear in either of us as we came to an understanding of what was going on and how I could help her thru each issue the best. If you were to go on WordPress and read the blogs of other people with d.i.d., they are full of fear and hatred of things that my wife and I have come to learn are just part of the healing experience. Some are more annoying than others, but none of them cause either of us any ‘fear’ any more.

    It is fear that drives people to use horrible tools like psychiatry. Fear shuts down our brains and makes otherwise intelligent people into mindless caricatures of themselves. And yet when we were first starting our journey 11 years ago, most of the professional literature was as ignorant of the mechanics of her manifestations as we were originally. So we had to learn the ropes pretty much on our own.

    And I will posit that if others were simply taught what is going on, that these NON-drug induced manifestations really aren’t ‘extreme’ but simply stronger versions of many things I have experienced myself as a non-trauma victim, their fears would dissipate like mine did. Once I learned to see so many of her experiences as just reflective of my own, the last vestiges of ‘non-normalcy’ fled, and so at this point, we live a rather humdrum life that happens to have 8 girls (alters) part of our marriage rather than one.

    This isn’t about class warfare like my Leftist friends believe. This isn’t about social control. This isn’t about an anthropomorphic psychiatry preying upon victims. In my opinion, the real issue is simply about people, both the victims and those around them, being overwhelmed by fear because they don’t understand the very natural things that are going on in the brain/mind when trauma isn’t properly processed. I argued in another thread on MIA, that if we simply would learn to see mental trauma the same as physical trauma, then all these mental manifestations would be seen no different than what occurs during the convalescent period of, say, a severely broken leg. There’s no stigma in a broken leg. We all know what to expect, and we don’t expect that person to be back up to full speed until the healing is done and any physical therapy that may be required afterwards.

    Yours,
    Sam

  • …” But if it is at our own sacrifice, then what have we gained? Is there a way we can support ourselves and others, without feeling we are sacrificing our own lives and well-being to do so? That just seems like a hamster wheel to me.”

    Alex, I want to preface what follows by stating up front, I believe two people can believe very different things, and neither person is inherently ‘wrong.’ I wish more people understood that very few things are black and white. If more people understood that, we wouldn’t have the pointless tribal wars going on in America right now. We would be able to find the good in each side’s arguments, and the rest…we could learn to chalk it up to ‘live and let live.’ Instead we take differences as if they are a threat to our very existence and survival, and that is detrimental to us all because then, rather than becoming enriched by someone else’s perspective we simply see it as a threat.

    Anyway, attachment theory teaches us that in the beginning of our lives we are wholly dependent upon our ‘primary attachment figure’ and others to lesser degrees. But over the course of time that singular dependency slowly changes until, in a healthy relationship, parent and the now-adult child will become equals in interdependency, but then, eventually, the roles will reverse and the parent will become dependent upon the adult child late in life.

    However, when severe childhood trauma occurs, it typically screws up that natural progression. When my wife and I first started this healing journey together 11 years ago, she told me over and over and over, “I don’t know what healthy looks like.” And I took her seriously. Meanwhile the other little girls began to crash our world. At one point ALL 6 of the girls (alters) currently out fronted as 8-years old or younger: the youngest 3 all started out fronting as 2-year olds.

    This is kind of where attachment theory and my Christian upbringing that emphasized sacrificial love and the golden rule meshed so well. I had been naturally raised to believe that sacrifice is a good thing…but pragmatically speaking, well that was a very different thing. We struggled the first 20 years of our marriage because I expected the marriage to be mutually beneficial, mutually giving, and it simply wasn’t. And I am not implying that my wife was completely at fault: I was selfish and immature in so many ways which complicated her issues. On top of that, I was simply ignorant about how early childhood trauma was affecting the woman I love because my own childhood was rather idyllic in comparison.

    But over the course of the first 3 or so years of our healing journey, I was transforming: her issues were so massive that I had to grow up and make many changes myself or I knew we wouldn’t make it. All that to state that I had to become willing to sacrifice my needs to help her heal, but I don’t want to come off like I think I’m some saint: I’m NOT. But I had to learn to take the long view to our marriage. I sought a win/win solution, and that meant I had to be willing to do the work that her parents failed to do and help each girl become securely attached to me, help each girl then begin to connect to the others (the personality development that naturally occurs during childhood), and anything else they needed. It’s meant for much of the last 11 years, my life companion hasn’t been an adult woman, but 7 traumatized and very needy little girls in various states of dysfunctional attachment.

    But eleven years later, we are slowly moving toward the healthy, adult interdependence that I often speak. Two of the girls have grown and now front as Millenials. I got engaged to one in December and I’m pre-engaged to the other. And all the other ‘littles’ (alters who view themselves as little children) truly do the activities of adults (other than in the bedroom), even if they still interact with me as a daddy figure who they want to take care of each of them. Edit: and let me state at this point that ALL of the girls are almost wholly healed. They are vivacious, vibrant and full of life in a way that my ‘first girl’ (the only one who sees me as her husband) never was.

    My goal is still a fully healthy, adult interdependence with all of the girls who make up my wife, but we aren’t there yet. I had to be willing to start where each of them was and walk with her, at her pace and at whatever stage of dependence she started until she was able to move forward.

    …Sigh, this reply is already too long…

    And yes, you are correct that this topic of attachment is massive. I naturally used the principles to help my wife. I think we are all ‘wired’ that way, but the Western cultures seem to want to beat those principles out of us for some reason even though most of us want treated the way the theory espouses. Once I discovered the theory proper, I studied up on it so I could become more purposeful in it. I even did quite a long series of articles on my personal blog to address some of the main concepts that were critical to our journey.

    Let me simply state that using the attachment concepts of affect regulation, safe haven and proximity maintenance I was able to not only walk my wife thru EVERY extreme state that she manifested (and trust me with d.i.d. you essentially get the entire spectrum rolled up into one journey), but I learned to pull her out of them more quickly and help her heal to the point that she rarely experiences them anymore. And when she does get triggered nowadays, her reactions aren’t much more severe than my reactions to things that trigger me. And the theory helped me with all the ‘lesser’ issues, too, like depression, anxiety, and anything else you can think of.

    Beyond that is the theory’s concept of the inner working model. The littlest girls and I figured this one out together. It can make the difference between the healing one experiences being temporary or being permanent. I’ve been trying to follow the debate over on the CBT blog on this website, and I haven’t quite figured out if CBT takes into account one’s inner working model or just tries to force the change without realizing that the inner working model is like the operating system in a computer. EVERYTHING else is founded upon that, and so unless you change the inner working model from the trauma paradigm that most childhood trauma victims have to a more healthy one like someone who was securely attached, a lot of healing work will have limited effect.

    But for Steve’s sake, I will sincerely add that the theory is NOT a cure all: we’ve had to use other principles for various issues, but it definitely can help in so many, many situations.

    I guess I’ll finish. I’m sorry not to do this topic better here. Like you said, this website just is not set up for that kind of a multi-layer discussion. I wish the attachment series on my blog had gained more traction: it’s one of the things I’m most proud of, but it takes a lot of work for the SO or support person, and it required so much change on my own part before I was able to implement some of it to the fullest extent that I wonder if most people wouldn’t rather those little magic pills…
    Sam

  • Alex,
    I agree with everything you are saying…and yet, attachment theory is so much more…as I started out this entire discussion, attachment theory cuts against the Western cultures’ over-valuation of independence. It is not only about instilling that secure sense of self internally during childhood, it is about developing at network around our loved ones who will have each other’s back when things go wrong. And it’s about learning to go thru life developing a ‘buddy system’; learning how to help regulate each other when life hits us with trauma or storms.

    I love John Bowlby and the work he began, but I also had to learn how the concepts of safe haven, proximity maintenance and affect regulation could be practically implemented to help my wife heal…but beyond that, how those concepts just help each and everyone of us walk thru this life that can be so difficult at times. Those are concepts that my wife and I now each use with each other AND our 28-year old son even though he lives 12 hours away.
    Sam

  • Steve,
    I don’t have the breadth of experience that you do, so this isn’t meant to refute or argue with your statement, but in our personal experience until each of the girls (alters) were securely attached to me, they seemed unable to go past the original trauma. But once they had that foundation of being securely attached, it seemed to propel their ability to connect to each other (by tearing down the dissociation) and allow them to mature and discover latent abilities/traits that had otherwise been absent in my wife as a whole.

    That doesn’t mean I think attachment issues are everything, as much as I may talk about them, but they seemed to be foundational in my wife’s healing experience.

    Alex,
    I’m sure you, as Steve noted, would agree that often times the dysfunction is inadvertent, like it was mostly in my family, and even in my wife’s as messed up as her mom was/is. But the dysfunction is still painful even if it is inadvertent and I’ve ended up kind of being the black sheep of the family because my mom wasn’t properly attached to my dad as she blamed him for them ‘having to get married’ and so she waged a 56-year war against him as she jumped from child to child to child looking for that emotional attachment she refused to give to her husband. And yet, if I were to call her out on it, she would be dumbfounded and defensive as she feels she is the model Christian wife.

    It’s rather sad how we humans can live with so much cognitive dissonance, sigh. But I really don’t think she is, or most of us are, intentional about it. I would chalk it up to dissociation. And though I feel it’s a much milder form than what my wife experienced, I still think it’s what causes so many incongruent words and actions in most of us. Kind of like the murderous mafioso who is kind and loving to those within his own circle. He has compartmentalized, ie dissociated, the incongruence between his various spheres of life.

    Sam

  • Alex, this was a VERY, VERY basic video, and I do agree that it came off kind of as if things are cookie-cutterish. But the basic concepts of attachment theory have been validated over a host of situations especially the ‘strange situation’ test that the video mentioned. But how those concepts play out…I would agree with you that they will be as varied as there are people on this earth.
    Sam

  • Well, it’s a very basic video and only deals with one’s childhood. But it lays out a few of the basic concepts of attachment theory. However, it completely ignores the key concepts of safe haven, affect regulation, and glosses over proximity maintenance.

    The good news is someone who grew up with one of the 3 dysfunctional attachment systems (avoidant, ambivalent or disorganized) CAN learn a new way. However, at least in our case, it has meant rejecting the prevailing, pathological foundation of hyper-independence and hyper-individualism that our culture pushes, and it has meant that I had to understand my proper role of the primary attachment figure…something the ‘experts’ are only now beginning to study in romantic adult relationships. But the healing process isn’t easy: there’s no magic pill. I had to be willing to accept my wife’s ‘neediness’, something that this culture finds ‘toxic’. But as I filled her ‘neediness’ each day, slowly those attachment dysfunctions were healed, repaired and now for the most part, she displays all the signs of secure attachment.
    Sam

  • Peter,

    I know you rarely, if ever, respond to the comments section, but I wish that you would make a place in your new institute for those of us ‘in the trenches’ who are laymen and not scientist by degree but scientists by necessity. I’ve had to figure out how to help my wife heal from d.i.d. using attachment concepts and anything else that I could. I took a pragmatic approaching, using what worked, discarding what didn’t, always relying on the feedback that she gave as we walked the journey together. She and I have learned so many things; things that I believe have wider application, but it’s hard to get a hearing when western culture only seems to care how many letters one can put behind his/her name. I learned how to take her thru all the ‘extreme’ states without any medicines, as they are called on this website, but am still combating the residual dissociation…but we are getting there…

    There are so many things that occur 24/7 ‘in the trenches’ that you experts simply will never experience in the safety and confines of the office: we, the SO’s, family members and even involved friends have so much to offer, if only someone would take us seriously.
    Yours,
    Sam

  • Hi Krista,
    I am again so impressed that you were able to do all this on your own: that shouldn’t have been necessary, but for your sake, I’m glad you were able to do so.

    I still hope for the day when SO’s, family members and friends are taught how to be the natural allies they ought to be. It took me a couple of years to figure out it myself after wading thru my own issues, to boot, but I see so many places in your article that good allies could have helped, especially in affect regulation, and not ‘facing the enemy’ on one’s own.

    Wishing you the best.
    Sam

  • Ok Alex,

    I want to honestly explain my struggles to you IF I were to do what you and everyone else suggests and “take care of YOURSELF if you want to be effective support.”

    After journaling for more than 10,000 pages these last 11 years during this journey, to help me deal with my own issues, to deal with the inherent stress of this journey, and to help me figure out how best to help and support my girls (as I phrase it on my blog), I’ve got a pretty good handle on what makes me tick.

    IF I were to take care of myself first as this culture suggests there are two things I would do: 1) I would have a healthy, intimate adult relationship, and 2) I would enter the field in which my college degree is, mainly ministering to others…these are the two things that rip at my heart every single day of my life: the void in my life of these two things is overwhelming…and yet to do so, would probably mean leaving my wife since she and I have NEVER had a healthy or especially intimate relationship (emotionally, physically, or otherwise) even though we both love each other. Her past trauma has simply truncated so many of those desires in her: so if it’s ‘me first’ do I leave?

    And the same about my vocational desires. She married me knowing exactly who I am, what my chosen vocation in life was, and within a few years, she made it clear that she would never allow me to follow that desire because it struck at her ‘safety needs.’ Again, if it’s ‘me first’ do I leave her?

    I’m really not trying to be dismissive or argumentative, but one’s marriage vows are there for a reason despite our culture’s infatuation with rewriting them to say not much of anything nowadays. I love my wife: no this isn’t the life I would have chosen or the vocation of my dreams (being in a factory), but I’m trying to make lemonade out of the lemons that we were both dealt. She certainly didn’t choose this. No one says, “please rape me repeatedly when I’m two until I break and fracture and never know what it means to be healthy” (her words not mine). But I love her, and I choose US even though I know it means I’m choosing heartache and stress each and everyday until we get thru this…

    But trust me…that heartache and stress is a great motivator. It pushes me every single day to help her in every and any way that I can. It teaches me to be in tune with her so that I have learned never to coerce her, but how best to create an environment that feels safe and loving to her so that she can heal, truly, deeply and fully as I believe is still possible.

    Again, I am not trying to be dismissive, but what you have shared, which many, many other people have shared to me as well…I just don’t know how to do that AND be true to some other core values in myself and be true to my one and only love. It’s one of the things I truly think the new testament in the Christian bible got right: the idea of sacrificial love and giving up oneself and one’s life for another as the true sign of love and friendship.
    Yours,
    Sam

  • “Sorry that sounds soppy.”

    No, it’s not soppy, concerned carer. That’s what I’ve learned from attachment theory. For us, it’s mostly been a repudiation of the Western independence that is beaten into all of us from the time of birth when parents are foolishly taught to let their children cry themselves to sleep…and the myriad of ways we are told to let others suffer on their own and ‘tough it out’ or ‘pull ourselves up by our OWN bootstraps”. We are all systematically shamed by this culture of deranged independence, and my wife and I simply reject it.

    I make a concerted effort to, essentially, weave a ‘cocoon’ of attachment points between her and myself throughout as many aspects of our lives as I possibly can. And each of those attachment connections strengthens BOTH of us. Just because I don’t have any massive trauma in my past, doesn’t mean I don’t need the deep connection to another human, and even if she can’t give me what I most deeply need at the moment, I’ve still learned to soak up the connections that she is able to give me.

    I really do love the song, “Lean on Me” because it’s so true. Don’t ever feel it’s soppy. Interdependence is what we were all ‘wired’ for: it’s far more healthy than this independence garbage we are all force fed our entire lives.
    Sam

  • Alex,
    I almost missed your longer explanation that you added after your initial post. When I googled transmediumship I only saw stuff in there about, essentially, being a medium. I certainly could use ‘energy’ if it were for real. I don’t have time for pie-in-the-sky beliefs like so many I grew up with. I ONLY care about what practically helps me and my wife…especially because her last ‘alter’ has almost exhausted ALL of us, trying to help her heal and connect because she’s different than ALL the others. She has very little long term memory, and so even though we’ve made progress securely attaching her to me, it’s like that movie of the 50 First Dates, and I have to start from scratch over and over and over, and so it’s hard for her to feel safe, which means it’s been monumentally hard for us to get her connected to the rest of the group, and she was/is so terrified as long as she disconnected from the others that ALL intimacy, emotional, physical and otherwise has ceased for more than 3 years, and we’re all really struggling right now…and I’m just so overwhelmingly tired, and hoping I/we are going to make it especially when we’ve all come so far..and yet I just don’t know how to help her past this…I’ve never had a conundrum like her lack of long-term memory has presented to us on this healing journey…sigh…oh, well, enough of the online therapy session, you didn’t ask for it…I just don’t have any one to talk to about this kind of stuff…we are so far past anything you would read from ISSTD or the popular lit…and I feel like I’m going to break if we don’t get a breakthru… 🙁

    Sam

  • Hi Alex,
    you are welcome to tell me, but I’ll be honest, this journey my wife and I have taken the last 11 years has pretty much knocked out ALL of my ‘practical’ beliefs of the supernatural. I grew up a very devout evangelical Christian and got deeply into the charismatic movements and such during my young adulthood, but there was a part of me that always wondered what was wrong with me when “God” seemed to move in people all around me, and nothing happened to me…

    And then when my wife and I started this healing journey, I just didn’t have the emotional strength for anything that wasn’t ‘real’ or didn’t work, and so many of my Christian beliefs simply didn’t work out into real life, especially my expectations of some kind of supernatural intervention to help me and my wife get thru the hell we were going thru…

    And so I’ve kind of ended up with a humanistic Christianity, which my evangelical friends would call a heresy. I have a theistic worldview, but I don’t expect any help. I personally call it a Narnian Christianity: all those times that Aslan was absent for ages and ages which aren’t in the books by Lewis. I believe the moral codes, I believe there is more, BUT practically speaking, it’s up to me to help my wife heal, not some awol deity that I was never good enough to earn favors for answered prayers.

    I do understand that I’ve said a number of things in this response with which you would strongly disagree, but it’s where I’m at, and so far it’s been pragmatically useful in helping my wife and me survive the trenches we’ve traveled together. I’m sure this is far more than you expected, or wanted, especially as I can tell that for you, your journey seems to have taken you in the opposite direction toward more openness to ‘spiritual’ things.
    Yours,
    Sam
    (edit: and I guess I’ll add I’ve become a lot more socially, religiously and politically moderate from how I was raised…I’m kind of a pariah now to all of my family who are ardent Trump supporters, lol)

  • Concerned Carer,
    I see that no one ever addressed your concerns. Perhaps I can try.

    I think you can see the resistance that the survivors have on this site to suggesting that anything is ‘wrong’ because our culture weaponizes that admission. For my own wife it took 20 years before she felt safe to do so with me and only AFTER I made it clear to her that I loved her unconditionally. Until that point, anytime I would make the suggestion, she would spit back that I was the one with a problem. And so I don’t expect any less of the survivors on this site.

    And I think that’s why talking about mental health ‘trauma’ in the same way we talk about bodily trauma is so valuable. If we see someone with a cast on her/his leg, typically we think ‘oh s/he broke it’ but there’s also an assumption in there that with time to heal, and maybe some physical therapy if it was a really bad break, the person will be back 100% when the process is over.

    But there’s another assumption that while the person is in that cast, there will naturally be things s/he can’t do until the healing has been completed. Most of us don’t assign value judgments to those things that can’t be done, we just accept them as part of the trauma and convalescence period. And if we love the person, we don’t take umbrage that we have to ‘pick up the slack’ while our loved one is healing.

    I feel all those points can be seamlessly transferred to our loved ones who have suffered mental trauma. And the manifestations that occur from that trauma, whether it be ‘extreme states’, excessive triggers, ptsd symptoms or anything else, should just be viewed the same as in the list of ‘currently can’t’ when a person has a broken leg.

    I rarely talk about my wife’s list of ‘currently can’ts’ even though there are a lot of them and some of them cause me extreme stress. And when she begins to berate herself over that list of ‘currently cant’s’, I tend to just say, ‘that’s the d.i.d. and it will get better once we get thru it.’ I tend to focus her and myself on the positives, like a good coach. We both know the negatives are there and we don’t pretend like they aren’t there, but we try to stay forward focused, knowing that what ‘currently can’t be done’ is not our final destination.

    Sam

  • Hi Sera,
    thank you for sharing your experience, especially how you were reported to the authorities. As much as I’ve kept my wife out of the system, your story is a cautionary tale to me because this journey she and I are on is so hard many days that my personal journal is filled with the sigh that I’m so tired of life and the wish that I’d never been born. To me that feeling is always there, ebbing and flowing, but it’s kind of freeing, knowing that if things ever get too bad, I have an out, and with that ‘out’ it gives me power over those feelings…

    …And yet on my blog I wrote about how to help someone feeling suicidal from my personal experience, and fortunately none of my immediate family who read it called anyone on me. And when my wife and I take our daily walks together, we walk past a counseling service and part of me loves the idea of just getting some help and support on the days when it’s so hard helping her on my own…but your experience shows to me that my wife’s insistence on our anonymity is probably for the best, even though it means we can’t help others, because it protects me as well as her, sigh…

    I’m glad nothing worse than a phone call and a little embarrassment happened to you. Thank you for being willing to share for those of us who can’t yet…

    Sam

  • Anechidna,
    I think you are going to find different opinions about ‘psychological injury’ on this site. To me it’s a perfectly good analogy between a severe broken leg and a severe traumatic injury suffered to the mind. With proper care both injuries can be healed and the sufferer can go on with life relatively none the worse. But if either injury is ignored, it is likely it will never ‘self-heal’ and then that injury will stress the greater system and if that stress is enough in the future, at some point it could begin to cause other issues.

    To me dissociation is the biggest physiological result that comes from mental trauma, though that may simply be because of my wife and my experience. I’m not an expert, but I wonder if the dissociation is what causes all the differences in brain mapping (though I take all the hoopla over those mappings with a grain of salt!) Anyway, I believe dissociation in the mind is similar to what happens to the body when a broken leg is never healed. From that point on the body will do all kinds of things to get around the natural use of that leg. Sure, some body parts may even grow stronger as a result of having to take over for the leg’s function, but doing so will also stress parts of the body that simply were never made to walk. In the end, the person may even learn to be relatively mobile, but that doesn’t mean that was the way the body was intended to function: it’s just a testament to our ability to adapt.

    But even decades later, as in my wife’s case, once the mental trauma is addressed and with a lot of help (kind of like physical therapy to strengthen the atrophied body parts), her brain/mind is healing. It’s just a lot more work to undo all those ‘workarounds’ caused by the dissociation than if we had know about it in our 20’s.

    Sam

  • zmenard,

    I have tried to teach other SO’s on my blog but simply never got much traction: I have more than 100 articles explaining various things that I/we faced helping my wife heal from severe dissociation: things I struggled with, things I learned while I helped her, practical things and more theoretical issues, but I would guess most people really do want magic pills to give to the ‘problem person’ rather than do the hard work of helping someone heal from severe trauma. It’s really not all that complicated, but it is hard for both: there’s no way around that, and sadly our culture doesn’t do ‘hard’.

    The staff here know I would be happy to do so, but I think our story, because we are such an anomaly, causes some issues with those who have been ‘spoken for/over’ by SO’s and family members since my wife refuses to come here and affirm what I say and affirm that I’m not secretly keeping her in chains! 🙂

    So until they can find a way for me to share without it causing undo distress to some of the survivors, I try to content myself with the comments section and the camaraderie of finding other people like me who don’t think the effects of trauma make one crazy or weird.
    Sam

  • “Family & friends often look to the ostensible authority for the quickest, ‘cleanest’ fix possible…usually some form of sedation.”

    I guess I’ll add the longer version:
    1) I’ve always had ‘authority’ issues and never really cared much for going along with the crowd. Plus I was school valedictorian and graduated from college with a 4.0 and my wife is literally a genius, and so I never really saw the ‘authorities’ as having anything over us.

    2) And we homeschooled our son the entire way: another X against authority. Our son told my wife that she was his hardest teacher until he got into his master’s program in a Boston-area university. And then, even though he didn’t have the pedigree of his classmates, he was the only one that his university recruited for their PhD program; so eh, who needs authorities?

    3) And even though I’ve moved to the political/religious/social center as I’ve helped my wife heal, I grew up pretty far Right, and so we didn’t expect the ‘experts’ to do for us what we could do for ourselves. Moreover, I quickly found out as she and I traveled this journey and as I read up on her issues, that the so-called experts were full of it and didn’t know half of what they thought they did.

    …so I guess all those things kind of made both of us never really look for that ‘quick fix’ like most of our culture does.
    Sam

  • How did I come to that wisdom? The short version is indeed that she is literally the one and only woman to whom I have ever said “I love you” or been with, so I never considered any solution except a win/win for the both of us no matter how hard it’s been for both of us. But the longer version to that question is much more complicated and convoluted, and I deal with many of those issues over on my wordpress blog, but for now, I’ve found a philosophical home in many ways over here.
    Sam

  • Well Krista,

    I’m kind of an anomaly here. My fight in this battle is about keeping people OUT of the system before they ever get entangled in it.

    Our son and I kept my wife/his mother completely out of the system when she started dealing with all kinds of ‘extreme states’ as they like to call it on this website. I hope some day that I can share with other interested SO’s and family members how they can do the same. That’s why I find it so discouraging that all of your family distanced themselves from your own fight…but my wife does tell me I’m the ‘weird’ one for not seeing her issues like the rest of humanity, lol.

    But if I have anything to offer from my perspective, I’ll be happy to do so.
    Wishing you well,
    Sam