Wednesday, 29 April 2009

The Irrational and Holistically Meaningful Nature of Triggers

I recently spoke to a friend on the phone, who lives about thirty five miles from me, and my other friend Luke, and who says he can’t see us lately, because of his mental health problem. He had said to me before, in a previous phone conversation, that he is avoiding drinking hot drinks, and hot food, because he believes that the heat from them, is affecting and damaging his brain. When he avoids hot drink and foods he feels fine, and so I told him to do what works for him, and to do what he wants to do.

I asked this friend what symptoms he gets, when he is drinking hot drinks and eats hot food, and he said that he felt less alive, and basically that he felt more empty. I asked him if he felt empty of emotion, or energy, and he said he felt empty of memory, and confirmed to me that his memory was going away. I said to him, that this could be due to the fact, that he was repressing painful or complex memories, which most people do, and which is in some ways necessary for staying sane, and survival. Some exploration and catharsis of bad memories is good, but self-repression isn’t all bad, and can also be very useful; and helpful.

After I said, that I didn’t really want to label him, I then suggested that he might have a form of OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), in terms of the avoidance behaviour (people with OCD repeat or avoid harmless things, or they fear bad things will happen to themselves or their loved ones, if they don’t avoid the triggers), but he said it wasn’t a compulsion, as he has stopped drinking hot tea and hot food altogether.

I explained to this friend that, I wasn’t patronising him, before on the phone, when I said that his theory about hot drinks and food, was as good as any other theory, because I didn’t want to say it was a delusion, and because I believed that there was much more involved in it.

I explained to my friend that there are such things as triggers - experiences or events - which can bring back bad, painful, or traumatic memories. In his case though, the trigger of hot drinks and food, repress his memory, and therefore doesn’t flood, or cathartically release it.

However, I felt it was necessary to point out to him, that contrary to the psychotherapeutic view, that triggers are linked to bad, painful, or traumatic memory - triggers - can be completely irrational, and have no causal meaning to them. When I was very mentally unwell in 2000, before I stayed in psychiatric hospital for three weeks, I thought that there was something implanted in my computer and television, which was firing radiation at me, and destroying my brain. There is no psychotherapeutic link to this trigger for me, because I only have happy memories of watching TV, and using my computer, although it could be argued that those things had stopped me from socialising face-to-face, with other people.

The other key thing about triggers, is that although they can be irrational, and not linked to past or recent bad, painful, or traumatic events, the triggers all make sense and have meaning and explanation, when they are all linked up, and understood holistically together. This is the approach which is needed in psychotherapy, against the old simplistic, dogmatic, and inaccurate model.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

My Spirituality

I used to be a Buddhist, following traditional Indian Buddhism and meditation, then Nichiren Daishonin Buddhism involving chanting. I went back to searching spiritually, and have found my own spirituality, which are to a great extent the positive hearing voices. I believe in Karma up to a point, although it’s obvious to me that there is also social inequality, inequality of choices, and social injustice, which has nothing to do with past actions and lives, but are due to the economic, social, and political system.

Karma in some ways, does seem to be real, but in other ways, it doesn’t seem to apply to reality. I therefore, think that some aspects of reality are karmic, whilst others are due to other factors. I kind of believe in rebirth, but then again, I wonder why old beings, would be reborn over and over again, when it seems to me that every being born, is a completely new being. Maybe some are new, and some are old, and some are reborn in different material worlds or realities.

I am an agnostic, and do not claim to know whether there is or isn’t a God, but I sometimes pray to God, the Goddess, nature spirits, and Jesus Christ. When I was age 14, my first spirituality was witchcraft, or what is now called wicca, and in some ways I am still a witch, as I worship the spirits in nature, the universe itself, the multi-universe, and the Goddess or feminine human nature/spirit.

I like some Christianity, but I cannot accept any so-called Christianity, which supports war or state violence, terrorism, or oppression, and which is driven by the bourgeois ethic, of selfish capitalistic individualism, without some primary social loyalty or communitarianism. Christian socialism, or Christian anarchism, therefore seems more authentic or true to the principles of Christianity to me. Also, the Christian relatives in my family, knew I was being abused as a child, and yet did not speak out, and so I cannot support any Christianity which supports that kind of pacifism which allows evil.

I don’t have anything to do with any state religion, as I believe that the establishment church, are in some ways opposed to spiritual diversity, uniqueness, and truth, and are morally and ethically corrupted, by the old social and material political system.

Hearing positive voices for me, are what connects me to the divine or other worlds, and to the social world, at the same time evoking other beings in other material planes, and opening up my mind and awareness to wider social and political reality.

Hearing positive voices, is somewhat of a very complex matter, which cannot be accurately or lucidly understood, in purely simplistic terms. The positive voices, are not simply my own thoughts. They often begin as my own thoughts, but then become autonomous and independent of my consciousness and thinking. This is how my mind connects to the divine or other beings, universes, and worlds. I believe in quantum reality, and that different material worlds and universes are linked and interconnected.

Child Abuse and Protection

I just listened to Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, on the topic of child protection, and the related role and value of social workers. There was some positive points in the programme, about social workers working in or with schools, safeguarding children against abuse from a brother or sister, parenting skills for bad parents, and that experience with children for social workers was important..

My main criticism of the programme, is that is overall, it only focused on the functions of social workers, and didn’t look at their psychological attitudes, towards things like preventing or surviving child abuse. Aside from the extreme idealism, of the establishment media, the public and other mental health services, know very well that social workers are authoritarian, and have all the character traits and complexes, of the authoritarian mind-set.

What is so wrong about the entire adult education, and professional training system, is that it only looks at lay people’s psychological problems, but does not also try to analyse and understand (or even acknowledge) the psychological problems of people in authority. I’m not advocating abolishing authority, but until this changes about the system, that we openly acknowledge that the character traits and mind-sets of authoritarianism, are social and mental health problems, we will never progress as a human race, society, or world.

To give a couple of examples, of the bad attitudes of social workers towards abuse survival, when I told my social worker I was abused as a child, throughout my childhood and early teens, she accused me of lying. When I did convince her that I had been abused as a child, she said maybe the person was right to abuse me. I don’t believe that this was an individual case, but rather that these attitudes were indicative of her profession. The comedienne Jo Brand, said that she was bullied by her older brother, and that her mother, who was a social workers, let him do this.

Another criticism I had of the programme, is that by the examples it gave, it gave the impression that only men abuse children, and that all abuse is either physical or sexual. Whilst psychical abuse, often goes along with emotional and mental abuse and cruelty, as it did when I was abused as a child and teen, we need to also acknowledge that emotional and mental abuse also causes physical pain, in much the same way that mental illness does, because the mind is connected to the body. When I was repeatedly physically and emotionally abused as child, made to cry, and then made to suppress all my emotion (I was violently attacked for being happy, sad, or expressing any emotion), I had very severe pain in my eyes, head, stomach, and chest, from crying and made to repress pain and emotion.

We need to understand that some woman do abuse children, because the system gives more rights to women who abuse children, than it gives rights to abused children or abuse survivors, and this is all a consequence of women’s rights, in some ways, going too far, and becoming imbalanced in society. I have been in psychiatric hospital twice as a patient, and yet the person who abused me has never been diagnosed with a mental illness. The other thing, is that the version we have of women's rights, mostly serves middle-class women, but does not liberate working-class women from sexual slavery and being house-bound. These are social and political issues, which cannot be solved by social work alone.

The programme also didn’t say, what happens to abused children when they are removed from families. Are they put into care homes where they are further abused? Or are they fostered in places, where foster parents, don’t have to take parenting or child development classes? I spoke to a fellow psychiatric survivor recently, and she made a good point that Childline needs to be more promoted and funded by the government. The other point, is that the programme focused on children’s protection, but did not focus on children’s rights. We need to create environments or outlets, where a child can speak out if she or he is abused, and listen to children and their wishes. This means a cultural change, where we eradicate the master-slave mentality and behaviours that adults often have towards children.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

My Views on the German Existentialist Philosopher Heidegger

I recently listened to Hubert Dryfus' audio lectures, on Heidegger's book Being and Time. I've come to the conclusion that it is ultra-radical, extremist, bullshit though. From what I gather so far, Heidegger said there was no such thing as being, but that it is something we create, although it has no properties or entity.

He also said that feelings were not subjective, because there was no such thing as the subjective and objective, and that all feelings are just things that happen to us in the world. He said we were pre-ontological, because we had an understanding of being, but that understanding was a very practical thing, like what we do, rather than what we know. He also said that we are not being, consciousness, or entities, but simply we are what we do. Heidegger supported the Nazis in Germany, and was pro Nazi, and I can see how Heidegger’s philosophy fits in very neatly with Nazism, and with communism too.

Contrary to what Heidegger said, I think there IS such a thing as being, and that it is both pre-existent, has properties, and is an entity, although I accept that to some degree we create it, socially, or psychologically. Some of it is pre-existing, and some of it is created. That's more accurate, well-balanced, and more moderate, than what Heidegger said, which was inaccurate, illogical, and extreme. I think Heidegger's nihilism about the self, is what makes his philosophy, slot into the mass conformity of fascism and totalitarianism, and I see it as ideologically and politically created.

I'm sympathetic to Heidegger's view, that there's no such thing as the subjective and objective, because I think those things are polarised too much in politics, psychology, and philosophy, and there is much that goes beyond those concepts; and exists inbetween, but I don't believe that feelings aren't in any way subjective. I do believe that feelings can be objective, as Heidegger said though, and so I agree with him there, but it seems to me, that to say that feelings are not in any way subjective, denies experience.

Heidegger was saying that experience was objective though, and again I can agree with that up to a point. He was ahead of his time, and his philosophy is similar to mine, on that matter, in that respect. Heidegger's view that understanding is like a skill or what we do, or is something very practical, is also like his view of the self, in that it dehumanises, and omits the importance of various kinds of human relationships. I don't believe that we are what we do. That seems anti-intellectual and anti-emotional to me, and again I think it's crap.