Surviving Childhood Abuse: Living with DID : Jessies Story, Life told from an alters point of view

Putting the Pieces Together
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Research into psychedelics, shut down for decades, is now yielding exciting results.

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Life can be stressful enough without the added obstacle of toxic abuse. His brother John Ritchie was born about Despite the encouraging results from the N. When Jan Wallcraft became the first paid worker part-time , Peter Campbell decided he could not be a mindlink person and a Survivors Speak Out person, so he dropped out of any major involvement in MindLink. When I reached the part of your post where you discussed the issue of substance abuse having found a way to slither into your home and cement itself to your immediate family and, at some point, to your life as well ; I desperately wanted to stop reading and leave the site because of how that hit a bit too close to home for me… but in earnest could not stop reading. Who better to advise how to make the struggle for sanity easier than the people who have been through the experience of modern madness and survived it? According to Ross, cancer patients receiving just a single dose of psilocybin experienced immediate and dramatic reductions in anxiety and depression, improvements that were sustained for at least six months.

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Friedman and Laurie B. Stone Friedman , who is a former Executive Director of the U.


Department of Veterans Affairs. The book is not specifically aimed at partners but includes regular thoughts and perspectives from partners. Manning ISBN Aims to help partners, parents and older children of someone with BPD to understand the disorder, and learn better ways of responding to BPD behaviors, including validation and acceptance. Based on skills from Dialectical Behavior Therapy, this book is aimed at improving family relationships not attempting to control a person with BPD.

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I say unrecognized because, back then, we connected the word trauma only to combat veterans and victims of sexual violence. It was 15 years since the opening of the first rape crisis center, and just nine since post-traumatic stress disorder PTSD had become an officially recognized DSM diagnosis. By the early s, however, The Courage to Heal, a feminist-influenced self-help book by Ellen Bass and Laura Davis, had become a bestseller.

Bringing public attention to the previously taboo subject of childhood sexual abuse, it proposed a dramatic approach to trauma treatment, one that was a far cry from the strict neutrality prescribed by psychoanalysis. At the same time, I was troubled by what the The Courage to Heal model required of my clients: focusing on accessing their anger at the perpetrators or neglectful bystanders and holding them accountable through confrontation.

Most therapists applauded the way this model encouraged survivors to become more vocal and empowered, but at the hospital where I worked, we were seeing some dangerous effects of this approach. Worse yet, family confrontations frequently ended in retraumatization for the victim. Many family members refused to believe the disclosures, and even turned the tables on survivors by accusing them of destroying the family.

Rather than finding support, our clients often found themselves becoming family outcasts. Even after the release of her groundbreaking Trauma and Recovery in , it would take several years for her ideas to catch on. Still, she was convinced that there was something deeply amiss and destabilizing about the confrontational tactics recommended by Bass and Davis. She believed that good trauma treatment required a much more patient approach—delaying the focus on traumatic memories until survivors felt safe in their daily lives and had sufficient affect regulation to tolerate the stress of remembering dark episodes in their histories.

A political feminist, she argued that victims needed to feel empowered in their relationships not only with their peers and partners, but also with their own memories. To her, the idea of feeling overwhelmed and overpowered by the remembering process was antithetical to the resolution of trauma. Although today the word retraumatization is used routinely by mental health professionals and stabilization first has become the gold standard of trauma treatment, these were new ideas at the time.

Telling their stories of abuse was emboldening only when they could tolerate the overwhelming feelings that this process was likely to trigger; and confronting families, if it ever took place, could wait until they no longer needed anything from them. Just how revolutionary the idea of stabilization was in the early s is illustrated by my meeting with a young client named Ariana. Since she seemed to be the ideal therapy client—bright, insightful, and articulate—I was curious about why this was so.

And why was the ability to function and build a new life a less honorable task than memory work? Neuroscience was brought into the field of trauma by the outspoken and sometimes controversial psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk. Even though the VA showed a marked lack of interest in studying the effects of shell shock on veterans, his curiosity and crusading spirit led him to explore trauma in ways that more cognitively focused researchers tended to ignore. Working with his team, I had a weekly front-row seat to his determination to change the way the field approached trauma treatment.

However, the advent of brain-scan technology allowed him to conduct the research needed to support his arguments. His findings laid the groundwork for an alliance between traumatologists and neurobiologists, one that challenged the reign of talk therapy, even for therapists outside the field of trauma treatment.

Narcissist, Psychopath, or Sociopath: How to Spot the Differences

As they began to recall these events, the scan revealed a surprising phenomenon: the cortical areas associated with narrative memory and verbal expression became inactive or inhibited, and instead there was increased activation of the right hemisphere amygdala, a tiny structure in the limbic system thought to be associated with storage of emotional memories without words. These volunteers had begun the scan with a memory they could put into words, but they quickly lost their ability to put language to their intense emotions, body sensations, and movements.

No wonder our clients were having such difficulty putting their experiences, even present-day ones, into words! No wonder they had difficulty remembering the past without becoming overwhelmed! Psychotherapy from the time of Freud had been premised on the assumption that putting words to emotions and painful past experiences would set us free, but this research and the many replications since told a different story. Retraumatization now made sense: if we purposefully or inadvertently trigger old traumatic responses, brain areas responsible for witnessing and verbalizing experience decrease activity or shut down, and the events are reexperienced in body sensations, impulses, images, and intense emotions without words.

This changes everything, I remember thinking when van der Kolk first described his findings—and it did.


Van der Kolk has been instrumental in bringing greater visibility and credibility to a new cadre of nontalk treatments, including eye movement desensitization and reprocessing EMDR , sensorimotor psychotherapy, Somatic Experiencing, Internal Family Systems, yoga therapy, and neurofeedback. Though each was known before his interest in them, his flair for polemic and drama brought heightened attention to them, emphasizing their distinctive neurobiological impact.

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EMDR, in particular, expanded our notions of what constitutes effective psychotherapy in those early years. Developed and extensively researched by psychologist Francine Shapiro in the late s, it uses bilateral eye movements, tapping, and other forms of bilateral stimulation to help clients process traumatic experiences.

The Trip Treatment

Caught up by the fervor of a field in search of new discoveries, I was willing to try this approach, which was being strongly championed by van der Kolk, a former skeptic himself. Given that up to this point, straightforward therapeutic approaches had demonstrated such limited ability to alter the effects of trauma, why not try something different? To my amazement, in a minute session during that first training weekend, my first practice client overcame a phobia of riding escalators dating back to childhood.

But EMDR spurred another revolution as well—one in the therapist.

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Once EMDR-trained therapists had become accustomed to methods outside their habitual treatment frame, it suddenly seemed like a logical next step to learn other approaches that involved something more than sitting in a chair, listening, and talking. Millions of therapists around the world have subsequently become open to using treatments that differ from the talking cure.

Mental Health and Survivors Movements

The idea that neuroscience research could be germane, even necessary, to psychotherapy began as a seed planted by van der Kolk to help survivors of trauma understand how their bodies tended to perpetuate post-traumatic reactions. Each of these experts challenged the primacy of the mind as the basis of human emotional life, bringing attention to how the brain affects our capacity to use our minds. Each argued that not just social-emotional development, but the slowly maturing brain and nervous system, could be dramatically and perhaps permanently affected by early attachment relationships, neglect, and trauma.

Still, the question remained as to how to translate into clinical practice this new understanding about how the brain and nervous system worked. As increasing numbers of therapists read LeDoux, Schore, and Siegel, the vocabulary and perspective in the therapy field began to enlarge and shift.