Don E. Gibbons, Ph.D., NJ Licensed Psychologist #03513
This Blog is published for information and educational purposes only. No warranty, expressed or implied, is furnished with respect to the material contained in this Blog. The reader is urged to consult with his/her physician or a duly licensed mental health professional with respect to the treatment of any medical or psychological condition.

Translate

Search This Blog

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Humanistic Psychotherapy for Dealing With Life's Absurdities

Several years ago, I initiated the petition to establish the Division of Humanistic Psychology in the American Psychological Association, which became Division 32.

It has long been recognized that a warm and supportive atmosphere and a strong therapeutic alliance is essential in dealing with many of the problems which come before us. In this regard, I often think of the poem by Lewis Carroll, entitled, "The Walrus and the Carpenter," which describes what appears to be a journey between the therapist (whe walrus in the poem), and a carpenter (the client, who is a work in progress), as they outwit and defeat life's problems (the oysters).


The Walrus and the Carpenter - Lewis Carrol

The sun was shining on the sea,
Shining with all his might:
He did his very best to make
The billows smooth and bright--
And this was odd, because it was
The middle of the night.


The moon was shining sulkily,
Because she thought the sun
Had got no business to be there
After the day was done--
"It's very rude of him," she said,
"To come and spoil the fun!"


The sea was wet as wet could be,
The sands were dry as dry.
You could not see a cloud, because
No cloud was in the sky:
No birds were flying overhead--
There were no birds to fly.


The Walrus and the Carpenter
Were walking close at hand;
They wept like anything to see
Such quantities of sand:
"If this were only cleared away,"
They said, "it would be grand!"


"If seven maids with seven mops
Swept it for half a year.
Do you suppose," the Walrus said,
"That they could get it clear?"
"I doubt it," said the Carpenter,
And shed a bitter tear.


"O Oysters, come and walk with us!"
The Walrus did beseech.
"A pleasant walk, a pleasant talk,
Along the briny beach:
We cannot do with more than four,
To give a hand to each."


The eldest Oyster looked at him,
But never a word he said:
The eldest Oyster winked his eye,
And shook his heavy head--
Meaning to say he did not choose
To leave the oyster-bed.


But four young Oysters hurried up,
All eager for the treat:
Their coats were brushed, their faces washed,
Their shoes were clean and neat--
And this was odd, because, you know,
They hadn't any feet.


Four other Oysters followed them,
And yet another four;
And thick and fast they came at last,
And more, and more, and more--
All hopping through the frothy waves,
And scrambling to the shore.


The Walrus and the Carpenter
Walked on a mile or so,
And then they rested on a rock
Conveniently low:
And all the little Oysters stood
And waited in a row.


"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--
Of cabbages--and kings--
And why the sea is boiling hot--
And whether pigs have wings."


"But wait a bit," the Oysters cried,
"Before we have our chat;
For some of us are out of breath,
And all of us are fat!"
"No hurry!" said the Carpenter.
They thanked him much for that.


"A loaf of bread," the Walrus said,
"Is what we chiefly need:
Pepper and vinegar besides
Are very good indeed--
Now if you're ready, Oysters dear,
We can begin to feed."


"But not on us!" the Oysters cried,
Turning a little blue.
"After such kindness, that would be
A dismal thing to do!"
"The night is fine," the Walrus said.
"Do you admire the view?


"It was so kind of you to come!
And you are very nice!"
The Carpenter said nothing but
"Cut us another slice:
I wish you were not quite so deaf--
I've had to ask you twice!"


"It seems a shame," the Walrus said,
"To play them such a trick,
After we've brought them out so far,
And made them trot so quick!"
The Carpenter said nothing but
"The butter's spread too thick!"


"I weep for you," the Walrus said:
"I deeply sympathize."
With sobs and tears he sorted out
Those of the largest size,
Holding his pocket-handkerchief
Before his streaming eyes.


"O Oysters," said the Carpenter,
"You've had a pleasant run!
Shall we be trotting home again?'
But answer came there none--
And this was scarcely odd, because
They'd eaten every one.

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Twenty-First Century Revolution in Trauma Treatment

The first stage in psychotherapy with multiples and other trauma survivors is to make the client feel safe, in order to avoid triggering previous traumas. It is necessary when working with DID clients to rely more on providing an environment in which they can feel comfortable, instead of trying to uncover all of their previous traumatic memories, with the goal of providing "insight," which might only serve to re-traumatize them and extend the course of therapy indefinitely. (As one multiple who had previously been in therapy for seventeen years with no improvement exclaimed, "What insight? They were horrible!")  

The following video by Babette Rothschild (herself a victim of childhood trauma) illustrates how to overcome panic attacks by focusing awareness on the perception of here and now rather than on the internalized memories of previous trauma.



After this basic level of security and safety has been attained, client and therapist can then collaborate in the construction of a therapeutic relationship which will increase feelings of confidence and self-esteem, overcome anxiety, depression, and despair, and bring forth an optimistic outlook on life which enables them change the narrative of their life story. (Levine, 1997; Naparstek, 2004; Rothschild, 2000; Scaer, 2007).  These new methods of treatment by the world's leading trauma researchers and clinicians constitute  ". . .a paradigm for understanding trauma's far-reaching psychological and physical consequences, without which, psychotherapeutic interventions remain extremely limited, and at times harmful to our clients." (emphasis mine). 

Procedures such as these are rapidly dealing a death blow to outmoded, Twentieth-Century notions of "healing" based upon regression to cause, which is about as sophisticated and as useful as trying to housebreak a puppy by "rubbing his nose in it." The puppy will usually stop sooner or later, but is that because of our treatment or in spite of it? And if the "training" is vigorously pursued, could the frustration and anxiety thus engendered actually make new learning more difficult? 
The following video from PESI Seminars features some of the world's leading experts discussing how recent breakthroughts in the treatment of trauma, dissociation, and multiple personality are making it possible for clients who have gone years without improvement to finally begin to change.  


References
American Psychiatric Association (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, DSM-V, 5th ed. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.

Forward, S. (1997). Emotional blackmail: When the people in your life use fear, obligation, and guilt to manipulate you. New York: Harper-Collins.  
Forward, S. & Buck, C. (2002). Toxic parents: Overcoming their hurtful legacy and reclaiming your life. New York: Bantam.
Levine, P.A. (1997). Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.
Naparstek, B. (2004). Invisible heroes: Survivors of trauma and how they heal. New York: Bantam.
Rothschild, B. (2000), The body remembers: The psychophysiology of trauma and treatment. New York: Norton.  (Click on the link for a YouTube book review.)
Scaer, R. C. (2007) The body bears the burden: Trauma, dissociation, and disease. New York: Routledge.