Sunday, April 5, 2020

Comments by Sam Ruck

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  • Hi Sam,
    I’m sorry for the terrible things you’ve suffered at the hands of the ‘experts’, but I didn’t learn about attachment theory from them. My wife asked me NOT to read any of the literature out there the first couple of years we started our healing journey. And so she and I just kind of developed our own style. A lot of it was based on the Golden Rule, though I always tried to listen to her feedback if she didn’t like something I was doing.

    If she was crying or scared, I’d try to comfort her, just like I would want comforted if I were in her position. I spent many nights literally carrying her around the house as she would bury her face in my neck. I tried to be calm, when she couldn’t be. I learned to validate her fears from the past, but after I had done that, I redirected her to her new reality that she was no longer alone: I was with her and I would take care of her and protect her. It helped that the other girls (‘alters’) fronted as little girls because it helped me throw off the terrible maxims so many of us adults have been taught in our hyper-independent, western cultures to be strong, self-reliant and not ‘needy’.

    After a few years of us doing things our own way, I thought I ought to read and see why things were going relatively well for us, and that was when I ‘discovered’ attachment theory…but it was just stuff we’d been doing all along since we didn’t have anyone to tell me otherwise (that’s also when I found out I was doing things all ‘wrong’ according to the ‘experts’ despite how well she was doing, lol). After that I became a little more purposeful about some of the best points of that theory, but I in no way changed how we’d been doing things from the start.

    As for the ‘navel gazing’, my wife used to get caught up in that, too, and I try to steer her away from it. I tell her, “let’s just focus on the trauma and the dissociation, and the rest of the stuff will take care of itself” and for the most part that has been true.

  • Hi Phoebe,
    thank you for the affirmation: I’m glad your own life affirmed the effectiveness of attachment techniques for even the most extreme of altered states. My wife went thru the entire gamut, and we never had to resort to drugs or forced interventions.. Maybe some day I will be able to do an article or series here as you suggest. There is such a desperate need to teach non-medical interventions to those who surround someone in distress.

  • Hi Sandra,

    since you gave me the link to this article of yours in our brief interaction a month ago, I read it, again. I read you and your husband’s recent interview in the Psychiatric Times that MIA gave a link to in their “Around the Web” section and it made me think of you. I tried to track down a contact email for you on the internet, but then wondered if that might feel creepy…sigh.

    You said you intended to go thru more of my personal blog, but then my wife and I left for Europe and the holidays hit, and I never heard back from you. Maybe you found nothing of interest there, nothing that might help with even a few of your questions that you throw out in this blog and elsewhere…and if that’s the case, then maybe I really have nothing to offer…I can’t get my wife to join me in my efforts to change the conversation on how to approach extreme mental distress issues, no matter how often I beg her, and nothing I have tried on my own for these last 11 years has been accepted by any corner of the discussion on dissociation, ptsd, attachment concepts, mental health, the SO’s place in the healing journey, or anywhere else I have tried to find a ‘home’ for myself. I just, literally, seem to fit nowhere in this world or its internet…and that’s a really hard reality to have to face…

    Our son lives over in Waltham, outside Boston. Sometimes I wish I could stop by your place, even if I had to pay for your time, and just figure out if I really have wasted my life and these last 11 years, especially, as I carried my wife thru all the issues that come from extreme dissociation, thinking I could show the world a better way to approach mental distress. But no one wants to listen…and I’m really running out of hope and strength to keep trying to make a difference.

    I know this ‘comment’ really ought to be in private, but I didn’t know how to get it to you, and maybe you won’t even see it now as this is such an old blog of yours. I do wish you well and am glad there are people out there like you who are brutally honest with the truth…even if you found nothing of any value that I had to share…

  • Hi Steve,

    well, I did qualify my response because Ayurdhi writes in a more clinical style than I am used to reading. That’s why I wrote ‘if I’m reading this correctly.’ It seemed that this blog was a largely positive portrayal of the study designed by Marlowe, Perry and Lee. But I am aware that I was going against the prevailing negative opinion of this blog in the comments section.

    So with that said, IF I am reading Ayurdhi correctly, then I stand by what I stated previously. I have tried many times to lay out my understanding of dissociation on this website to little effect. But I do understand my understanding isn’t mainstream but has come after 11 years of walking thru its many aspects with my wife on our healing journey. I would love to do a series on dissociation here like I did on my personal blog, but I won’t hold my breath. I think it would help make sense of the many confounding things that the various authors on this website note, but have no explanation for. And that’s why I tried to interject my understanding into this blog because the original authors seem to understand there is something more going on than they can explain: thus, their call for further study. I see it thru the lens of dissociation and thus, I think their study is a great start and hope they will continue to pursue it.

  • Madmom,
    I don’t know if you’d be open to my experience as I literally, at times, carried my wife thru her extreme states and PTSD symptoms…
    There are 3 concepts from attachment theory that were vital for me to ‘master’ as I helped my wife thru these various experiences, though much of it I would categorize as simply being a good parent or SO.
    1) affect regulation. This first concept is most easily understood that the person in distress will mirror your reaction to the situation. If you stay calm and cool when she’s in the midst of an extreme state, that WILL affect her and calm her, too, but if you ‘lose it’, that will cause her to escalate. You’ve probably seen this concept played out in movies and such when all hell breaks loose but the ‘leader’ of the group keeps his cool and thus enables the rest of his/her band of followers to follow that lead.
    2) Proximity maintenance. Basically this means that your very presence has a calming effect upon the person in distress. You don’t always have to say something. Sometimes just your presence can be calming, but this is important: don’t minimize the importance of touch if your daughter is in a place to receive it. We humans need non-sexual touch to feel connected, and I have made it a hallmark of how I keep my wife connected to me for these last 11 years. You would almost always see me with my arm around her, or holding her hand or sometimes I’ll simply reach out and touch fingertips or rub noses or stroke her hair or her cheek. All these little things are powerful ways to emphasize that she is NOT alone. She is connected. And that connection, that attachment is what will hold her when the extreme states would otherwise overwhelm her.
    3) Safe Haven. To me I always visualize this as protected ship harbor during a hurricane. She would often run away from me when she felt scared and overwhelmed, but I NEVER let her be alone during those times no matter how much she would try to push me away. It was a balancing act, and so I was careful not to force myself upon her, but I would gently envelope her with my presence, with my words, with my affirmation. If she was hiding under a table or something, I would crawl under it with her and wrap her up loosely in my arms and legs and just whisper to her, “it’s ok now, Honey. I’ve got you. You are safe now. You aren’t alone anymore. I hear you. I’m so sorry I couldn’t be there with you before, but I’ve got you now.”
    But I think safe haven also means when she thought she was going crazy and all the other derogatory things she’d safe about herself, I’d respond, “No, Honey, you’re just hurt. We’ll get thru this.” I had to learn NOT to overreact to all the things that got thrown my way. It really helped me once I understood what was going on inside of her.

    Now you’ve got the additional issue of the drugs, so everything might not ‘make sense’ in time like it did for me, but I’ve had to deal with mini-seizures, her going comatose, panic attacks, extreme anxiety, flashbacks, night terrors, self-injury issues, and more…but at this point, all those things are a distant memory and she hasn’t had anymore for years.

    I’d say the main issue was me. Once I got my ‘stuff’ together, my wife began to make much greater progress. Like it or not, we the SO’s and family and friends can make all the difference as the ‘primary attachment figures’ in the lives of our loved ones. Yes, it is exhausting, but we made it, and you can, too. You’re welcome to email me, if you’d ever like to correspond more.

  • Ontological insecurity is defined as Quote:
    “Vulnerability to psychosis, wherein the self is experienced as lacking in coherence and consistency, precariously separated from the body, others, and the world and on the brink of disintegration into psychosis.”

    If I’m reading this correctly, this is just another way of saying ontological insecurity is the result of major, entrenched dissociation caused by trauma. From my understanding of how psychosis is described, I think it can be understood as the mind’s attempt to reintegrate dissociated, traumatic memories but as it attempts to do so, there is an overlap between the past memory and current reality which leaves the person experiencing it disoriented and unable to tell the difference between past and present. If I’m correct, it’s why I really don’t believe in psychosis because I think it would be better explained as experiencing overlapping realities (one past; one present) rather than the more common view that it is a ‘break’ from reality.

    According to R. D. Laing’s theory, ontological insecurity could lead to full blown psychosis when significant others interact with a person in a confusing, intense, and critical way. At its core it is the lack of a coherent and stable self. It is related to a crippling fear of loss of autonomy, especially the fear of engulfment, implosion, or depersonalization, in relationships with others.

    This is where the SO’s understanding of the attachment concepts of ‘safe haven’ and ‘affect regulation’ and ‘proximity maintenance’ are key. It really didn’t matter which attachment style my wife was currently experiencing when she was in an ‘extreme state.’ What mattered was that I satisfied her need for a safe haven and affect regulation by remaining calm, cool and anchoring her to the present and that I was physically present. A few times I let her pull me into her fear/anguish from the extreme state, and then I just elevated her distress, but when I stayed grounded, I was able to ground her and she would more quickly come out of those states, and, happily, that is what her mind seemed to need to begin the process of integrating those traumatic memories into her personal narrative to the point now that she rarely experiences ‘extreme states’ and they are rather mild when she does.

    I believe attachment concepts provided me a way to ‘hold’ my wife during psychotic-like events, gently cocooning her while she herself felt ‘ontologically’ fractured and insecure, and by me doing so, it gave her time to heal and gain that sense of self-security that she had previously lacked.


  • Thanks for sharing, Bob.

    Every time I read one of these heartbreaking stories, it makes me so glad my family and I side stepped all the pain and misery caused by the mental health system and its drugs despite our path not being an easy one. Maybe some day we’ll find a mutually amenable way that I can share how we did it here on MIA.

    But I can certainly empathize with Zel: I have struggled with similar thoughts for decades though for completely different reasons. It really is too bad that so many people in this world are too blind and self-absorbed to see those who are suffering alone, and how it strengthens both people when they learn to ‘attach’ to each other.

  • As someone with 11 years of lived experience, that is living with someone (my wife) who would be considered to have a ‘severe mental illness” I 1) don’t consider her dangerous, 2) don’t consider her crazy, 3) and don’t consider her biologically, mentally ill and in need of drugs to ‘control’ her. I am truly horrified by this push of Trump and Dr. Drew in the wrong direction.

  • Sam Plover,
    I looked back over my response just to make sure, but I never said I was ‘fixing’ my wife. I do NOT see that as the case. I have an older brother who tried to ‘fix’ his 2nd wife, and it didn’t end well.

    As for me and my wife, we live together, we interact together, I love her, I support her where she needs it. Yes, I do a lot of things intentionally to create a loving and safe environment for her to heal, but I never see myself as ‘fixing’ her despite her many dissociative issues. We are in this healing journey together. I have had to change in many, many ways to be a good healing companion for her. It’s not all about her: it’s about us.


  • Hey Bob,
    I’m glad to hear that MIA is growing and expanding and from your opinion, you seem to think the tide is turning: that’s very different from many other writers on this site who bemoan the lack of progress. I hope you are correct!

    I’ve been frequenting this website for nearly 5 years. Philosophically, I thought I’d finally found a ‘home’ here, but then I learned I’m not really part of the in group because I’m not a survivor or a therapist and I didn’t stick my loved one in the system with horrible results. I’m just a husband who has spent the last 11 years, 24/7 doing everything and anything it takes to keep my wife’s story from being the same as most on this website. And for the most part we are thru it, together and better, both of us changed from the experience of walking it as a couple and family.

    I’ve argued without effect that people in my role, the SO’s, family members and friends are the front lines in the battle. When people in mental distress begin to experience ‘extreme states’ as this site calls them, what’s a person going to do? Do they call the cops or experts? I haven’t seen anyone here teach others in my place how to deal with panic attacks, flashbacks, mini-seizures, going comatose, extreme anxiety, PTSD issues, dissociation, self-injury, hearing ‘voices’ and all the other things that typically drive them to call for help, for backup, even if it’s bad help and backup in the form of the mental health ‘experts.’ There’s not a single Open Dialogue practitioner here in Ohio: so who are people in my position going to turn to?

    Maybe MIA has decided people in my position are not their core focus group, and that’s your right to do so. But I don’t see the tide truly turning until people learn how to deal with these issues on their own or have good help concretely available.

    I do wish you and MIA the best,

  • Dear Sandra,

    I always appreciate your articles. You are always so careful with the facts and try so hard not to over or understate things. You are willing to live with difficult, messy realities when surrounded by so many ideologues.

    I got thrown into this world of mental distress because the woman I love finally opened her own Pandora’s box after 20 years of marriage and we got sucked into it together as we tried to make sense of the hurt, pain and dysfunction and find a healing path forward, together, as a couple and as a family. Eleven years later we are still together on the journey, and I hope coming to the conclusion of this phase, though that may be wishful thinking.

    I’ve always wished I could find someone like you who would be willing to sit down and listen to the things we learned about fully implementing attachment concepts in a way that even the attachment theorists simply don’t understand because they limit themselves. And I wish I could share with someone like you about the true scope and nature of dissociation and how it underlies so much of what you would see in people’s signs of mental distress. My wife and I chose to live in her dissociation. We embraced it, breathed it, walked in it, and conquered it. I’ve helped her integrate most of those dissociated areas of her mind, and though we aren’t completely done, we know what needs to be done.

    I wish someone like you would be willing to read my feeble attempt to share what we learned about attachment concepts and dissociation. I tried to share them in my little blog, but I know they would never withstand critical scrutiny, as I just tried to share my observations about what worked and then tried to find a theoretical basis for why they worked, and so I’m sure I got a lot of it wrong even though what we did, did work.

    I’m glad you like Open Dialogue. Someone who practices it here in the States out West said what I do with my wife would be a good fit with their philosophy, but there’s no one here in Ohio for me to connect with.

    Anyway, I do wish you well and hope you find what you are looking for like my wife and I did.

  • The article was extremely brief and really didn’t get into much and appears to be gearing toward a promotional for the attachment ‘interventions’ that the author offers thru his clinic. I’m afraid that it will promote therapists as a legitimate source to heal attachment issues, and though I do think they can be a resource for healing/changing one’s attachment issues, I really don’t think someone whose relationship is based on the flow of money is a good person to model to the ‘patient’ how to securely attach in a healthy relationship.

  • Well, hello David,

    apparently we are fellow Buckeyes. I will definitely contact the email you gave, though at this point, I’m hoping my wife and I are on the far end our healing journey, though that could be wishful thinking, lol, as the last girl to join our family has taken longer to get connected to the others than all the rest combined, sigh.

    I have walked with my wife thru her d.i.d. for the last 11 years, without the use of medications and outside the mental health industry. I accepted where she was and then we walked together from there to create our own reality as we both have healed and changed and grown. I never treated her as if she was crazy, but validated all the experiences that come along with extreme dissociation, such as voice hearing and a host more.

    Take care.

  • Hello Itay,
    I admit I struggled with your use of ‘anarchy’ in this article: I think your use of ‘egalitarian’ and some of your other word choices, at least to me, better represent what I believe is the intent of your message.

    I love Open Dialogue from ‘afar’ having never had the change to experience it on the healing journey that my wife and I have been on, but I was told by one of it’s practitioners that what I do with my wife fits very well with their philosophy.

    And I’m not sure why the swipe at marriage in the book you referenced: when my wife and I first began our journey together, over and over, she wanted to be reassured of my absolute commitment to her if she was going to visit the deepest, darkest corners of her childhood and it was ONLY within those safe confines of our marriage that she felt able to go where she had ignored for so long.

    But our egalitarian relationship and the contribution it engenders to our journey together most definitely fits with the spirit that seems to undergird your article. I have made attachment concepts the bedrock of everything we do to create a strong, cohesive relationship that can withstand the extreme pressure her many dissociative issues have brought our way…and thus far that has meant the difference of us not only staying together but growing stronger as a couple and family as she has healed in ways that many say is impossible without the use of any drugs or being connected to the mental health system at all.

    I wish you all the best. We are excited to visit your country very soon!

  • Boans,
    I never realized until years later that one of the most important things my wife ever asked me when we first started our healing journey was for me NOT to read anything about her issues, and I honored that request. That gave us about 2 or 3 years to develop a system of me helping her that truly worked for her and us.

    Later I started to read the literature out there, and only then did I realize how radically differently we were doing things, but by then I was unaffected because I’d already seen the extremely positive results we were getting.

    It is too bad that so many families that want to help are instead ‘turned to the dark side’ so to speak and become agents of more pain and suffering instead of the healing agents they could be.

  • I think this movement has struggled, in my opinion, because it doesn’t know how to get past its fundamental refutation of the biomedical model of mental health and heart breaking stories by those harmed by the mental health system. Yes, those things are important, but when loved ones are experiencing ‘extreme states’ which are NOT drug induced, then how do the people around them help without knee-jerk calling the police or authorities? How do families raise children who aren’t even enticed by drugs and so many of the other things that people use to dull their overwhelming pain? How do people navigate the overwhelming stress that 21st-century life places on all of us, not just the poor and people of color, though it may be exacerbated within those groups?

    Until the movement empowers and teaches those around the person in distress how to help AND how not to freak out, I think the default is going to be to bring in the ‘authorities’, never realizing they themselves are actually the only people who can walk someone thru ‘psychosis’, extreme anxiety, paralyzing fears, ‘paranoia’, mini-seizures, dissociative issues, becoming comatose, flashbacks, panic attacks, and more.

    I contacted Open Dialogue a few weeks ago to see if there was anyone in Ohio that I could team up with, and there’s not a single practitioner here. That’s really sad. Until we start giving real, practical alternatives to people, they are going to go to the ONLY help there is, even if it’s terrible help.


  • I’m not thrilled with the amoral and unfettered capitalism that we are seeing today as Wall Street cares ONLY about padding the profits of the 1%, but I think this struggle is so much bigger than the Left/Right divide. Maybe this review is misleading.

    Anyway, I think this movement has struggled, in my opinion, because it doesn’t know how to get past its fundamental refutation of the biomedical model of mental health and heart breaking stories by those harmed by the mental health system. Yes, those things are important, but when loved ones are experiencing ‘extreme states’ which are NOT drug induced, then how do the people around them help without knee-jerk calling the police or authorities? How do families raise children who aren’t even enticed by drugs and so many of the other things that people use to dull their overwhelming pain? How do people navigate the overwhelming stress that 21st-century life places on all of us, not just the poor and people of color, though it may be exacerbated within those groups?

    Until the movement empowers and teaches those around the person in distress how to help AND how not to freak out, I think the default is going to be to bring in the ‘authorities’, never realizing they themselves are actually the only people who can walk someone thru ‘psychosis’, extreme anxiety, paralyzing fears, ‘paranoia’, mini-seizures, dissociative issues, becoming comatose, flashbacks, panic attacks, and more.

    I contacted Open Dialogue a few weeks ago to see if there was anyone in Ohio that I could team up with, and there’s not a single practitioner here. That’s really sad. Until we start giving real, practical alternatives to people, they are going to go to the ONLY help there is, even if it’s terrible help.


  • KindRegards,

    I would even suggest that faith is a VERY powerful force for healing. My wife’s faith, her belief in a higher power, has been instrumental as I’ve helped her move past the lies of the past, but even more importantly, as I’ve helped her ‘restructure’ her internal working model from that of a trauma victim to a more healthy, securely attached person. Without her faith, I honestly don’t know how she would have been able to tear down the dissociation between the various girls. And whether critics want to argue it was a placebo effect or proponents say it truly is Jesus answering those prayers, in the end, without her faith that He was doing it, I’m not sure it would have happened.


  • Lawrence,
    I spent most of my life as a born again evangelical. I have a ministry degree with a biblical studies major. But in the course of the healing journey my wife and I have been on the past 11 years, I reevaluated everything, including my faith. The cognitive dissonance that had always screamed inside my head on some points between my faith and ‘the real world’ no longer could be ignored. I just didn’t have emotional strength to support anything that wasn’t pragmatically helpful in my desperation to keep me, my wife and our son together and moving forward in our journey.

    And so I will give you that there are many, obvious areas to me in which most Christians engage in cognitive dissonance to uphold their faith and still function in this world. But it’s no different than the cognitive dissonance and blind faith that I see in the mental health experts or the macro evolutionists whom you seem to think are above such human foibles. Come to Ohio, and I’ll share some of my library that reduces many of the materialistic-evolutionary tenets down to what they really are: blind faith of its adherents. I’ve got an especially funny book, just of quotes, of the biggest names in the movement that shows their candor about their faith’s inherent unscientific basis within their own priesthood and yet they still promote it zealously to the public thru their willing conspirators in the media. I’ve often thought of suggesting MIA create a similar book of quotes of the priesthood of psychiatry and big pharma.

    I’ll be honest. I don’t really know what I am anymore. I don’t really fit much in the traditional sense of Christianity, but I do tire of people who clearly don’t understand the bible but love to wrench a few proof texts out to prove this or that point. I just don’t understand MIA’s willingness to promote these facile attacks on Christianity, other than it seems to be politically correct and acceptable nowadays. If they want an honest critique of Christianity, I could give them an insider’s view as someone who has dealt with the problems, but also still sees value in some of the over arching themes and narratives that have helped me and my family stick together and witness her healing in a way that the mental health experts tell me is impossible. It would be a lot more honest evaluation than this critique has been.

  • Hello Ayurdhi,

    there is so much in your article that is positive, but it’s just a start. I do hope this vein of thinking will be pursued further as our family has validated many of the concepts and findings you bring up.

    I’ve never really cared for the term psychosis as I find it to be an judgmental term, almost a pejorative, by those on the outside to absolve them from entering the experience of another. If my wife is ‘psychotic’ then I have no responsibility to try to understand what she is experiencing. But I never took that route, and instead deeply entered her experience, and once there, I found that so much of her experience made sense. And from that point, she and I could walk together to find a way out of the things that were dysfunctional and yet we also found many new ways of seeing things that added to our relationship and life. It really wasn’t all bad, though it was very difficult.

    I might point you to attachment theory and its concepts of proximity maintenance, affect regulation and safe haven. They were absolutely critical in helping me steady my wife thru her ‘extreme states’. Once I learned to be the ‘calm in her storms’, her storms began to calm as well, and then that was the place at which real and deep healing began for her.

    I wish you well,

  • Thankyou, Kindredspirit, for expressing many of my exact thoughts, but I thought this website is so far to the Left that it would shut me down and sensor me for saying so. This entire debate from both sides misses the point and it saddens me that the issue has only been further muddied and made worse by the current state of war between the two tribes…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Respectfully, Bob,

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

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

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


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

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

  • rasselas.redux,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Rachel,

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

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

  • Hello Bippyone,

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

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

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

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

  • Ekaterina,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    I wish you deep healing and all the best.

  • Hi Lucy,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Someone else,

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

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

    At least that has been our experience.

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

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

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


  • Rachel,

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

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

  • 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. 🙁


  • 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.

  • LittleTurtle,

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

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

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

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

  • 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.

  • Hello May-May,

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

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

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

    Wishing you well.

  • “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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Wishing you well,

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

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

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

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

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

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


  • Hi Fred,

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

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

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

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

    Wishing you well.

  • Hi Eric,

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

    If you had interest, I could discuss it further.

  • Bruce,

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

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

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


  • Hi Teresa,

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

    I wish you well.

  • Hi Sera,

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

    Wishing you the best.

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

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

  • Eric,

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

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

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

    Wishing you well.

  • 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…

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


  • Steve,

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

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

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

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

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


  • 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.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • “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…