Author Topic: Book: Voicelessness and Emotional Survival: Notes from the therapy underground  (Read 385 times)

Dr. Richard Grossman

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Hi OnlyMe,

Welcome back!  Sadly, the wounds from narcissistic parents can last a lifetime.  I hope you’ll post some more such that the dear people on this message board can listen and offer you support.

And thank you for reading my book!  I’ll look forward to any comments you want to share.

Richard

OnlyMe

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Thank you for writing your book - and thank you for this message board.
And thank you for the confirmation that the wounds can last a lifetime - that in itself is a comfort (which, to anyone outside of this group, would seem like an odd thing for me to say!).  :)
~ OnlyMe

Twoapenny

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Hi Dr G,

I've started reading for the second time.  I left it a little while as I wanted everything to sink in a bit and to have some time to think about some of the things that came up for me as I was reading the book the first time.  The introduction has brought up some questions for me and I wondered what you think?

When you talk about it being rare that another person can enter someone else's world at a deep level (first page of the introduction) which is something I agree with wholeheartedly, it got me wondering, what do you feel therapy is all about?  Is it about us improving ourselves?  Or relieving emotional pain in some way?  Or about learning to endure more pain in life?  You talk later on the same page about pain being omnipresent and that got me thinking about whether life has always been painful?  I assume so; people have always lost loved ones, probably more so in days gone by when infant mortality was higher and life expectancy lower. But then I wondered if that made people more immune to pain, because it was more frequent and expected?  That got me wondering whether we've tried too hard to alleviate pain and whether we should instead accept it as part of what we all go through.  I was just interested in what your thoughts are as to the main point or aim of therapy (although I guess as there are different types it might depend on which type you're looking at.  Nothing is ever simple :) lol ).  It's very interesting to see the therapists' perspective; it made me realise that I didn't really have access to that sort of thought process before.  Usually you see the 'client in the meeting room' through your own experiences and only experience the therapy from the client's side of the process so it's interesting to see the therapist's perspective (and interesting that other therapists weren't helpful to you in the past - I'd sort of always assumed that all therapists 'got' each other and it's clear that isn't the case).

Something else that I wondered about is that, when you were training and going through your own unpleasant experiences of not being heard, what was it that made you think to do it differently rather than leaving to do something else?  I only ask because it really interested me that for a young trainee and newly qualified professional, to look at an entire body of work, practice, endless other professionals and so on and to say "nah.  That's not right" - and then to go off and kind of re-write the rule book - is very bold!  As I was reading I kept thinking about all the things I've done over the years that I've jacked in because I didn't like the way things were being done and I wondered why I hadn't done a Dr G and said "you know what - I'll do this my way".  It was very brave of you to go off on your own path like that and I just wondered if you had any thoughts as to what made you do things differently rather than going off and doing something else altogether?

That's all of my questions for now!  Lol, you will end up writing another book on here answering everyone's questions and thoughts :)  I'm looking forward to getting on with reading it a second time :)

Dr. Richard Grossman

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Hi Tupp,

Thank you so much for reading my book x 2!  Here are some answers to your thoughtful questions:

“When you talk about it being rare that another person can enter someone else's world at a deep level (first page of the introduction) which is something I agree with wholeheartedly, it got me wondering, what do you feel therapy is all about?  Is it about us improving ourselves?  Or relieving emotional pain in some way?  Or about learning to endure more pain in life?"

Therapy should be about all of these important goals, which raised for me early on in my career the question: how can all of these goals be accomplished via one “form” of therapy.  What my patients taught me was that the most powerful, thorough, and predictable way was via the “method” that I describe in the book—and the “method” that Sara Field validates from the patient side of the room in her book.  (I don’t want this post to be a spoiler for those who haven’t read the books!)

“You talk later on the same page about pain being omnipresent and that got me thinking about whether life has always been painful?”

Pain is omnipresent, and yes, life has always been painful.  Steve Pinker argues in his book, “The Better Angels of Our Nature:  Why Violence has Declined,” (https://smile.amazon.com/Better-Angels-Our-Nature-Violence/dp/0143122010/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1547508176&sr=8-1&keywords=steven+pinker+better+angels) that life is, in general, less painful now than it has been in the past, but, in my view, it is still quite painful and, as I write in my book, aloneness has reached epidemic proportions.

“That got me wondering whether we've tried too hard to alleviate pain and whether we should instead accept it as part of what we all go through.  I was just interested in what your thoughts are as to the main point or aim of therapy.”

Certainly, there are specific ways of better accepting the pain of life—mindfulness techniques immediately come to mind.  But I discovered a therapeutic relationship of the kind described in my book to be the most effective “aid” in living with the omnipresent and sometimes extraordinary pain that life has to offer.

“I was just interested in what your thoughts are as to the main point or aim of therapy (although I guess as there are different types it might depend on which type you're looking at.  Nothing is ever simple   lol ). “

My aims are to help people lead a more meaningful, connected, fulfilling life, and, of course, to suffer significantly less as a result.  In my view, as you now know, it is a “package deal.”

“Usually you see the 'client in the meeting room' through your own experiences and only experience the therapy from the client's side of the process so it's interesting to see the therapist's perspective (and interesting that other therapists weren't helpful to you in the past - I'd sort of always assumed that all therapists 'got' each other and it's clear that isn't the case).”

Yes, the book addresses these points from a very personal perspective.  I hope the painful personal aspects I write about make these points far more compelling.

“Something else that I wondered about is that, when you were training and going through your own unpleasant experiences of not being heard, what was it that made you think to do it differently rather than leaving to do something else?  I only ask because it really interested me that for a young trainee and newly qualified professional, to look at an entire body of work, practice, endless other professionals and so on and to say "nah.  That's not right" - and then to go off and kind of re-write the rule book - is very bold!”

I have two immediate answers to this question.  First, I have a “stick to it” character—I’ve never found change particularly exciting or compelling.  As I write in the book, this subtext can be found repeatedly in my character.  For example, I have lived my whole adult life, since the age of 21 within 8 blocks of my current (for the past 40 years) location.  But more importantly, the therapy profession fit my character “to a tee”— helping people in a significant way, personal autonomy, understanding the way people’s brains work in a scientific way and, as I write in the book, very much appreciating the arts and science blend of my “work.”

Thank you, Tupp, for all of your important questions.  Let me know if any of my answers aren't clear.  Also if you have more questions as you read the book for a second time,  I’d be very happy to answer them!

Richard

P.S.  You now know more why I always refer to myself as Richard on this message board!
« Last Edit: January 14, 2019, 07:07:41 PM by Dr. Richard Grossman »

lighter

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Reading your book was...
Like being pulled through deep water, from one emotional flashback to another, as you shared your experiences with your first Ts.

I'm grateful that you wrote this book, Doc. 

It's validating. 

It's sadly informative. 

What I got, almost exclusively, about your experiences with Ts, is the practice of a very subtle form of interpersonal terrorism, as I see it.  When people invalidate the sacred things we hold dear about who we are in the world. they're purposefully targeting us with the intent to inflict emotional trauma.  Intention.  Trauma.  It's wicked, particularly when someone in a position of trust and authority does it.   

  Some of us won't experience validation of who we are until we enter T, unfortunately.
 

Most of us won't understand that we HOLD THESE SACRED beliefs about who we are, and being in relationship with someone who SEES these things, and KNOWS their truth with us, is important.   

 When people Do this, undermine us in this way, it's so subtle, it almost flys under the wire, bc it's hurtful, and confusing, in equal measures as I've experienced it.   And it can't be inflicted by someone who lacks intimate knowledge about us, some kind of knowledge about what how we see ourselves, and what we value in ourselves.

Wow.  I wish we understood this from a young age.....

Oh, to have Hops' and Doc's gift with words, I feel like I'm wasting words, and not writing what I mean to say.    ::sigh::.

We'd have a better chance of understanding when people target us this way, and undermine us at the core,  purposefully, iMO.  Maybe.  Co workers, SOs, FOO members, extended family, mates, and people we call friends DO this, and it's hard to make sense of it, IME.   

Some of us won't experience validation of our inner worlds till we enter into a healthy therapeutic relationship, which is really sad.  It's more than sad when the T does more harm than good, bc of their own problems.   

But then, I think most mental health professionals choose this line of work bc of their own problems, and experiences with emotional struggles.  This explains why so many aren't good at what they do.   It also explains why some are most excellent, IMO. 

You cultivate trust with your patients, Doc.  That's deeply satisfying to read, and I look forward to reading page 41 on.
 I had to stop at page 40, and get this off my chest before finishing.  I think I can focus again.  Now.

Like Tupp, I'll have to read your book again.  What popped up for me was so powerfully IN MY FACE, I couldn't see beyond it. 

Lighter


 

 

Dr. Richard Grossman

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Hi Lighter,

I am grateful to you for reading my tale of woe!  And you’re not wasting your words at all!  Here are some of my thoughts.

“What I got, almost exclusively, about your experiences with Ts, is the practice of a very subtle form of interpersonal terrorism.”

That’s a great way of describing it, at least re: my first therapist.  I also wish my therapists could have taken the following article seriously:

Intellectual humility: the importance of knowing you might be wrong by Brian Resnik
https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2019/1/4/17989224/intellectual-humility-explained-psychology-replication

But humility was not a part of either therapist’s character.  And a patient was not allowed to question a therapist’s theoretical beliefs.  As I write in the book, if a patient did  question these beliefs, it was considered to be part of their problem.

“Most of us won't understand that we HOLD THESE SACRED beliefs about who we are, and being in relationship with someone who SEES these things, and KNOWS their truth with us, is important.

 When people Do this, undermine us in this way, it's so subtle, it almost flys under the wire, bc it's hurtful, and confusing, in equal measures as I've experienced it.   And it can't be inflicted by someone who lacks intimate knowledge about us, some kind of knowledge about what how we see ourselves, and what we value in ourselves.”

In therapy, it is so important for us to be heard for who we are and not have our “selves” distorted by being placed in rote conceptual and theoretical boxes.  But this is what therapists are/were trained to do. And, yes, people in general are, for the most part, unable to listen and “get it” including those who supposedly know us best.

“But then, I think most mental health professionals choose this line of work bc of their own problems, and experiences with emotional struggles.  This explains why so many aren't good at what they do.   It also explains why some are most excellent, IMO.”

I agree.  I think the need for status and control can also play a role—and is reinforced by certain theoretical views/practices.  Actually, If I had to choose a kind of person to be a therapist, I would choose a veterinarian!  No vet has ever tried to display status and control over my dogs.  And certainly, Beau, my current Golden Retriever, would never let them do it!  He’s the boss! 

“You cultivate trust with your patients, Doc.”

My patients are dear to me, and we are always in this together.

Thank you, Lighter, for “letting the book in.”  I so appreciate it—and if you do read it a second time, please let me know your thoughts and feelings.

Richard

lighter

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OK... I finished the book, and have a comment on prior tracts (brain pathways) "rusting away."  We're talking about myelinated (fat covered)  pathways.  Fat makes pathways FAST.  Fast makes it hard to head off old patterns, and choose/cultivate new pathways, which is the goal.  So difficult.  Takes time, as you say.   

The body is very frugal with that fat, and will move it from the default pathway TO the rarely used pathways we're mindfully cultivating, but it takes time.  It's SO SO hard, and I think it helps me to picture moving the fat, rather than picture the old pathways rusting away.  In either case, they're both helpful images, IMO, and reminding myself that the process is the process, even when I fail, helps cut down on despair.  Being aware, that I'm struggling, is a sign that I'm working on, and towards, that new goal.  Awareness is imperative, IMO.   

My uncle said a brain doc giving a talk at his office said it would be helpful if we stop all patterns in our lives... like putting a watch on the same wrist, the same way, at the same time, every day.....anything and everything, all patterns, every pattern...just STOP, and mix things up as a habit.  I think it frees up fat, and makes our brains more efficient, and capable of practicing choice, rather than developing defaults as habit.... our brains get into the flow of choice, rather than the flow of setting defaults as habit.  Maybe?

Moving on.  Page 46, last paragraph.... Brought to mind....
"Call me Lionel."
Your view on attending your patient/client/another human being....
 reminds me of the movie THE KING'S SPEECH.  Lionel Logue's character explains his experience  treating voiceless, shell shocked young men returning from war, and what they really needed "was a friend."  So simple.  That resonated powerfully for me, and I feel like you're describing this "bond" but in more technical terms... without using the word "friend."

You write, on page 52....
"Interestingly, I have found that while advice on how to deal with such parents can sometimes be helpful, it is not central to the therapeutic process.  Note, again, the important difference in subtext from previous therapy models: I am another human being with a particular "character" that allows my patients to make a very significant attachment of a kind they have never experienced before.  I this regard, my "character" matters far more than any advice I could possibly give."

::nodding::.

"Friend."

Page 50.... Yes.  It would be helpful if there was a way to weed out the harmful Ts before they became practitioners.  Honestly, we could say the same thing about Officers of the Court, medical doctors, LCSWs, and teachers.....
caregivers/parents. 

::nodding::.

Loving the book, Doc.  Thanks for writing it: )

Lighter

Dr. Richard Grossman

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Hi Lighter,

Here are some of the thoughts your comments raised in my brain!

“The body is very frugal with that fat, and will move it from the default pathway TO the rarely used pathways we're mindfully cultivating, but it takes time.  It's SO SO hard, and I think it helps me to picture moving the fat, rather than picture the old pathways rusting away.  In either case, they're both helpful images, IMO, and reminding myself that the process is the process, even when I fail, helps cut down on despair.  Being aware, that I'm struggling, is a sign that I'm working on, and towards, that new goal.  Awareness is imperative, IMO.   

My uncle said a brain doc giving a talk at his office said it would be helpful if we stop all patterns in our lives... like putting a watch on the same wrist, the same way, at the same time, every day.....anything and everything, all patterns, every pattern...just STOP, and mix things up as a habit.  I think it frees up fat, and makes our brains more efficient, and capable of practicing choice, rather than developing defaults as habit.... our brains get into the flow of choice, rather than the flow of setting defaults as habit.  Maybe?”

Interesting, this is an individual response that may help!  Even more powerful, in my view, is the power of two people spending a considerable time together in a particular way—with, as I write in the book, the outcome being highly dependent on the character of the therapist. 

It is also interesting that my patients are not mindfully aware of the positive changes (e.g., the new attachment wiring) taking place.  The new pathways gradually appear after significant time together and make a difference in my patients' emotions and their responses to life decisions, e.g. concerning relationships. Unfortunately, I am not knowledgeable enough about the biological changes occurring in the attachment areas of the brain to offer a technical explanation.

“Moving on.  Page 46, last paragraph.... Brought to mind....
"Call me Lionel."
Your view on attending your patient/client/another human being....
 reminds me of the movie THE KING'S SPEECH.  Lionel Logue's character explains his experience  treating voiceless, shell shocked young men returning from war, and what they really needed "was a friend."  So simple.  That resonated powerfully for me, and I feel like you're describing this "bond" but in more technical terms... without using the word ‘friend.’”

Exactly! That’s why  the therapist gets renamed “Dr. Friend” in the prologue to the book.  The blend is very important in my view…

“Page 50.... Yes.  It would be helpful if there was a way to weed out the harmful Ts before they became practitioners.  Honestly, we could say the same thing about Officers of the Court, medical doctors, LCSWs, and teachers.....
caregivers/parents.”

I completely agree!  So much damage is done by destructive people in multiple caring professions.

Thank you, again, Lighter, for reading the book and making such thoughtful comments.  I so appreciate it!

Richard