LEARNING TO STAND UP TO PSYCHOLOGICAL BULLIES
This article was stimulated by my having just read a companion piece by K. Rosevear called THE PEACE WITHIN - Gather - Jan.9th, 2008. In her well researched and passionate article K examines the position that advocates treatingt post traumatic stress disorder without medication if at all possible.
Having had an intimate connection with this ailment I responsed to her article and believe it to be important enough to start this new thread.
I wrote: TK: -
|I salute your careful attempts to objectify this most complex of complex disorders. I am a practicing psychoanalyst who also entered an 11 year psychoanalysis, 3X a week on the couch, with no insurance, suffering from PTSD. So I have an intimate knowledge of this disorder both from the outside in and from the inside out.
In coming to terms with it - mainly panic anxiety - I chose not to take medication except in the vary beginning of my analysis to "take the edge off." Let me cut to the chase and describe the interventions that successfully worked for me.
The first issue was to identify my global distrust of all authorities largely the result of having been raised in a traumatically inducing family atmosphere. It wasn't exactly hate but more like not loving. I had to learn to trust my analyst who was indeed trustworthy.
Then there was the issue of my having experienced multiple traumatic events in child hood, among which was the death of my mother dying from breast cancer when I was 15. What made it worse was the fact that there was virtually no meaningful discussion of the intensity of feelings that were all pervasive but totally denied. This denial made me feel as if I was all alone and weird.
Then there was the issue of my allergic response and aversive conditioning to conclude that anything I experienced as negative was to be avoided at all costs. Among the list of such negatives were frustration, anxiety, depression, sadness, not knowing, helpless, hopelessness, ambiguity, complexity, realistic limitations, ambivalence, mixed feelings, and the likes.
Thus I had a confused and distorted attitude that took the form of affect intolerance. It was a major revelation for me in my analaysis when I realized a major cause of my repetitive traumatic reactions was my own misguided frustration about frustration, my anxiety about anxiety, and my depression about depression.
These distorted attitudes are reinforced by the propoganda of the drug companies -who not quite but close enough - want you to believe that such affects as frustration, depression and anxiety are pathological and are due only to chemcial imbalances. Baloney! They are natural, inevitable and worthwhile signals from the autonomic nervous system that prepare the system to cope with normal stressful realistic problems of daily living.
The next important piece of information was my learning that a solid self (identity) spontaneously grows more solid to the degree that the developing baby learns how to bear increasing dosages of anxiety and other so called negative affects. I did daily exercises which greatly aided me in relatively short order to successfully and effectively cope with these negative affects. If interested go to my web site gibbsonline.com and press the theories section. Then look for an original article I worte on: How I learned to bear my own frustration. If it make sense do the exercises for yourself.
When - over the course of about 30 sesssions, I worked hard to change my attitude towards negative affects. struggling with struggle, to cope with it, I eventually felt as if a life long sentence of being weighted down - lifted.
Then I discovered that in there here and now there were specific triggers that could instantaneously throw me into whirlpools of tramatic like reactions. Learning about these was useful. However more useful was the realization that while bad enough experiencing panic due to some here and now event in the present, there was always another deeper connection and reawakening of a parallel traumatic event (s) from childhood. This means that the experience of a here and now trauma always has additional roots from childhood. When I made these connections between the here and now and the there and then, jointly contributing to causing my experience of traumatic overload - voila! - my anxiety notably reduced in intensity.
There was more than the above done in the course of my analysis but these points are the concrete interventions which have enabled me me to be a better person and a better psychoanalyst for having made this trip into my inner space in mastering PTSD without medication.