Sunday, February 11, 2018

help with formatting?

Dear Readers:

I do not know why the past couple months that the words are cut in middle to start on next line.
My apologies.
If anyone knows how to fix, please let me know.

Apparently, though, the entire (future) post will come to your email if you enter your email address in the requested space at bottom, right hand corner.

Thanking you in advance.
Lycia

PS: to reach me directly and so that I might have your email address you may contact me at tbinstitutepsastudies@gmail.com
that's tbinstitutepsastudies@gmail.com


Smoking cigarettes, eating glass

The local Tampa Bay Psychoanalytic Society was privileged to host the author of Smoking Cigarettes, Eating Glass (2015) Annita Perez Sawyer who read excerpts from her humorous and poignant book about the perils of misdiagnosis and treatment and the iatrogenic harm they cause.
Being read to in her soft, melodious voice transported me back to childhood memories of bedtime stories read aloud by my parents, but in conjunction with the painfully disturbing content it was a disorganizing experience to have disparate elements: voice and words, juxtaposed. Perhaps that was the point, for her memoir tells of her dissociative experiences resulting from childhood trauma. Hospitalized in the 1960s with symptoms of derealization, depersonalization, and suicidal behavior desperate to communicate what was happening at home, and no understanding yet of PTSD as a result of childhood trauma, she was misdiagnosed with schizophrenia-- a diagnosis which, at the time, dictated treatment with ECT (shock treatment). Thus, Sawyer’s memoir makes a plea to clinicians to see, not symptoms or diagnosis, but the individual. Sawyer writes that the admitting psychiatrist during her first hospitalization at the age of seventeen had read aloud her diary to her as evidence of her need to be hospitalized. Her memoir states this intrusive authority had been “defiling what might have been mine but now was his” -- prescient of the much later recognition of her childhood incestuous sexual abuse.

Also welcome in this memoir is more anecdotal evidence of relationship over technique: despite having been hospitalized in the heyday of classical Freudian psychoanalysis, it was not neutrality, abstinence or anonymity, nor interpretation and insight which jump-started her recovery. Instead it was her (eighth) psychiatric resident who had the courage to see her as a person, and to be authentic, spontaneous--he laughed at her puns-- as well as attempt to understood that her disruptive and self destructive behavior was a communication of her history of childhood trauma.

This resident’s supervisor was Harold Searles who -- as Philip Bromberg now so elegantly elaborates -- shared his feelings evoked by Sawyer (the patient) with her. He noted that Annita as a patient was so innocent, so frightened like a fawn and so shy, that he felt like a dirty old man, and that bad feeling about himself had made him want to kill himself, just as the Sawyer herself had also been suicidal. Later, as a clinician, she decided this had been a kind of projective identification. She felt Searles had made contact [with her guilt], and she felt her [heretofore helpless] self able to have an effect on others.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Some mutual regulation

The traditional psychoanalytic opinion that insight leads to change has been challenged of late by contemporary writers who think behavioral change precedes insight. It is as if the latter are saying: First one has the procedural, non-conscious (right brain) experience (not a cognitive thought or realization) of a new way to be with an other -- such as trusting someone for a moment or feeling someone is proud of me-- and the subsequent encoding in the brain of this new experience has a calming effect, which in turn allows for blood flow to the left brain where symbolization, explicit thought, (insight) takes place. In writing about the film Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, (Post on 12-12-17) I quoted Chief Willoughby opining that love leads to calm and calm, to thought. Felicitously a clinical example from a supervisee presented itself.

A supervisee asked me to help her think about shifting self states in a patient of hers who was often fidgety and affectively dysregulated. What was going on with her patient who one week had been sobbing and angry about a break-up and felt so awful that the patient was going to run out of the room before the session was over, and, in the next session, the patient was calm and even offered an insight about her dating habits? In the first session the therapist had invited her patient to stay with the therapist and sit together in her distress, which the patient was able to do. How did the patient return in a calm state, able to sit with stretches of relative silence?

I was reminded of how affective regulation contributes to a secure attachment and how a secure attachment leads to calm. If Chief Willoughby knows anything, calm leads to insight. While love calms, I also see where calm, in attachment parlance, leads to love. The patient, soothed by the therapist in the first session, returned more securely attached, more able to trust, and to feel love for the therapist, all unspoken. The supervisee said that she had felt love for her patient in that second session. Ah! Mutual regulation. The mother calms the distressed baby and feels competent, useful, meaningful to the baby, and she feels love for her baby, just as the calmed baby feels important to the mother, and they share meaning and joy in their soothed state.