CURING PSYCHOSES — by –
“Changing ‘social defeat’ to ‘social delight’ — for all.”
How and why Maastricht, Soteria and all, work.
I have always thought that trauma underlies many occurrences of hearing voices. As the recent BBCtv Horizon programme [Why Did I Go Mad?, 2 May 2017], included several such illustrations, it forms a remarkable, and so far possibly unique contribution to our understanding of psychotic symptoms. In my own practice, I encourage the sufferer to confront the remnant of their torturer. I do this to counter the notion of ‘social defeat’ so clearly demonstrated in this documentary. I find that by doing so, as with Freda below, frontal lobes can be persuaded to start working again. When they do, psychotic thinking evaporates. It sounds simple, which it is; but easy, it is not. I see this as the common thread empowering success in The Early Retreat, Maastricht, Geel, Soteria, Open Dialogue, John Nash and all.
This approach starts with the pioneering work of Reed & Bentall tracing psychotic symptoms back to childhood torture. It then combines this crucial insight with Bessel van der Kolk’s graphic work showing that frontal lobes go ‘off-line’ when such torture starts to be recalled to mind — ergo, it remains off-line, and cannot be accessed, nor eliminated, unaided. The reason the ‘standard’ medical approach comes unstuck, is that the sufferer cannot tell you what’s really wrong, simply because they cannot tell themselves — they suffer from frontal lobe and speech‑centre paresis, which ‘deletes’ it. It took me 15 years to build up enough trustworthy support with Freda, before we could be on the same side, demanding her traumatiser stop, now. Simple, decidedly not easy.
‘Hearing voices’ are generally and erroneously taught to be ‘proof’ of psychosis. Medical students and others who persist in this bigotry, have much unlearning to do. Whereas what really troubles sufferers from this infamous disease is thought disorder — this is THE pathognomonic sign. Freda clearly states she wants to think — but cannot. Inability to think straight cripples all members of homo sapiens. Gradually coaxing them to do so, works wonders. It is glorious to see frontal lobes coming alive again, the blossoming of the human spirit is a sight to behold in wonder. Sadly, before this practice can become widespread, a huge quantity still needs to be unlearnt.
The following is an excerpt from a group session. Freda at this point was a 40 year old, whose mother had died when she was 8. We are well into the treatment process. The treatment dilemma, which is razor sharp is easier to describe than to overcome. Unless I’m powerful, I too would be at the mercy of the torturer, but once I am, I could easily be expected to do as s/he did. Truth, Trust and Consent is my nostrum for building 100% trustworthy support, without which nothing happens.
- Freda: . . . and I can’t think [sighs exasperatedly]. I can’t think properly [sighs again].
- Bob : [gently] It’s training, right? You’ve trained yourself not to think.
- Freda: mmm
- Bob : say that
- Freda: [blocking]~~ I’ve trained ~. I have ~ trained, I’ve trained myself not to think.
- Bob : yes, ‘and now I have to train myself TO think.’
- Freda: [smoothly] and now I have to train myself to think.
How else can you account for frontal lobes being off-line one second (line 5), yet on-line and under central control again, the next (line 7). MRI studies would surely confirm. Meanwhile, I insist on playing this audio clip during my presentation — only ‘live’ clinical evidence can prevail.
Dr Bob Johnson www.DrBobJohnson.org Sunday, 11 June 2017