Showing 100 of 482 comments.
this is a thoughtful and nuanced reply that I really appreciate.
thank you for the link. I will definitely check out this group as my wife and I have been living with her ‘voices’ for the last 11 years, engaging them respectfully, lovingly, helping them heal first and then integrate into a community with each other. There’s so much that SO’s and family and friends can do. My wife’s angriest voice that despised me is now deeply attached to me and engaged with me. The hurt and traumatized ones have healed and are now full of life.
People are afraid of legitimizing voices, but that’s exactly what we did and it made all the difference. Instead of the United States of Tara scenario, all the voices are fiercely loyal and thoughtful at this point to our family and relationship.
I have learned so much about the horrors of the mh industry from you and others here, and I try never to belittle that, but that’s also why it’s so hard for me to communicate here because my wife’s and my experience is like a polar opposite where I always honored her and her desires; she never had any contact with the mh industry or its drugs, and where I never, ever, ever treated her as ‘crazy’ or any other kind of belittling way.
At first she would quip that I was the crazy one for NOT seeing her like the rest of the culture, but I simply never did, and the more I understood her world, the more it truly made sense to me as I walked/walk with her in it as we find a way out of it together.
But it’s so, so , so much more than that…but I just seem at a loss to describe it and as the general tone seems hostile instead of inquisitive around the issue, I think this might be a good time for me to bow out from hijacking your blog.
Wishing you the best, Julie,
No Rachel, I don’t even know what you are talking about, sigh.
Like I said dissociation is a huge issue and how it affects mental health as well as a person’s ability to fight mental distress, and if I hadn’t had to help my wife literally put all the disparate pieces of her self back together again, I would have never understood it either. That’s probably why I lack the words to convey it because our experience has been in a completely different universe than most here and elsewhere, and everyone tries to interpret what I say thru their experience, and I just can’t seem to figure out how to overcome that barrier. 🙁
I’ll be honest: I never read the book. I read it’s premise and the intro and never got past that. So maybe you are correct, but neural atrophy is not what I understood him to be talking about. Maybe I am wrong: forgive me if I am.
But since there is no KNOWN link to brain problems how can psychiatrists fix it? How can random acts of brain damage help anyone?
I wish it were that simple. On the side of the biochemical model you’ve got people spewing ‘chemical imbalance’ foolishness, but in reaction to that provably wrong belief, many on the anti-psychiatry side want to say there are NO brain factors in mental health distress, and I disagree with that, as well. But since I’m ‘just a husband’ neither side will listen to me. The former think I’m a moron since I can’t put little letters after my name (though I do have an unrelated BA), and the latter think I’m ‘speaking for’ my wife and so they won’t listen either.
I’ve had the privilege and responsibility to help my wife literally rebuild her personality from the ground up these last 11 years. And I’ve seen what dissociation which causes neural atrophy can do and how it most certainly affects mental health and the ability to fight mental distress. I’ve tried to discuss it a little here in the comments sections, but it’s such a huge issue, and since no one ever ‘bites’ when I try to throw out nuggets I’ve learned, I typically drop it.
It’s too bad. It’s not the only issue in mental distress, but dissociation is a huge one, and neither side gets it. Even books that are touted here like The Body Keeps the Score, are incorrect, but because he’s never gone as deep as my wife and I have with dissociation or seen it as laid out as we have 24/7 for 11 years, he (van der Kolk) doesn’t understand it’s the dissociation and NOT the body that is the issue.
I have no intention of minimizing the harm done to the 1 in 6 or whatever the number (that’s just the number who are specifically taking psychiatric ‘meds’). But I take issue with those who want to see EVERYTHING thru a social/class warfare lens and blame the whole of mental distress on that.
sadly I see more and more comments that seem to take that view and want to turn all mental distress into a motivation for class warfare on this site. Some act as if all mental distress, illness, trauma, dysfunction, or whatever one wants to call it is completely fabricated by the mental health industry and society in general as a means of social control.
I don’t believe that the Big Brother of the mh industry, big pharma, and gov’t shills really has his hands on the majority of society, at least not yet. Only 1 in 6 Americans are even on psych drugs or connected to the mh industry. That means the overwhelming majority like my wife and I are ‘untainted’ and yet I see a TON of distress and dysfunction that reaches throughout ALL classes of Americans. Hell, the 1% are some of the most dysfunctional of us all: just read the news to see that money and power do NOT make one impervious to such things.
So it really is too bad for the simplistic assessments that often pass and go unchallenged on this website.
I’m with you, LittleTurtle and critical psychiatry. There have to be others, but it is too bad they don’t take the time to comment more often.
Is there any miracle of events, any set of circumstances that would now be presently unfathomable, that could leave us in a place of looking at each other across “the table” and even mustering up forgiveness, acceptance and a path forward? Any?
What would it take to at least begin a path in that direction? Or the the toast too burnt to even consider recovery?
Maybe it is that just a pipe dream, an event that only can live in imagination and nowhere else? Or maybe, just maybe….. ?
I can’t speak for the others on this website, but when my wife and I first down the path of healing, I had to deal with the anger that kept her and I separated. I realized that some of her anger toward me was completely justified, but also some of her anger was truly because of the abuse she had suffered as a child and I was simply a convenient object for her to vent upon.
It took me about 6 months of asking forgiveness for anything and everything she accused me of. I NEVER defended myself because I took the position that IF she felt this, then I would value our relationship over who was right, or trying to give my side of the story.
About 6 months later her anger was extinguished. A couple years later she even came back and apologized a little for her part in things…but until I had extinguished the anger, she simply couldn’t see past it.
I understand your commitment level is probably a lot lower here than mine was to my wife, but that’s what it took to bring her and I completely back in harmony with each other.
I’m sorry no one understood how to enter into your world and walk it with you. One of the first things I had to learn was to ‘get out of myself’ so I could enter my wife’s world. Too many people try to ‘drag’ people out of their worlds into ‘the real world.’ If you look at Jesus, that’s not what He did. He incarnated Himself into our world so He could understand us in ALL our weaknesses, and then He made a way out…thru Him. That’s kind of what I’ve done with my wife. I don’t demand she join ‘the real world’. Instead I walk with her, on her terms, in her reality, and slowly we are finding our way out TOGETHER.
“They couldn’t reach me anymore.”
Do you mean physically or mentally? It took me awhile to learn how to ‘reach’ my wife when she was going thru some of her more ‘extreme’ things like flash backs, panic attacks, etc. Attachment theory has the concept of a ‘safe haven’. Think of it like a boat in a hurricane that finds a sheltered harbor during the storm. That’s what I had to learn to become. I realized she could still hear me even if she couldn’t respond to me. And so I would literally wrap her up in my arms, gently and loosely, so it didn’t feel suffocating or constricting, and then I would speak gently and softly to her, pulling her out of her mental storms and confusion. Things like, “It’s ok, Honey. I’ve got you now. You aren’t alone anymore. You are my girl and I take care of my girl…” The warmth and safety of my enveloping presence and the calming of my voice would slowly stabilize her and blow out her mental/emotional hurricanes. And after a time, those hurricanes became less and less volatile…until at this point, they are mostly a distant memory.
The concept of “mental health”/”mental illness” is the primary lie/fraud.
I can’t speak for Ron, but at least for me, I don’t agree with this assertion.
I might word it slightly different because ‘mental illness’ has been corrupted by the biomedical model of mental health with which I 100% disagree, but I do think there is such a thing as mental health/mental dysfunction that is often trauma based. Moreover, I think there is a biological component because the brain/mind is biologically based, even if we don’t understand how.
The most obvious biological component of mental health/dysfunction that I am aware of, because of our personal experience, is trauma-based dissociation which ends up re-mapping the neural pathways of the brain. And undoing that dissociation has caused my wife massive, debilitating headaches. I don’t understand it, but for every step forward as we tear down the dissociation, the headaches are so excruciating she can barely function.
Moreover, we’ve spent the last decade retraining her mind to access those previously dissociated areas of her brain where the neural pathways had atrophied. And as she has gained access to those areas previously walled off to her, she has begun to display new personality traits and mental abilities she never had during the first 20 years of our marriage.
I don’t understand the biological component of my wife’s mental trauma or healing on a technical level, but I mostly definitely understand it and have had to develop strategies to overcome it and work with it on a practical level.
my wife used to experience a lot of dissociation. From the ‘official diagnosis’ one would expect her to experience a lot of psychosis as well. But as she and I have walked the healing path together, I’ve wondered if psychosis (that isn’t caused by drugs or medications) is just a result of the mind trying to bring those dissociated, trauma memories back to the front so they can be processed and entered into the person’s current narrative.
I never really thought of my wife as psychotic. In the beginning she felt it was scary and disorienting, but slowly, as I learned to stayed calm and acted as an anchor for her to the present, her fear subsided, and we were able to help her brain/mind integrate those old memories into a way that she could deal with in the present.
I can’t tell you what you are experiencing, but I don’t really believe psychosis is a helpful word or concept: it just has too much baggage because of how it gets portrayed in the media and by mental health ‘experts.’ This is what worked best for me/us: viewing this phenomenon as ‘overlapping realities’, one past and one present, and my ‘job’ as my wife’s healing companion was keeping her grounded and safely helping her sort things until at this point most of the dissociation is gone, and thus, so is the psychosis.
Wishing you well.
“If we have people promoting Therapy, Life Coaching, Recovery, or Salvation Seeking, then that means that survivors are being abused. It amounts to second rape.”
I don’t expect PacificDawn to listen, but for others, I want to state that, imo, this is so over the top, I wish it were addressed. I’m not even sure where I would begin to address all the generalizations, slander, black and white fallacies, and so forth. I’m guessing(?) this comes from her own traumatic experiences, and for those I am truly sorry, but it doesn’t help to throw around accusations at huge swaths of people who have found these things to truly help. Though I don’t consider myself an evangelical Christian anymore, the caricatures that routinely are hurled from the Left toward Evangelicals are simplistic and insulting. Sure there are abuses, just like there are in any and every large enough group that one looks at, but there are also a lot of people who sacrificially give of themselves to try to help others the best they can. My own life and how I try to help my wife is still governed by many of those principles that were hammered into me from my Christian upbringing, and I get tired of others flippantly making accusations and the majority on the Left approving whole heartedly. Honestly, this website ought to do better, imo.
And as for the wide swath of other accusations and caricatures she is lobbing at Life Coaches, therapy, recovery, and whatelse, I’m glad my wife decided she DID want to address the trauma and pain in her life. Her decision has taken both of us on a wonderful healing journey of discovery and growth and healing for both of us. It’s been hard as hell in many ways, and yet I’m so glad we made that decision 11 years ago. I’m glad I’m NOT the same man that I was when we first started, nor is she. Hopefully we are both much better versions of ourselves.
in some ways the brain is just like a muscle that atrophies with disuse but can be strengthened with use. Think if a person who has been bedridden for 4 decades suddenly finds a new medical procedure that allows the person to regain control of his/her limbs. Well 40 years of disuse can’t simply be undone overnight. It would take years of pointed exercise and physical therapy to regain full use of those limbs.
That’s kind of similar to what happens with people who have experienced extreme dissociation. Those areas of the brain/mind can’t just naturally reconnect and be fully utilized by the rest of the brain/mind. And when the ‘experts’ add their ‘medications’ it only makes things worse and zombifies the person at best and wreaks havoc at worst and actually hinders the person from accessing and strengthening those affected areas. And so we’ve found it just takes hard, repetitious work that engages all affected areas of the brain/mind as they are incorporated into the whole of the person.
We’ve found it can be done, and done with minimal secondary trauma when drugs aren’t introduced into the mix. But it’s just a slow, tedious, day-by-day process. No miracles cures, and definitely no magic pills!
could you fix my original statement? It’s really bothering me where I typed, “Many on this website think that anything less than being ‘anti-critical’ is being a sellout”. I meant to say “anything less than being “anti-psychiatry” is being a sellout…”
Bob, I meant no offense! I just don’t see you in the comments section much. That’s all I meant. I do understand you are involved behind the scenes.
I apologize for that poorly worded statement. I hesitated to even bring you up and say something incorrect, but since Bruce did, I did, and then I blew it anyways…Sorry
perhaps you should define your terms. Many on this website think that anything less than being ‘anti-psychiatry’ is being a sellout and being a ‘middle grounder’ and yet you hold up Bob Whittaker as someone who isn’t a sellout and yet on the rare times he visits this website, he has professed to be ‘critical psychiatry.’
As this culture continues to fracture and both sides become more and more extreme, I sit firmly in the middle. But to me that doesn’t mean I take a ‘middle point’ on all the issues. No, what that means is I give a fair and thorough hearing to each side and then I eclectically pick and choose where I believe each side has gotten issues correct. I firmly stand against the biomedical model of mental health, and yet, after 11 years of helping my wife heal from extreme dissociation, I understand how the dissociation structurally alters the brain…yet not permanently, and not because of genetics, but because neural plasticity teaches us that if we don’t use it, we lose it. And yet, that same principle gives us hope, as I purposefully help my wife bring back to health those atrophied neural pathways.
This isn’t the only place I part pathways with the anti-psychiatry crowd, and yet for you to call ‘the middle grounders’ “dangerous”, to me is a sad statement on our fracturing culture. I’m guessing you don’t consider Bob a middle grounder, but I know his critical psychiatry position grates on many commenters on this website. Maybe he’s not dangerous to you, but this kind of talk is NOT helpful. It just further divides us.
Eleven years ago I had no clue about any issues concerning mental health; now I’ve had to become an expert on dissociation to help my wife heal from things even ISSTD hasn’t figured out yet. I prefer not to have litmus tests because we are all on a journey, and yes this is life and death in some respects, and yet not everyone gets it as quickly as others. My own wife still believes all the biomedical mental health garbage, and I just tell her, “you are lucky that I don’t.”
Wishing you well,
respectfully, the diagnosis was critical. If you’ve never lived with someone who dissociates and yet is a master at hiding it(like many are), you may not understand how confusing it can be to both people. Neither of us understood what was happening. Once we got the diagnosis that was my ‘aha’ moment, and things began to make sense and I could then reorient my thinking to include something I had never before considered and then begin to grow in that understanding.
Yes, the relationship was key to staying at this and walking this TOGETHER, but one can’t fight and overcome something if one has no concept of what is going on like the first 20 years of our marriage.
at the most basic, neural plasticity, I believe, can be summed up as ‘the brain rewards what we use, and punishes what we don’t.” It’s really the same with the rest of our bodies. Muscles that we use a lot become stronger; muscles that we don’t atrophy.
The brain is essentially the same: when we exercise parts of the brain, those pathways are strengthened and fine tuned, for example creating the skill needed to play a piano thru years of practice. But when parts of the brain are ignored, or worse dissociated from trauma, then those pathways are neglected and atrophy.
And to un-do years of extreme dissociation, it’s no simple process to just ‘flip the switch’ and start accessing those areas of the brain again. It’s been a far, far, far more difficult process to help her gain access to those dissociated areas, than helping my wife deal with the actual issues surrounding the trauma.
As for other people’s experiences on this website, my statement was not intended to belittle anyone’s experiences or victim blame them for being caught up in the system. We were fortunate, but not because we were so smart and wise. It just was outside our natural bent to go for help, and it was only later that I realized how fortunate we were to have missed the horrors that so many describe on this website. But sometimes when I read comments, the reaction toward the abuses of the mh system are so focused on just that, that the original issues get lost in the context. I understand why that is so, but I wanted to clarify that our case may be considered a ‘control group’ in that we have not been tainted by the system at all and yet we are still struggling 11 years later to undo the real issues caused from her childhood despite her tremendous healing and progress.
for 20 years my wife and I struggled in our marriage. We loved each other but things just weren’t right, and when she finally agreed to get some counseling after I led the way by working on my own issues, it was suggested she might be experiencing some severe dissociation as a result of her early childhood trauma…and that was the key that finally unlocked our confusion and the impasse of 20 years.
Now we didn’t go the typical route to deal with said trauma and dissociation. She never had ANY contact with any professional ‘mental health experts.’ But we kind of fell into attachment principles and when I learned more about that, I became more intentional about some of the key concepts from that theory that helped address her attachment issues, dissociation issues and other things. But it did start with that ‘possible’ diagnosis.
As much as I firmly stand against the bio-chemical narrative of mental health, that doesn’t mean there aren’t real issues like dissociation, neural plasticity, trauma, ptsd symptoms, etc that have to be addressed. Neither my wife nor I ‘wear’ her diagnosis as a badge. Other than me, our son and her non-traditional counselor she refuses to tell anyone else and most would be surprised, to say the least, that she is dealing with anything. She tells me she’s one of the few in her group of friends and acquaintances who doesn’t take any kind of medicines for stress, anxiety, etc.
I know we are an anomaly; I’ve been told that repeatedly on this website. But this website is strongly tilted by those who have had HORRIBLE experiences within the mh system. And I’m not belittling that at all, but I do take issue when people try to blame ALL their mental health distress upon the system as if nothing really drove them into the lion’s den at first and all their problems came as a result of the mh system. People suffer from real mental health issues, and when I finally took those seriously in my wife, that’s when I became effective in helping her heal and move forward.
it doesn’t seem like you respond much to comments, but I’ll put it out here anyway. Much of this blog is spot on, and maybe you’ll clarify in a future blog, but it’s REALLY important that one understands the difference between trauma and dissociation. Though trauma causes dissociation, trauma and dissociation have very different effects upon one’s personality. Dissociation has been the much more difficult issue to undo in my wife’s life than the original trauma, though the two get intertwined at points.
If you had interest, I could discuss it further.
I am truly sorry you believe that, Rachel. There is nothing wrong with you, and though it might take a bit for a good man to get past the cultural tropes about people with SMI labels, it really didn’t take me long to figure out that I was still safe to sleep in the same bed at nights with my wife! 🙂
Maybe I should add Reagan’s axiomatic statement that so many on the Right adhere to:government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.
the superficial analysis you state about the Right isn’t anymore helpful than when the Right spews the same about the Left. I may have moved to the center, but my wife’s and my upbringing on the Right, its focus on individualism, independence and pulling oneself up by the bootstraps is what gave us the fortitude to homeschool our son through his graduation when our family all thought we were crazy. We produced a world-class scholar who is in his PhD residency at one of the elite schools in the Boston area.
And so when my wife began to show signs of distress from her childhood abuse, I may have felt overwhelmed at first, but I never felt out of my league to figure out how best to help my wife as we walked thru the healing process together. And as we both healed and grew and learned, I realized the elitist experts who openly sneered at me were full of crap for the most part.
I’ve learned a lot from the Left, especially since it isn’t my default position, but to suggest that all our ails regarding this subject are from the ‘authoritarian’ Right and the ‘state-corporatist rulers’ is a simplistic misreading of that position in my opinion. There are anti-authoritarian tendencies on both sides of the spectrum just as there is the tendency to mindlessly follow authorities: they simply come from different perspectives and beliefs.
I’m sorry for all the pain you and your family are in. I wish there was some place for families to heal. Soteria and Open Dialogue seem appealing to me from afar, but they aren’t available in small-town Midwest where I live, and so we’ve had to find our own way to healing individually and as a family. It wasn’t easy, for sure, but I refused to let my family fall apart or continue the dysfunction on both sides of our families for the sake of our son. For us attachment theory gave us the roadmap.
I wish you well.
Excellent article on so many levels.
I’m sorry for the many ways you and others here have been invalidated. I wish I could say it was better on the outside of the survivor’s community, but I haven’t found it so. People have a herd mentality, and if one doesn’t submit to the group-think, then one is ostracized and marginalized. And beyond that the power structures and gate keepers always look to retain their power and influence no matter what group or movement one is part. I wish it were otherwise, but I’ve spent a lifetime screaming in a vacuum for change on various issues and no one giving a [email protected] Like lemmings people happily follow everyone else over the cliff…
Wishing you the best.
I’m truly sorry your side of the story was invalidated. It’s not the church: it’s just people in general, but sadly the Church was supposed to be something different, and I, too, have found it one of the most destructive things in my family’s life even though my wife and I still attend as it’s our only decent source of companionship in a little town.
I’m sorry most that your husband turned on you instead of uniting with you.
I’m honestly not sure what you mean by ‘investigating.’ The most beneficial thing I’ve ever discovered is attachment theory. Thanks to John Bowlby and those who followed, it gave me the keys to help unlock my wife from her traumatic childhood. No therapist could possibly do what I have done. What our son has done. But a therapist could have been a great facilitator and taught us the ropes instead of me having to figure it out on my own while I was also dealing with my own issues that hindered my ability to help my wife.
A paid therapist lacks the credibility that most people need: trauma victim or otherwise. We need to know that person is ‘in it’ for more than just the money, and when all hell breaks loose and the money dries up, his/her help won’t vanish.
Respectfully, you can never do what the SO’s, family and friends can do: and that’s ok. It’s not your place. But the breadth of knowledge an ‘expert’ can have is something I simply don’t have time or energy to replicate, and that is a place that I feel can be served by those in your position to help those of us in our position.
No, Rachel, neither of us have taken an medications for any distress or anything else. I don’t know…maybe it was the way we were both raised, but I don’t think either of us have ever really considered doing so. At least I haven’t. Can’t really speak for my wife on that issue, though sometimes I do know she wishes she had sleeping meds…
When Lawrence wrote this article it spoke to me as a coach might speak to his football players while giving them a pep talk before a big game. It spoke to that part of me that seeks an easy way out, that wants to find a short cut and reminds me that there is no gain without a willingness to endure some pain.
I never suffered severe childhood trauma, and I never have had any of my rights taken away as an adult. And I’ve always been fortunate to have been in the middle class of America even if it’s not to the level in which I was raised. And so to me, Lawrence isn’t accusing me of anything: he’s sounding the alarm that we are suffering ‘first world’ issues because we’ve forgotten all the sacrifices that those who came before us made so we could live how we do in the 21st century.
I really and truly do think I understand why the majority of the comments are the way they have been. I found your and KS’s comments especially powerful and moving, and it reminds me that there are others who have been thru even worse hell, in some ways, than my wife and I have been. I understand as much as I can, why you would see Lawrence’s words to be harmful and maybe even arrogant and definitely victim blaming and continuing harmful stereotypes.
And so to address your second comment: whose truth is right? Whose life experiences get to dictate how Lawrence’s blog is received’? My son once wrote a paper to argue that there are ‘levels’ of truths, and not ALL truths necessarily apply across all peoples, times and situations. I think that might be applicable in this situation. I think, maybe, Lawrence could have addressed this blog to people who comfortably live in middle and upper class situations and try to wake them up from their desires to live ‘distress free.’ But when he addresses it to a website in which the majority of commenters are survivors of extreme trauma and/or the mental health system, his comments sound accusatory and victim blaming.
Most of the time I don’t even look at Lawrence’s blogs. They usually don’t speak to me even though I know he’s fairly popular on this website. But this one spoke to me and MY life experiences, and yet I can accept why the majority on here found it otherwise.
as I read this, I thought your message really resonated with me, of course, I already believe it and have put it into practice for the most part. Then as I read the majority of comments, it was a reminder to me of another, valid perspective. Perhaps the best I could suggest is: right message, wrong audience.
I re-read KS’s comment very carefully, and I will once again state there is absolutely nothing with which I disagree.
As much as KS has taken on an adversarial relationship to everything I say, I would completely agree with her assessment of how to help someone thru their traumatic memories. It’s very similar to what I have espoused upon my blog and was one of my more popular entries, trending #3 on google’s search for a while about lying and dissociative identity disorder.
I really do wish you could see me, Kindred Spirit. Instead you only see some twisted caricature of me based upon your own traumatic experiences.
For the record, when I talk about the two Millenial girls (alters) Wikipedia says that generation started in 1980 and ended in 1994. So the VERY youngest that would mean is 24 years old, NOT teenagers!
I really do wish you the best.
I am truly sorry that you find my position as if it’s a personal attack on you. I don’t see your opinion for your life as a threat to me and my wife.
HOW did I ‘ask for it?” My original comment had absolutely nothing to do with Lee’s statements about d.i.d. and a ‘holocaust’ of those falsely accused or his understanding of d.i.d. My original post was about how people’s fears of ‘extreme states’ is part of what gives this entire issue any power, and I still stand by that assertion even if I concede it’s not the whole issue. WHY do people call the authorities when someone is in a distressing or ‘psychotic’ state, if there is such a thing???? I would never even dream of doing that because at this point I know that I am the person with the most power to stop any kind of mental distress in my wife and NOTHING we have gone thru makes me ‘fearful’ anymore. Those 3 examples were just a tiny sample of the hell she and I have gone thru, and yet one by one, we faced all those fears and overcame them together.
I’ve been thinking about this all night and your statement kind of encapsulated some of my concerns: how Lee jumped to completely discount my wife’s experience and the validity of dissociation, and his apparently blind deference to the ‘holocaust that has come to the thousands of persons falsely accused.”
I tried to figure out where he stood from his website. It’s a weird format to read his stuff: probably did that in the hope people would buy it, and some/much of it is older, like from the 70’s, 80’s and early 90’s, but he seems to hold on to the fantasy of an epidemic of falsely accused people while ignoring the true pandemic of those who have been abused emotionally, physically and sexually and then are discredited and shamed by our culture’s power structures if they do speak out. Is he against the #MeToo movement as well?
I’d love for him to clarify, but he seems to be ignoring anything I actually say because of his apparent distaste for d.i.d..
I’m not refuting the idea of false memories. The science is pretty solid that shows how easily our memories can be manipulated and changed and even ‘created.’ But the FMSF takes it to an entirely new level to discount any and all memories that might be recovered during the process of healing. I won’t get into the politics of the group, but they had a lot riding on their vehemence to mpd/did and sadly, the excesses of the so-called trauma experts lead right into the FMSF’s hand to try to discredit mpd/did.
But like I said, that was decades ago, and yet some still hold onto the hype and excesses when therapists used to parade d.i.d. patients around like a circus freak show on the various talk shows, and so the critics point to that as their reason to discount EVERTYHING about d.i.d. Happily, ISSTD learned their lesson on that front, even if they haven’t made a lot of progress imo about how to best help people like my wife.
Ok, Lee, well, I was able to get the previous comments by you to work this morning…and you’ve only made 13 in total on this website. None of them was directed to me. Now if you are referencing the ‘spirited’ dialogue between me and Kindred Spirit about d.i.d., at least I have a reference point.
It would appear from your comments about the ‘holocaust’ of falsely accused persons that you are trapped in some kind of time warp back at the beginning of the mpd movement and the hype and excesses that went on. Are you a member of the False Memory Syndrome Foundation as well? If so, there’s really nothing I can say to open your eyes that even the so-called trauma experts have left those excesses behind decades ago.
And if you don’t believe in dissociation, there really is little basis on which to have a discussion when that concept is about as accepted as gravity. But again, I’m sure you can point to the ignorance of ISSTD and make your case from strawmen about something that doesn’t really exist.
I’m sorry if ISSTD is driving your understanding of trauma and dissociation. It certainly doesn’t drive our understanding of things, or my wife would never have made the progress she has.
well, just as you and I agreed on the other thread that attachment theory isn’t a ‘cure all’, I would suggest that this subject is complex and multi-layered, and I don’t think any one perspective will ever do it justice. But what I’m suggesting is that Big Pharma and the APA are the modern-day equivalent of those selling ‘magic elixirs’ and ‘snake oil’ cures a few centuries ago. They prey on people’s fears of whatever was/is ailing them at the time.
Steve, this problem affects EVERY class despite the suggestions of the Marxists on this site, and though it may hit the lower classes the hardest, neither my wife nor I grew up there. What I see is fear driving this and Big Pharma and the APA simply capitalizing on that fear. Take away the fear and people would have no need to turn to them. Teach them the things my wife and I learned, and mental health issues move from the category of fear of the incomprehensible that only the APA priesthood can divine, to mostly the same hardships and annoyances of a severely broken leg until it is healed.
As for Big Pharma and the APA, of course they are going to fight this: I completely agree for them this is all about money and power. But they can’t force any of this on us despite the laws suggesting to the contrary if it weren’t for fear. I overcame my fears and never even considered committing my wife despite how hard things have been, and so they had no ability to touch my wife despite all the laws out there used to incarcerate so many on this site.
hmmm…I tried to go back and find the discussion between you and me, but either something is wrong with my browser or this website. So I’m sorry if I don’t remember it.
I’m not sure why you would characterize me as “so strongly dedicated to the label of d.i.d.” We’ve had this debate ad nauseum on this website of whether or not to use the common vernacular or do we start from scratch every time for the benefit of newcomers? I do understand that to those who have had those diagnoses weaponized by the mental health system have a far more adverse reaction to being diagnosed than either I or my wife does since the ‘diagnosis’ simply gave us a starting point and then we pretty much went our own way from there.
As for your dislike of the ‘trauma experts’, take a number. I downloaded the guidelines from ISSTD and did a line by line critique of them: pretty much if you take their guidelines and do the EXACT OPPOSITE, it would give you a pretty good idea of how my wife and I have approached her healing. So if you are going to judge me by their ignorance and excesses, you would be greatly amiss, but whatever…
Since you feel you have nothing to learn from our experience, I will try to remember THIS discussion and not bother you again.
Sincerely wishing you the best,
“If it were recognized by our people that science is irrelevant to the debate over whether society’s fears should trump individual rights to liberty, then we could begin what will be the long struggle to win such a debate.”
I wonder if you and so many on this website are kind of missing what I see as the key issue because of the hatred of psychiatry. Psychiatry really is nothing more than a tool despite some giving it anthropomorphic qualities on this site. I agree with most here that it’s a terrible tool and it’s based on misinformation and it is anti-scientific in many ways. But in the end, it’s just a tool.
But I think so many of these debates miss the real point. Psychiatry is a horrible tool that people feel compelled to use because of their fears of mental health issues based on their lack of understanding what is going on. Even on this website, people use the term ‘extreme states’ but outside of drug-induced states, I’ve always wondered why the survivors would be wiling to use this designation as it seems to lend credence to the fears others have of these manifestations.
My wife has d.i.d., Lee. The first time she dropped to the floor in what I thought was a catatonic state, I kind of freaked out. But then the next time it happened, I kept my brain working, and I tried something. I went thru the current list of alters and lo and behold, Ally the defender popped out. I learned a lesson that day: she wasn’t really catatonic: I just had to find out to whom the baton had been passed. A fear is vanquished.
The first time my wife went into what looked like a series of mini-seizures, I about freaked out again, as her eyes rolled back into her sockets and they fluttered in rapid motion. But the next time, my brain was working again, and I realized, “Oh, this is kind of like a computer that is glitching when it tries to switch programs but gets stuck.” So then I learned to help her thru those switches that get hung up for some reason. Another fear gone.
One of the original times my wife went into a flash back, I was back in freak out mode, her fear driving mine, and then midstream, I chilled out, and I began to speak calmly to her, remind her she’s not alone, I’ve got her now, she’s safe now, and I pulled her out of that flash back. Another fear gone.
One by one the issues that we had to confront because of her d.i.d. lost their ability to induce fear in either of us as we came to an understanding of what was going on and how I could help her thru each issue the best. If you were to go on WordPress and read the blogs of other people with d.i.d., they are full of fear and hatred of things that my wife and I have come to learn are just part of the healing experience. Some are more annoying than others, but none of them cause either of us any ‘fear’ any more.
It is fear that drives people to use horrible tools like psychiatry. Fear shuts down our brains and makes otherwise intelligent people into mindless caricatures of themselves. And yet when we were first starting our journey 11 years ago, most of the professional literature was as ignorant of the mechanics of her manifestations as we were originally. So we had to learn the ropes pretty much on our own.
And I will posit that if others were simply taught what is going on, that these NON-drug induced manifestations really aren’t ‘extreme’ but simply stronger versions of many things I have experienced myself as a non-trauma victim, their fears would dissipate like mine did. Once I learned to see so many of her experiences as just reflective of my own, the last vestiges of ‘non-normalcy’ fled, and so at this point, we live a rather humdrum life that happens to have 8 girls (alters) part of our marriage rather than one.
This isn’t about class warfare like my Leftist friends believe. This isn’t about social control. This isn’t about an anthropomorphic psychiatry preying upon victims. In my opinion, the real issue is simply about people, both the victims and those around them, being overwhelmed by fear because they don’t understand the very natural things that are going on in the brain/mind when trauma isn’t properly processed. I argued in another thread on MIA, that if we simply would learn to see mental trauma the same as physical trauma, then all these mental manifestations would be seen no different than what occurs during the convalescent period of, say, a severely broken leg. There’s no stigma in a broken leg. We all know what to expect, and we don’t expect that person to be back up to full speed until the healing is done and any physical therapy that may be required afterwards.
…” But if it is at our own sacrifice, then what have we gained? Is there a way we can support ourselves and others, without feeling we are sacrificing our own lives and well-being to do so? That just seems like a hamster wheel to me.”
Alex, I want to preface what follows by stating up front, I believe two people can believe very different things, and neither person is inherently ‘wrong.’ I wish more people understood that very few things are black and white. If more people understood that, we wouldn’t have the pointless tribal wars going on in America right now. We would be able to find the good in each side’s arguments, and the rest…we could learn to chalk it up to ‘live and let live.’ Instead we take differences as if they are a threat to our very existence and survival, and that is detrimental to us all because then, rather than becoming enriched by someone else’s perspective we simply see it as a threat.
Anyway, attachment theory teaches us that in the beginning of our lives we are wholly dependent upon our ‘primary attachment figure’ and others to lesser degrees. But over the course of time that singular dependency slowly changes until, in a healthy relationship, parent and the now-adult child will become equals in interdependency, but then, eventually, the roles will reverse and the parent will become dependent upon the adult child late in life.
However, when severe childhood trauma occurs, it typically screws up that natural progression. When my wife and I first started this healing journey together 11 years ago, she told me over and over and over, “I don’t know what healthy looks like.” And I took her seriously. Meanwhile the other little girls began to crash our world. At one point ALL 6 of the girls (alters) currently out fronted as 8-years old or younger: the youngest 3 all started out fronting as 2-year olds.
This is kind of where attachment theory and my Christian upbringing that emphasized sacrificial love and the golden rule meshed so well. I had been naturally raised to believe that sacrifice is a good thing…but pragmatically speaking, well that was a very different thing. We struggled the first 20 years of our marriage because I expected the marriage to be mutually beneficial, mutually giving, and it simply wasn’t. And I am not implying that my wife was completely at fault: I was selfish and immature in so many ways which complicated her issues. On top of that, I was simply ignorant about how early childhood trauma was affecting the woman I love because my own childhood was rather idyllic in comparison.
But over the course of the first 3 or so years of our healing journey, I was transforming: her issues were so massive that I had to grow up and make many changes myself or I knew we wouldn’t make it. All that to state that I had to become willing to sacrifice my needs to help her heal, but I don’t want to come off like I think I’m some saint: I’m NOT. But I had to learn to take the long view to our marriage. I sought a win/win solution, and that meant I had to be willing to do the work that her parents failed to do and help each girl become securely attached to me, help each girl then begin to connect to the others (the personality development that naturally occurs during childhood), and anything else they needed. It’s meant for much of the last 11 years, my life companion hasn’t been an adult woman, but 7 traumatized and very needy little girls in various states of dysfunctional attachment.
But eleven years later, we are slowly moving toward the healthy, adult interdependence that I often speak. Two of the girls have grown and now front as Millenials. I got engaged to one in December and I’m pre-engaged to the other. And all the other ‘littles’ (alters who view themselves as little children) truly do the activities of adults (other than in the bedroom), even if they still interact with me as a daddy figure who they want to take care of each of them. Edit: and let me state at this point that ALL of the girls are almost wholly healed. They are vivacious, vibrant and full of life in a way that my ‘first girl’ (the only one who sees me as her husband) never was.
My goal is still a fully healthy, adult interdependence with all of the girls who make up my wife, but we aren’t there yet. I had to be willing to start where each of them was and walk with her, at her pace and at whatever stage of dependence she started until she was able to move forward.
…Sigh, this reply is already too long…
And yes, you are correct that this topic of attachment is massive. I naturally used the principles to help my wife. I think we are all ‘wired’ that way, but the Western cultures seem to want to beat those principles out of us for some reason even though most of us want treated the way the theory espouses. Once I discovered the theory proper, I studied up on it so I could become more purposeful in it. I even did quite a long series of articles on my personal blog to address some of the main concepts that were critical to our journey.
Let me simply state that using the attachment concepts of affect regulation, safe haven and proximity maintenance I was able to not only walk my wife thru EVERY extreme state that she manifested (and trust me with d.i.d. you essentially get the entire spectrum rolled up into one journey), but I learned to pull her out of them more quickly and help her heal to the point that she rarely experiences them anymore. And when she does get triggered nowadays, her reactions aren’t much more severe than my reactions to things that trigger me. And the theory helped me with all the ‘lesser’ issues, too, like depression, anxiety, and anything else you can think of.
Beyond that is the theory’s concept of the inner working model. The littlest girls and I figured this one out together. It can make the difference between the healing one experiences being temporary or being permanent. I’ve been trying to follow the debate over on the CBT blog on this website, and I haven’t quite figured out if CBT takes into account one’s inner working model or just tries to force the change without realizing that the inner working model is like the operating system in a computer. EVERYTHING else is founded upon that, and so unless you change the inner working model from the trauma paradigm that most childhood trauma victims have to a more healthy one like someone who was securely attached, a lot of healing work will have limited effect.
But for Steve’s sake, I will sincerely add that the theory is NOT a cure all: we’ve had to use other principles for various issues, but it definitely can help in so many, many situations.
I guess I’ll finish. I’m sorry not to do this topic better here. Like you said, this website just is not set up for that kind of a multi-layer discussion. I wish the attachment series on my blog had gained more traction: it’s one of the things I’m most proud of, but it takes a lot of work for the SO or support person, and it required so much change on my own part before I was able to implement some of it to the fullest extent that I wonder if most people wouldn’t rather those little magic pills…
I agree with everything you are saying…and yet, attachment theory is so much more…as I started out this entire discussion, attachment theory cuts against the Western cultures’ over-valuation of independence. It is not only about instilling that secure sense of self internally during childhood, it is about developing at network around our loved ones who will have each other’s back when things go wrong. And it’s about learning to go thru life developing a ‘buddy system’; learning how to help regulate each other when life hits us with trauma or storms.
I love John Bowlby and the work he began, but I also had to learn how the concepts of safe haven, proximity maintenance and affect regulation could be practically implemented to help my wife heal…but beyond that, how those concepts just help each and everyone of us walk thru this life that can be so difficult at times. Those are concepts that my wife and I now each use with each other AND our 28-year old son even though he lives 12 hours away.
I don’t have the breadth of experience that you do, so this isn’t meant to refute or argue with your statement, but in our personal experience until each of the girls (alters) were securely attached to me, they seemed unable to go past the original trauma. But once they had that foundation of being securely attached, it seemed to propel their ability to connect to each other (by tearing down the dissociation) and allow them to mature and discover latent abilities/traits that had otherwise been absent in my wife as a whole.
That doesn’t mean I think attachment issues are everything, as much as I may talk about them, but they seemed to be foundational in my wife’s healing experience.
I’m sure you, as Steve noted, would agree that often times the dysfunction is inadvertent, like it was mostly in my family, and even in my wife’s as messed up as her mom was/is. But the dysfunction is still painful even if it is inadvertent and I’ve ended up kind of being the black sheep of the family because my mom wasn’t properly attached to my dad as she blamed him for them ‘having to get married’ and so she waged a 56-year war against him as she jumped from child to child to child looking for that emotional attachment she refused to give to her husband. And yet, if I were to call her out on it, she would be dumbfounded and defensive as she feels she is the model Christian wife.
It’s rather sad how we humans can live with so much cognitive dissonance, sigh. But I really don’t think she is, or most of us are, intentional about it. I would chalk it up to dissociation. And though I feel it’s a much milder form than what my wife experienced, I still think it’s what causes so many incongruent words and actions in most of us. Kind of like the murderous mafioso who is kind and loving to those within his own circle. He has compartmentalized, ie dissociated, the incongruence between his various spheres of life.
Alex, this was a VERY, VERY basic video, and I do agree that it came off kind of as if things are cookie-cutterish. But the basic concepts of attachment theory have been validated over a host of situations especially the ‘strange situation’ test that the video mentioned. But how those concepts play out…I would agree with you that they will be as varied as there are people on this earth.
Well, it’s a very basic video and only deals with one’s childhood. But it lays out a few of the basic concepts of attachment theory. However, it completely ignores the key concepts of safe haven, affect regulation, and glosses over proximity maintenance.
The good news is someone who grew up with one of the 3 dysfunctional attachment systems (avoidant, ambivalent or disorganized) CAN learn a new way. However, at least in our case, it has meant rejecting the prevailing, pathological foundation of hyper-independence and hyper-individualism that our culture pushes, and it has meant that I had to understand my proper role of the primary attachment figure…something the ‘experts’ are only now beginning to study in romantic adult relationships. But the healing process isn’t easy: there’s no magic pill. I had to be willing to accept my wife’s ‘neediness’, something that this culture finds ‘toxic’. But as I filled her ‘neediness’ each day, slowly those attachment dysfunctions were healed, repaired and now for the most part, she displays all the signs of secure attachment.
thank you for a thoughtful and what ought to be a common-sense discussion of this subject.
I never knew much about this, but the little I did always made me wonder. This critique resonates with some of the reservations I had from my very limited exposure to the practice.
I know you rarely, if ever, respond to the comments section, but I wish that you would make a place in your new institute for those of us ‘in the trenches’ who are laymen and not scientist by degree but scientists by necessity. I’ve had to figure out how to help my wife heal from d.i.d. using attachment concepts and anything else that I could. I took a pragmatic approaching, using what worked, discarding what didn’t, always relying on the feedback that she gave as we walked the journey together. She and I have learned so many things; things that I believe have wider application, but it’s hard to get a hearing when western culture only seems to care how many letters one can put behind his/her name. I learned how to take her thru all the ‘extreme’ states without any medicines, as they are called on this website, but am still combating the residual dissociation…but we are getting there…
There are so many things that occur 24/7 ‘in the trenches’ that you experts simply will never experience in the safety and confines of the office: we, the SO’s, family members and even involved friends have so much to offer, if only someone would take us seriously.
I am again so impressed that you were able to do all this on your own: that shouldn’t have been necessary, but for your sake, I’m glad you were able to do so.
I still hope for the day when SO’s, family members and friends are taught how to be the natural allies they ought to be. It took me a couple of years to figure out it myself after wading thru my own issues, to boot, but I see so many places in your article that good allies could have helped, especially in affect regulation, and not ‘facing the enemy’ on one’s own.
Thank you, Alex. I wish you and your partner the best as well.
I want to honestly explain my struggles to you IF I were to do what you and everyone else suggests and “take care of YOURSELF if you want to be effective support.”
After journaling for more than 10,000 pages these last 11 years during this journey, to help me deal with my own issues, to deal with the inherent stress of this journey, and to help me figure out how best to help and support my girls (as I phrase it on my blog), I’ve got a pretty good handle on what makes me tick.
IF I were to take care of myself first as this culture suggests there are two things I would do: 1) I would have a healthy, intimate adult relationship, and 2) I would enter the field in which my college degree is, mainly ministering to others…these are the two things that rip at my heart every single day of my life: the void in my life of these two things is overwhelming…and yet to do so, would probably mean leaving my wife since she and I have NEVER had a healthy or especially intimate relationship (emotionally, physically, or otherwise) even though we both love each other. Her past trauma has simply truncated so many of those desires in her: so if it’s ‘me first’ do I leave?
And the same about my vocational desires. She married me knowing exactly who I am, what my chosen vocation in life was, and within a few years, she made it clear that she would never allow me to follow that desire because it struck at her ‘safety needs.’ Again, if it’s ‘me first’ do I leave her?
I’m really not trying to be dismissive or argumentative, but one’s marriage vows are there for a reason despite our culture’s infatuation with rewriting them to say not much of anything nowadays. I love my wife: no this isn’t the life I would have chosen or the vocation of my dreams (being in a factory), but I’m trying to make lemonade out of the lemons that we were both dealt. She certainly didn’t choose this. No one says, “please rape me repeatedly when I’m two until I break and fracture and never know what it means to be healthy” (her words not mine). But I love her, and I choose US even though I know it means I’m choosing heartache and stress each and everyday until we get thru this…
But trust me…that heartache and stress is a great motivator. It pushes me every single day to help her in every and any way that I can. It teaches me to be in tune with her so that I have learned never to coerce her, but how best to create an environment that feels safe and loving to her so that she can heal, truly, deeply and fully as I believe is still possible.
Again, I am not trying to be dismissive, but what you have shared, which many, many other people have shared to me as well…I just don’t know how to do that AND be true to some other core values in myself and be true to my one and only love. It’s one of the things I truly think the new testament in the Christian bible got right: the idea of sacrificial love and giving up oneself and one’s life for another as the true sign of love and friendship.
“Sorry that sounds soppy.”
No, it’s not soppy, concerned carer. That’s what I’ve learned from attachment theory. For us, it’s mostly been a repudiation of the Western independence that is beaten into all of us from the time of birth when parents are foolishly taught to let their children cry themselves to sleep…and the myriad of ways we are told to let others suffer on their own and ‘tough it out’ or ‘pull ourselves up by our OWN bootstraps”. We are all systematically shamed by this culture of deranged independence, and my wife and I simply reject it.
I make a concerted effort to, essentially, weave a ‘cocoon’ of attachment points between her and myself throughout as many aspects of our lives as I possibly can. And each of those attachment connections strengthens BOTH of us. Just because I don’t have any massive trauma in my past, doesn’t mean I don’t need the deep connection to another human, and even if she can’t give me what I most deeply need at the moment, I’ve still learned to soak up the connections that she is able to give me.
I really do love the song, “Lean on Me” because it’s so true. Don’t ever feel it’s soppy. Interdependence is what we were all ‘wired’ for: it’s far more healthy than this independence garbage we are all force fed our entire lives.
I almost missed your longer explanation that you added after your initial post. When I googled transmediumship I only saw stuff in there about, essentially, being a medium. I certainly could use ‘energy’ if it were for real. I don’t have time for pie-in-the-sky beliefs like so many I grew up with. I ONLY care about what practically helps me and my wife…especially because her last ‘alter’ has almost exhausted ALL of us, trying to help her heal and connect because she’s different than ALL the others. She has very little long term memory, and so even though we’ve made progress securely attaching her to me, it’s like that movie of the 50 First Dates, and I have to start from scratch over and over and over, and so it’s hard for her to feel safe, which means it’s been monumentally hard for us to get her connected to the rest of the group, and she was/is so terrified as long as she disconnected from the others that ALL intimacy, emotional, physical and otherwise has ceased for more than 3 years, and we’re all really struggling right now…and I’m just so overwhelmingly tired, and hoping I/we are going to make it especially when we’ve all come so far..and yet I just don’t know how to help her past this…I’ve never had a conundrum like her lack of long-term memory has presented to us on this healing journey…sigh…oh, well, enough of the online therapy session, you didn’t ask for it…I just don’t have any one to talk to about this kind of stuff…we are so far past anything you would read from ISSTD or the popular lit…and I feel like I’m going to break if we don’t get a breakthru… 🙁
you are welcome to tell me, but I’ll be honest, this journey my wife and I have taken the last 11 years has pretty much knocked out ALL of my ‘practical’ beliefs of the supernatural. I grew up a very devout evangelical Christian and got deeply into the charismatic movements and such during my young adulthood, but there was a part of me that always wondered what was wrong with me when “God” seemed to move in people all around me, and nothing happened to me…
And then when my wife and I started this healing journey, I just didn’t have the emotional strength for anything that wasn’t ‘real’ or didn’t work, and so many of my Christian beliefs simply didn’t work out into real life, especially my expectations of some kind of supernatural intervention to help me and my wife get thru the hell we were going thru…
And so I’ve kind of ended up with a humanistic Christianity, which my evangelical friends would call a heresy. I have a theistic worldview, but I don’t expect any help. I personally call it a Narnian Christianity: all those times that Aslan was absent for ages and ages which aren’t in the books by Lewis. I believe the moral codes, I believe there is more, BUT practically speaking, it’s up to me to help my wife heal, not some awol deity that I was never good enough to earn favors for answered prayers.
I do understand that I’ve said a number of things in this response with which you would strongly disagree, but it’s where I’m at, and so far it’s been pragmatically useful in helping my wife and me survive the trenches we’ve traveled together. I’m sure this is far more than you expected, or wanted, especially as I can tell that for you, your journey seems to have taken you in the opposite direction toward more openness to ‘spiritual’ things.
(edit: and I guess I’ll add I’ve become a lot more socially, religiously and politically moderate from how I was raised…I’m kind of a pariah now to all of my family who are ardent Trump supporters, lol)
I apologize for making the generalization. I try to read and re-read my responses so I get them ‘right’. I try to not make over-generalizations because, of course, not everyone fits in a neat category. So I apologize to you and any others who felt my response mis-represented them: that was not my intention.
I see that no one ever addressed your concerns. Perhaps I can try.
I think you can see the resistance that the survivors have on this site to suggesting that anything is ‘wrong’ because our culture weaponizes that admission. For my own wife it took 20 years before she felt safe to do so with me and only AFTER I made it clear to her that I loved her unconditionally. Until that point, anytime I would make the suggestion, she would spit back that I was the one with a problem. And so I don’t expect any less of the survivors on this site.
And I think that’s why talking about mental health ‘trauma’ in the same way we talk about bodily trauma is so valuable. If we see someone with a cast on her/his leg, typically we think ‘oh s/he broke it’ but there’s also an assumption in there that with time to heal, and maybe some physical therapy if it was a really bad break, the person will be back 100% when the process is over.
But there’s another assumption that while the person is in that cast, there will naturally be things s/he can’t do until the healing has been completed. Most of us don’t assign value judgments to those things that can’t be done, we just accept them as part of the trauma and convalescence period. And if we love the person, we don’t take umbrage that we have to ‘pick up the slack’ while our loved one is healing.
I feel all those points can be seamlessly transferred to our loved ones who have suffered mental trauma. And the manifestations that occur from that trauma, whether it be ‘extreme states’, excessive triggers, ptsd symptoms or anything else, should just be viewed the same as in the list of ‘currently can’t’ when a person has a broken leg.
I rarely talk about my wife’s list of ‘currently can’ts’ even though there are a lot of them and some of them cause me extreme stress. And when she begins to berate herself over that list of ‘currently cant’s’, I tend to just say, ‘that’s the d.i.d. and it will get better once we get thru it.’ I tend to focus her and myself on the positives, like a good coach. We both know the negatives are there and we don’t pretend like they aren’t there, but we try to stay forward focused, knowing that what ‘currently can’t be done’ is not our final destination.
thank you for sharing your experience, especially how you were reported to the authorities. As much as I’ve kept my wife out of the system, your story is a cautionary tale to me because this journey she and I are on is so hard many days that my personal journal is filled with the sigh that I’m so tired of life and the wish that I’d never been born. To me that feeling is always there, ebbing and flowing, but it’s kind of freeing, knowing that if things ever get too bad, I have an out, and with that ‘out’ it gives me power over those feelings…
…And yet on my blog I wrote about how to help someone feeling suicidal from my personal experience, and fortunately none of my immediate family who read it called anyone on me. And when my wife and I take our daily walks together, we walk past a counseling service and part of me loves the idea of just getting some help and support on the days when it’s so hard helping her on my own…but your experience shows to me that my wife’s insistence on our anonymity is probably for the best, even though it means we can’t help others, because it protects me as well as her, sigh…
I’m glad nothing worse than a phone call and a little embarrassment happened to you. Thank you for being willing to share for those of us who can’t yet…
I think you are going to find different opinions about ‘psychological injury’ on this site. To me it’s a perfectly good analogy between a severe broken leg and a severe traumatic injury suffered to the mind. With proper care both injuries can be healed and the sufferer can go on with life relatively none the worse. But if either injury is ignored, it is likely it will never ‘self-heal’ and then that injury will stress the greater system and if that stress is enough in the future, at some point it could begin to cause other issues.
To me dissociation is the biggest physiological result that comes from mental trauma, though that may simply be because of my wife and my experience. I’m not an expert, but I wonder if the dissociation is what causes all the differences in brain mapping (though I take all the hoopla over those mappings with a grain of salt!) Anyway, I believe dissociation in the mind is similar to what happens to the body when a broken leg is never healed. From that point on the body will do all kinds of things to get around the natural use of that leg. Sure, some body parts may even grow stronger as a result of having to take over for the leg’s function, but doing so will also stress parts of the body that simply were never made to walk. In the end, the person may even learn to be relatively mobile, but that doesn’t mean that was the way the body was intended to function: it’s just a testament to our ability to adapt.
But even decades later, as in my wife’s case, once the mental trauma is addressed and with a lot of help (kind of like physical therapy to strengthen the atrophied body parts), her brain/mind is healing. It’s just a lot more work to undo all those ‘workarounds’ caused by the dissociation than if we had know about it in our 20’s.
I have tried to teach other SO’s on my blog but simply never got much traction: I have more than 100 articles explaining various things that I/we faced helping my wife heal from severe dissociation: things I struggled with, things I learned while I helped her, practical things and more theoretical issues, but I would guess most people really do want magic pills to give to the ‘problem person’ rather than do the hard work of helping someone heal from severe trauma. It’s really not all that complicated, but it is hard for both: there’s no way around that, and sadly our culture doesn’t do ‘hard’.
The staff here know I would be happy to do so, but I think our story, because we are such an anomaly, causes some issues with those who have been ‘spoken for/over’ by SO’s and family members since my wife refuses to come here and affirm what I say and affirm that I’m not secretly keeping her in chains! 🙂
So until they can find a way for me to share without it causing undo distress to some of the survivors, I try to content myself with the comments section and the camaraderie of finding other people like me who don’t think the effects of trauma make one crazy or weird.
Loving My DID Girl(s) or the address is samruck2.wordpress.com
“Family & friends often look to the ostensible authority for the quickest, ‘cleanest’ fix possible…usually some form of sedation.”
I guess I’ll add the longer version:
1) I’ve always had ‘authority’ issues and never really cared much for going along with the crowd. Plus I was school valedictorian and graduated from college with a 4.0 and my wife is literally a genius, and so I never really saw the ‘authorities’ as having anything over us.
2) And we homeschooled our son the entire way: another X against authority. Our son told my wife that she was his hardest teacher until he got into his master’s program in a Boston-area university. And then, even though he didn’t have the pedigree of his classmates, he was the only one that his university recruited for their PhD program; so eh, who needs authorities?
3) And even though I’ve moved to the political/religious/social center as I’ve helped my wife heal, I grew up pretty far Right, and so we didn’t expect the ‘experts’ to do for us what we could do for ourselves. Moreover, I quickly found out as she and I traveled this journey and as I read up on her issues, that the so-called experts were full of it and didn’t know half of what they thought they did.
…so I guess all those things kind of made both of us never really look for that ‘quick fix’ like most of our culture does.
How did I come to that wisdom? The short version is indeed that she is literally the one and only woman to whom I have ever said “I love you” or been with, so I never considered any solution except a win/win for the both of us no matter how hard it’s been for both of us. But the longer version to that question is much more complicated and convoluted, and I deal with many of those issues over on my wordpress blog, but for now, I’ve found a philosophical home in many ways over here.
I’m kind of an anomaly here. My fight in this battle is about keeping people OUT of the system before they ever get entangled in it.
Our son and I kept my wife/his mother completely out of the system when she started dealing with all kinds of ‘extreme states’ as they like to call it on this website. I hope some day that I can share with other interested SO’s and family members how they can do the same. That’s why I find it so discouraging that all of your family distanced themselves from your own fight…but my wife does tell me I’m the ‘weird’ one for not seeing her issues like the rest of humanity, lol.
But if I have anything to offer from my perspective, I’ll be happy to do so.
Wishing you well,
Congratulations for getting yourself out of the system! I hope your subsequent articles give others who read them hope and a plan how to do the same. It’s too bad you had to do it yourself.
Richard, I’m sure that was my fault because I distracted her talking about something we are both passionate about.
I did a search for the psychological injury model and didn’t find anything other than this article on MIA. We’ve had some other articles in the past about collaborations to move to a more trauma-based model, and I wish you well. I appreciate much of what you said. I think things will change only when their reaches a critical mass of enough people who no longer accept the various cognitive dissonances that you described. Our understanding that people heal people, not drugs. The understanding that trauma is at the heart to so much mental distress, not some mythical biochemical imbalance. And more.
I honestly hear you. I really do understand your concerns: you aren’t the first person to voice these same exact issues. And I accept that you are honestly sharing this with me out of concern for me and my wife.
I just don’t know how to convey to you that your concerns and misgivings really are based on a strawman. I don’t know where these tropes began since I’ve heard them elsewhere, but our experience is completely different than you and others are imagining it.
First, if this is your opinion of dissociation, it is NOT our experience of it. For us/her, dissociation is like discovering a long-lost castle in the woods. it’s always been there, but the path is overgrown because no one has used it in decades. But neural plasticity teaches us that once we start to use that path, it will become worn and more and more accessible.
When the trauma happened in the past, the mind sequesters that pain and anguish from the rest of the mind so that it doesn’t engulf the entire person and a complete breakdown of ALL functioning occurs. The only reason ‘alters’ occur is because of that sequestering. So they kind of take on a life of their own.
Now I could demand, as you say, that I will only talk to ‘my wife’. But that’s not how each of them sees it. In her mind, she is a real, live entity with her own thoughts and feelings. Each girl has repeatedly voiced this to me when she first began to join us outside.
And so I accepted this starting place. My validation made her feel safe and accepted. And as we walked together, I helped each girl release the lies she had accepted from the trauma. And as I won each one’s trust, they each wanted to be ‘adopted’ into our family: the colloquial term we use for becoming securely attached to me.
As that began to happen, the trauma being healed, the lies being resolved, and the secure attachment to me giving her a safe base, we began the process of tearing down the last of the dissociation between each girl. Little by little each girl began to wear a footpath from her own, little, forgotten castle to the main pathways that all of them could access…and once we got to that phase, slowly, they each began to interconnect with the others.
At first it was extremely important to each that she was a distinct individual, but slowly as they continue to make more and more and more connections with each other, they are less concerned with being individualistic and are acting as a group. And from what I have read, more and more experts realize that we ALL act like ‘groups’ and not monolithic personalities.
But they still want me to recognize their individuality even as they shed more and more and more of their need to act on their own. Maybe some day none of them will care about herself as an individual, but what I did was give each the time and space she needed to heal and feel safe to integrate with the others. I didn’t demand any of them act like my wife even though I personally feel they are all my wife.
And at this point I just got engaged to one girl in December: she wants to be my wife. I’m pre-engaged to another. And a third has mentioned it. So one by one, each is CHOOSING to become my wife, but it’s always her choice. I make clear that I will never withhold my love or affection if she doesn’t do what I wish.
I’m just not sure how you object to me allowing my wife the space and time she needs to heal in the manner that feels the safest to each of them: that seems to be what most of the survivors here want: validated and loved unconditionally, even while I shepherd each girl gently toward the goal of healing and integration within the larger group.
some of what you have said I agree with. As well, I am aware of the various controversies around this issue. And yes, I personally operate on the premise of this being about trauma and dissociation and you can see that all over this site when I discuss particulars of how I help my wife. I agree that the various ‘girls’ are simply different aspects of my wife’s unified personality, but if I were to call her experience of things a ‘fairy tale’ all of you survivors would burn me at the stake for invalidating her experience. Instead I walk with her, where each of the girls are at, and yet I’m upfront with them that they are all part of my unified wife, but I don’t make that the basis of my interactions with them.
The problem seems to be that you want me to be the exact opposite of what most survivors on this site cry for: someone willing to walk in my wife’s reality rather than dictate to her that she follow my reality And yet, if I did that, then you would simply pillory me for being like everyone else.
Lastly, I DO get what you are saying: you’re not saying anything I haven’t heard before. I simply disagree.
(edit: I guess I’ll add that even though I walk in my wife’s reality which is based on her past trauma during childhood, I model a new one without fear and trauma for all the girls, and as they live with me and our son, they are ALL moving toward this one. But I give them the time to do this of their own volition and not because I mandate it as the price to have a relationship with me.)
Like it or not, the SO’s, family members and friends have a real stake in this fight, AND we are the first line of defense against more people becoming psychiatric survivors. My wife couldn’t have done it on her own without me and our son when all hell broke loose with her ‘extreme states.’
But if some want to treat us like second-class citizens based on their own experiences of bad SO’s and family members, that’s rather short sighted. We ought to be reaching out to those who are open to a new way of thinking, and helping them and teaching them, but also recognizing so many of them are dealing with their own demons, too. We should draw the circle large enough by understanding we are ALL in this together against a system that is truly larger than psychiatry or even amoral capitalism, but the culture at large that tries to sweep trauma and abuse under the rug at any cost: psychiatry is just a tool to help them do so.
My heart is sad every time an SO or family member comes on this site and decries the trauma their loved one has suffered at the hands of the system: we have a number of authors who have done so recently. But to myself I think, “This didn’t have to happen.” And every time I read a story in the news of a cop killing someone in mental distress, I think the same thing. But until the SO’s and family members are viewed as potential allies and given a real voice for their perspective while recognizing their own distresses and issues, this movement will continue to struggle, I believe.
I think an Open Dialogue kind of model is the way to go the little I know of it because it seems to bring all 3 stakeholders into the equation: sufferers, SO/family members/friends and ‘experts’; not this ‘survivors’ first and foremost mentality.
Sorry, Rachel, I did NOT mean you as in you personally. I guess I should have used ‘one’ third, person, general, rather than you, 2nd, person, ‘specific.’
As for d.i.d. being a psych label and rejecting it. Well once again are we ALL going to start from scratch every time we discuss everything? Or are we going to use the common vernacular and go from there?
I do understand that for those who have had those diagnoses weaponized against them, then they/you see them VERY differently, than my wife and I who see those diagnoses as an ‘aha’ moment. For us it simply told us what we were dealing with, and then we learned, together, how to deal with it from there.
I’m sorry you can’t see past your own experience Kindredspirit, and clearing NOTHING is going to convince you otherwise. I have no need for my wife’s diagnosis: I’d much prefer a healthy wife, not spending 95% of our private time with ‘littles’ who are starved for the love and attention and affection they never got from their parents the first time around.
Rachel, my wife refuses to come on these sites because when we first started this journey, she did the whole survivor sites stuff, but they kicked one of the little girls off even though she broke none of the rules and ever since they have all refused to go back. Plus you add to the mix the toxic notions about d.i.d. currently going on in this culture like the movie Switch and its sequel Mr. Glass that just opened in the theaters, and a host of other books that now love to portray people with d.i.d. as some sociopathic, super killer and even cannibal. And there still is the past excesses of the so called experts(!) of the satanic crap that is still in the minds of some like Kindredspirit as if those abuses somehow discredit the entire issue.
So instead she/they spends her/their time on other sites. We homeschooled our son, and so the two millennials (my fiancée and girlfriend) have an online personality that fits that profile and they spend it trying to help younger wives and single women trapped in pseudo-Christian, patriarchal situations. And from time to time when they can clearly see the signs of d.i.d. in people, they’ll privately reveal their own to them and help shepherd the women, if possible, to more healthy situations.
Lavendersage, yes, you know that I HATE the language that is in the common vernacular. We’ve had this conversation in the past. If you went on my blog, you’d almost never find it, but here, I realize my story is only partially known, and so we are ALL handicapped by the decision of whether to use the common language that everyone knows even if we disagree with it or go into a long explanation of what I mean. If someone new came on this website and simply heard me talking about my wife, and then in another place I was talking about my fiancée, and then in another my girlfriend, what would they think? That I’m in some kind of open marriage? So we are all constrained to some degree by the common vernacular. And you have to notice my struggle as I’ll often say both, or put alters in quotes, but sometimes my time and space is limited and so I do the best I can. The writers on MIA often express the same struggle. I’m sorry you don’t like it: I really don’t either.
But the inner circle consists of survivors only. End of story.
I’ve been thinking about this comment ever since Kindredspirit made it. I know this is the attitude of some on this website, but to see it so bluntly is still painful.
I’m glad that’s not my wife’s attitude. It’s not mine either. On my blog I likened how her d.i.d. affects our relationship to a prison. She and I are BOTH in that prison room. But she is chained inside the room. For me, the door is open, and I’m free to leave if I want. So many people do leave in this culture. My one brother left his ‘broken’ wife. But there are others who choose every day to stay in that prison room right there with our loved ones, and vow never to leave until we BOTH can leave.
She and I have been thru hell together. Even our son had to learn to help care for his mother when the others started to join our family. There were panic attacks, night terrors, hypervigilance, flashbacks, ‘alters’ running off for fun and running and hiding in fear, paralyzing fear, triggers galore. My son and I were with her 24/7 for the first couple of years because things were so bad. I had the day ‘shift’ while he was in college at the local branch, and then when I was at work at nights, he took the night shift. But my wife and I did try to shield him from the worst of it, and never asked him to do more than he freely did. We couldn’t have done it without him.
On top of that things wrecked havoc in our marriage. Many times I wasn’t even allowed to hold my wife’s hand because the new girls were so traumatized and scared of everyone and everything. Real intimacy, emotional, physical and otherwise, were largely gone. But little by little we got thru it. I learned how to help each of them. The newcomers learned they were safe in our house and with me and our son, and slowly each was ‘adopted’ into the family. The lies associated with the trauma began to be undone and slowly we began to dismantle the worst of the dissociation.
I’m not unusual. I don’t think I’m a martyr or saint: just someone honoring the woman I love and the vows I made and looking for a win/win solution for both of us.
Your comments are extremely invalidating to those of us who are in this WITH our loved ones. We don’t get paid. And we certainly don’t get validated in this culture of the me-first attitude where many tell me I ought to just leave or take care of myself first as if that’s really an option.
I’m truly sorry for your personal experience. The little you’ve described elsewhere on this website sounds truly horrible, but not all SO’s are selfish and manipulative. Not all families are of the NAMI kind looking for an excuse to get rid of the ‘problem’ member. And thus the ‘survivors’ are NOT the sum total of those suffering, and until this movement enlarges the circle and recognizes there are others who have just as much of a stake in a solution as the ‘survivors’, I wonder if this movement will ever really gain traction.
“Nothing about us without us.”
It’s kind of ironic, but in our experience, it’s been my voice that is overridden at EVERY point by my wife’s healing needs, sigh. Her needs ALWAYS trump my needs and I have the choice to acquiesce or move on, but she’s my one and only…so I stay and fight for a better ending than either of us have had so far. Even our son has become a ‘big brother’ to all the 7 littler girls who joined the family, but at least they do defer to the mother figure when he wants/needs one: I rarely get to have a ‘wife’ anymore…
my wife has d.i.d. but we were fortunate that she never got sucked up into the system and so her, my and our experience is so radically different than most in her position. We’ve walked the healing journey together the last 11 years, using attachment concepts as the foundation of her healing, but using other things as well like neural plasticity.
If you are familiar with the show, United States of Tara, our experience is just the opposite of that. ALL the girls (alters) are securely attached to me (got engaged to the first one in December!). Sure there was some chaos in the beginning, but there was a lot of trauma to heal at that point. Now we are dealing mostly with the dissociation, and it’s a lot more difficult to undo, but we are getting there. I have a little blog over on wordpress under this name/Loving My DID Girl(s), but it never gained much traction, and so I’ve kind of let it go dormant for now. Philosophically I agree with much that is on this website, though it’s hard simply because our experience is so different than most here.
no nothing is wrong with you or anyone who experiences these kinds of things. The picture of the little bunny and fox says so much. I believe many early childhood abuse survivors view themselves thru that kind of a picture, even if their adults selves don’t realize it.
The ‘nice’ thing about my wife’s d.i.d. is it makes so many things extremely clear. And I still remember the various little girls (alters) telling me how scared each was and how little she felt, and my repeated reply to each was always, “I know you are scared, Honey. But you’re not alone anymore. I’m a big man. I’ve got you now because I take care of my little girls.” And that’s one aspect of how I helped walk my wife thru her paralyzing fear because I inserted myself into her picture of the little bunny and fox until she could see herself with me holding her, and that fox didn’t seem so scary with me in the picture.
In attachment terms they call it proximity maintenance. Mary Ainsworth had a lot to teach all of us in her strange situation protocols. The experts are (finally) beginning to study how attachment concepts apply throughout our lives and not just when we are little children, but pretty much I applied the majority of those concepts that they have identified, that are necessary to produce securely attached, healthy children, to my wife’s healing, and it’s been a godsend for us. Holding her thru that paralyzing fear that she experienced was just one thing attachment theory taught us.
I know each of us likes to view these issues thru various prisms like classes, ‘races’ economic structures, etc, but for me I see so much more relevance in the breakdown of family and social structures. There will always be a ruling, oppressive class to some extent: there always has been throughout the history of humankind, but when the family units and social structures are strong, they enable us to faces those adversities because we know that we are never truly alone in them like that little bunny facing the fox: someone actually is holding us and keeping us safe.
Capitalism is NOT the problem, nor is socialism the answer. The black and white fallacy going around this website gets tiring. You want socialism and to see how destructive it can be, just look south to Venezuela. And the Scandinavian states that everyone on the Left likes to point to are NOT socialist. They simply have a much bigger social, safety net than we do, but most of their industries are privately owned.
I would argue that Wall Street is much of the problem. It’s completely out of control. I read an interesting op-ed from the Left this past week that explained why OAC’s call for the 70% tax rate on the 1% is based in the history of this country, and has some good reasons for it. If I remember my history correctly, CEO’s in the 70’s made something like 60x’s the average worker, now it’s more like 400+. That’s immoral. But it’s just as immoral when I went to St. Martinique last Fall, a socialist paradise under the rule of France, and more than 40% of the populace doesn’t work because of their brand of socialism.
So, no, I don’t agree that capitalism is the problem. I believe an a-moral and unfettered capitalism is the problem. But on a similar note, I believe socialism could work under the right conditions, too, but certainly not one like we see in Venezuela or even more benignly in St. Martinique were laziness and sloth are tolerated.
Let’s talk about social nets. Let’s also discuss the value of work, even if it’s not one’s dream job. I have a college education but have worked in a factory for 25 years. I never would have chosen this, and I still hope to leave and do what is in my heart when my wife is in a better position, but this job has enabled me to raise our son and take care of my family, and for that I’m thankful.
I’m sorry the real point of my comment got lost in a poor attempt at a joke, of sorts. But as I re-read that first sentence, I can see why you took it the way you did.
are you just venting or looking for solutions? Not blaming you if you are just venting. I know Will Hall vents here sometimes, too, on the lack of progress.
I’ve often wondered what it would take to change things. My own failed attempt on my little blog to connect with other SO’s only left me with wondering what I did wrong, wondering if my wife had simply been willing to join me, would others have listened then? Wondering if I had just found the right ‘benefactor’ would that have enlarged my voice and audience? Wondering if I could get out the ‘love-story’ between me and all my wife’s ‘alters’ (I just got engaged to the first new girl. I’m pre-engaged to another. A third has expressed interest in doing so, and all the other little ones are deeply in love with me as a daddy figure: and it’s mutual on my side), would that bypass people’s defenses and apathy and make them willing to listen?
But, alas, I have no answers; just sadness that I failed and no matter how many times I’ve begged my wife (all of them) to join me and see if that changed the dynamics, she is terrified of the stigma this culture has about d.i.d. (thank you, Switch, et al, sigh).
“They were pointing out the contradictions in your posts for others’ benefit.”
You have framed that negatively. I choose to see it as Shaun F. struggling with new concepts within his old framework. And this website can give him the space and friendly people to help him as he grasps these new ideas and how to work them out practically in his life, or we can be pissy with him for ‘contradicting himself.” He has already shown himself open to new ideas and being ‘nudged’ in a direction that most of us would agree is better, but it’s a BIG deal to him. His way of life is on the line, and for anyone to act like it’s not a big deal is showing a total lack of empathy. I’d rather see him struggle with ideas and concepts and really embrace things as ‘his’ rather that people just bully him into something or put him down for ‘contradicting himself’…
Hi Shaun F,
I know you take a lot of flak on this website, but I think you are asking some of the right questions, and realizing there’s more to things than simply rebelling against ‘the system’. I’m sorry I don’t seem able to convey what my wife and I have learned. It seems you get hung up on her ‘extreme dissociation’ rather than understanding that we are ALL in the same boat; she just happens to be further along the spectrum than most, but NOT by any means the worst.
Her experience has taught me so much about how I function because I don’t view her in a different category from me. When we first started this journey, she repeatedly told me, “I don’t know what ‘healthy’ looks like, and so it forced me to become as healthy as I could so I could be a good example for her., and yet having distinct ‘alters’ allowed me/us to dissect the issues of trauma and dissociation and neural atrophy and attachment systems, etc in a way that would have been otherwise impossible if I’d had to figure it out using my own experience or others not so far along on the spectrum.
I had hoped to build some dialogue with you up above, so maybe that means you aren’t interested in my experience with my wife and I’ll stay out if you want me to do so.
Yes, it is about ‘brain wiring’. The trauma causes dissociation. Dissociation over time then causes neural atrophy. But even once the trauma is addressed and ‘healed’, the neural atrophy is still there. THAT is why I consider the dissociation worse than the trauma because it has taken me years to help my wife thru her various alters reinvigorate all those neural pathways that had atrophied to nearly non-existence. I promote lots of tasks that help them learn to work ‘together’.
But beyond that the dissociation also splits up the brain/mind’s traits/abilities and one alter may control the trait/ability that another needs to address other aspects of an issue she is struggling with. Say for instance eating issues (‘disorders’). One girl struggles greatly with her poor body image even though my wife has a 5’6″ frame and only weighs 127lbs. Well the other girls have a really GOOD body image. One girl told me, “I look damn good for 50!” But connecting her good self image to the girl with the bad self image takes time and reinvigorating those neural pathways and teaching them how to do it.
Trauma and dissociation and neural wiring and all that are all interwoven but they are not the same and they effect issues differently…
Dissassociation isn’t the real damage to the brain…it is trauma and will always be trauma. The interesting thing is that we all react differently to trauma.
Hi Shaun F.
I do understand why you would feel that way. In the d.i.d. world, most people do everything they possibly can to avoid dissociating. They treat it like the plague and as a result only 6% of the cases are ‘florid’ where you could actually meet the individual alters. So most of the common and expert literature view things like you do and don’t really understand that the trauma and the resultant dissociation have VERY different roles and effects upon a person’s brain/mind.
But my wife and I have welcomed and lived in ‘the dissociation’ for the last 11 years. We’ve embraced it, and it helped me see that the two really are different and cause different issues even though the trauma causes the dissociation initially.
The dissociation is far more destructive and difficult to undo than the original trauma and causes so many things that most people simply don’t understand because they never get to see it close up AND differentiated from the trauma. I realize I can’t possibly relay all I’ve learned in the confines of the comment section here, but maybe some day I’ll have the chance to do it more publicly.
now you’re talking my language, but I’m not sure I would say one’s dissociated brain/mind is ‘damaged’ unless you qualify it to mean fundamentally a different kind of damage than what the biochemical people mean.
If you want to assert that the ‘damage’ is similar as when one breaks one’s leg or other part of the body, then I think the analogy can be useful as I just used that analogy on another thread on MIA to try to explain how dissociation works in ‘psychosis’.
Dissociation does ‘damage’ the brain/mind in that just like a broken bone, we will stop using that appendage until it is healed. And just like broken bones that don’t heal, then other parts of the body are stressed because they try to take over for the part that isn’t healed, and so there becomes stress throughout the system and everything begins to break down some especially if the environment is hostile.
In a similar manner, when trauma, that is not healed and assimilated into one’s narrative, causes dissociation, the brain/mind begins to do ‘work-arounds’ in the neural pathways that it must take to maintain general functioning, but it also begins to lose access to traits and abilities where the dissociated memories are stored (I mentioned that to you personally in another thread but can’t remember where right now).
But thanks to what we know about neural plasticity, that damage is NOT permanent. Heal the trauma, and then, with help, the dissociation can start to be dismantled, but it’s a lot more work than those in ISSTD understand since they never get full access to the person’s system like a primary attachment figure/SO can have if s/he works to have it. Two of my wife’s littles helped me understand the key to undoing the dissociation when we began to redraw their inner working model (attachment theory).
So like you, I do believe in ‘damage’ if one qualifies it and differentiates it from the unchangeable, organic damage that the biochemical model espouses. And we shouldn’t get hung up on my wife’s ‘extreme’ dissociation. We all fall on that spectrum somewhere and learning to help her taught me how to deal with my own: my issues just weren’t as complicated.
“I will start bawling like it just happened yesterday. I don’t escape intensity of pain over time. It feels like it will never stop hurting.”
I understand that’s how it feels, but I assure you, with your husband’s help, you CAN heal and move on from the past. But it takes a willingness to eschew this culture’s infatuation with ‘independence.’ My wife and I have created a relationship of interdependence and all our points of ‘attachment’ that we have deliberately made strengthen her and help her heal, but they help me, too. No one is above needing another’s help and strength.
would your husband want me to help him learn to help you like I did for my wife? You don’t need to be trapped in the past trauma for the rest of your life, and he can expedite the healing once he understands how. Just have him shoot me an email. It’s just samruck2 at gmail dot com
Just be careful, Abrianna, when you seek out help. One would think that PTSD would be seen through the trauma paradigm of mental health rather than the biochemical model, and yet I got run off a ptsd site because I suggested PTSD can be completely healed if the traumatic memories are healed. Most there push the meds and their absolute belief that PTSD is a brain disorder.
And I only share that to make sure you are careful if you seek out expert help. Most of my wife’s PTSD symptoms are gone at this point because I learned how to apply the attachment principles of proximity maintenance, affect regulation and safe haven when she was experiencing them and little by little I got her thru them. In a nutshell, I just treated her like anyone wants to be treated when they are scared: I stayed close by, I allowed my calm demeanor to affect her feelings and I physically ‘enveloped’ her as I reminded her, “you are ok, now. I’ve got you. I’m sorry no one took care of you then: but I’ve got you now, and I take care of my girl.” (most of the ‘alters’ front as little girls) Yes, the PTSD seems to make people want to flee, but I was a ‘gentle burr’ that stuck with my wife, not overwhelming her, but just staying close so that she could feel my presence, and that’s what our brains need, that feeling of NOT BEING ALONE so that they can begin to process the trauma and move on.
And I am sorry your current residence triggers you so much. Is there any possibility of finding a new place? It’s hard to heal when you can never relax…at the same point, when my wife was triggered was when I learned to walk her thru the triggers and diminished their impact on her.
I do wish you and your husband well.
well you put so much in that comment. I can’t possibly comment on it all, but maybe I can hit a few points, and just a disclaimer: what I share is based on my wife’s experience and my experience helping her thru these things. Others may experience it differently and my generalizations are just that…
I do believe traumatic experiences can ‘alter’ the brain, but it’s not permanent thanks to neural plasticity. I think just like when we hurt our leg and arm, we protect it until it is healed. The brain/mind does the same with traumatic memories: until they can be ‘healed, that is understood and assimilated into one’s overall narrative, they will be ‘quarantined’ (or dissociated). The longer the quarantine the longer the brain has to do ‘work arounds’ because those memories take ‘storage space’ often associated with personality traits and mental abilities. Moreover, those quarantines are set at the time of the memories and so they stay ‘in the past.’ And so, my guess, the brain scans show parts of the brain under ‘quarantine’ and not accessible as much.
But our brain/mind doesn’t like quarantine: it seeks wholeness and so sometimes it will try to force those traumatic memories back into the general narrative of the person: that’s where you get the flashbacks, panic attacks, ‘psychosis’ and such. And I believe what is happening is an overlaying of past trauma to current reality which is why they feel so disorienting. Add to that the fact that so much trauma happened during childhood when we were highly symbolic and so to the outside person and the adult sufferer this all seems gibberish, but it was the best the child’s mind could do under traumatic circumstances without the aid of caring and protecting adults.
That’s where I or your husband can come in. When my wife was being assaulted by panic attacks, flashbacks, attachment theory teaches us that I can be a ‘safe haven’ and so I (literally) enveloped my wife like a harbor does a ship and I learned to calm her during those attacks: my presence gave her brain/mind the extra strength it needed to realize they were memories from the past, and little by little I helped her assimilate them into her current narrative and now it’s been years since she’s experience any of the worst of that stuff…but the time warp experience is still pretty heavy for the various girls (‘alters’). After 40-50 years of complete quarantine (dissociation) it’s hard to adjust to their new life in the present…but it comes little by little and I just walk with each where she is. I don’t force it, but I also make it clear that I hope some day they will ‘grow up’ and be willing to marry me, and in December the first one and I were engaged.
Anyway, that’s my layman’s explanation of what is going on. I really don’t believe in ‘psychosis’, and until I got on this website, I wasn’t used to the term and had to look it up to even see what everyone meant. To me ‘psychosis’ is simply what happens when a memory that is grounded in the past overlaps current reality, and the memory is so strong that it becomes disorienting to the person.
Now let me qualify this: my wife NEVER had any psych drugs. So everything I’ve said does NOT take into account any of the effects of those mind-altering drugs. But without drugs in the picture, that is how I would describe what my wife experienced and how I helped her thru much of it.
I do wish you well. Check out some of the sites that MIA lists, that will help you taper off the drugs. And hopefully your husband can continue to be a ‘safe haven’ and help you not feel so disoriented during the psychosis while your brain/mind is trying to assimilate the memories from the past. For my wife at this point, the last girl (alter) is still disconnected to the other 7, so when she switches out with any of the others, they simply ask me what’s going on/what they’ve missed and we go on: no big deal. I’m kind of their anchor that keeps them grounded, and your husband can learn to be the same for you.
Are you talking for yourself or just in general? I don’t know if you would accept any help from me, but I’ve had experience with my wife’s ‘voices’ for the last 11 years: how to engage and interact with them. I really don’t think someone needs an expensive class to do it, (sorry Sera) and I’d be happy to get you started. I think you would find it easier than you realize once you got going.
may I suggest you widen that scope? There are those of us who have had to learn how to walk a spouse through all those ‘extreme states’, how to pull my wife out of a catatonic state, how to pull her out of panic attacks, anxiety attacks, flashbacks, etc. Moreover, we are the ones who must securely attach someone whose attachment systems are completely broken down. We’re in the trenches 24/7. I don’t denigrate your experience or the ‘sufferers’, but we SO’s are in a unique position as well. I know that OD recognizes this to some degree, but your statement makes me wonder to what degree…
Yes, some of us can see that, Abrianna. When any of us get attacked, it’s so hard NOT to go on the defensive. I wish we weren’t ‘wired’ that way, but it seems like it’s kind of a default mode that takes a lot of work to overcome, and from the state of our entire country, I’d say not many have made the effort…
Thanks for sharing more, Abrianna,
I’m glad your husband is so supportive, and it sounds like he’s doing the EXACT right thing for you. It’s almost exactly how I’ve treated my wife’s various ‘alters’ (gag) when they share their fears with me. I can either validate the girls, take the fears seriously and help the girls thru the fears…or I can deny their fears and the girls simply hang onto those fears more tightly because ‘no one is listening.’ The former always works better than the latter, and yet so many take the latter route…
“That being said, it is acceptable for people not to appreciate certain aspects of an author’s blog and to say so in the comments section, as long as the comments themselves are within the guidelines. I know this can be tough for authors, but it is a reality that has to be respected if we are to have any kind of meaningful conversation about these topics. It is a balance that has to be struck, and the guidelines are the best way I think we have to strike such a balance.”
I don’t know, Steve, There’s got to be a better way. I’ve watched a number of authors get run off because they used the common vernacular and still retained at least part of the common mindset on this subject of mental health, and yet the staff clearly thought they had a story worth telling. It takes most people a while to learn there’s a new way to look at mental health issues: how we view it, talk about it, etc. We can’t just assume these authors are going to get it all right the first time unless there’s a LOT of heavy coaching and editing by the staff to help them.
To take the attitude that ‘it can be tough for authors’ means we continue to lose allies for no other reason than to allow the survivors to treat the authors in a manner that I bet they never treat anyone in real life. That’s not ‘giving them a voice’: it’s just giving them a pass to be disrespectful because of their past history of abuse. If we’d just been willing to teach the authors a little and work with them as they learned new ways to think and speak of this subject, they might stick around.
Abrianna is clearly an intelligent, articulate and studious young lady: she could end up being a great ‘point of light’ in this fight. And yet she was just as traumatized by this experience as kindredspirit and others, and this is NOT just because ‘you failed’ (in your own words) on this one, individual thread. I’ve watched this happen repeatedly even before you took over as moderator. I sincerely hope you all can figure out a better way to do this: one that respects everyone and yet gives everyone time and space to grow and learn.
Every time MIA invites an author to share his/her story, and he/she doesn’t use the ‘correct’ terminology or show the correct ‘attitude’ and perspective as defined by those on MIA, (and which I largely agree with!), then that author gets mercilessly attacked for his/her ignorance instead of trying to use that as a teachable moment. I DO understand that the survivors are triggered and quite naturally responding to the kind of language and attitudes that were used to dehumanize and traumatize them, but how will MIA ever expand the tent if it allows these authors to repeatedly get attacked in such a manner?
Not everyone hates you, Abrianna. I am truly sorry for the reception you got. This isn’t the first time this has happened. I wish MIA could figure this out. I hate to see everyone upset instead of finding our common ground to fight the real problems and issues.
I didn’t say you were judging her, and I am sorry she was violent toward you. I wasn’t calling you out on that. That was more for the other survivors to clarify that I understood their position and why they are upset.
But to you, I do hope you will stick around despite how you’ve been treated by some here and try to see what MIA is all about. It’s got a very different perspective than what you appear to be familiar with. We try to see past labels, diagnoses, and even actions and understand the ‘why’ people act the way they do, though you’ll see inconsistencies just because it’s hard to talk about things without a common language, and that language has, unfortunately, been shaped by the current cultural narrative on mental health/illness.
I’m sorry you were received so poorly at this website. I do agree with Oldhead and some of the others that you were kind of set up to fail which is unfortunate.
I think I can see through many of the statements you made that others found triggering since I’ve never been diagnosed or labeled by the mental health industry, but I admit even I was triggered a little when you described your experience of one person with multiple personality disorder…because my wife has d.i.d. and 11 years later I’ve yet to see her psychotic or dangerous: just traumatized and kind of in a ‘time-warp’ (to make it easy to understand).
It is clear that you have tried to read up on this issue; sadly there just isn’t a lot of alternatives to the information you have read. I don’t know if you would consider staying and trying to learn why others found your statements so upsetting. There is good information here and it might lead you to other sites as well.
Wishing you well,