Thursday, May 28, 2009

Desperate housewife

A reader contacted me. He was clearly alarmed at the direction in which he felt I personally am heading. He referred to my "grasping at straws", my being "on a crusade", and urged me to avoid "snake oil". He expressed his opinion that all of this plus maternal guilt was clouding my ability to think rationally. According to the reader, this means that I am not providing effective support for Chris. Furthermore, by claiming center stage I am placing my needs before Chris's. My blog, he feels, is a coping mechanism.

Since the reader knows me only through what I have written, his perception is valid. I believe in turn that I have pushed the bounds of his comfort zone.

My blog is about holistic recovery from schizophrenia. It also happens to include many references to my own understanding/healing process that was needed under the circumstances. The Cambridge Online Dictionary defines holistic as "relating to the whole of something or to the total system instead of just to its parts." My interpretation of holistic has grown to include self-examination as a component of Chris's and my healing process. I submit that looking at how I may have contributed to Chris's existential dilemma is a valid way forward. I do not feel "guilty" and neither should anyone in these circumstances. Guilt doesn't heal people.

Holistic recovery means that we are taking advantage of what healing information is currently out there and available. The information is not from traditional medicine. Going holistic means moving off level one of the healing pyramid. Level one is about treating illnesses, not just mental illnesses, with vitamin therapy, diet, medications and surgery, where necessary.

Once we move off level one we are headed into the realm of energy medicine, energy psychology, psychotherapy in its many branches, acupuncture, homeopathy, yoga, meditation, chakras, shamanism, out of body experiences, the Akashic records, meaningful coincidences, quantum physics, near death experiences. These pick up where Dr. Hoffer and other proponents of orthomolecular medicine left off. (See: Energy psychology and Emotional Freedom Technique - April 21. 2009.) When orthomolecular medicine was introduced it tread on a lot of people's comfort zones. It still does, to some people.

All of the therapies that I discuss in my blog incorporate the idea in one form or another that human beings are energy masses. We vibrate. Our molecules rub up against other people's molecules. We have cellular memory. The individual has his own energy field, but the family also has an energy field. I believe that psychotherapy as a discipline implicitly acknowledges our molecular co-dependence but does not usually describe itself using these terms.

Correcting misaligned energy can be done physically and psychically. It can be done by a doctor, a shaman, a psychiatrist, a priest or through your own thought process. This is a new concept that is vying for a place alongside orthomolecular medicine and psychotherapy in treating mental illness. New ideas invariably disturb people's comfort zones. They take a long time to gain acceptance.

I occupy center stage in my blog because I write it. Writing any blog seems like an inherently narcissistic act. Where I hope my value added lies is precisely because I am the mother and I am willing to share some of myself and Chris with others. Chris and I have undergone many of the therapies together, which means I can report on them with some confidence. Publishing this may leave people with the impression that I am desperately clutching at straws and trying to convince people that if people would only do what Chris and I are doing, all will be well. We know it doesn't work that way.

A holistic approach has taught me to appreciate that there are no such thing as coincidences. By contacting me when he did, my reader has helped me think about perception. I am sharing Chris's and my experiences in the higher levels of healing to allow you to cherry pick what you want from the realm of healing possibilities. It is not desperation on my part that drives me to investigate these rather unusual therapies for Chris. These therapies have helped Chris to heal in ways that the medications did not do. They might just do the same for you.


  1. I trust you won't mind if the "reader" responds.

    I am neither alarmed with the direction you are headed nor am I advocating that you are not providing effective treatment for Chris. I believe however that you can do better. Certainly you have attempted more than most people and in the face of the opposition to your approach you have remained determined and strong.

    The "reader" advocates a holistic approach to treatment, is not an advocate of drug therapies, and knows that individuals can and do recover fully from the symptoms of psychosis and the classification labeled schizophrenia.

    The "reader" also advocates that it is important to avoid the snake oil salesmen. There are plenty of alchemists out there, all claiming to have the treatment that will effect a cure. Some help and many don't. What I was advocating was the benefits associated with an effective and non conventional approach to psychotherapy. Most therapists cannot promote a transference with a psychotically afflicted patient. The reason is because they do not, cannot, or will not enter the patient's delusional system as a full partner with care and compassion. If one can achieve this one can establish relationship with the patient and resolve the interferences to a normal and productive life.

    Alas, the "reader" is not condemning you. The "reader" is merely promoting that your unwillingness to tune into the real possibility of recovery employing an effective psychotherapeutic approach is naive. You may have drawn your conclusions regarding the effectiveness of psychotherapy from the wrong approach or a few ineffective therapists.

    You have contemplated perception. Perception for the patient is critical and the patient's perception, beliefs, and interpretation of his or her past experiences as well as the occuring world are what confine him or her to the altered state of reality or allow a progression to a normal life in the common dysfunctional world we all live in.

    The effectiveness of treatment can be measured by the results. A patient who is drug and symptom free following treatment, with cautious optimism regarding the omnipresent possibility for relapse, is a reasonable result would you not agree?

  2. Reader - I fail to see where I disagree with anything you write, except for your peception that I have discounted that psychotherapy can bring about an effective recovery. Please point out where I said this and then if it is still unclear that I personally believe psychotherapy can be very effective, then I will try harder to get my point across or else I will take a writing course in effective communication. At the same time, I don't want to put Chris's eggs all in one basket. That's why we are exploring the newer ways of thinking about SZ and other so called mental illnesses. Please note that none of these snake oil salesmen as you refer to them, have ever promised a "cure" for SZ. In fact, most of the therapies we have tried don't even refer to SZ in their list of conditions that can be helped. The therapies usually have one thing in common and that is looking at certain medical conditions as an energy imbalance. I believe SZ can be considered an energy imbalance and I also think that psychotherapy implicitly acknowledges this.

    Perhaps you have picked up on my criticism of some of the psychiatrists that we have had to deal with in the course of Chris's problems. The ones I have a problem with concentrated on medications to the exclusion of psychotherapy. So, my response to that was for Chris to see a psychiatrist who only sees him for psychotherapy and does not concern herself with managing his drugs (or vitamin therapy). She helped Chris more in three months than he got in three years using the more conventional approach.

    But, as psychatrists like to say, events cannot be overdetermined. Chris was also doing more than just seeing a psychotherapist during this time. So, while I would like to attribute all of the progress to her ability to draw Chris out, I have to leave room for the possibility that Chris improved because of something else.

  3. Further to my last post, I checked my blog dated Wed. April 15, 2009 entitled "The list of therapies" and I see that failed to list psychotherapy as one of those therapies. This is an rather large oversight that I thank you for pointing out. What I listed instead was Family Constellation Therapy, which the whole family undertook with Chris's psychotherapist. Other than undergoing FCT, I do not participate in Chris's weekly sessions with his psychiatrist, so that may be why I neglected to highlight its importance. I imagine that his psychiatrist employs a variety of psychotherapeutic techniques with Chris, but I have only personally experienced FCT.
    I have now added psychotherapy to the list of therapies on my blog. As mentioned above, since I have only personally experienced FCT, my blog will concentrate on those therapies where I have had some user knowledge. That doesn't stop me, though, from discussing from time to time what other psychiatrists have contributed to the debate.

  4. Your determination will be a critical component to Chris' recovery. I do very much applaud your perseverance and courage.

    I suspect you are probably paying for the psychotherapy if health services there are anything like Canada. I hired a therapist for Adam who he saw twice weekly for a year. He is highly qualified; doctorate in psychology, and various other add ons, and he didn't know a thing about treating someone afflicted by psychosis or classified as schizophrenic.

    There are a relatively small number of therapists worldwide who are effective in treating these conditions. It would be worth your while to ask the therapist what therapies he is employing with Chris. If he is professional he won't discuss the details but should be prepared to indicate whether he utilizes Freudian, Jungian or some other method.

    You might ask him whether he is aware of Direct Confrontional Psychotherapy and what his views are. I believe this is the only method that really works. The delusional system must be penetrated, interupted, and cast out in order to progress further. I referred to catharsis earlier and I believe this ritualistic act is critical in the recovery process.

    In Adam's case he no longer experiences symptoms. He takes no drugs, no vitamins, and no other treatment. His therapy sessions occur only twice per month now and he is working gainfully for the summer and excited about returning to school in September. He has established some friendships during recent months and is no longer socially withdrawn.

    At this point, though I am always cautious and am present to the possibility of relapse, he is functioning as any normal young man would.

  5. Thank you once again for your helpful insights. I am very glad to see how well Adam is doing. The fact that he is symptom free, takes no drugs or vitamins and is gainfully employed says it all. I feel that any possible future relapse (and there is no reason to expect one) would be more about growth and should not be viewed as negatively as it is often portrayed. We originally engaged Chris's psychiatrist because she uses Family Constellation Therapy in her practice. (She is also Freudian and Jungian in her outlook.) FCT sounds similar to Direct Confrontational Therapy in that it also uses actors as stand-ins for family members and it encourages people to confront what "is", not how things "should be". Yet, Chris is still not what I would consider symptom free. We have seen him exhibit a lot of anger for the first time ever recently and at least it was a start, even if it still was not entirely out in the open. We are lucky in that our insurance covers all of Chris's psychiatry and also certain complementary therapies. We were only out of pocket on the vitamins, which were expensive. His psychiatrist is very aware of the anger issue, as any good psychiatrist should be. I will ask her about Direct Confrontation Therapy.


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