Category Archives: Whole Site (all 850+ Articles)

Over 850 free, concise articles about childhood trauma and its link to various psychological conditions, including : complex posttraumatic stress disorder (complex PTSD), borderline personality disorder (and other personality disorders), anxiety disorders, depression, physical health conditions, psychosis, difficulties forming and maintaining relationships, addictions, dissociation and emotional dysregulation (such as dramatic mood swings and outbursts of rage). The site also comprises articles on treatments for childhood trauma and related mental health problems as well as articles on posttraumatic growth and other relevant topics. There is a search facility on the site to facilitate exploration of subjects covered.

Neuroscience: An Introduction to The Science of the Brain.

childhood_trauma_effects

My fascination with neuroscience (the science of the working of the brain) stemmed from two key, fundamental questions about what it means to be human; in fact, I never cease to be amazed as to why these two questions do not appear to be of much interest to the majority of individuals, at least in the UK.

1) The first concerns THE QUESTION OF FREE WILL which is, essentially, this:

If we are, essentially, our brains (ie it is just the brain that produces the experience of self, decision making, emotions etc) and given that the brain is a PURELY PHYSICAL ENTITY, subject, like all physical objects, to the LAWS OF PHYSICS, can we, in any true and meaningful sense, be said to possess free will? Or is everything we are, do and feel determined by the aforementioned laws of physics. If not, by what mechanism are our brains exempt from these laws?

You may be surprised to hear, as this, to most people, sounds utterly COUNTER-INTUITIVE, that the majority of neuroscientists believe that, in fact, the sense we have of free-will is simply an illusion and that there is no central, controlling entity we call self – no ‘ghost-in-the-machine’.

2) WHAT IS CONSCIOUSNESS? This question is, of course, inextricably linked with the question of free will. It runs like this:

Most of us are agreed that the brain is ‘just’ a lump of physical matter (albeit the most complex entity so far discovered in the universe). But somehow, (and neuoroscientists are not at all close to solving this ultimate riddle) this lump of physical matter gives rise to CONSCIOUS EXPERIENCE, including, for example, seeing the colour red, appreciating a Beethoven symphony, or falling in love. We know why these abilities arose (from an evolutionary perspective), but, in truth, have virtually no idea how the consciousness we use to perform them, in itself, came into existence.

Whether neuroscience will ever solve these questions is not known; it is possible human intelligence has not, and never will, evolve sufficiently
to answer them; the answer may involve concepts we can’t even imagine.

Maybe the answer will come someday, but don’t hold your breath.

childhood_ trauma _workbookchildhood_trauma_aggression_ebook-76_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-69,22_AA300_SH20_OU02_

Above eBooks now available on Amazon for immediate download. $4.99 each (except for Workbook, priced at $9.99). CLICK HERE.

Best wishes, David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

‘Fighting’ Anxiety can Worsen It: Why Acceptance Works Better.

 

What Happens When We Try To ‘Fight’ Anxiety?

Trying to fight anxiety, research suggests (and, certainly, my own experience of anxiety would tend to confirm this) can actually AGGRAVATE the problem and lead to greater feelings of distress. Stating the shatteringly obvious, none of us wants to experience the feelings an anxiety condition brings; however, difficult as it may sound at first, DEVELOPING AN ATTITUDE OF ACCEPTANCE TOWARDS IT, rather than entering an exhausting mental battle with it, has been reported by many to be a superior strategy for coping with anxiety.

The psychologist Beck, to whom I have made several references already in this blog (he was one of the founders of the very helpful therapy called Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, or CBT, for people suffering from conditions such as depression and anxiety – see my posts on CBT) devised the acronym A.W.A.R.E for ease of remembering the key strategies for coping. Let’s take a look at what the acronym A.W.A.R.E stands for:

A Accept the anxiety (it sounds hard, I know, but so is constantly struggling to fight it):

The benefits of adopting this approach are that it may help to reduce the PHYSIOLOGICAL symptoms commonly associated with anxiety (e.g. accelerated heart rate, increased muscle tension, hyperventilation, sweating -or ‘cold sweats’- trembling, dry mouth etc). It may, too, help with PSYCHOLOGICAL symptoms (people report that an attitude of acceptance towards their anxiety makes them feel less distressed). A kind of motto which has come to attach itself to the acceptance approach to anxiety is: ‘if you are not WILLING to have it, you WILL’ (see what they’ve done there!)

W Watch your anxiety:

It is suggested that rather than get too ‘caught up’ in anxiety, together with all the distressing negative thoughts and fears it produces, to, instead, just observe it in a DETACHED and NON-JUDGMENTAL manner; this involves trying to adopt a kind of NEUTRAL MENTAL ATTITUDE towards it – in other words, neither liking it nor seeing the experience of anxiety as a terrible, unsolvable catastrophy (again, I realize, of course, that intense anxiety is very painful, so this, too, may sound difficult at first). People report that when they adopt this DETACHED, NEUTRAL view of their feelings of anxiety they starts to lose their, hitherto, tenacious grip on their lives.

Article continues below image.

A Act with your anxiety:

Severe anxiety can leave us feeling as if we are incapable of functioning on even a basic level. It is important to remember, however, as I have repeated at, no doubt, tedious length througout this blog, that just because we believe something it does not logically follow that the belief must be true. Indeed, when my anxiety was at its worst, I did not feel able, or even believe I could,shave or brush my teeth etc…etc… Many people report, however, that if they take the first (often, extremely challenging) step to try to carry on with normal activities, despite the feeling of anxiety which may accompany this, they can, after all, accomplish that which they originally believed they couldn’t. Success then tends to build upon success: completion of the first activity increases the self-belief and the confidence to go on to the second activity, the completion of which provides further self-belief and confidence…and so on…and so on…

In order to make this easier, it may be necessary to slow down the pace at which, in different circumstances, we would otherwise carry out the particular tasks that we set ourselves.

R Repeat the steps:

This just means that by repeating the ACCEPTING ANXIETY, WATCHING OUR ANXIETY (in a detached and neutral manner) and ACTING (despite the feelings of anxiety which may accompany such action) CYCLE, the anxiety may be slowly eroded away.

E Expect the best (even if it does not come naturally) :

When we are depressed and anxious we, almost invariably, expect the worst. This is overwhelmingly likely to perpetuate the condition. However, just as expecting the worst can become a self-fulfilling prophecy, so, too, can expecting the best. If, like me, you are not a natural optimist, the concept of expecting the best may go against the grain. However, research shows that optimistic people are more likely to achieve their goals than those of us who do not appear to have been blessed with quite such a sunny disposition. It is worth adapting the strategy on, at least, an experimental basis. It is also useful to keep in mind that even if the best does not occur, we will still have the inner-strength necessary to cope.

OVERCOME FEAR AND ANXIETY – SELF HYPNOSIS DOWNLOADS

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

Trauma: How Cognitive Processing Therapy can Help.

It is always important to treat post-traumatic stress and this is particularly the case in relation to childhood trauma. This is because it is during childhood that we form our core beliefs about ourselves, others and the world in general. Childhood trauma can severely distort these beliefs in a highly destructive manner. Without treatment, these damaging views and beliefs can endure for a life-time, blighting the entire life of the affected individual, even ruining it.

Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) is a particular type of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) and there is now much evidence from research studies that it can prove highly effective in the treatment of the effects of trauma:

Frequently, individuals who have suffered childhood trauma find themselves in a perpetual and distressing struggle with painful memories. Thoughts about these often become circular and overwhelming, never reaching a resolution. The person experiencing them can feel more and more conflicted as time goes on if effective treatment is not sought. Indeed, many who seek therapy do so because they find they have become ‘stuck’ or ‘caught up’ in their painful thoughts, memories and feelings and they feel unable to properly integrate or make sense of these.

 

CPT helps people to understand what they went through, how it affected them, and how it has affected, in a negative and distorted way, their view of themselves, others and the world in general (psychologists refer to such thinking as a ‘negative cognitive triad’, one of the key symptoms of clinical depression).

CPT aims to help individuals rectify this negative cognitive triad and gain AUTHORITY over their trauma-related memories and feelings, or, to put it another way, CPT helps people to be IN CONTROL OF THEIR MEMORIES AND RELATED FEELINGS, rather than the other way around.

Many individuals who have experienced childhood trauma, also, very frequently, find themselves ‘living in the past’: continually brooding on what happened, why it happened and how it has adversely affected their lives; such ruminations may become obsessive. CPT helps break this pattern of thinking: one of the key elements of CPT is to help people CREATE A BOUNDARY BETWEEN THE PAST AND THE PRESENT so that the individual can free himself to finally live in the ‘now’ rather than the ‘then’.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

The Use of Hypnosis to Treat Trauma.

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The most up-to-date definition of hypnosis is : ‘A state of consciousness involving focused attention and reduced peripheral awareness characterised by an enhanced capacity for response to suggestion.‘ (Elkins, 2015).

Research has shown that hypnosis can be of benefit for individuals suffering from trauma related conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Hypnosis is not used in isolation to treat such conditions, but in conjunction with other therapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and psychodynamic therapy.

Research studies have demonstrated that the use of hypnosis as part of the therapy for trauma based conditions can be particularly effective in:

– reducing the intensity and frequency of intrusive, distressing thoughts and nightmares
– decreasing avoidance behaviours (ie avoidance of situations which remind the individual under treatment of the original trauma)
– reducing the intensity and frequency of the mental re-experiencing the trauma
– reducing anxiety, hyper-vigilance and hyper-arousal that the trauma has caused
– helping the individual to psychologically INTEGRATE the memory of trauma in a way which reduces symptoms of dissociation (I have written a post on dissociation which some of you may like to look at)
– helping the individual to develop more adaptive coping strategies

On top of the above benefits, the use of hypnosis has been shown to be very likely to improve the therapeutic relationship between the individual undergoing treatment and the therapist.

However, it is not recommended that hypnosis be used to ‘recover buried memories of trauma’ as this has been shown to be unreliable and it is also likely that the use of hypnosis for this purpose can create FALSE MEMORIES in the person being treated.

Some individuals have been significantly helped by the use of hypnosis as part of their therapy for trauma related conditions such as PTSD in as little as just a few sessions. As one would expect, however, the more complex the trauma related condition is, the longer that effective treatment for it is likely to take.

 

Hypnosis And ‘Buried Memories :

A central tenet of psychodynamic theory is that some traumatic memories are so painful that they are buried (repressed) in the unconscious (automatically rather than deliberately) denying us direct access to them (though it has been theorized indirect access may be available through dreams and other phenomena).

One theory is that these buried memories need to be brought into full consciousness via the psychotherapeutic process and properly ‘worked through’ in order to alleviate the psychological symptoms associated with their hitherto repression.

It is frequently believed, including by therapists, that ‘buried traumatic memories’ can be accessed by hypnosis. But can they? What does the research tell us?

In one study, 70% of first year psychology students agreed with the statement that hypnosis can help to access repressed memories. More worryingly, 84% of psychologists were also found to believe the same thing. It comes as little surprise, then, that many therapists use hypnosis in an attempt to help their clients recover ‘repressed traumatic memories’. Indeed, the therapy, known as ‘hypnoanalysis’, was developed on the theory that ‘repressed traumatic memories’ could be accessed by hypnosis to cure the patient of his/her psychological ailment.

Surveys of the general public indicate that many of them, too, believe in the power of hypnosis to aid memory recall.

Whilst some contemporary researchers still hold to the belief that hypnosis aids recall, the majority now believe this is NOT the case. On the contrary, hypnosis has generally been found to IMPAIR and DISTORT recall (eg. Lynnet, 2001).

Furthermore, studies reveal that hypnosis can CREATE FALSE MEMORIES (see my post on memory repression for more detail on the question of the reality of concept of buried memories) which, due to the insidious influence of the therapist, the patient can become very confident are real.

This is of particular concern if the hypnosis has been used to try to help an eye-witness or crime victim recall ‘forgotten details’ of the crime and this evidence is then presented before a court of law. Indeed, as the problem becomes increasingly recognized, such ‘hypnotically recovered evidence’ is becoming increasingly unlikely to be admissible.

Some therapists use hypnosis to age-regress their adult clients (i.e. take them back ‘mentally’ to their childhoods) in an attempt to help them recall important events that occurred in their childhood which may be connected to their current psychological state. However, here, too, research suggests (e.g. Nash, 1987) such attempts are of no real value.

CONCLUSION:

Hypnosis does not appear to be useful for retrieving ‘buried memories’ and can, in fact, be utterly counter-productive by creating FALSE or DISTORTED memories.

How Hypnosis CAN Help Those Who Have

Suffered From Childhood Trauma :

 

However, hypnosis can help with many psychological conditions that those who have suffered childhood trauma may suffer from and I outline examples some of these below :

ANXIETY :

If we suffered significant and protracted trauma during our childhoods, we are far more likely than those who were fortunate enough to have experienced a relatively stable and secure upbringing (all else being equal) to develop severe anxiety and associated conditions in adulthood.

We feel anxiety when we perceive a threat (and the threat may be real or imagined).

Our perception of being under threat causes stress hormones, such as adrenalin and cortisol, to be released into the brain.

The release of these stress hormones into the body can result in distressing physical sensations; these differ depending upon the particular individual concerned and include the following (to list just a few examples):

headaches

– stomach aches

– dry mouth

– trembling

– heart palpitations

– sweating

– feeling faint/dizziness

hyperventilation

Vicious Cycle:

These physical symptoms of stress form part of a vicious cycle; this viscous cycle is caused by the various aspects of stress feeding off one another as I describe below:

1) Anxious thoughts lead to the production of stress hormones such as adrenalin and cortisol

2) These stress hormones produce physical symptoms in the body which exacerbate anxious thoughts

3) These further anxious thoughts then cause yet more stress hormones to flood the brain…and, thus, the vicious cycle continues

How Do You Break This Vicious Cycle?

In order to break this vicious cycle, a component of it needs to be broken so that the elements it is made up of can no longer feed off one another. Using hypnosis for anxiety therapy can do this in different ways, for example:

– the excessive production of stress hormones flooding the brain can be halted using self hypnosis techniques such as calming imagery/visualisation.

OR:

anxious thoughts can be reduced under hypnosis. This can be achieved in many ways, two of which I describe below:

Example of  techniques used in hypnosis to reduce anxiety  :

  1. The ‘Compassionate Friend’ Technique.

To simplify: under hypnosis, the individual is given the post hypnotic suggestion that when s/he has negative, anxiety producing thoughts s/he will be able to imagine what an ideal compassionate friend would say in response to them in order to comfort and reassure, so it becomes rather like having a tiny personal counsellor taking up residence in one’s head!

        2.  Hypnotic distancing :

This technique can help to diminish the intensity of the impact our traumatic experiences have on us by use of a visualiztion technique that involves us imagining viewing these experiences through the wrong end of a pair of binoculars.

And, finally, many readers will already be aware that mindfulness meditation is often an extremely effective way of coping with stress and anxiety, though requires practice.

FLASHBACKS :

Hypnotic suggestion and hypnotic visualization techniques can also help us to deal with disturbing flashbacks connected to out traumatic experiences. For example, the therapist might induce the hypnotic state in the client and then suggest to him / her that s/he is watching his / her traumatic experiences on a CD and to then stop and eject the CD so that the screen goes blank.

Once this visualization is achieved, the next step is for him /her to visualize locking away the CD in a safe. Once this has been accomplished, the therapist suggests to the client (who is still in a state of hypnosis) that the sare will only be opened again at the next therapy session and that, in that session, the CD will only be able to play the amount of material and content thatt the client is able to cope with on the day.

VICTIMHOOD :

Hypnotic visualization can also be used to decrease one’s sense of victimhood and increase one’s sense of mastery. For instance, after hynotic induction the hypnotherapist may suggest to the client that s/he visualizes him / herself as ‘a strong, resilient person who refuses to allow others to spoil his / her life anymore.’

DEPRESSION :

We have seen from many other articles that I have published on this site that those of us who have suffered significant childhood trauma are at increased risk of developing depression (as well as many other psychiatric conditions) in adulthood than those who had relatively happy and stable childhoods (all else being equal).

One method that can help to reduce feelings of depression, especially when used in conjunction with other therapies such as pharmacology and psychotherapy, is self-hypnosis.

One of the main prevailing theories of the cause of depression is that it arises due to imbalances in certain brain chemicals (called neurotransmitters), in particular serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine.

What Is The Function Of These Brain Chemicals?

 – Serotonin is thought to be involved with appetite, digestion, social behaviour, sexual desire, sexual function, sleep, memory and mood.

 – Norepinephrine is thought to be involved with the body’s fight or flight’ response.

 – Dopamine is thought to play a very important role in internal reward-motivated behaviour (e.g. the pleasurable feelings generated by sex or a large gambling win).

In order to attempt to correct this chemical imbalance, and thus alleviate depressive symptoms, medications are frequently prescribed. Unfortunately, however, not everyone finds them effective.

Hypnosis For Depression :

Another way to alter the brain’s chemical balance in those suffering from depression, research has shown, is by self-suggestion, as used in self-hypnosis, and by altering a person’s level of expectancy regarding their recovery (which plays a major role, of course, in the placebo effect); both of these phenomena have their foundations in the well known phenomenon of  mind-body connection.

Indeed, self-hypnosis for depression (utilizing self-suggestion) combined with cognitive behavioral therapy and/or drug therapy may be a particularly effective way of alleviating depressive symptoms.

A meta-analysis of hypnosis for the treatment of depression (Shih et al.) found that it significantly reduced depressive symptoms and concluded that it was ‘ a viable non-pharmacological intervention for depression.

Commonly, too, depression co-exists alongside anxiety, and numerous studies (e.g. see Hammond) suggest hypnosis and self-hypnosis are often particularly effective for treating anxiety related conditions such as headaches and irritable bowel syndrome.

Depression can also be exacerbated by loneliness or due to poor relationships with significant others (an illustrative example of this is that, on average, married people are significantly less likely (some research suggests up to 70% less likely) to suffer from depression compared with their non-married counterparts; here, again, self-hypnosis can be of use in order to assist us to  improve our interpersonal relationships by, for example, helping to repair our disrupted unconscious processes, allowing us to be more able to give and receive love/affection, making us less withdrawn, and reducing tendencies to judge ourselves and others in an overly negative manner.

 

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) :

According to the psychologist, Spiegel, self-hypnosis can be a useful tool to help individuals suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) overcome problems associated with the troubling symptom of disturbing, intrusive memories of the original trauma.

Spiegel states that self-hypnosis may be particularly useful because certain qualities of the hypnotic experience have much in common with qualities of the experience of the symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), examples of which include :

– a feeling of reliving the traumatic event

– feelings of dissociation (detachment from reality)

– hypersensitivity to stimuli

– a disconnection between cognitive and emotional experience

Spiegel argues that this similarity between hypnotic phenomena and the symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) make sufferers of this most serious and disturbing disorder more hypnotizable than the average member of any given randomly selected population.

It follows from this that those suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may be particularly likely to be helped by the utilization of hypnotic techniques and procedures, particularly ‘coupling access to dissociative traumatic memories with positive restructuring of those memories’ (Spiegel et al., 1990). By this statement, Spiegel is suggesting that hypnosis could help bring traumatic memories more fully into conscious awareness and alter the way in which they are stored in memory by associating / pairing / linking them with feelings of safety (such as the feeling of being safe and protected in the therapist’s consulting room) rather than, as had previously been the case, high levels of distress.

In this way, Spiegel suggests, when these previously disturbing memories are recalled in the future, because they are now associated / paired / linked with feelings of safety, they cease to induce distress.

In effect, then, the traumatic memories have become positively recontextualized  and deprived of their previous power to induce feelings of fear, anxiety and terror.

 

 

WHY PTSD SUFFERERS MAY BE MORE HYPNOTIZABLE THAN THE AVERAGE PERSON :

Those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder display an array of distressing symptoms including flashbacks, nightmares, intrusive thoughts, insomnia, hypervigilence and hypersensitivity to stress.

Fortunately, however, research has found that those who suffer from PTSD tend to be more hypnotizable than the average person (this is thought to be because they can vividly imagine things which is an important component that helps to make an individual able to respond to hypnotherapy positively.

Many PTSD sufferers, therefore, can potentially be helped by practicing self-hypnosis.

 

 

What Is The Evidence That Hypnotherapy Can Effectively Reduce Symptoms Of PTSD?

There is a growing body of scientific evidence showing that those with PTSD can be helped by taking advantage of hypnotherapy. I briefly examine some of this evidence below:

1) Bryant et al. carried out a research study that showed the more vividly PTSD sufferers experienced flashbacks and nightmares, the more hypnotizable they tended to be.

2) Brom et al. ran an experiment in which PTSD sufferers were split into three groups :

Group 1 received psychodynamic psychotherapy

Group 2 received were treated using systematic desensitization techniques

Group 3 received hypnotherapy

Results :

Whilst all three groups responded equally well, group 3, comprising individuals who underwent hypnotherapy, required the fewest treatment sessions.

Other Research:

Forbes et al. found hypnotherapy to be an effective means of reducing nightmares and flashbacks in PTSD sufferers.

Krakow et al. carried out research showing that children who had experienced early life trauma were able to use imagery under hypnosis which reduced their nightmares and intrusive thoughts, as well as reducing their levels of emotional arousal and improving their quality of sleep.

Furthermore, there is good evidence that hypnotherapy can substantially help those suffering from mental health issues linked to PTSD such as depression and anxiety.

    David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

    Large Study Suggests Antidepressants Work No Better than Placebos.

     

    Do Antidepressants work?

    Do Antidepressants Work?

    The pharmaceutical industry makes over 12 billion pounds a year from antidepressant medication. Indeed, millions of adults and children take antidepressants and there are hundreds of thousands of doctors throughout the world who are happy to prescribe them.

    However, it has been suspected by many for a long time that a proportion of any beneficial effect given by the taking of antidepressants is due to THE PLACEBO EFFECT (the PLACEBO EFFECT is a phenomenon whereby the patient’s BELIEF that a medication will help causes any improvement in his/her condition, not the drug itself.

    A simple example of this would be to give someone who has a headache a dummy pill, such as a sugar pill, and then to tell the person who took it that it will cure his/her headache. Often, the person’s BELIEF the tablet will help him/her then causes an improvement. There is so much evidence of the placebo effect that it is now fully accepted by the scientific community – it is an excellent example of how the mind can affect the body).

    do antidepressants work?

    Major Study On The Effectiveness Of Antidepressants :

    A major study has now been undertaken to discover how much of any beneficial effect antidepressants have is not due to the drugs themselves, but, instead, to the placebo effect. The study was led by the academic, Professor Kirsch, from Harvard University.

    His method was to take an overview of 38 studies which had already been conducted on the effects of antidepressants (psychologists refer to this as a meta-analysis). The SHOCKING DISCOVERY was that the data showed that antidepressants worked almost no better than placebos.

    In other words, giving an individual an antidepressant for his/her depression, according to the extensive data reviewed by Professor Kirsch, is likely to work hardly any better than giving the individual a sugar (or ‘dummy’) pill. In fact, the difference in effect upon lessening depressive symptoms between the sugar pills and the antidepressants was found to be, by careful statistical analysis, CLINICALLY INSIGNIFICANT.

    Further investigation of the data revealed that the proportion individuals who were helped more by the antidepressants than by the placebo (and, even then, only in a very minor way) was just 10-15% (those who had the most extreme forms of depressive illness).The majority, then (85-90%), were not helped in a significant way by antidepressants per se anymore than they would have been by a placebo.

    Doctors have been made aware of this study, but a survey recently conducted has, worryingly, shown that over half of them did not intend to change the manner in which they prescribed antidepressants.

    Whilst criticisms of Professor Kirsch’s study were made, particularly, unsurprisingly, by those who had a vested interest in the pharmaceutical industry, none of them, on analysis, have been shown to carry much weight. Additionally, a study commissioned by the NHS has SUPPORTED Professor Kirsch’s findings.

    Despite these alarming findings, 235 prescriptions for antidepressants were made in the USA in 2010, and, in 2011, 47 million were made in the UK.

    It is clear that there needs to be a major review of medical policy in relation the prescribing of antidepressants and that alternative ways of treating depression now need to be considered more than ever.

    DISCLAIMER – DO NOT DISCONTINUE ANY PRESCRIBED MEDICATION WITHOUT FIRST SEEKING EXPERT MEDICAL ADVICE.

    childhood trauma and depression

     

    Above eBooks now available on Amazon for immediate download. 

    David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

    Controversies: Alarming Study – How Psychiatrists can Get It Wrong.

    psychiatric misdiagnosis
    psychiatrists and misdiagnosis

    A research study that I remember very clearly from University when I was studying for my first degree in Psychology demonstrates just how disturbingly wrong psychiatrists’ diagnoses can sometimes be. It is a notorious study which was led by the psychologist Dr. David Rosenhan.

    In the experiment that he conducted, a group of eight academic researchers presented themselves at various psychiatric hospitals located in different areas across the USA. None of the researchers had ever been diagnosed with a psychiatric condition.

    Each of these researchers reported to whichever psychiatrist happened to be in charge and responsible for new admissions on the particular day of their arrival and informed him that he was hearing a voice in his head which said the word ‘thud’. This was not true – it was just a fabricated symptom. However, this was the SOLE and ONLY way that the researchers misled the psychiatrists; they did not make up any other false symptoms or lie about their mental health in any other way whatsoever; from the point they reported the false symptom onward, they behaved normally.

    How did the psychiatrists respond? All eight, in each of the eight different hospitals, admitted each of the eight researchers into their care. Furthermore, each of the eight researchers (or pseudo-patients, as they could be called) were diagnosed with a severe psychiatric condition. All, too, were prescribed extremely potent anti-psychotic medication (which can have serious side-effects, it should not be overlooked). It is worth repeating here: this occurred despite the fact that all of the eight researchers acted entirely normally except for reporting hearing a voice in their head saying the word ‘thud’.

    And the error was not swiftly corrected. Quite the contrary, in fact. Most of the researchers were detained in the psychiatric ward to which they had been admitted for several weeks. Some were detained for over eight weeks, at great expense. Try as they might, the researchers were simply unable to convince the doctors that they were, in fact, sane. Their attempts to do so were interpreted as denial or lack of insight into their own condition.

    psychiatric misdiagnosis

    When the researchers finally explained they were simply there to conduct an experiment, matters were made even worse. They were seen as delusional and their claims were dismissed. In the eyes of the psychiatrists, their ‘illnesses’ now looked even worse than originally thought.

    Eventually, in order to secure their release from detention, they found the only way to accomplish this was to go along with the psychiatrists’ notions that they were extremely mentally ill and then gradually ‘get better’.

    But the farce does not end there. A media storm was created and one of the hospitals, shamed by events, was determined to prove that they could not be so easily hoodwinked a second time by the duplicitous Dr Rosenhal. To this end, they laid down a challenge. They told Dr Rosenhal to send more fake patients to their hospital and confidently declared that, this time, they would be able to identify the impostors.

    About four weeks later the hospital triumphantly announced it had identified over 40 fake patients. There turned out to be one problem, however: Dr Rosenhal had not sent a single one. We can only imagine the embarrassment those who ran the hospital must have felt.

    The experiment, now notorious, created a sensation and led to a major crisis in psychiatry, including a complete re-evaluation of the reliability (or otherwise) of psychiatric diagnoses. Whilst changes were made as a result of Dr Rosenhal’s study, controversy surrounding the reliability, and, indeed, validity, of psychiatric diagnoses remains today.

    David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

    Childhood Trauma: Its Link to Adult Anxiety.

    hypnotherapy for anxiety

    childhood trauma and anxiety

    Childhood Trauma And Anxiety :

    Anxious personality types often result from childhood trauma. Research has shown that there are 7 major factors which influence the way our personalities develop. These are:

    – the way in which we are disciplined in childhood
    – our place within the family e.g. birth order/sex
    – the kinds of role model we had as children e.g. parents
    – the belief system of the family we grew up in
    – our genes/biochemical makeup
    – the social and cultural influences we experienced as children
    – the particular PERSONAL MEANING that we attach to each of the above

    There are many ways that the above factors can interact to produce a personality dominated by anxiety in adulthood. Below are some experiences, directly related to the above factors, which can contribute towards us developing an anxiety disorder in adulthood:

    1) AN ANXIOUS PARENT OR ROLE MODEL: one way in which children are programmed to learn by evolution and develop their personalities is by a process referred to by psychologists as MODELLING (copying the behavior of role models, either consciously or unconsciously). It follows that a role model who frequently displays intense anxiety is likely to lead to the child adopting a similar manner of behaving and responding.

    2) RIGID BELIEF/RULE SYSTEMS: if the child’s role models (especially parents) have a rigid belief system, perhaps deriving from their culture or religion, the child may develop inflexible and ‘black and white’ thinking styles which can frequently become a source of anxiety in later life.

    Additionally, if a child lives in a highly chaotic environment, due, for example, to parental mental illness or substance abuse, s/he may learn to develop a rigid set of rules to give him/herself some sense of security and stability. Again, carrying such rigid rules into adult life can often lead to high levels of anxiety.

    3) CHILD ABUSE: abuse, during childhood, too, frequently leads to the abused child developing problems related to anxiety in adult life. The types of abuse which may occur include: physical abuse, sexual abuse, psychological abuse, neglect (physical and/or emotional), and cruel and unusual punishment.

    4) ANXIETY RELATED TO SEPARATION AND LOSS: a child may be separated from a parent or carer for extended periods of time, due, for example, to the following events:

    – a parent/carer going into hospital for a long time
    – divorce
    – death

    If the child DOES NOT UNDERSTAND WHY the parent/carer has become absent, this can be especially anxiety inducing.

    A more subtle, but, equally damaging, form of separation a child may experience is if the parent/carer is PHYSICALLY PRESENT BUT IGNORES/FAILS TO INTERACT MEANINGFULLY with the child.

     

    5) REVERSAL OF PARENT-CHILD ROLES: for a significant part of my childhood, starting at around the age of 11 years, this was the situation that I found myself in. Essentially, I became my mother’s personal counselor, permanently, it seemed, on call ( I’m surprised she didn’t provide me with a pager). Indeed, at this stage in my childhood she began to refer to me as her ‘Little Psychiatrist.’ A child may also find him/herself having to adopt a parental role for many other reasons; for example, parental substance abuse, parental absence etc. When the child, by necessity, in order to survive, takes on responsibilities with which which s/he is not old enough to cope, this can lead to a number of anxiety-linked personality traits; these may include: ‘black and white’ thinking, suppression of feelings, unrealistically high levels of self-expectation, and a deep need to have control.

    Reversal of parent-child roles is sometimes referred to as PARENTIFICATION.

    Other childhood experiences which may lead to an anxious personality type in adulthood I list below:

    – highly critical parents/carer
    – overprotective parents/carer
    – parental/carer pressures placed on child to suppress/deny his/her own feelings.

    CONCLUSION:

    We learn, then, certain ways of coping and behaving when faced with difficult childhood experiences; the problem is, however, that carrying these ways of coping and behaving into adulthood is often unhelpful; this is because, as adults, we are frequently presented with an environment to deal with which is very different from the environment we needed to deal with as children – we therefore need to adapt our behavioural responses to the new environment, in order to function in it effectively.

    THE POSITIVE NEWS is that, as adults, it is possible to MODIFY OUR PERSONALITY CHARACTERISTICS (which previously led to anxiety) and to learn new, more appropriate, ways of thinking and behaving, adaptive to the new, adult environment into which we are inevitably plunged. One therapy which research has shown can be particularly effective in treating anxiety which has its roots in childhood is called COGNITIVE BEHAVIORAL THERAPY (CBT).

     

    RESOURCE : 

    General Anxiety Disorder Treatment | Self Hypnosis

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    David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).