Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Comments by Sam Ruck

Showing 100 of 676 comments. Show all.

  • Hello, Kent,
    I’m so deeply sorry for the hell you and your wife have endured at the hands of the mental health system just pushing drugs. I can’t even imagine your pain and anger.
    On a different note, it is so nice to see a fellow husband/caregiver on here. There are so few of us, but it seems more have been speaking up lately and I’m very excited about that and hope some day we might be able to connect and begin to pool our knowledge and really make a difference for our loved ones.

  • Hello Richard,
    I find this an incredibly interesting article on so many levels. I was raised a very conservative Christian and then got into some of the branches that seek out these kinds of experiences. I, however, never experienced any of them. It was always kind of weird seeing everyone else dropping like flies being ‘slain in the spirit’ and chattering in tongues…while I stood there wondering what was wrong with me, sigh…
    …and then my wife began to show the signs of DID 15 years ago…and so we throw that into the mix…and I have a very pragmatic view of that: trauma and dissociation driving nearly everything we’ve had to face…
    …and then I’ve always wondered about philosophical materialism and how that drives so many of the modern sciences (even though many of the founders of the various scientific branches were devout Christians) and blinds them to the possibility of the mind and spirit. I’ve brought up the place that materialism ought to occupy in our discussions on this website, but never got any author to engage me about it…
    Anyway, thanks for an extremely thought-provoking and enjoyable article. I don’t know where I personally am nowadays…I’ve moved away from my upbringing some without rejecting it all and yet I’m definitely not a materialist..
    Thanks again!

  • Dear Michael,
    I was nearly in tears as I read this article. I’ve been desperate to meet you since the last time you broached this subject on Mad in America a year or so ago. I left a message on your website, but it always says you won’t be around. I know I’m a nobody, but for the last 15 years I’ve done everything you are talking about as I walked with my wife thru her early childhood trauma and extreme dissociation (ie. DID in dsm speak). I’ve walked with her thru every extreme state she experienced, held her during the worst, and as I calmed her using attachment concepts, we could make meaning of them, and help integrate the source of them so that at this point it’s been years since she’s experienced them…at this point were still working to gather all her dissociated parts and interconnect them, mostly, as she is becoming ‘whole’.

    I was asked to write a little book about how I walked with her thru it all. A third of it is how I engaged her in all the things you were talking about and so we found healing and wholeness without the drugs and loss of agency known to most here. I know I’m a nobody, but perhaps you could give me just a little of your time or you would honor me and glance at my little book. When I lost my sponsor, I had to finish it on my own, and I was told to find an editor to help me clean it up, so I’m hoping to do that now. But if you don’t have time to do that, perhaps you could point me in the direction of other family members who, like me, understand we have to walk with our loved ones thru all those things so they can deeply heal. I’m happily astounded you would invite someone like me to contribute to your book as I have yet to find someone like that even after 15 years of searching.

  • Hi Terry,
    I enjoyed your article. So much of what you have said resonated true with the healing journey my wife and I have been on, together, thru her trauma and dissociation…as we learned about her parts and embraced them…helping all of them to heal and connect together. And watching and helping her thru that process also taught me about my own parts and learning to embrace them especially coming from a very strict religious background that taught a lot of guilt and shame over natural stuff.

    Normally I’m promoting attachment concepts as the foundation of everything we did, but lately people who have read some of my stuff have noted how IFS meshes so well with our methodology as well, and so I appreciate each time I can learn a little more about its tenets.

  • Hi Hayden Hall,
    I’d strongly suggest following the link I gave to Moyu, if you have interest, and downloading Healing Companions, as it combines Engaging Madness and another little booklet I’d written and expands them into a more-flowing narrative style with a lot more personal stories.

    if you think you’d really like to read it, but simply can’t see the font, please contact me at my blog email, and I’ll be happy to give you a word document of it, and then you can change it to whatever size works best for you.

    As for attachment, Steve is largely correct. However, I would add that attachment theory includes romantic couples and not only those in caretaking roles of basic necessities…and yet, helping my wife feel safe, loved and cared for…were huge parts of helping heal the trauma she suffered as a toddler and the dissociation that developed throughout her life as a result.

  • “It is clear to me that all of society, i.e. not just affected persons but also the relatives, other caring persons and psychiatrists need to be willing to work actively and systematically on themselves, to listen and talk to each other as far as possible. Without these joint efforts towards a social co-existence with mutual respect, improvements or (partial) cures for so-called schizophrenia and mental disorders in general will, in my view, hardly be possible.”

    Hello Moyu,
    I always appreciate these kinds of articles that bring in the absolute essential role family can play in the healing journey if they are willing to listen and engage their loved one how s/he needs it. I always refer to the journey my wife and i are on as ‘our healing journey’ even though she has d.i.d….I had to be willing to do a lot of changing and learning from her so I could become the healing companion she needed…and 15 years later…we are mostly thru her trauma and dissociation…which is what i feel causes the symptoms that many refer to as psychosis, at least for my wife.
    It’s not an easy process, but i believe our reliance on attachment concepts have allowed us to see foundational healing for her without the drugs…and transformative change in myself as well.
    If you’d ever like to connect, i always relish the chance to share the wonderful things we discovered along the way and even wrote a little book about some of the highlights of it.
    Take care,

  • yes, I wish so much I could convey how attachment concepts can fundamentally change the entire healing journey for both partners…and it was exactly like ‘bringing to life’ those parts of my wife which had been ‘killed’ by the trauma…truly a beautiful process to be part of and behold…

  • As long as a ‘revolution’ depends upon money, then it will always be at the whim of its benefactors. That’s why for as long as I’ve been on Mad in America I’ve called for the training and empowerment of family, spouses and SO’s so they can walk with their loved ones who are hurting and help them heal. We’re the only ones who can really do it, as healing doesn’t occur in the neat confines of a therapist’s office but is a 24/7 endeavor that must take place in every facet of life and one’s relationships, so we have to be the ones to do it.

  • Rasx,
    the problem is…in our dysfunctional culture where independence and individualism are overprized, no one wants to be told that another’s mental health or mental health healing (as in my wife’s case) is almost 100% on the primary attachment figure…or me (or her parents originally)…but that is the gist of how I read attachment theory even though it is anathema to nearly everyone…even the book I was asked to write…one of the reasons it got canceled was because someone read between the lines and realized that I understood the amount of sacrifice it required of me to help my wife heal 40 years after her parents had abdicated their roles as primary attachment figures….how sad that even the survivors have accepted the tenets of our dysfunctionally, hyper-independent culture.

  • Hello Rachel,
    like you, I am walking with a loved one (my wife) thru her mental health struggles. It sounds like you are coming to/have come to some similar conclusions as i have. i walk with my wife in her reality and we find healing together. In the past I did a lot of ‘regulating’ her emotions when she was suffering a lot of extreme states, but that was a long time ago. Now we are working on restructuring her trauma paradigm, together. But I just treat her like my wife…even though i’m typically with her little-girl alters most of the time when we are alone. i don’t know what to suggest about the support groups: fortunately my wife never got swept up in the ‘system’ and so she’s always just been able to be herself to others…and I was able to see past the ‘alters’ and other stuff that comes with trauma and dissociation…so she floats in and out of those kind of groups…and mostly just has her friends and stuff at church until covid hit and curtailed that.
    Anyway, I wish you and your loved one the best. It’s nice to see someone on MiA in the same boat as me. i wish there were more…

  • Hi Jay,
    I always appreciate your articles which explain the science in an understandable way for a layperson. I especially appreciate your expertise addressing the twins studies which seemed irrefutable until I read a previous article of yours here on MiA. But I’ll be honest, I haven’t worked my way thru this article completely because I got derailed on your statement in the beginning that your prefer ‘psychosis’ to ‘schizophrenia’.

    I have walked with my wife thru her DID, outside the system and without psych drugs for the last 15 years. In the DID world I have read that if the voices a person hears seem ‘outside’ the person, then they “have” schizophrenia, but if they seem ‘internal’ then they “have” DID (don’t know if that is accurate…just saying). So, even though I have zero experience with someone who has ‘schizophrenia’, I’ve always kind of viewed it as the mirror image of what I’ve walked thru with my wife.

    Now until I started frequenting MiA, I didn’t even know what ‘psychosis’ was, but it seemed like such a big deal once I got here. Now I’ve never seen my wife as ‘psychotic’ and there are two reasons I still don’t view her that way even after I tried to become more educated about what ‘psychosis’ is. 1) I don’t think ‘psychosis’, accurately describes what is occurring in the person: at least not my wife. I think all her ‘psychosis-like’ symptoms are better understood as natural consequences of extreme dissociation caused by the trauma she suffered as a 2-year old…and once I adjusted my perspective to align with what was happening internally with her, then most of that stuff she experienced made sense to me. And thus, 2) I think using that term makes those of us on the outside lazy because rather than putting the effort into understanding what is really happening internally, we just say ‘she’s psychotic’ and so what would be the point of trying to understand something that’s just ‘crazy’, right?

    I also saw another comment mention attachment issues, and yes, that’s what we’ve used, with me as her primary attachment figure, to help her heal and tear down the dissociation which has slowly resolved the ‘psychosis-like’ symptoms. One by one her dissociated ‘parts’ have securely attached to me and then (it seems) that attachment helped each connect to the rest of her greater personality.

    There’s so much more I could say, but I won’t bore you unless you have interest.

  • Hello Ekaterina,
    it’s good to see you back on Mad in America again.

    My wife and I have walked thru her extreme dissociation these last 15 years: I never saw her as ‘psychotic’ even when the other girls (‘alters’) first came out and believed a lot of ‘different’ things. But we gave them as much ‘outside’ time as each wanted and needed to heal. To me a lot of ‘psychosis-like’ symptoms were based on their confusion from being locked up inside 4-5 decades (kind of like RipVan Winkle…a man out of time).

    Anyway, I’m with you and not sure why everyone makes a big deal of it. The person just needs a safe person to be an anchor and reference point. When my wife’s different ‘alters’ switch, I just ask the new one outside, “Do you know what’s going on?” If she says ‘no’, then I give her a quick update…and we go on. It’s really not a big deal…but we keep working to tear down the dissociation and hope some day I won’t ever have to ask that (getting closer!).

    Anyway, I think ‘psychosis’ is overblown for too many people and just is an excuse for people on the outside to be lazy and not really ‘hear’ what the other person is experiencing or why.
    Take care,

  • Tammy,
    I read with interest your story, especially how it affected your relationship with your family. I’m so sorry it negatively affected it. We Christians have missed the boat and forgotten that we are called to sacrifice ourselves for one another and help those who feel weak. It makes me so sad that family has lost sight of our calling to help our struggling loved ones.

    I hope you and your family find healing and someone can help them move past the simplistic caricatures that our culture promotes of those experiencing mental distress.

  • For 15 years I have engaged my wife’s voices and I’ve always believed it made all the difference in the world for both of us. I changed to become a safe, healing companion for her. And her voices healed and began to interconnect with my wife. I was asked to write a book about our healing journey with a therapist who planned to explain the science of why the attachment concepts we used work so well, but alas, our sponsor had to pull the support.
    But if any are interested, I offer my part of our project for free download on my blog:

  • For 15 years I have engaged my wife’s voices and I’ve always believed it made all the difference in the world for both of us. I changed to become a safe, healing companion for her. And her voices healed and began to interconnect with my wife. I was asked to write a book about our healing journey with a therapist who planned to explain the science of why the attachment concepts we used work so well, but alas, our sponsor had to pull the support.
    But if any are interested, I offer my part of our project for free download on my blog:

  • Hello, Jaakko and James,
    I love the idea of Open Dialogue and believe it is on the correct path: one my wife and I, unfortunately, had to take on our own. We walked the path together, sharing our experiences, sharing our struggles and difficulties, leaning on each other, finding meaning and healing from her trauma and extreme states. I also love that this approach recognizes the entire family as a key part of the dialogue. We are all in this together, and the extreme individuality and independence the West has adopted deeply hinders the ability to heal and move forward.
    Perhaps, someday, our paths will cross. I’d love a chance to share some of the things we have learned on our healing journey.

  • Thanks, Diaphonous Weeping,
    I try so hard. It’s really hard being attacked for doing the very thing, I believe, many on this website wishes their own spouses and families had done for them: doing whatever, and I mean whatever, it takes to love them, protect them, respect their agency, keep their dignity, and just treat them like a normal human being despite all the extreme states, dissociation and, at times, even chaos.

    I don’t know that my wife is ‘shy’ per se, she just wants to be treated for herself and not some caricature our culture has of DID. This article listed schizophrenia as one of the ‘worst’ impugned mental health issues. DID is right up there with it.

    My hope is that this book, if I can get it finished, will normalize mental health struggles from the family, spouse and significant other’s perspective. My wife and I have walked together through almost any extreme state imaginable, and we learned how to help her heal from all of them so that most are a distant memory from the past at this point in our journey. Yes, I’m often called to do more than I would have to for a spouse without these struggles, but I guess that’s part of being in a loving, lifetime relationship.

  • hmmm…yeah, I remember when my wife first suggested she might have DID and I immediately wondered if I was living with a psychopathic murderer(thanks, Hollywood!). Fortunately, I realized almost immediately that I had safely lived with her for 20 years and she was unlikely to kill me in my sleep at that point if I hadn’t given her reason before then…

    Sadly, the fear of stigma has kept my wife in the shadows, unwilling to give up the appearance of ‘normalcy’ by those in our lives…and though I have discussed with her multiple times how beneficial it would be for us to have more support as well as sharing our mutual healing journey on a larger scale because so many are struggling and it’s only gotten worse since COVID, she just is unwilling to live with the caricature our culture places upon those with a diagnosis…especially since hers is one of the ‘worst’.

    But for me, seeing our commonality and learning much from her own struggles helped me become a better, healthier person partially so that I could be a better healing companion with and for her on this journey…

    And I have been given the opportunity to share our journey on a larger scale using this pen name as I have begun collaborating with an expert (since I’m just a husband), but also because she brings a lot to this project, to write a book together and one of our goals is to normalize mental health struggles and living with someone even experiencing pretty extreme stuff like my wife did…and perhaps someday we’ll see the fruit of that venture if we make it to the goal.

  • Bob,
    This article reminds me of a thought I’ve repeatedly had while reading some of the articles on this website: I’ve often wondered if the prevailing philosophical materialism which undergirds most of modern science plays any part in so many of the maladies we see affecting not only psychiatry and Big Pharma, but other branches of science as well. It’s a straight jacket that too many scientists seem unable to break free of..but I’m not enough of a philosophy expert to know if it’s a hunch that is correct or not…I think it would be interesting, if you feel I am correct, to find a true expert on the subject and have him/her do an article for Mad in America sometime.

  • Hello Richard,
    well, I’ve been walking with my wife for the last 15 years helping her heal from her trauma and extreme dissociation, engaging all of her ‘parts’, learning about my own, and both of us are learning to embrace all of our selves. I think you may be misunderstanding some ‘symptoms’ as ’caused’ by the ‘protectors’ when, at least from our experience, they were caused by the associated mental traits and abilities of the various ‘parts’ that were ‘exiled’ (dissociated)…but it’s hard to see that unless you have complete access…and few do outside the primary attachment figures of each person…but I do see a lot that I agree with you on…and am glad you are having an impact…
    Too bad you’ll never read my comment: I think we’d have a lot in common…
    Take care and best wishes to you.

  • Bob,
    don’t forget family like me who have the lived experience of walking thru everything my wife experienced, at times carrying her thru it, until she could make sense of things and heal and integrate it back into her own narrative. You’ve got to expand the circle because there are few ‘peers’, probably, who would be committed day in and day out, 15 years and counting like me and other family members who are in a lifetime commitment…I know there are many family members who fall far short of the ideal and are even part of the problem and abuse…but I still believe there are others out there like me, who if they were supported and trained could learn to do the things I have.

  • I would suggest that most DSM ‘disorders’ are actually symptoms of dissociation after 15 years of embracing my wife’s extreme dissociation and walking thru it with her. And as I repeatedly assured her, “focus on the trauma and dissociation and the rest will take care of itself.’ And it has. Her other issues have largely disappeared or become minor.

    Attachment is the way I helped heal and dissolve my wife’s dissociation, but it doesn’t ‘cure’ the things caused by dissociation (the so-called dsm ‘disorders’). Those are resolved when the various part of the mind are reconnected (after the dissociation is dissolved) and then balance comes back to the person as the healing/mitigating parts of the mind can ‘balance’ those parts which need it.


  • Hi Jock,
    thank you for an interesting interview.

    I wish you had elucidated your biocognitive model more within the interview…and perhaps I’m obtuse, but why did you include ‘bio’ in the model’s name at all when it appears you wanted to get away from biological explanations of mental disorder?: “The biocognitive model says that there is no physical cause for mental disorder, but a psychological account is possible and it can account for all mental disorder. So mental disorder becomes a psychological phenomenon.”

  • In the d.i.d. world, we have to deal with the ‘False Memory Syndrome Foundation” that was largely created by abusive family to gaslight the now-adult children they had abused and say they were remembering ‘false’ memories about their abusive childhood.

    There’s no doubt there are plenty of bad-faith families out there: neither of my wife’s nor my immediate family were willing to support and join us on our healing journey, and yet, change is possible. I’m proof of that. When we first started our journey, my wife said she spent more time dealing with my weekly blowups at her counseling sessions than her own stuff. But once I got my issues dealt with, then she told me I was now the greatest factor in her healing.

    That is what we need to fight for: teaching family who are willing how to become the healing companions every struggling person needs. It’s not natural or easy. I have to fight my own self interests because I still sacrifice a lot of my own needs to make space for her healing: but I do it because I love her and because I’m seeking a win/win for us. And I just have to believe there are others out there who are like me and who would change if someone showed them the way…and there’s a chance, now, that I may be able to make that happen…(keeping my fingers crossed as it develops)

  • Hi Sera,
    based upon your response to me, my original comment should be rated a ‘fail’ for conveying what I had hoped to do, sigh. I’ve wondered for the last 4 days if it was even worth a 2nd attempt, but as I continue to see negative comments directed toward the family, perhaps I will try again.
    1) I do believe I understand the general purpose of your analysis of the comments section of the NYT article. Having walked with my wife these last 15 years and having followed Mad in America these last 6 or so years, I believe I understand the general perspective you are sharing and agree with much of it.
    2) However, I believe your analysis and the generally negative comments directed toward family by others here presupposes a generally negative ‘bad faith’ motive concerning the majority of family. However, I see them as victims of Big Pharma and psychiatry who are manipulated along with the rest of those in our culture to accept the common biomedical narrative of mental health. And NAMI to whom family turns for help, support and training, as you have written here in the past, is just an arm of that coalition and so family go there, thinking they will be helped, only to be corrupted, sigh.
    3) Moreover, I believe this analysis forgets the inherent selfishness we ALL have. We all have hopes, dreams, desires and needs. They aren’t necessarily bad, but when something extreme like severe trauma and dissociation is thrown into a relationship, sadly those things can turn a loving relationship into a war campaign to have those needs met.

    Sadly the manipulation of Big Pharma and psychiatry; our general culture, as well, and our inherent selfishness all work to create a ‘battle of wills’ even among loved ones and sadly the strongest win and the weaker loses.

    My wife inadvertently saved us from this by asking me not to read anything about her ‘condition’ when we first started our healing journey, and I kept that promise for the first 2 or 3 years until we had sufficiently developed a rhythm and methodology that worked for both of us. But I also had to fight my inherent selfishness and tell myself over and over that I was fighting for a win/win for me and my wife, rather than allowing my selfishness to twist my relationship with my wife into a battle of wills.

    Have you heard of the Better Angels group? In this ugly culture war in which our country is immersed, this group and others like it are trying to help people stop presupposing the inherent ‘bad faith’ of the ‘other side’ and instead learn to really understand each other and find our overwhelming common ground.

    I truly am sorry for each and everyone of you who have been hurt and betrayed by your family and loved ones, but unless we can find that commonality and love that I believe motivates most of us, then those who are struggling will continue to lose.

    I’ve been at this 15 years, and I’m more than my wife’s ‘ally’ as the Left uses that term. I’m her foxhole buddy who walked with and at times literally carried her thru every extreme state and everything else she experienced no matter where or when it happened. There is no group in the world that can do what family can do, period. And so we’ve got to move past the larger culture-war milieu that literally believes those on the ‘other side’ are ‘evil’. We’ve got to train and empower our loved ones to be the healing companions those who are hurt need most.

  • Sera,
    I’m really struggling how to respond to your article. I’m torn in so many different ways. I am obviously sympathetic and empathetic to your perspective as I have literally spent the last 15 years dedicated to helping my wife heal while I kept her completely out of the mental health system and off any drugs…I had to learn to listen to her. Her fears. Her perspective. Her everything…

    And yet, as a ‘family member’ we have real fears, real perspectives, real needs, too. I don’t share them much on this site because I understand its perspective and also because I chose to walk with my wife when all her trauma and dissociation exploded into our marriage and family…and so I chose the emotional distress and sacrifices that walking with her through all that stuff would require me to make in order to be a good healing companion for her.

    The real problem I see is that everyone wants their own perspectives, needs, fears, etc., validated but I rarely find someone willing to do the same for someone else, even a loved one, especially when that requires validating a perspective antithetical to or in competition with our own. And so then we engage in a battle of wills and the stronger wins…at the sacrifice of the relationship.

    What we need are people willing to seek win/win solutions. I believe you and this website are just trying to get ‘this side’s’ perspective out there, but I’ve tried to walk in such a way with my wife that there isn’t ‘her’ side and ‘my’ side. I always refer to this as ‘our healing journey’ because if I other her in any way…it creates space for us to grow apart and this journey is so hard on both of us, even today, that we won’t make it if I don’t own it all as my own because we are in it together.

  • Hello Irit,
    thank you for this review.

    I have begun to read Tina’s booklet. Much of what Tina has suggested I have done for my wife these last 15 years, and so, fundamentally, I agree with her, and yet, I am struggling with her desire to see this done on a larger scale than within families as we have done (how many have the commitment level outside of a family to go 15 years and counting???). Yes, I think others who are willing should be taught the things that Tina espouses. Yes, the laws certainly need changed to stop the inhumane treatment and stripping away of fundamental rights of others simply because they are experiencing mental distress.

    …But I think you hit the nail on the head when you wrote that others do so because of their fear which I believe is driven by ignorance. Until we can cogently articulate what is going on when a person is experiencing extreme states to demystify them so that others can empathize and realize that they are just like I am, not crazy, mad, dangerous or anything else, then I fear people will continue to demand the right to subdue what they fear rather than embrace it.

    Thanks to both of you and I will continue to try and make my way thru her booklet.

  • Diaphonous Weeping,
    the ancient wisdom says, “See to it…that no root of bitterness, springing up, causes trouble, and by it many become defiled.”
    When my wife and I first started this healing journey 15 years ago, I had my fair share of anger and bitterness. This isn’t what anyone signs up for when he says his wedding vows…but I love my wife, and if we were going to make it, and make it well, then I had to let go of the anger and bitterness. I had to learn to ‘breathe’ the disappointment, pain and heartache that would be part of this journey. At first it was like learning to breathe underwater: my being convulsed and fought against the pain and heartache, but my love for my wife and my desperation to find a win/win for us held me until the process was completed.
    So, I still hurt, but I know it’s the price to walk with the woman I love, and it doesn’t have the power over me that it used to.

    As for ‘fixing.’ Sigh, yes. My older brother’s 2nd wife was a trauma survivor, and about the same time my wife’s trauma exploded into our marriage, his wife’s did, too. But he wanted to ‘fix’ her and drug her all over the country trying to do so…and not long after that, she filed to divorce him. I had tried to invite him to ‘walk’ with his wife, like I was learning to do with mine, but he had no interest…and my family rallied around him when he was ‘free’ of her, sigh. And then my mom tried to give a defense of him to me since she knew I was going thru similar things with my own wife, sigh. I think the rest of my family wishes I had done the same thing to my wife.
    …it was their loss. Our healing journey really has been a fantastic (though difficult) voyage…like seeing a star born…as each girl (‘alter’) joined us on the outside…and I got the privilege of helping her heal as I offered her the safety and security of a loving relationship with me: something she had never known before. And once she accepted that safety with me, then she was free to let me hold her pain and trauma…so that she could heal and move on to become the beautiful person she was always intended to be…

    My family and my wife’s missed the beautiful journey we have been on. It was their loss, and yet, we lost too by not having their support…but they are all broken people who have fought to pretend that they aren’t, while they shun my wife’s brokenness and think they are better than her, sigh.

  • Hello Diaphonous Weeping,
    I almost missed your beautiful commentary and analysis of things through your various comments because I kind of zoned out on the comments section until Steve made a comment about how we inherit so much dysfunction thru our parents, and they thru their parents, etc. You have some incredible insights and articulate them so well. So much of what you speak are things I have tried to do for my wife on our healing journey. For us there is no railing against the system or seeking justice from her abuser because the exact knowledge of him is lost to her in the mists of 5 decades ago when she was a toddler. And so we deal with the trauma and dissociation today and how it affects her and us until we can undo it.

    I did want to speak to Steve’s comment about our heritage of dysfunction. I remember when my wife and I first started this journey that I made a vow to break that dysfunction so our son didn’t continue in the mold. Unfortunately, he spent so many of his formative years touched by our struggling marriage until I began to deal with my own issues so that I could be a good healing companion for my wife. I wish I could have been a better father for him…but I am getting a 2nd chance this year since he had to move back in with us while he is trying to finish his PhD.

    Anyway, DW, you really are beautifully articulate. It’s too bad more people haven’t read and understood some of the critical things you have stated. I do agree with so much of it and our journey has mirrored much of what you have said, but my writing is always more of one who writes those dry instruction manuals for our devices which none of us read unless we absolutely must: it’s probably why there’s been so little interest no matter how I’ve tried to share our amazing journey of love, healing and discovery (blog, booklets, comments across the internet) because I seem unable to write in such a way that draws people in.

  • Hi Bradford,
    thank you for the generous comment. I wish you weren’t correct…that our case is just seen as anecdotal, sigh. Even here in the Mad in America, counter cultural movement, I have struggled to find a place to really change the conversation how family can be available 24/7, 365 days a year for their loved ones and so we MUST be the ones taught and empowered to walk with them while respecting their total agency.
    But it’s more than that; my wife and I embraced her extreme states, her extreme dissociation and everything else…and we found a way thru them. I’ve tried to shout ‘eureka’ for 15 years, but I just can’t find anyone with a big enough platform to help me spread the word. I so appreciate MiA giving me this chance to do so, but I was heartbroken by the lack of response and even ‘hits’ to this blog and even the free downloadable booklet.

  • Hi Miranda,
    thank you for writing this insightful review, and also, thank you for sharing some of your story with the rest of us. Personally, I’ve struggled with suicide ideation and depression/despair/despondency most of my adult life, and I do agree with you that hope and strong relationships are some of the best ways I fight against these overwhelming feelings. Hope is also part of the reason I work so hard to be a good healing companion for my wife, since our ‘fortunes’ are inextricably linked to each other’s, and her ‘win’ will be mine, too.

    But as for empowerment. I often thought about the categorical difference between my older sister being raped in her 20’s and my wife’s experience of being molested as a 2-year old and her childhood growing up with emotionally distant and at times abusive parents. My sister quickly moved thru the healing process as she fought to get back to healthy and a few years later she was speaking to other women about her experience and how she had healed.

    But my wife? When we first started our journey together, she told me repeatedly that she didn’t even know what ‘healthy’ looked like. She had no goal to fight for like my sister because she had never known what it was in the first place. On top of that, we spent 5 years of continuous extreme states, where she was literally, constantly overwhelmed, and I had to be there with her ‘in the emotional hurricane waters”…holding her up from drowning, being the calm in her storm. I was her lifeguard, her ‘savior,’ in a very real sense…until I got her stabilized, and we moved out of that phase.

    15 years later she is in a much different place and I rarely have to ‘rescue’ her and yet I still have to help her heal in a way that my sister never needed. It’s been a struggle for me so that I don’t infringe upon her agency in any way, and yet be willing to provide her the support and help that she needs as she still is moving toward the goal of becoming healthy…having never experienced it.

    And so each person’s experience of suicide ideation, depression or any other mental distress and what each needs to heal from it and move past it will depend on their own history. Empowerment can feel overwhelming and almost like the same abandonment s/he experienced during childhood to someone who has never known ‘healthy’ like my wife until s/he has healed and stabilized enough. That doesn’t give the helper license to transgress someone’s agency, but it does mean basing the help and depth of involvement according to the needs of the sufferer and realizing much more help may be needed at the start of the healing journey.

  • Hi Michael,
    thank you for responding. You seem pretty passionate about this subject from what you’ve written here and past articles of yours I’ve read on Mad in America and also on your own website. I don’t know if the terms of your sabbatical would allow you to read a little booklet I wrote about how I engaged my wife’s ‘madness’ these last 15 years without drugs mostly using attachment strategies as I have walked with her thru almost anything you can imagine when it comes to mental distress. it’s 42 pages with lots of stories about our journey. But if that falls outside your sabbatical, I have written myself some notes, and I will try to contact you after you get back.
    Here’s a link to the free download.
    Thanks, Sam

  • Bateson wrote, “Diabasis is one of a very few institutions across the country which carry the responsibility for advancing our understanding of psychiatric phenomenon … problems which are almost as complex as any which the human spirit can present. In just a few places and necessarily on a small scale, this complexity is being faced, I would argue that those places are curiously precious, not only for the few patients who are lucky enough to pass through them, but also precious to the whole psychiatric profession and the wider field of helping skills.”

    Michael, do you really believe this? i tried to contact you via your website, but it said you wouldn’t be available until late June. Sadly, I missed you when you visited our support group that Kermit and Louisa lead. I’ve walked with my wife thru her ‘madness’ for the last 15 years: every aspect of it: the extreme states, the ‘psychosis’, the ‘delusions’ and ‘paranoia’ and so much more. If you ever wanted to talk, I’d love the chance to share some of the amazing things I’ve witness as I walked thru it all with her.

  • First, let me say how truly sorry I am for Sera, that her ex is stooping this low. Anger makes us capable of such ugly things. My heart goes out to her and her entire family.

    As someone who has struggled with suicidal thoughts for 3 decades, after a lot of journaling, I’ve come to see them as a coping mechanism; just one tool in my toolbox that I can say, ‘If things get too bad, I’ve always got an out.’ However, it’s only one tool, and there are other tools I use to keep me from using that one. But I also realized if my agency had ever been removed, I probably would have become even more suicidal.

    But I am concerned about the focus on autonomy. “No man(person) is an island.” None of are autonomous. None of us acts in a vacuum. None of us develops and grows as children or adults in a vacuum, and I think to make this a focus plays into the hyper-individualism of our western societies and why too often we don’t care enough about those in our communities. I think a better goal is collaboration realizing that I have personal weaknesses, blindspots and am limited in my experience, knowledge and wisdom and I can benefit from relationships with others. I don’t always, intrinsically know what is best for me, but I can benefit from a safe community of fellow travelers who are willing to share without coercion.

    So, I think it’s agency we should focus on, not personal expertise because all of us are limited in our experiences and sometimes we all could do with a little more humility as we accept help from others, but it ought to be our choice to accept that help, not something forced upon us because others are uncomfortable with the ugliness that life can bring to each of us.

  • Hi Louisa,
    I am aware of that line of thinking though only on a superficial level. I can’t really answer for my wife, but from my perspective most of what she experienced seemed to be various dissociative effects of the original trauma, and as I helped her hold and heal the trauma, then we could begin the hard work of reconnecting the various, dissociated parts of her greater self…and then those issues largely resolved themselves.
    I think both of us have grown as people having walked thru the hell that we did, but I wouldn’t call it a higher consciousness, just maybe a greater awareness of what really makes us all tick as human beings…but maybe that is one and the same with what you are suggesting…idk…

  • Hi Joshua,
    though it doesn’t really come out in this little introduction explicitly, in the booklet I make it clear that I don’t accept the terms ‘mad’, ‘psychosis’, ‘delusional’ or ‘paranoia’ when talking about my wife’s experiences or my attitude toward them and that is why they all appear in quotation marks…unlike voices and extreme states which do not appear in quotation marks in the booklet and yet I still take issue with how our culture views them.

    My wife is just my wife, and when I engaged her in all her experiences, things made sense from her perspective and so we found a way thru them TOGETHER.

  • Hi Niall,
    why do we lock them up? Good question. I have a guess even though I never allowed that to happen to my wife.

    We let them be locked up to spare ourselves the scary and discomforting witnessing of extreme states. The first 5 years of the healing journey with my wife, we were inundated by her extreme states and each new one was, honestly, rather scary for me to witness. When she hit the ground in a comatose episode: freak me out. When her eyes rolled into the back of her head and she looked like she was experiencing a mild seizure: Breathe, Sam! When she hid under the table at home or under clothes racks out in public in terror and panic…wth? When she tried to jump out of our car going 70mph on the highway, repeatedly, or wanted store-bought fairy-wings so she could jump and fly off a building top…ahhh!!!!…when she was hitting furniture and falling down our stairs so often she was black and blue for more than a year that I was afraid of being accused of spousal abuse…and all the voices she started to hear which our culture assures us make people dangerous and unpredictable….you know…it’s exhausting…it’s overwhelming…it’s scary…it didn’t make sense at first…and I honestly didn’t know how to protect her from herself…I honestly thought I was going to lose her to one of these episodes!

    And so we capitulate to the logical fallacy of ‘appeal to authority’, the experts who claim to have the magic cures with their pills, ECT, and all their indecipherable words and diagnoses and theories of mental ‘illness’ instead of using our love, compassion and brains for the ones we love…It really would have been so much easier (for me) to have drug my wife or passed her off to the ‘experts’ instead of our son and I caring for her 24/7 for 5 years until I walked her thru all the extreme states and figured out how to help her heal from them to the point they are a distant memory at this point.

    So I wonder if we do the unthinkable to those who are struggling to save ourselves the stress of having to walk with them thru it all…and I’m not suggesting this to shame any who have done so or elevate myself. I know the family member’s and spouses’ pain. I know their fear. I honestly don’t know why I didn’t do that to my wife other than some part of me just couldn’t do that to the woman I love. I remember the day I told myself I had to grow up and be the adult in our relationship right now because she needed me to do so and couldn’t do it herself at that moment.
    idk…just a thought…

  • Hmmm…well. this article didn’t go the direction i thought it might. i understand this is the author’s experience and so she’s an expert on her experience. And I think she voiced a lot of truth in it…but some of the things she only mentioned in passing, i think were of vital importance to the subject…as well as some of the comments below.

    I think Steve’s comment hits the nail on the head; you don’t stop self harming by focusing on the self harming. So much of what i see described here on Mad in America as the focus of psychiatry today is just symptomatic. Who cares if we stop the self harming if we don’t deal with the root issues?

    My wife didn’t cut, but she viciously bit herself…and i sat with her and held her while she did it. I tried to minimize it, but more importantly i held her and talked with her and acknowledged her pain…and as she healed and other parts of her joined us and were able to process the long dissociated trauma, then she gained access to things she had lost in the past…and eventually, she wasn’t overwhelmed by those feelings from the trauma anymore…and once the root issues were dealt with…then the symptomatic issues disappeared.

    I’m truly sorry that anyone in the author’s position would ever self harm for attention. I know it didn’t start out that way for her…but it seemed to move that direction as she never got the care and affirmation she needed…and to me, the saddest part of her entire story is that she saw the psychiatrists, psychologists and psychiatric nurses as her ‘carers’ instead of her family…How I wish we family were taught and empowered to stand in the gap for our loved ones when they are struggling…that’s how it ought to be. We are the only ones there, 24/7 when they are in pain and overwhelmed by it…even our children can help the healing…our son has had a huge role in my wife/his mother’s healing…i don’t push it…but let him choose what he wants to do…and he does things for her, I could never replicate…

  • The General Theory of Love book sounds like it might be a pretty good book…it also seems to understand a principle that I think is missing in so many of our philosophies of healing trauma: that so much healthy, human functioning on all levels in any of us depends upon the active involvement of the primary attachment figure. We simply can’t heal on our own no matter what our hyper-individualistic culture says. That principle has been borne out in our own healing journey as well.

  • Richard,
    thank you for bringing up the issue of ‘logical fallacies.’ That knowledge is missing in most of our educations and has contributed to the decline of our ability to intelligently debate consequential topics.

    I sometimes wonder if a study of philosophical materialism might also shed some light on the obsession of the biomedical model of mental health’s attempt to reduce all mental suffering to ‘brain chemistry’ and such. But again, basic philosophy is something our educational system has eschewed, and so most people, even ‘educated’ ones, don’t even understand all the ‘a priori’ assumptions that are made and injected into so many of the debates of today, sigh.

  • Hi Chuck,
    well apparently I missed your original essay, but I’ll take a stab at this one.

    For the last 15 years my wife and I have been walking the healing journey together from her early childhood abuse and extreme dissociation. I do understand your concern. I NEVER treat my wife as if she is disabled or dysfunctional and yet, the simple fact is, right now, she is clearly disabled and dysfunctional, literally. There are MANY basic things she is unable to do right now. Dissociation slices and dices the brain’s ability to access many personality traits and mental functions until those dissociative walls are torn down and the pathways are re-established. It’s not a matter of she could if she just tried hard enough. It’s a matter of those neural pathways have atrophied after 4 decades of disuse and it has taken us 14 years of constant, daily work to begin to reinvigorate them. And though she has come a long way, it’s mind numbingly complex and exhaustively tiring and takes both of us to help her undo the problem.

    But that doesn’t mean i treat her as if she is PERMANENTLY disabled or dysfunctional. I look at the goal, her complete healing, as I walk with her and help her heal and re-establish the mental pathways to access the things she lost to the trauma and dissociation. I never belittle her, but I do accept her limitations for now and i help her heal and grow stronger toward our mutual goal.

    It’s a complex problem and one our culture and the mental health system gets terribly wrong. I sympathize with your desire NOT to label anyone as disabled or dysfunctional because I have NEVER treated my wife that way…and yet, right now, she would definitely struggle, to put it mildly, if she was on her own and had to hold down any kind of a job.

  • 14 years ago my wife’s childhood trauma and dissociation exploded into our 20-year marriage. She is the only woman to whom I have said, ‘I love you” and the only woman with whom I’ve been, and we both say we ‘grew up together’ because we got married when I was barely 21 and she was 22. How do you abandon that?

    So I fought for ‘us’ and a win/win solution despite all the adversity her trauma and dissociation brought us. Fortunately, she asked me NOT to read the popular literature out there when we started our healing journey, and so I really didn’t even know what ‘psychosis’ was until much later in our healing journey when I had already found meaning in most things she was experiencing, and so I never saw her as ‘psychotic’ or ‘delusional.’

    But one thing I might add from our experience is trauma and dissociation adds the ‘Rip Van Winkle effect’ as I call it to the mix, if you are familiar with that story. All the trauma-fueled dissociation my wife experienced as a child 40-50 years ago, kind of put those parts of her brain/personality ‘asleep’ and as we woke them during the healing process there was a lot of ‘disorientation’ as well as ‘overlapping’ of past experiences with present realities…and it was very disorienting to her (flashbacks, panic attacks, extreme anxiety, etc, etc, etc). We used a lot of attachment concepts, and so I provided her a ‘safe haven’ and ‘affect regulation’ as I helped her sort all those confusing and conflicting things out. I didn’t demand that she work from the present, but instead, I entered into her confusion and provided her a steady, safe person as we came to a healthier place…together.

  • As a husband and supporter and healing companion of my wife, this breaks my heart: what could have been if her family had responded to her pleas for help, compassion, mercy and understanding. Every time my wife talks about trying sleep medicine or some of the other stuff her friends are on I gently fight that inclination telling her how lucky she is to be so ignorant of all the horrors that stuff can cause.
    R.I.P., Kathleen. I’m sorry you and so many others haven’t gotten the family you need and deserve.

  • I love much of what Bessel has to say even though I’m still not sure ‘The Body Keeps the Score” after 15 years of walking with my wife thru her trauma and dissociation. I wonder if he, like most therapists, simply can’t go deeply enough like a primary attachment figure can. Our son and I, alone, have complete access to everyone in her system, but not even he is privy to the deepest stuff…which is fine as he has a completely different place in her healing journey as the adult child than I do as the spouse/primary attachment figure.

  • “C-PTSD is often described as life-altering, but it really goes much, much deeper than that. The absence of these essential ingredients in ones early life in the words of many of my own clients; creates “a void”. Life is certainly altered. But, unlike with those who suffer symptoms of PTSD, whereby there is a noticeable ‘healthy’ before — where the adult was mentally and emotionally well, capable and content in communications and relationships prior to the traumatic event — with C-PTSD there is rarely a ‘healthy’ before. As international activist, Jesse Jackson, wisely observed: “ You can‘t teach what you don’t know”.”

    I think this is a tremendously astute quote. I’ve often wondered at the marked difference between how my older sister treated her healing and recovery from being raped in her 20’s. She knew what ‘healthy’ was and she fought to get back there. And yet my wife repeatedly told me when we first started this healing journey 15 years ago, ‘I don’t even know what healthy looks like.” And beyond that, I just don’t see the ‘fight’ in her to get healthy that I saw in my sister. It’s frustrating, and yet, I have to accept it for what it is as I try to walk with her and help gently move her toward ‘healthy.’

    And it’s not surprising she never got that as a child because both her parents are fairly, emotionally/relationally dysfunctional. Last year after my father-in-law almost died twice, he talked with his daughter, my wife, about some of those topics that never get discussed in most families, even healthy ones, and he admitted to my wife that his wife, her mother, probably had mpd (multiple personalities disorder) which is the old name for what my wife has. He was apologetic for how his wife had treated her, their daughter, and confessed he never knew how to change things. But that was no revelation to my wife and I since we recognized all the signs in her mother once we started our own journey. And her own father has so many signs of trauma as well. It’s surprising my wife did as well as she did with our son because of all that she lacked in her own upbringing from her parents.

    Sadly, besides apparently adhering to the common view of mental health struggles, the article ends on a rather low point in my opinion as it calls for the preeminence of the ‘skilled therapist’ to do what no therapist could possible do, sigh. In my opinion, it would be inappropriate, as well as impossible, for any therapist to do many of the things only the primary attachment figure can do. It’s been a 24/7 x 15 year ‘job’ for me as I walk in all aspects of our relationship with my wife helping her heal the trauma and dissociation…and we still aren’t done. It’s labyrinthine in complexity and overwhelming in scope. If not for my love for her AND my vows, there are many days I would walk away as I feel as broken by this at this point as she conveys to me that she does. But we are in it together; healing, learning, attaching, and hopefully, someday, we’ll make it out on the other side to find the happy, healthy relationship we both so desperately want.


  • My best friends are a trans couple. My wife and I were the only ones who supported my gay cousin’s marriage. And yet, the religious fervor with which this topic is approached by the Left and Right makes any attempt at meaningful discussion on this topic moot.

    This ‘study’ is riddled with assumptions and biases. And the entire ‘science’ of this subject is based more in a priori assumptions on the subject rather than actual testing of how any of us develop as human beings. I’m all for supporting the LGBTQ+ community as human beings. I do so without qualification. But on a website like this, where ‘science’ is supposedly the basis for discussions, this entire topic is fraught from both ends with assumptions and passions that make nuance and real science impossible.

    I helped my wife rebuild her personality, block by block, part by part. Some were asexual. Some were gender ambivalent. I never imposed my beliefs upon any, but by loving and affirming each part and helping each to assimilate/integrate into a healthy whole, she has come to her own place without any shame and without all the distress and angst I see surrounding this issue from both sides.

    It really is too bad that both sides from my perspective are exacerbating the problem, and neither is willing to listen and examine their own ignorance and assumptions. As a result, this problem is only getting worse for those whom it most affects: the LGTBQ+ members and their loved ones.

  • I found this interview disturbing on a number of points.
    1) That the one interviewee expressed no concern at all that her patient was abused with ECT to knock him out of his catatonic state. My wife has experienced many of those, and after the first time, when I had to figure out what was going on internally, it never took me more than 30 seconds or so to bring her thru them…certainly nothing barbaric like ECT.
    2) That the goal of changing the name is so that people will become more docile to accept their diagnosis and ‘treatment’. Sigh

    I’m think Someone Else had some astute observations about various forms of ‘psychosis’. My wife and I never had to deal with any forms Someone Else described except that which is caused by trauma and dissociation, and I simply never saw it as ‘psychosis.’ It was more a ‘time-overlap’ issue (past overlapping with present) because of the dissociation and as we brought back ‘online’ parts of her mind which had been sequestered/dissociated because of the trauma, well those parts were still oriented in the past at the time they got sequestered/dissociated…So to me, it’s by no means ‘psychosis’. When properly understood, it’s just like being Rip Van Winkle and waking up to find everything has changed, and so my part as her healing partner is to walk with her and be her ‘safe haven’ as she slowly acclimates from the past to her new, present-day circumstances and helping those parts to connect with the rest of her so that she’s not at war with herself.

  • Thanks, Bob. Sorry I didn’t make it all the way thru, but you are meticulous, fair and accurate as always. I appreciate that you never try to ‘juice’ the facts to prove your point…of course, these facts don’t need any ‘juicing’ to prove how corrupt Big Pharma/Psychiatry are.

    As for calls how to beat this thing: until there are more acceptable alternatives that anyone and everyone can avail themselves of, people in distress will continue to avail themselves of whatever is there, even if it ends up destructive in the end. I’m glad MiA continues to push Soteria House and Open Dialogue. And I’m excited for the Soteria House and Peer Respite summit running the entire month of October…but the reach still won’t be enough to be available to everyone for a long time to come.

    I hope some day there are more things offered and taught, like what my wife and I have done, to empower families and significant others to walk with their loved ones thru emotional distress. But they will need supported to help them in those efforts, so that literally anyone who chooses can circumvent the corruption and destruction that MiA has so ably revealed.

  • Hello, Lisa…
    I grew up on the far right, conservative spectrum of things: politically and religiously. But 14 years ago, when my wife’s childhood trauma and extreme dissociation crashed into our 20-year marriage…I was forced to re-evaluate everything…and that also caused a shift in my perspective toward the center. I had to learn to appreciate things from both sides…but then our culture wars here in the States have escalated during the same time in which I was learning to see positives in both perspectives…

    Now, when my wife’s trauma and dissociation crashed into our relationship, we were told it was d.i.d.(traditional perspective), but as we were finishing up our son’s senior year of homeschooling him…(and he’s now finishing his doctorate from an elite school in the Boston area), and because we were both from the Right, and in this country/culture that means you don’t expect the government to do everything for you if you can do it yourself…and so I guess we just started ‘home-healing’ her trauma and dissociation. Yes, it was overwhelming. Yes it was a trial by fire in the worst way. But, I’d already lived with my wife for 20 years. I knew she wasn’t ‘crazy’ and I only briefly thought she might be ‘dangerous’ thanks to our cultural caricatures…but I quickly got over that as I’d slept in bed beside her for 20 years and she had yet to hurt me, lol…And there were lots of other factors that went into how I treated her…but in the end I just continued to see her like myself (as I had for our first 20 years together) other than I now understood she was more traumatized and dissociated than I was…in fact, as we walked OUR healing journey together…I learned a lot about myself…and I had to ‘grow up’ so I could be a better healing companion for her…and I had to do my own healing because my triggers were getting triggered by her issues and vise versa…and I learned a lot about mental health issues along the way, including my time on this website even though we are outsiders to the experience of most on this website, having never been touched by psychiatry and its drugs and the loss of agency and the dehumanization so many here were subjected to..

    (I’m almost there on this ‘meandering’ comment)…and so, all this to say…I understand that the Left in our country wants to dissect everyone into little groups for some reason while the Right tends to (very) imperfectly view us all the same…which is part of the reason for the BLM movement(which I mostly support) on the Left and the Right’s pushback that ‘All Lives Matter”…(I’m almost there)…

    But I guess I believe why my wife and I have made it as far as we have…even though d.i.d. is considered one of the worst things someone can have according to the DSM…is because I fundamentally saw her as no different than myself. I don’t “other” her in any way, even though her trauma and dissociation (or the 7 other ‘alters’ who have joined the relationship) cause both of us a lot of emotional heartache and struggles that we wouldn’t otherwise have…

    And so, I’d like to suggest, that until everyone in this entire movement stops ‘othering’ everyone including the rest of us on the ‘outside’ in any way and looks not for ‘allies’ as the Left likes to call people like me, but for those like myself who see you and me as absolutely, fundamentally the same, this movement for radical change concerning mental health/trauma and struggles is going to continue to falter. My wife and I aren’t ‘allies’: this fight is every bit as much mine as hers. This isn’t “her” healing journey. It’s ours!!! If I didn’t see it as ‘ours’ but hers, the pain and heartache we both suffer from her trauma and dissociation would have probably pushed me to look for an easier path and less difficult relationship as we face all kinds of things most marriages don’t and are still struggling today, together, for her full healing.

    Don’t know if this makes sense because I know I left a lot out and made logical leaps that I didn’t have space to better define….there’s just so much more I could say, but this is already a longer reply than most are willing to wade thru.

  • Hmmm…the interview isn’t available from the link unless you pay for a subscription…

    I have heard of this book for a long time having been connected to the d.i.d. world for the last 14 years. And I have a lot of respect for Bessel in general. And I admit that I have NOT read his book: I’ve only read repeated reviews of it. So I will admit I am ignorant of the intricacies of his argument, but after 14 years of helping my wife heal the trauma she experienced 50 years ago, and as we untangled the dissociation that kept so much of it hidden from her…I just haven’t found our experience to validate Bessel’s core premise that ‘the body keeps the score.’

    Yes, we have found the trauma to be more and more deeply hidden: the last 2 girls to join us outside were both mute at first, and I had to help each of them connect to the ability to vocalize themselves. The last girl to join us was very ‘primitive’ even more than the other one. I have often wondered if she controlled the ‘primal fear instinct’ in each of us…but she still was a conscious part of my wife.

    The thing I would suggest to readers to remember about the ‘experts’ is their knowledge is very wide but not correspondingly deep. I would love to have the wide knowledge the experts have: to study of the general trends, to be aware of the basics of an issue, but they simply can’t have a corresponding depth.

    For example, one of the past presidents of ISSTD stated on her website that she had over 40,000 hours helping people with d.i.d. When I read that statement over 5 years ago, I did a quick tabulation of the time I have spent helping my wife heal, helping her untangle all the dissociation, and I was already way over 40,000 hours at that point. Moreover, I know of no therapists who have complete access to their patients’ system like I do with my wife’s. My wife’s counselor only interacted with 4 or 5 of the girls on a regular basis, one time a week. I interact with all 8 girls on a daily basis. In fact, at this point, I interact with all of my wife, all 8 girls, more than my wife’s host does, the one most people would suggest is ‘my wife.’ I keep her and the other 6 girls informed of what goes on when girl #8 is out with me, as we all desperately try to get the last one connected to the larger group of 7 so they no longer ‘lose’ most of their days to her.

    So, my experience is a mile deep, but only one person wide. Whereas Bessel’s experience is probably just the opposite: he has experience a mile wide but not very deep. He, nor the other ‘experts’ simply can’t understand what I or other SO’s/spouses do as we walk with our hurting loved ones in the depths of their pain and dissociation, 24/7 in all aspects of life, not just the safe confines of the therapist’s office.

    I’ve ‘argued’ for 14 years all over the internet to bring those in my position into the discussion on a wider basis, but thus far I have found few willing to listen. I do understand many SO’s and spouses are part of the problem rather than part of the solution, but I know many of us aren’t.

  • Hey Someone Else,
    here are the links to 2 mental health organizations in Ashland, Ohio. I’m pretty sure both are in line with the basic principles that MiA promotes. They might be able to assist you or at least direct you to others who could. The last link is to a group located in Toledo who are teaching Emotional CPR(Dan Fisher’s group) and trying to establish other similar things in Ohio. I’ve been in contact with various people connected to these groups, and you are welcome to tell them you know me(use my real name).

    I finally have an appointment with the director of Appleseed this coming Monday in the hopes of starting the support group I told you about to help survivors and their family/SO’s and anyone interested to walk together on the healing journey like my wife and I have using attachment principles to stay connected and facilitate healing of the deepest trauma and dissociation like my wife had/has. If that ever gets going, I’ll email you.

    Also, please add my email to your list if you don’t mind. I don’t know if I can do anything practically to start a Soteria House, but perhaps I’m wrong.

    I may copy this and send it to your email, but I wanted to offer these links publicly in case other Ohioans might have interest in visiting their sites and seeing what is happening in our state.


  • “By communal mastery, the researchers refer to a community-oriented way of coping where people can manage life difficulties through attachments with family, friends, neighbors, and significant others.”

    That’s what we’ve found: attachment theory has given us the tools to go thru the worst of the worst, holding us together, and facilitating the healing process.

  • One of the happiest things I have noticed during the 14 years of our healing journey is my wife’s hyper-vigilance is finally waning. For most of our 33-year marriage, if we were in bed asleep together and I got up to go the restroom or go to work, if I made the tiniest of noises, she would gasp and startle awake…but she rarely does that anymore…and many times if I gently touch her to kiss her goodbye as I go to work, she doesn’t gasp or startle either…it’s so gratifying because I know how much work and healing it’s taken to get her to that point…

  • Sam,
    my wife and I do lots of fun things that engage all the various parts of her mind. I’ve also built her a craftroom and supplied it with everything she wanted, again to engage all of her. We tandem bike together, tandem kayak together, and I’ve always been willing to watch(tv or movies) or do things repeatedly to engage various parts of her to the fullest extent possible during the reconnection process.

  • Steve,
    thanks for replying. I was pretty sure I understood your perspective, and you have confirmed that I do, and like I said, I largely agree with your perspective.

    I guess I was kind of more interested in your description and understanding of neural atrophy. I’m just a layman, but it seems like that is a physiological/neural issue that complicates healing trauma, but perhaps my understanding of that term is way off. And as my wife and I have worked on restoring those pathways from long-dissociated areas of her mind/brain, the restoration has always been accompanied by debilitating headaches especially when we are changing her inner working model from a trauma paradigm to a securely-attached one, but I do understand correlation doesn’t equal causation, and so maybe they are unrelated.
    I was just interested on your take or experience on any of this.

  • I’ve read thru everyone’s comments and have appreciated them. It’s too bad David isn’t part of the discussion. I have some comments and questions, if everyone hasn’t already lost interest.

    Steve, you seem to state repeatedly, in various discussions on this website, about the lack of a biological component in mental health issues. I guess I’m curious how you would described the neural atrophy that comes after decades of dissociation and lack of access to various parts of one’s mind/brain.

    I understand your point is to hammer against the ‘mental illness’ myth, but isn’t neural atrophy a real, physiological outcome in the physical brain from dissociation that comes as the result of any trauma when the trauma isn’t addressed? For my wife and I, that neural atrophy and reinvigorating those pathways between the various parts of her mind/brain, has been some of the most difficult parts of the healing journey. I accept and affirm this is different than the ‘mental illness myth’ and believing one has an unfixable chemical imbalance, but I believe it is a physical aspect of trauma/dissociation that complicates the healing.

    As for edmr…as in the other recent thread, my wife and I have always seen this as quackery, snake oil, magic elixir and such…and yet, I do want to state that whether one calls it the ‘placebo effect’ or ‘the power of faith’ from religious traditions, if it weren’t for my wife’s faith, we would have been hard pressed to effect some of the most major changes in her inner working model (attachment theory) that have foundationally changed her trauma perspective to one in which she has become securely attached to me as her primary attachment figure.

    I understand her faith is a type of crutch, but crutches have useful purposes when a person is deeply traumatized. They allow a person to do something they either can’t do or don’t believe they can do on their own. And who am I to say, when we pray and ask Jesus to change her inner world, that He really isn’t doing it? In the end, she believes it, the needed changes occur to help her connect to other parts of her mind/brain, and without those prayers, I’m not sure I could EVER convince her that she could do it on her own…

    I sent her a link of this article because right now the biggest issue we are having is the fear of reconnecting more deeply to the other parts of her mind, and even if it’s only a placebo/crutch, even with all my focus on attachment (which I would add is simply ‘faith’ in the attachment figure, that the person will be there for you when you need it…), I have struggled to move her past those fears…


  • Kerry, thank you for responding. I have appreciated reading your views on EMDR.

    I understand this article is about that, and not dissociation, and so I won’t belabor the point unless you choose to further engage with me…but unlike most people, my wife and I chose to embrace and live ‘in the dissociation’ for the last 14 years. And thus, we learned how it works and how to tear it down: it’s not something to be avoided at all costs like most people act. In fact, the deepest healing she found was as we embraced it and brought those areas back ‘online’ which takes time and hard work. And so I’d like to suggest that it’s not what you and most people think it is, at least not 40 and 50 years later after the initial trauma, and it is definitely the harder of the two (trauma/dissociation) to undo after all those decades that the neural pathways become accustomed to doing workarounds to large areas of the person’s traits and abilities.

  • Hello Kerry,
    my wife is part of the early childhood trauma/extreme dissociation community, so I’ve heard about EMDR for a long time, and I’ll be honest, I’ve always been skeptical as it sounded like ‘snake oil’ and ‘magic elixir’ stuff, but I’ll grant you that I don’t always know why things I do to help my wife heal work, though attachment theory does form the foundation of much that we do.

    I am curious how you deal with dissociation. Any unprocessed trauma that isn’t dealt with, eventually becomes ‘sequestered’ or dissociated. For us, the trauma is the relatively easy part to heal using attachment concepts of ‘safe haven’, ‘proximity maintenance’ and ‘affect regulation’. It’s tearing down the dissociative walls and retraining her brain to access all those areas that had been largely unavailable for decades that has been the much bigger issue, and we’ve only found doing repetitive tasks, based on the concepts of neural plasticity, to undo that.
    However, beyond the neural plasticity issue, is the fact that the dissociative walls hide so much of the trauma, and at least in our case, the deeper the trauma, the more I’ve been the ONLY person she let into those dark places as her ‘primary attachment figure’ and so I wonder how much access you realistically have. My wife’s counselor didn’t have half the access I do, plus I’m with her every day, 24/7.
    I’m just throwing things out. I would love for EMDR to work. It’ seems so wonderful and easy…nothing like the hell we’ve gone thru the last 14 years as I’m still helping her tear down the dissociation and every time I think we have the trauma gone, another bit ‘pops’ up because we tore down more dissociation or for other reasons that are too numerous to delineate here.
    I do wish you the best.

  • I’ve struggled with this article all week. I’ve watched all the positive comments about it show up. And I keep reading it, trying to see if I’m misunderstanding something, and I freely admit that may be the case. And I truly am deeply sorry for all those on this website who have had their normal, reasonable feelings used against them to take away their humanity and strip them of their agency and dignity.

    But this document seems to be guilty of some binary thinking, if I’m reading it right. I unequivocally stand against the biochemical model of mental health, and ‘mental illness’ and ‘chemical imbalances’. I stand against the weaponizing of people’s distress to use against them. I stand against any form of dehumanizing others just because they are struggling…but have none of these cosigners ever dealt with someone who experienced extreme trauma in early childhood? Any unaddressed trauma eventually causes systemic dissociation. ISSTD (international society for the study of trauma and dissociation) with whom I generally disagree because they adhere to the typical model despite dealing with trauma victims, still gets it right when they talk about ‘structural dissociation’ and how a little child’s mind who is subjected to extreme trauma will desperately attempt to sequester(dissociate) the trauma in order to find a way to keep living. But after a time, that coping mechanism becomes ‘structural’ and it causes a host of dysfunctions and dysregulations that are real, not imaginary.

    I love my wife. Just yesterday, I told her for the 1000th or more time, “I don’t blame you. NO ONE would ever choose this” but it’s kind of insulting to people in our situation to minimize the extreme damage she’s suffered and which has infiltrated so many parts of our relationship. I’ve spent 14 years helping retrain my wife’s brain so she could access all those areas that she literally had NO access to previously. I work a full time job, often 55 hours a week, and yet I come home and do all the house work, inside and out, and then I spend all my free time, building a relationship with my wife, using our tandem bike, using our tandem kayak, doing everything we possibly can do TOGETHER so that the strength of our relationship enables her to face the past pain and fears and tear down those ‘structurally dissociative walls’. It’s hard on both of us and so exhausting even today, 14 years later, and it still brings me to tears many nights when I wonder if we will ever get thru this.

    I don’t know. I hope I’m reading this wrong, but the choice isn’t binary. It’s not the biochemical model of mental health or simply empathizing with a person’s past. When the trauma is early enough, and the dissociation becomes structural, it takes real, daily, concerted effort to undo all the effects as you retrain the person’s brain/mind, and I truly am happy if none of you have ever had to deal with what is still an overwhelming task to me and my wife.

  • I’m honestly not sure how these ‘contracts’ work when the examples given seem to focus on the symptom instead of the root issue. Do people self harm in a vacuum, for the fun of it? Then focusing on that issue instead of what is motivating the self-harming seems unhelpful. Moreover, if there is any unaddressed trauma in the past then there will be some form of dissociation, and so these contracts may not be made with the part of the person who is ‘responsible’ for the self harming or the addiction issues. I do think the community part of it could be helpful in an attachment capacity: drawing on one’s connections with others for strength.

    I like the end part of this interview, finding the middle ground, finding nuance, living with apparent contradictions (because of our ignorance). The binary, polarizing, black and white thinking of the States is simply making things worse as I have seen so many instances of it spilling over into how we help and see people who are in distress.

  • Hello Rebecca,
    my wife and I have spent the last 14 years implementing attachment concepts in our marriage to help heal the many attachment wounds she suffered as a little child. Those concepts have been the roadmap for our healing journey and can do things for someone experiencing extreme distress that I wish would get more talk: I’m glad you’ve shared just the tip of what they can provide to any of us.
    Thank you for sharing your story. I wish you the best.

  • Hello Daiphanous Weeping,
    I’ve been following some of your comments here and on other threads. I’m sorry you aren’t feeling validated very well. I wrote a response last night and then deleted it. I try to watch myself since I’m just a husband and neither a ‘survivor’ nor an ‘expert’, but you say a lot of things I can relate to the journey my wife and I have been on the last 14 years. And if I remember correctly, the only difference between your schizophrenia and my wife’s d.i.d. is some ‘expert’ decided if the voices the person hears seem to be external, then voila, ‘you have schizophrenia’ whereas if the voices seem internal, then, poof, ‘you must have d.i.d.’

    For us, my wife’s diagnosis of d.i.d 14 years ago was a godsend. For 20 years before that we struggled in our marriage. WTH was wrong? We didn’t know. We loved each other, but so many things were a struggle for us, no matter how hard we tried. We finally started seeing an alternative counselor who suggested she might have d.i.d….and we finally had a name to our unknown assailant.

    Now we were fortunate. She didn’t get caught up in the mental health system. Our son and I helped and kept her safe the first 5 years when all the pent up trauma and emotions let loose in a hurricane of extreme states. We slowly found our way, together as a couple and family, as we utilized attachment concepts amongst other things to effect real healing that the drugs only mask.

    I’m sorry you feel crazy. My wife felt the same at first. I can’t imagine dealing with all the stuff especially if you don’t have someone in your life to help stabilize and normalize things. When a ship is in a hurricane, stuff gets thrown and tossed and you feel like your life is going to end at any moment, at least that was how it was for her. But I went through those hurricanes by her side as a ‘safe haven’ literally carrying her and wrapping her in my arms at times when it was worst, and little by little the hurricanes diminished as my presence and assurances somehow gave her mind the extra help it needed to process those things from the past and assimilate them which stopped the storms permanently.

    I can’t speak for you, but the trauma and subsequent dissociation seemed to be the biggest issues for my wife…and the dissociation seems to have caused most of the extreme states and other stuff she struggled with as the mind desperately wanted to get back in a sort of ‘stasis’ because it wanted access to everywhere. We are still working on dissociation issues, but the extreme-state stuff is mostly in the past.

    I do wish you well. I think I understand a lot that you are saying and I agree with much of it, and so I just wanted to speak up and say I hear you.

  • I think part of the problem is people confuse symptoms with root causes. I always focused on the trauma and subsequent dissociation that the trauma caused. IMO, these are the root causes of everything else. So much of the dsm is just symptomatic issues which spring from the original trauma and the mind’s subsequent coping mechanism of dissociation that then become systemic when the trauma isn’t dealt with.

    However, there is one other issue I see when helping a survivor of early childhood trauma. S/he may have no baseline for ‘recovery.’ During a healthy childhood, the parents serve as role models for the child. But in a traumatic childhood that is often missing. When my wife and I first started our journey, over and over and over she told me, “I don’t know what ‘healthy’ looks like.” I took that as a cue for me to grow up and become a role model that my wife was lacking originally. I don’t dictate the outcome, but I try to model healthy behavior as we walk the journey together.

  • Miranda,
    I hope Mad in America will really explore the healing power of life-long attachment relationships especially when childhood abuse occurs and the person’s attachment system is deeply traumatized. When understood correctly and lived appropriately, these attachment concepts, as laid out by Bowlby, literally can heal the worst of trauma and dissociation and all the extreme states that come with those. The science is there, but unfortunately, too many of the experts try to do what only family can do as the primary attachment figures in the person’s life.

    I’m glad to see Mad in America embracing the larger family system because one never knows which family member will/can step up, and with some training and understanding, fulfill the healing role the person needs. Ideally it would be the parent or spouse, but I’ve got a newphew struggling with attachment issues because he was adopted and from what I’ve been told his older sister is the best at looking past her brother’s issues and loving him despite and through them.

    If there is ever anything I could do to assist this section, I’d be happy to do so. I had to learn it all on my own: that’s something I don’t wish on anyone else.

  • Fourteen years ago the trauma and subsequent dissociation my wife had experienced during childhood crashed into our 20-year old marriage. We were in our son’s senior year of home schooling him, and I guess it didn’t really occur to me to do anything different with her needs. We did find an alternative counselor, but as anyone suffering extreme mental distress knows, it’s a 24/7 thing, not a once-a-week-at-the-counselor’s-office thing.

    But her counselor offered us a lifeline for the first 5 years while I dealt with my own issues and we developed a rhythm between us. Eventually the attachment strategies we had always leaned toward with our son and each other became the foundation of our relationship interactions on the healing journey we found ourselves upon. I always refer to this as OUR healing journey because I had to decide to own all the fallout from her trauma and dissociation lest I ‘other’ her and it become a wedge between us. Moreover, it’s OUR healing journey because I had a lot of healing and changing that I had to do before I was someone she could depend upon at all times. I studied up on attachment theory and then became much more purposeful in implementing it in our relationship, and that is when I really became a healing companion that could facilitate her healing in profound ways.

    Before You Call for Help is a tiny synopsis of the highlights of our last 14 years from my perspective and how I learned to be the healing companion she could trust with her deepest fears and pain. It was only when I began to frequent Mad in America 5 years ago that I realized how I had inadvertently spared her and us so much additional trauma at the hands of the mental health system here in the States. At 30 pages it could only scratch the surface, and I’d be happy to discuss anything further if anyone finds something of value in it for their situation.

  • Daiphanous Weeping,
    though attachment is most easily done during childhood through healthy interaction with a loving, providing parent, the science supports what my wife and I have experienced the last 14 years: that adult couples can provide the same for each other. But the challenge for us is undoing 5 decades of trauma and dissociation that became systemic in her thought patterns. If only I had understood what was going on inside her when we were first married at 21, it would have been so much easier than when we finally started at 40 and now into our mid 50’s, sigh…

  • Hello E. Baden,
    I see you are from the Midwest. There’s a little group of us in Ohio trying to change things here. I’m just a husband but I’ve walked with my wife thru all her trauma and extreme dissociation and extreme states. For most of the last 14 years I have mostly done it alone and have been blacklisted across the internet by those who don’t want to hear of a better, non-medical/medicated, relational (attachment concepts) way to heal. But just a few months ago I met some others who actually embraced me for the first time…and I’m still struggling to believe I may have finally found a home. I just turned 54 and haven’t given up my hope and dream to share the better way my wife and I found, and happily, Mad in America just posted a little quick-reference guide in their family section that I wrote.

    All that to say, don’t give up the fight. I know it’s hard. I hurt so deeply most days, especially the days when I was screamed at (online), called a pedophile, wife abuser and all kinds of other things. But we need people like you. I wish I had the wisdom you do when I was 25. If you’d ever like to talk, shoot me an email at my blog address (samruck2 @ gmail dot com). Finding other like minded people makes all the difference in the world. I don’t know where you are in the Midwest, but perhaps, there are others in your neck of the woods, too.

  • Hello Curiousmedia,
    I don’t really want to debate economics. I understand there is a ton of inequality in our system, and so many are being left behind, but I don’t think it’s truly a function of capitalism, but of the avarice in our leaders and the 1% hearts. At the same time, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, and unchecked socialism has a history of failures from last century.

    Anyway, I believe Megan’s main point was ‘we don’t have everything we need’ within ourselves, and attachment theory would affirm that. It’s the foundation of everything my wife and I did on our healing journey from her childhood abuse. Attachment theory teaches us as the song says, “We all need somebody to lean on” and that’s not just when we are in crisis, but throughout our lives.
    By the way. I’ve been here over 5 years, but thanks for the welcome, but I’m an anomaly here, and so I don’t comment much anymore.

  • Hi Megan,
    I think your anger toward capitalism as the culprit of all the ills of this society is misplaced at least in regards to the main thesis of this article. I would suggest it is the West’s overemphasis, and especially the United States, on rugged individualism, independence, autonomy, the me-culture and such. I never really bought into all that stuff, and so when my wife and I naturally began following attachment theory from the start of our healing journey, it wasn’t a huge change for us. We just had to learn to become more purposeful as we implemented its main tenets into our relationship.

  • Bob,
    thank you as always for your thoughtful work and analysis of things.

    The very last question you answered in this interview had to do about family. I strongly believe the tipping point for this movement will come when we train and empower the significant others, family and friends to walk with their loved ones who are in distress whether from ‘psychosis’ or any of the many, other, varied extreme states that come from trauma and dissociation. I’m glad you recognized that it doesn’t take a ‘peer’ to be empathetic, and it is usually only family and SO’s who are around long enough to effect true healing for that 30% who weren’t helped in the studies you cited. For me and my wife, it’s year 13 or 14: it’s been so long at this point that I’m losing count, but we are still drug free and moving forward, even if it’s not at the pace we had hoped when we first started.

    I wish you the best as you continue to spearhead this movement to treat others as any of us would want to be treated instead of ‘othering’ them. For me it’s just part of the Golden Rule.

  • “Participants are encouraged to understand their voice-hearing experience on their own terms, and no one narrative is emphasized over any other. This means the biomedical explanation of voice-hearing is on equal footing with the alien-implanted technology explanation during these meetings. There is a strict rule that participants do not criticize each other’s narrative around voice-hearing.”

    Has Mad in America tilted so far to the Left that it can’t see a HUGE issue with this statement? Does validating other people’s experiences mean the total rejection of any kind of baseline for truth or facts at minimum?

    I like a lot of what HVG does, but this is NOT one of them, and that Mad in America would uncritically make this statement, a website dedicated to the refutation of the biomedical model of mental health, is a sad statement on the loss of…I don’t know exactly what, but I’m truly flabbergasted.

    I validated most of the things my wife told me about her voices, but when she told me they were ‘aliens’ I gently pushed back, and slowly over time, her views changed to something more in line with a perspective that would facilitate her healing. We still have divergent perspectives on her ‘voices’ so it’s not that I think there is only one ‘truth’ but this is a low point in the fight for a better way if one can’t gently help others find a perspective better in line with basic facts.

  • Lauren,
    I’m sorry this article didn’t get more views or comments. I was in a Zoom meeting last night and this course got mentioned and so I did a search on MiA and found your article today. I recently wrote a 30-page, quick-reference guide of my experiences learning to become a good healing companion for my wife. The others in the meeting represented those who have experienced trauma and the mental health system. But we agreed on our common humanity and the need to move past divisive terms and ways of seeing each other. This course you explain seems like a good, first step, and there’s so much more for those who are in a sustained relationship like I am.

    I sent this link to the rest of the members in our little collaboratory group.

  • When dealing with (false) accusations, these were a couple of things that helped me:
    1)“Apologizing does not always mean you’re wrong and the other person is right. It just means you value your relationship more than your ego.”
    2) Allowing myself to be the ‘scapegoat’ for my wife’s justified anger at her abuser. Sure it hurt, but I saw the end goal when the anger and rage were gone so that they no longer separated us.
    3) Asking for complete accusations so I could give FULL apologies, in detail…and never justifying myself in any way. Again, the goal is to diminish the anger and broken trust and validation. Later, there will be time for ‘my side of the story…’

    As for psychosis, sigh, I still don’t understand the obsession with this concept. I feel it is completely unhelpful and judgmental. I walked with my wife in her perception of reality, validating it, learning from it, and providing her a ‘safe harbor’ in the midst of the storms that were associated with all the ‘extreme’ states…and so we developed our own reality as we walked together and moved out of the constructs forged from her traumatic past.

  • Hello, Lauren,
    my wife and I are fellow homeschoolers, though our son is 30 now. I have a lot of happy memories of those days, but I know my wife shouldered most of the burden of the schooling: I supported both of them the best I could so that it was a family effort.

    I’m sorry for your experiences and the trauma they have caused. I couldn’t quite tell if you are still struggling with eating issues amongst other things or not. I’m glad it sounds like you’ve got a pretty good support network, too. I’m glad it sounds like you have a good therapist now, but never underestimate the power your husband has to support and carry you through the hard times. Once I learned how to help my wife, it made all the difference in her healing.
    Take care,

  • Trishna,
    wow. You have found the exact same thing my wife and I have at nearly every point. I’d love to swap stories with you, though you do seem to come at it from my wife’s perspective and not mine…I’m astounded how closely you mirror what’s taken place on our journey.

  • Even though I strongly disagree with the FMSF and its disinformation campaign, I think it was disingenuous and unhelpful for the author to completely ignore some of the catastrophes like the satanic ritual abuse and daycare scandals. How can we learn from the past, if we choose to ignore the missteps that caused those scandals?

    However, as someone who has helped my wife heal and integrate her dissociated trauma memories, I never found them to be part of some ‘super category’ of memories. They were fragments and snapshots associated with extreme emotions of fear and terror. I’m glad her abuser was long gone, a neighbor from the distant past of whom we had no name to associate with the vague description of him that she could recall, so we never even thought to attempt some kind of reckoning, legal or otherwise. For us, the point was never about the abuser, it was about her coming to terms with those memories and extreme emotions in light of her secure relationship with me today so she could integrate them into her personal narrative and finally be released from their ability to chain her to the past and how they affected her today.