The Stonehenge Image

The-Cleansing-Medium

I received an email this morning from a reader across the ocean:

I was impressed (hailing from England) that you have a picture of Stonehenge on your page at www.Psychlinks.ca.

Do you see Stonehenge as a image of tranquility, wellness?

By the way I stumbled across your work, researching Bi-Polar disorder at Psychlinks Self-Help & Mental Health Support Forum

Regards,

Patrick

I have always been fascinated by the early history of the British Isles. especially of the Celtic tribes and the history preceding the Roman conquest and following the collapse of the Roman empire. I’ve also always been aware of the emotional power of Stonehenge for me personally. But I confess I’ve never really stopped to consider why I thought it so fitting as a symbol for the Psychlinks web sites. This morning, after receiving Patrick’s email, I did just that.

Here is my response to him:

Good morning from Canada, Patrick: I see the Stonehenge image as many things, actually…

  • A link for individuals between the past, the present, and the future
  • A symbol of strength, endurance, and resilience: the ability to weather the storms of life and time and survive
  • A symbol of stoic tranquility, wisdom, and solid grounding
  • A link between the physical, the spiritual, and the mystical
  • A link across generations
  • Not necessarily a symbol of current wellness but the ability to persevere and to find strength to locate and retrieve what is healthy within you

And incidentally, my family is also from England. I was born in London and still have several family members and relatives in England and Scotland.

The image was cropped from a photograph taken a few years ago by my son, Daniel, a copy of which hangs in my office.

Dr. David J. Baxter, C.Psych.
Psychologist

It is also a personal reminder that adding the image to this blog is still on my to-do list…

What About Me? A Book for Men Helping Female Partners Deal with Childhood Sexual Abuse

What About Me? A Book for Men Helping Female Partners Deal with Childhood Sexual Abuse
by Grant Cameron
Revised and reissued 2013

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What About Me? is for men who are helping female partners recover from the trauma of childhood sexual abuse. The book is unique because it’s the end result of the traumatic and trying times Grant Cameron encountered while helping his wife, Liz, deal with her abusive past. If you are a partner of someone who was abused as a child, you will find this book enlightening. It takes you into the world of a child sexual abuse survivor and explains in laymen’s terms how to help, deal and cope with the survivor’s anger, grief and pain. Grant covers important subjects like the inner child, the necessity for breaks and how to be a support.

Click here if you have any questions about the book.

From the author
I am the husband of a partner who was sexually abused as a child, so I have first-hand experience of many of the difficulties that spouses face as they attempt to help their wives heal from the torment and trauma of abuse.

Partners of childhood sexual abuse survivors will find this book enlightening as it explains in layman’s terms how to help a survivor cope and deal with her anger and pain. I draw on my personal experiences as a husband and supporter of a childhood sexual abuse survivor. I talk openly about subjects like trust and anger, suicide, sex, nightmares and the child within. I try to educate and dispel myths and misconceptions. I also offer advice on coping, releasing rage and whether a partner of a survivor should stay or go.

The book is called What About Me? It is not meant in any way to take the place of a good counselor. However, my hope is that the book will help men who are partners of childhood sexual abuse survivors understand what the survivor is going through in order that they may be a help rather than hindrance to her healing.

The book was originally published in 1994 by Creative Bound Inc. and sold in most major bookstore chains and through Amazon.com. The book received rave reviews and five editions were published before the publisher retired. I decided to update and publish the book as a downloadable file so it can be accessed more quickly by partners of survivors.

The book can be downloaded from a website at www.helpforpartners.wordpress.com.

Over the years, many partners and survivors of childhood sexual abuse have written to me, thanking me for writing the book and noting that it helped them get through the healing process because it explained the situation more clearly and thoroughly to partners.

Comment
I came across this book when it was first published. It is indeed a remarkable book and, at the time, entirely unique. There have been a few books subsequently published with a similar them but this one remains my favorite for its simplicity and calrity of presentation and for the beautiful support it describes from an initially puzzled and bewildered man to his beloved wife, a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. Unfortunately, the book has been out of print for some time now, so it is with pleasure that I announce its current availability in a new form.

The cost is $15.95. If you are the spouse of a survivor of childhood sexual abuse or if you are a survivor who would like your spouse to understand some of what you are going through, I highly recommend this book.

Lying in young children: Errors of anthroporphism

From a recent post on the blog of the British Psychological Association:

Lying is common at age two, becomes the norm by three
by Christian Jarrett, BPS research Digest
February 22, 2013

They’re too young to need to fib about lipstick on their collar or even their unfinished homework but a new study finds the majority of three-year-olds are already practising liars. Deception in very young children has been documented before, but this is the first time it has been systematically tested in a laboratory.

Angela Evans and Kang Lee tested 65 two- and three-year-olds (28 girls) individually in a quiet room, part of which involved them being told not to peek at a toy. Despite this instruction, 80 per cent of the kids sneaked a peek. And when they were asked afterwards if they’d looked, around a quarter of two-year-olds lied about it, rising to 90 per cent of those aged over 43 months.

Although lying was rife among these young children, most of them weren’t very adept at it. When asked what the toy was, 76 per cent of the liars blurted out the answer, exposing their dishonesty.

The researchers also put the toddlers through a series of mental tests to see if any particular skills went hand-in-hand with lying. One of these was a kiddies’ version of the Stroop test that involved pointing to small pictures of fruits, while ignoring bigger versions. Like the adult Stroop, success at this task is thought to require a mix of inhibitory control and working memory. Evans and Lee found that the children who excelled at the kiddies’ Stroop were more likely to lie, which supports the idea that the development of lying depends on a mix of inhibitory ability and remembering the desired answer.

An important implication of this last point, the researchers said, is that the greater honesty of the younger children isn’t a mark of their moral purity, but simply a side-effect of their “fragile executive functioning skills.”

A weakness of the study is that it doesn’t look at different types of lies or tell us anything about the children’s motivation for lying.

Source:
Evans, A., and Lee, K. (2013). Emergence of Lying in Very Young Children. Developmental Psychology DOI: 10.1037/a0031409

Commentary
In my opinion, the authors have totally missed the point in their conclusions to this study.

To digress for a moment, when my daughter was a toddler, perhaps 2 or 3 or thereabouts, I came downstairs one day to find her, crayons in hand, creating some artwork on the wall just outside of the kitchen.

I said, “Elizabeth! What are you doing? You know you’re not supposed to crayon on the walls!”

What followed could/should have been in slow motion. She looked at me with a startled and confused look on her face. Then she looked at the wall. Then she looked at the crayon in her hand. Back to me. Back to the wall. Back to the crayon.

And finally back up at me. “I didn’t do it”, she said.

Her thought process in those moments was almost broadcast aloud as I watched the different expressions cross her face before she replied.

“Oh yeah. I’m not supposed to do this.”

“Oh no. I wish I hadn’t done this.”

“Oh I know. I DIDN’T do this!”

My point is it wasn’t a lie in the adult sense. Or even in the sense of an older child.

The process was clearly a transformation of reality which led to a conclusion where no one would be upset with her. She convinced herself. And then she conveyed the resolution of her dilemma to me.

To me, the flaw in the logic of the authors of this study was basically the sin of anthropomorphism. That literally means assuming human motives or emotions or cognitions from the behavior of other species without supportive evidence, or interpreting the behavior of another species in human terms.

Children are not adults. One cannot accurately interpret their behavior in anything beyond the context of childhood. The same applies to adolescents.

It is not lying. It is a cognitive distortion of objective reality, certainly, something we all do at times throughout the lifespan. But for very young children, it is a distortion that allows them to feel better about who they are and to “avoid” having disappointed their significant others, i.e., their parents. In a way, it’s the perfect solution for a child of that age. It’s clearly not the perfect solution for an adult but that merely underscores why we should not attempt to interpret the behavior of children from the viewpoint of an adult.

Blockheaded research, blockheaded conclusions

When you do simple-minded research, expect to draw simple-minded, blockheaded, and just plain wrong conclusions. What’s worse is the potential damage reports of such research can do to those with mental health conditions in need of treatment.

Case in point… the following description of a McMaster research study from TriCity Psychology Blog:

Anti-Depressants Raise Relapse Risk?
TriCity Psychology Blog
July 20, 2011

Patients who use anti-depressants are much more likely to suffer relapses of major depression than those who use no medication at all, concludes a McMaster researcher.

In a paper that is likely to ignite new controversy in the hotly debated field of depression and medication, evolutionary psychologist Paul Andrews concludes that patients who have used anti-depressant medications can be nearly twice as susceptible to future episodes of major depression. Andrews, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour, is the lead author of a new paper in the journal Frontiers of Psychology.

The meta-analysis suggests that people who have not been taking any medication are at a 25 per cent risk of relapse, compared to 42 per cent or higher for those who have taken and gone off an anti-depressant. Andrews and his colleagues studied dozens of previously published studies to compare outcomes for patients who used anti-depressants compared to those who used placebos.

Andrews believes depression may actually be a natural and beneficial — though painful – state in which the brain is working to cope with stress. “There’s a lot of debate about whether or not depression is truly a disorder, as most clinicians and the majority of the psychiatric establishment believe, or whether it’s an evolved adaptation that does something useful,” he says.

This is seriously blockheaded research.

1. Patients who take antidepressants also tend to be more seriously depressed and probably more prone to depression via personality factors and coping skills than those who don’t.

2. Patients who take antidepressants and discontinue them prematurely, typically at about 6 months when they start to feel better, are unquestionably at risk for relapse. They mayu be feeling better but that doesn’t mean theyc are ready to discontinue the medication. Prior research has already demonstrated quite convincingly that those who remain on the antipdepressant medication for 1-2 years are significantly LESS likely to relapse.

“There’s a lot of debate about whether or not depression is truly a disorder, as most clinicians and the majority of the psychiatric establishment believe, or whether it’s an evolved adaptation that does something useful,” he says.

Oh, really? Maybe in the seriously ill-informed world of Andrews and his immediate colleagures. Out in the real world, I’ve never heard of this so-called debate.

Discussion continued at http://forum.psychlinks.ca/prescription-medications-and-otc-drugs/27079-blockheaded-research-blockheaded-conclusions.html

 

A Certain Je Ne Sais Quoi

[amtap amazon:asin=1606520571]A Certain Je Ne Sais Quoi: The Origin of Foreign Words Used in English
by Chloe Rhodes
Readers Digest Books, 2010

Carpe Diem and Become a Word Connoisseur!
English is filled with a smorgasbord of foreign words and phrases that have entered our language from many sources — some from as far back as the Celts. A Certain “Je Ne Sais Quoi,” which tells the story of how many of these expressions came to be commonly used in English, will both amaze and amuse language lovers everywhere. You’ll be fascinated to learn, for instance, that . . .

  • ketchup began life as a spicy pickled fish sauce called koechiap in seventeenth-century China?
  • honcho came from the Japanese world hancho, which means squad chief? The world was brought to the United States something during the 1940s by soldiers who had served in Japan.
  • dungarees comes from the Hindi word dungri, the thick cotton cloth used for sails and tents in India?

Organized alphabetically for easy reference, A Certain “Je Ne Sais Quoi” tells the little-known origin of some of these thousands of foreign words and phrases — from aficionado to zeitgeist. Inside, you’ll find translations, definitions, origins, and lively descriptions of each item’s evolution into our everyday discourse. With this whimsical little book, you’ll be ready to throw out a foreign word or phrase at your next party, lending your conversation with, well, a certain je ne sais quoi.

If you are fascinated by the origins of words in the English language, you’ll enjoy this little book. My only complaint is that it did not include a pronunciation guide.

Author Bio
Chloe Rhodes is a freelance journalist who has worked for The TelegraphGuardian and The Times as well as numerous other respected publications. She lives in North London with her husband.

A Secret, a Disability, a Journey into the Unknown

Not the Same Old Story – A Secret, a Disability, a Journey into the Unknown
By Steve Luxenberg, Author of Annie’s Ghosts: A Journey Into a Family Secret 
The best documentaries, said one creator of that art form after a recent screening in Baltimore, reveal something that is outside the experience of those watching the film.

 

His words resonated for me. For the past several years, I have immersed myself in the life of someone I never knew, someone whose daily routine couldn’t have been more different than mine. She was my aunt, and she was a family secret.

More precisely, she was my mother’s secret. Mom never talked about having a sister, and only after Mom’s death did the first wisps of her secret come into the light.

Her name was Annie Cohen. She had physical and mental disabilities that came to define her and her existence. I know now, based on medical records unearthed from a mental hospital, that Annie wanted nothing more than to be like other girls, to live a “normal” life, hold a job and live independently. But she was born at a time (1919) and place (Detroit) that dictated a different fate.

Annie’s physical disability was evident soon after birth. Her right leg, bent beyond recovery, led to years of attempts to straighten it. A cast at age two gave way to a brace, and when neither of those methods worked, a leading orthopedic surgeon recommended amputation. At seventeen, she lost the leg that never worked as it should, and found herself with a wooden one that “never fitted very well,” a social worker later wrote.

In the spring of 1940, Annie’s increasingly erratic and paranoid behavior drove my grandmother into the arms of a local hospital. There, a neurologist told her that Annie probably belonged in an institution for the feeble-minded, in the language of that time, but that there was a waiting list. He recommended commitment to a public mental hospital as a temporary measure.

My grandmother followed his advice, signing a court petition that set off a rapid chain of events, including required examinations by a succession of court-appointed physicians. Within two weeks, on the eve of Annie’s 21st birthday, she was escorted to Eloise, the Wayne County mental institution. She stayed for 31 years, until not long before her death.

In the parlance of that era, Annie and her fellow patients took on the same status as those serving prison sentences. They were “alleged” to be insane, they were “inmates” in the institution, they were “paroled” upon discharge. The main difference between a mentally ill patient and a criminal at that time? A criminal had more rights.

We have in our heads an image of the bygone public mental hospital, with warehoused patients living in awful conditions. There’s truth in that image, of course, but it doesn’t begin to explain the complex, evolving reality of mental health treatment in the United States over the past 150 years. The overseers of Eloise Hospital saw themselves as progressive reformers, dedicated to making their patients’ lives better. Nearly every generation saw itself as improving on the previous one. That’s what I found so fascinating. We now regard lobotomies with appropriate horror, and yet the man who gave us the lobotomy won a Nobel Prize for his work in 1949.

When Annie was sent there, Michigan perated under a paternalistic standard: The state had an obligation to treat its mentally and physically disabled population. Treatment often meant institutionalization, which meant an inexorable growth in the mental hospital system. Today’s laws regarding involuntary commitment contain multiple safeguards to protect patients against being sent to institutions against their will. The legal burden has shifted to the police, the courts and the doctors. They must prove that patients are a danger to themselves or others, which has been the standard for involuntary commitment since the late 1960s.

Finding ways to inhabit Annie’s world took me to places far outside my experience. I stood in the school hallway where she walked in that brace, and saw the polished wooden handrails that she held as she slowly made her way to class every day. I went to the Eloise admission building where a sheriff’s deputy took her in April 1940. It’s the only one still standing from the now-closed hospital. The county uses it for office space.

Sending Annie to Eloise labeled her as mentally ill. The doctors and staff there would have known of the tests showing an IQ level somewhere between mild and moderate retardation. But they wouldn’t have focused on it. Ed Missavage, a psychiatrist who worked at Eloise for nearly 30 years, reviewed her records for me and pronounced her as the prototype of “a custodial patient.”

What did he mean? I asked.

“She’s the type we don’t ever think is going home,” he said.

Eloise “paroled” about a third of its 4,000 patients every year. Annie wasn’t ever one of those. As Missavage explained, my grandparents didn’t know what to do with her, and the hospital would be reluctant to release her if she had nowhere to go and no way to support herself.

Women without disabilities had trouble finding their place in the workforce in those days. How could a woman with disabilities find one? Today’s group homes didn’t exist then. Neither did programs aimed at providing training and jobs for the developmentally disabled, the phrase that governments now use in place of retarded and feeble-minded.

Experts who examined Annie’s records said they thought if she were living now, she might have a shot at finding and holding a job. She could read, and she had enough self-awareness to tell a social worker that she wanted to be like other “normal” girls.

She never got that chance. At some point, she went from custodial patient to warehoused patient, existing more than living. How she spent her days is still pretty much a mystery to me. How she spent her life is a reminder of where we have been, and how much farther we can go.

©2009 Steve Luxenberg, author of Annie’s Ghosts: A Journey Into a Family Secret

Steve Luxenberg has been a senior editor with the Washington Post for twenty-two years, overseeing reporting that has won numerous awards, including two Pulitzer Prizes for explanatory journalism. He lives in Baltimore, Maryland. For more information please visit www.steveluxenberg.com.