Monday, September 21, 2020

Comments by Sam Ruck

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  • “There is a radical need for a world where ‘us and them,’ ‘center and margin,’ and ‘normal and crazy’ are no longer needed.”
    Perhaps this best describes the path my wife and I have taken. I see her fundamentally as no different than myself. I believe our refusal to embrace the dichotomy between ‘survivors’ and ‘the rest of us’ is why my wife and I sidestepped so many of the issues that have engulfed all parties within the mental health industry/world and most attempts to reform it.

  • Hello Dmitriy,
    Thank you for sharing your life and experiences.

    My wife and I have walked this healing journey together, as equals. I almost always engaged her ‘voices’ first because of the dissociation she experienced. The loving and respectful relationship I developed with each one was instrumental in her overall healing and the eventual tearing down of the dissociative walls so that she could make a new, corporate life with each voice. I did things she absolutely couldn’t do for herself, and yet we learned to how to do it in ways so her agency was never diminished nor did I ever abuse the potentially huge power differentials in our relationship (she is a housewife). We are both richer for the journey and I learned much about myself and my own inner workings as well.


  • I’ve tried for a day to formulate some kind of response to this study. I guess it’s always good to look for alternative treatments, but I still have major problems even using the word ‘psychotic.’ It prejudges the person’s experience by those on the outside instead of helping the person to find meaning and a way thru it.

    I googled psychosis, again, and it’s known to be a symptom: so why are they still taking a symptomatic approach rather than dealing with the real issue? Coping is not healing. Therapists cannot be the main therapeutic instrument in the sufferer’s life.
    I understand sometimes symptoms must be reduced so that the real issues can be addressed, but there are so many questions this study didn’t answer or even attempt to address, sigh.

  • Hmmm…
    Well, I guess I should state first that my wife and I feel fortunate that we really didn’t have to deal with incest issues in her past, but that doesn’t mean many of the issues brought up by this author had no bearing in our healing journey. and her extreme position on many of these issues, imo, hurt the cause of survivors rather than help.
    1) Her critique of the FMSF is rather simplistic. The d.i.d. world is extremely familiar with this society and its attempts to discredit survivors while protecting offending family members, and yet that doesn’t mean there is no credibility to the malleability of memories and how therapists of the past blatantly manipulated survivor memories and produced wild claims of satanic ritual abuse and more and paraded d.i.d. patients around talk shows like circus freaks while they stoked their own careers and egos.

    Dealing with dissociated memories is a delicate dance of validating the person and what is uncovered while at the same time understanding that these memories can be vague, symbolic at times, trapped in childish understandings, and fragmentary until other pieces of the puzzle are revealed later in the journey, etc.

    The FMSF’s disingenuous attempts to discredit survivors doesn’t mean survivors’ memories are infallible. I ALWAYS validated my wife, but I also gave her the space and safety to later alter those declarations of memories as other pieces of the puzzle were added to clarify things, and some pieces may always be lost to the fog and mist of things that happened 4 and 5 decades ago.

    2) The author’s definition of incest is so wide as to render it meaningless. If she’s going to expand it to mean family friends, other children, pastors/priests, or ‘anyone who betrayed the child’s innocence and trust’, then it loses power as it alienates thoughtful people who might otherwise affirm the horror of incest. It’s an overreach that does NOT help survivors. Incest is clearly defined as sexual abuse (in all its forms) within the family and relatives, period.

    3) Validating and believing the survivor doesn’t automatically transfer into a legal ability to bring justice against the perpetrators and recognizing that reality seems to be a problem for some. It’s a conundrum that is frustrating and upsetting.

  • Hi Karin,
    this is a very powerful story. I’m very sorry for all you suffered just because others couldn’t handle your grief.

    I did much the same for my wife as I walked with her thru the healing journey, though I always told her I was ‘sharing’ and ‘helping to carry’ her fear so that she didn’t have to do it alone. It seems we possibly mean the same but say it differently as your friends appeared to do for you the same as I did for her.
    Best of wishes,

  • I think it’s important to remember that Dr. Aftab should probably be considered an ally to those of us in the critical psychiatry camp: His attempts to bring nuance to the debate may be frustrating to those in the anti-psychiatry camp who want to burn it all down, but my reading of that interview was a very careful dance he did, allowing Lucy to have a clear voice on her position while articulating many of the refutations, deflections, and many other spurious arguments the mainstream psychiatrists would suggest to ignore and caricature any who oppose the status quo. He has an audience that many will never have, and if he alienates it with the passionate rhetoric of those in either of our camps, he will lose his chance to continue to move those who are moveable. I know that’s not what the victims of psychiatry want to hear, but it is reality.

    Thank you, Lucy, for putting yourself out there especially in light of the ‘refutations’ at the end and the haters on Twitter.

  • Mark,
    I wish I could give you a ‘big name.’ I started a blog 10 years ago geared toward SO’s and families and to teach them how to be involved in the healing(recovery) journey. My wife and I gravitated toward attachment concepts as the best means to hold all of us (including our now adult son) together as we walk thru the various issues created by her extreme childhood trauma and dissociation. Though we haven’t ‘arrived’, she has recovered to the point she tells me she just doesn’t fit in most survivor/trauma boards online.

    But the blog never gained the traction I had hoped for though I met others doing similar things. My best guess is that those of us who are doing this are so involved we just don’t have much time for anything else. And I’m unaware of anyone else advocating for this, but I can’t believe I’m the only one.

    Personally, I wish I could team up with Open Dialogue, but there’s no one in Ohio who does that and so we largely continue to walk on our own, outside the mental health system.

  • Mark,
    the fact that you would leave SO’s and families out of your PowerPoint list of people in your ranks is incredibly dispiriting and indicative of why, I believe, this movement continues to falter. Our son and I single handedly kept his mom/my wife out of the mental health system by giving her 24/7 coverage for 5 years when all hell broke loose as we started our healing journey together. 7 years later I still do all kinds of things to help and support her. I have always had her 100% full recovery in mind and work every day toward that goal doing ‘whatever it takes’ to see all the trauma and dissociation healed and reintegrated into her personal narrative.

    There is a small band of us on the frontlines despite the lack of affirmation here and elsewhere. I hope some day that changes and what we have learned and accomplished is recognized as integral to the fight against the dehumanization of those who have suffered mental health trauma/distress.

  • dfk,
    though I don’t accept or use the term ‘psychosis’ because it shows a judgmental ignorance (imo) of what is really happening, I do agree it’s a ‘software’ issue. After walking with my wife for 13 years in this, I think much of non-drug induced ‘pyschosis’ is related to dissociation and overlapping mental realities (past and present). I help her reprogram her software by walking with one foot in her “Matrix” and one foot in the present. I don’t demand that she change, but simply am a safe companion for her, interacting with her where she is and helping her as needed, and slowly she is moving from the past to the present at a rate that she is comfortable changing as she brings those dissociated areas into her general narrative.

  • “The fundamental principles that guided the authors’ rights-based approach are participation and empowerment, equality and non-discrimination, quality and diversity of care, social inclusion, autonomy, and dignity. ”
    I find most of these principles worthy of recognition, but I do have concerns about autonomy. No one is an island, and the demand for autonomy is just more of excessive western independence rearing its ugly head. It’s almost ironic that they put social inclusion right before autonomy: you can’t have it both ways in my opinion and even less in the intimate relationships of family and SO’s/spouses where a rights-based approach truly needs to be hashed out and everyone must learn and/or be taught how to honor each one’s dignity and agency in the context of relationships…which can’t only be one way…but flow in all directions.

    I find it a little telling that the article this was based upon mentioned Open Dialogue and then spent NO time dealing with the issue of family/SO’s. ‘Peers’ are well and good, but it is family that can either be the best or worst partners on a healing journey. We are the only ones who are truly set up to give long-term 24/7 coverage and who are probably willing to make the necessary sacrifices to do so like our son and I did for my wife. I doubt any ‘peer’ would give 13 years of his/her life to commit to walk the healing journey, and despite the bad rap family often gets on this website, I bet many family members/SO’s would be willing to do so if only they were taught and given the tools to help rather than abdicate what ONLY they can do to the ‘experts’ at the urging of NAMI.

  • Sera,
    I wonder if Bradford meant to capitalize ‘here’ also…meaning your privilege on this website, though the website’s reach is little comparatively.

    As for the tone or ‘style’ as you say, yes, this article was a struggle for me to get thru, and I typically enjoy your articles. One of the girls in my wife’s system is a social justice warrior, and she has helped me move to a more -balanced (i.e. center/right) position on most issues, but this kind of read more like something I’d see on Slate. If I used similar, derogatory language coming for my formerly, far-Right perspective, it would never even make it thru the moderators, and it shouldn’t.
    The style detracts from your article.

  • I’m afraid that having an ‘urge for a social approach to mental health’ will lead to dead ends, at times, just like the biomedical approach has. When any of us force fit mental health/trauma into a preconceived paradigm to fit our proclivities, then it closes us to the things which don’t fit into that paradigm…and not all trauma is socially/culturally based by any means.
    This approach by HVM is very concerning, even if it is a little better than the biomedical approach.

  • Thanks Snowyowl, I just wish MiA would be willing to find a solution like Open Dialogue apparently has (according to Steve) for us to truly partner together. I know I could offer more to this movement to end the dehumanization that so many of you have experienced. I kept my wife from it: I think I could teach others in my position who would have interest to do the same.

  • Steve,
    my wife and I will have been married 32 years in 4 days. In a relationship of any duration NEITHER voice can be raised above the other. Both have to be heard and given equal weight. Moreover, in a very real sense her issues are my issues. I can’t help but be affected by everything happening within her, and vice versa.

    Now I understand that many spouses and partners do NOT take the path I have taken, but I wonder how many who end up at NAMI do so out of good faith. I contacted them once because I was desperate, alone, and needed help. In the beginning of our journey I was absolutely overwhelmed and our son and I gave my wife 24/7 coverage for 4 years while he attended a local university and I worked 2nd shift, and yet she still wasn’t physically safe and for a year or more was covered in bruises, and she had many, nearly-broken bones because the new girls didn’t know how to ‘use’ the body very well. I had new girls trying to jump out of cars going 70mph or running thru moving traffic or wanting to buy fairy wings from the store so they could jump off buildings and fly! And that’s just the tiniest tip of the iceberg! When you all tell people in my position that our voice is 2nd class and we are engulfed in this kind of stuff, how many stick around? I’m not here near as much as I used to be for that very reason.

    The way to beat NAMI isn’t by belittling what the family is going thru but by showing them a better, though harder, way, and giving them the support to walk it with the person who is suffering. Again, I learned to wade through all the issues: I’m NOT special. I just refused to give up on my marriage and my wife. If we helped others, they might be willing to do the same!

  • Sera,
    I believe systemic problems are changed one story at a time until it reaches critical mass like, hopefully, BLM seems to be doing now. None of us change the past: we change today and hopefully that changes the arc for the future like I’m trying to do with my little family. It’s unfortunate you are turning me into an ‘exception’ rather than seeing me as a potential ‘example.’ I may never have ‘othered’ my wife, but it still took me years to learn how to change our relational dynamics, how to fully implement attachment concepts to hold us together as we walked thru hell and help heal her own attachment system, how to see thru ‘extreme states’ so they became understandable, and thus healable, etc. I will never fully understand what my wife experiences but neither will she understand fully what I do on our journey, but that doesn’t stop us from treating each as equals. And if I could learn to do this, others could too. I don’t want to be an ‘exception’ but I do wish I could help others in a way that I never got any help for myself.

  • Sera,
    I agree with much you have said, but I hope some day you will see that you seem to be judging our situation from YOUR experience. If that isn’t the case, then I apologize. It took me years to learn to see everything my wife was going thru by HER perceptions of it. My wife has never been ‘psychiatrized’ and as for being ‘diagnosed’ well, that was by an alternative counselor and, once I quickly got past the Hollywood caricature, for me it simply meant ‘your wife was deeply traumatized and is dealing with massive dissociation.’ Everything else we learned together, on our own, apart from the system because she even made me promise NOT to read any books on the subject (until years later). So I entered the journey without any preconceived ideas. We just kind of ‘fell into’ attachment strategies as the best thing to help us thru this. Later I became better educated on that subject, so I could help my wife even more, and so I owe much to John Bowlby for the road map he unknowingly provided us!

    It took me years to wade thru all the power dynamics of which you speak and learn how to use my strength for her advantage while never, ever, ever using it for my own advantage or even coercing her ‘for her own good.’ I had to learn that when I tried that tactic it never produced true, deep healing, and so I stopped doing it and learned to wait for her to move at her own pace, not at mine

    I do continue to wish you all well. I hope some day my wife will be willing ‘validate’ what I say, but if this is only for us, then so be it.

  • Sera,
    thank you for your sincere question. I will try to answer it the best I can.

    12 years ago when the other girls (alters) started to join my marriage and family and all hell broke loose because of all the extreme states they all went through, I never saw my wife any different than a person with extreme physical trauma. I never ‘othered’ her. I never thought she was crazy. I never thought she was psychotic, delusional, paranoid or any of the other derogatory things that are said of people who find themselves caught in effects of extreme mental trauma and dissociation.

    I ‘owned’ all the effects that her trauma and dissociation brought into our relationship. I saw us as ‘foxhole buddies’, in it together, 100%. I understood that a lot more would be required of me as the other girls (alters) joined our relationship, and our marriage today is certainly not typical to say the least. Many times I both physically and figuratively have
    carried her through the healing journey: I did whatever it took to help the only woman I have ever loved, and it was only when I found this site that I understood how much our efforts as a family (adult son included) had saved her from all the additional trauma and suffering so many of you have suffered from the drugs, the dehumanization, and the forced incarcerations you were made to endure.

    But when I got here I was immediately ‘othered’. It didn’t matter that I was an expert with lived experience on how to keep someone suffering extreme states, extreme dissociation and everything else my wife has experienced out of the system and off the drugs. All that is seen on this site is that I’m NOT a trauma victim. No matter how much I have argued that SO’s, family and friends MUST be part of the solution, it has been made clear to me that I will always be 2nd class unless my wife ‘validates’ my voice, here.

    Let’s go back to George Floyd. I’ve read lots of op-ed’s lately. A number of them by black authors have essentially said that until white people ‘own’ the protests, the blacks can only take things so far because white people control the power in this country. George Floyd changed the ‘other’ into a human face that many for the first time could connect to and white America has finally seemed to change the tide of this racist travesty in our country.

    I hope some day that Mad in America, Western Mass RLC, HVN and others will understand the same, that people like me must be more than just an ‘ally’ which still feels like a 2nd class ‘othering’ term to me. My wife and I are together on our journey 100%. There is no ‘other’ in our healing journey. There is only ‘us.’ This is not her struggle: this is our struggle. And I believe that it will only be when we help others like myself to ‘own’ this struggle, as the whites are finally doing with BLM, that things will change in the mental health arena as well.


  • Bob,
    I hope some day MiA will find a way to expand its circle to include people like me. I have worked 24/7 for the last 12 years, as you know a little, to keep my wife OUT of the system completely. If people had the knowledge and tools to do the same, so much of the carnage psychiatry causes the majority of your readers would never even have a chance to occur.

  • Sounds like it was a good meeting with lots of interesting takes on the topic.

    “Contacting police should be treated as a very last resort, and true trauma-informed care is built on collaboration and trust”
    Until family, friends and carers are taught how to understand ‘non-drug induced extreme states’ so they are de-mystified and the fear factor is removed and then those people are taught how to help the person thru those states, people are naturally going to call in help. Those states definitely can be overwhelming and scary the first time one sees them, even as an outsider, and that just adds to the fear of the person experiencing it. Fear feeds fear, but if the carer can remain calm, then the one in those states can learn to feed off that, as well.

  • Kermit,
    NAMI elevates the voice of the family over the sufferer of mental distress from what I read on MiA. However, it is my experience that MiA elevates the voice of the sufferer over the family. Until true parity and dialogue occurs and is facilitated between the 2 parties most interested in this entire topic, I wonder how much progress will be made.

    It appears Open Dialogue takes that more balanced approach though I have no personal experience with it (wish I did!). I hope some day MiA can move thru (and beyond) the pain and trauma of the sufferers to see that the families are suffering as well (from the fallout of the trauma and distress of the sufferer and not only from the effects of psychiatry) and healing will only come when all parties are brought together and learn how to love and create safety for everyone involved.

  • 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!