Pertaining to the last post about "Unconscious Memory", here are two pages from Clinical Affectology's "idol", Professor Joseph LeDoux. Text and embedded video in the first; the second is a YouTube URL.
The other day, I was delivering my usual explanation of affectology and Af-x therapy to a client who was a lawyer; curious but not skeptical. Many of us talk about the issue of unconscious memory as though our clients know exactly what we mean by that, and accept, as we do, that the human subconscious (or unconscious) has the memory of every thought, every feeling, every experience that has gone before in our development.
But at one point, after mentioning this ‘fact’, this client immediately asked, “how do you know?” She meant, ‘how do we know that the human brain remembers absolutely everything.’ I must admit I had a micro-second’s conniption at that point. What went through my mind was “how do I answer this without launching into a two-hour lecture about synaptic transference and electro-chemical encoding, and the rest of the detailed explanation as to how the brain ‘locks in’ memory anyway?"
In a flash, I decided that I would offer an explanation relating ONLY to the way in which the brain encodes (remembers) affect responses and develops an emotional memory of ‘how to react to discomfort.’ After all, in affectology and Af-x Therapy, we are specifically concerned with the fact that the unconscious processes of the human brain go on to develop from initiating discomforting experiences into repeating (perseverating) patterns of behavioral, mental and emotional response. So, this explanation about EMOTIONAL memory being saved at unconscious memory turned out to be largely, but not completely relevant to the question posed by the client.
In truth, it didn’t answer her question, since she was curious as to how we know that EVERYTHING is remembered at unconscious level. But to answer that question would have required much more than was appropriate to give. So, my little skip sideways into an explanation of AFFECT-only memory was appropriate, and, more usefully, specific to our work as affectologists. While it might be of great interest to some as to how the unconscious remembers an event like - for instance - our father driving a red car down the driveway when we were three years old may be interesting, it has little relevance to affect-centered work (unless of course, the red car had a significant emotionally-concomitant implication).
In twenty years of therapeutic work in the realm of affectology and emotionally-specific reframing, I had never been asked that question; a fact that probably drove me to be blasé about ‘everybody knowing that the unconscious remembers everything.’ So, that little experience driven by a client’s curiosity firmed up the concept in my mind that in clinical affectology and most specifically Af-x therapy, we must hold very securely to the fact that our work is specific to affect, and not the vast landscape of ordinary life. In Af-x course work, we are very attentive to the study of how affect (emotion) memory is encoded in the amygdala and associated centers of the limbic brain. We study the way in which the limbic system reacts to experiences subsequent to initiating emotional memory and builds on those reactions in a way that becomes automatically perseverated (building emotional habits that later become difficult to break.)
So, that experience with my client is a reminder that affectology, clinical affectology and Af-x Therapy are approaches that lie within the territories of (1) the unconscious aspects of the human mind and its processes, and (2) must be kept within the confines of how that unconscious relegates experience specifically to affect and emotional characteristics of life.
For those of us who are affectologists and those who are simply interested in (a) the remembering of emotional memory, (b) the marked differences between implicit (emotional) memory and (explicit) conscious memory, and how they are formed and perseverated, it can be useful to visit this website of Joseph LeDoux, neuroscientist.
(palimpsest: a parchment, or the like, from which writing has been partially or completely erased to make room for another text. From the Greek palimsestos, meaning “scraped again”)
Is it not true that in the modern world, almost all forms of psychotherapy depend (almost entirely) on what we think is a sound memory of events or episodes in our existence? This of course implies that conscious-level memory is authentic and that the recollections are in fact absolutely ‘true’!
PRESENT and PAST
We rarely think about the literal meanings of ‘present’ and ‘past’ and the relationship that our conscious-level awareness and processes have with such temporal phenomena as present and past. So, here we have a dilemma in psychotherapy. If we can show that there are no – absolutely no – authentic ties between what we perceive in ‘our present’ and what has occurred to us, with us, around us, in the past, then what does that say for ANY therapeutic process that relies on a single person’s interpretation of what they are attempting to ‘remember’?
This, of course, is the huge challenge that affectologists, and in particular Af-x Therapists (who allow no attempt at recollective report during therapy) bring to the rest of the psychotherapeutic community. If it can be shown that memory is flawed in almost all cases, that a person’s ego-centric conscious mind is set to DISALLOW any criticism or doubt of its fantastic capacity for remembering, then what does that say for cognitively-driven therapeutic methods?
DEPENDING ON TRUTH of MEMORY
Think of it another way. If we really think about it, conscious level therapy – or should I say, therapy dependent on conscious reporting and discussion, either symptomatic or past memory revival – is ENTIRELY reliant on that conscious perception and the authenticity of memory being authentic. There’s no other way to see it. If ‘talk therapy’ uses ‘talk’, then from where does the talk dynamic issue? – memory and self-assessment based on past perceptions.
So, there’s fact number one. CBT (and almost all talk therapy) relies on the authenticity of memory.
Let’s toss into the mix, the fact that there is no such thing as an AUTHENTIC memory, or rather a memory that is entirely based on ‘the truth of the matter’. So, I can see hordes of people at this point throwing objects at me as a result of my challenge in this matter. “How dare I suggest that my memory of abuse or trauma or discomfort is not true – a lie! How dare I make such a statement about the very thing that defines and underlies my present discomfort and symptoms as I believe they are?” Yes, it’s a tough stand (but somebody has to make it!).
A huge mass of research has shown that the memory – the conscious-level recall – of any event more than a few minutes old is open to the potential of a broad spectrum of influences that are likely to make memory tainted in some way. The fact that we will attempt to re-constitute ‘truth’ out of snippets of recollection is the basis of the definition of memory in a technical sense. Add to this the problem of what we know to be biased interpretations of experiences at the time of encoding (unconscious memorizing), and we then have a formula for some pretty hazy attempts at this important thing called memory. Compound this by the fact that every person interprets the NEED for memory at any given time based on who is listening and what the memory is for, then we have an added “catastrophe of truth” when it comes to the therapeutic exchange. People who go to therapy and are encouraged to recall past events and experiences, do so out of a variety of driven needs or understandings of requirement. And that’s fact number two: misinterpretation of memory.
So now, add this into the mix with fact number one above, and where does that leave us? If talk psychotherapy that relies on authenticity of memory has no guarantee that reporting is authentic, doesn’t that offer some potential to perhaps take the path of therapy down very incorrect and even dangerous tracks? I make no secret about the fact that there is a huge difference between conscious-level memory and set unconscious affect memory in my therapeutic work, and I expend great effort in my teaching and training of practitioners to examine the problem of memory from all perspectives. And this accounts for at least one of the imperatives of my style of ‘no-talk’ therapeutic work.
I know it’s hard. Clients are convinced that their memory is accurate, and they will defend it, no matter what! Even worse, if a therapist relies on narrative and narrative built out of memory, then it seems even harder to convince those therapists that memory might be flawed: completely wrong perhaps, but at least, inauthentic in detail. Their whole practice is built on that which I claim cannot exist – accurate and authentic past memory!
This conundrum, now driven by a slow professional realization that memory isn’t what it’s cracked up to be, is a factor in the increased popularity of people training and studying in Clinical Affectology and affectology in general. The realization that conscious memory may be defective, when unconscious emotional memory is always solidly accurate – and what’s more, there exists a broad disconnect between the two – is beginning to drive this professional concern that leads people toward no-talk methods such as Clinical Affectology and Af-x.
Puzzles abound! No conundrum is greater than the puzzle of the palimpsest – for ‘talk therapy,’ anyway.
We’ll leave this post with a quote from James Hall. … …
Beat it? End it? Fight it? Just what does it all mean?
When I first started writing my book – this ‘depression’ one, I mean – a few years ago, I started out knowing just how naïve it would be to expect that everyone on the planet who suffers depression would actually want to do anything about changing it. After all, in my clinical work, I had seen countless people who came to therapy thinking that depression was something they could not do anything about (only to discover that they most certainly could).
So, why did I title this book, Beat Depression the Drug Free Way? Does that not imply that I say it can be beaten and ended? That there’s a cure for depression? Well, yes, it implies that, but the extended, unworkable version of the title would be unpublishable. It would be “Beat the Locked-in Emotional State of Your Belief Systems by Understanding the Role that External Information Plays in Making You Construct a Set Habitual Skill of Allowing Natural-occurring Depressed Mood States to Take Over Your Life – No Drugs Necessary.” If you’ve been a past reader of this post, you can see what I mean by that.
You’ve probably already firmly got that I say that depression and ‘being depressed’ is a natural state of being in life. I’ve had plenty to say about how it is essential and useful to allow ourselves to be depressed or sad or grieving about certain circumstances in our lives that warrant those natural reactions. So, let’s address the oft-heard cry of “but my depression is not a naturally experienced depression: it’s gone further than that. I now have developed the disease of depression and it has taken over my life!”
In a future post, I’ll devote a whole post to address the first part of such a comment in terms of the “disease” aspect. Enough to say here that in medical or psychological terms, a ‘disease’ is defined only in strict biological marker terms – that is, that there exists some physical or biological cause that results in cellular and-or tissue damage or maladaption. Mood states and mental-emotional states are unable to do that.
Recently I was made aware of something rather alarming, but I couldn’t think of any way to use the information. In Australia, the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is used by every clinician (almost) to diagnose what our culture are calling diseases and disorders. The DSM, although a couch-side assistant manual that is constructed out of opinion and ‘vote’, seems to be divine instruction for doctors, psychiatrists and a host of other people here.
But what if the public discovered that the DSM is not legal here in Australia? The correct and legal classification source here is the World Health Organization's International Classification of Diseases version 10.
OK, so why is this significant?
On examining the DSM, it clearly states that Depression (and a lot of other problems) is a categorized disorder. The difference between this and the WHO ICD may appear small and subtle, but to me, it is significant. While the DSM categorizes depression as a disorder and leads readers to assume that it’s a disease – an illness, the ICD categorization calls the same ‘problem’ “Depressive Episode” and “Recurrent Depressive Disorder.” The saving grace is in the words, “episode” which quite correctly implies that depression ‘comes and goes” as a natural variant experience, and “Recurrent”, a word that signifies that episodes of depression have become an “iterative development” – in other words automatically and unconsciously repeated until the “episode” becomes the “attributional style” of experience.
Unfortunately, we’ll never see the WHO ICD be as popular as the disease-mongering DSM. The professions would not allow that to happen because the DSM is a goose that continually lays golden eggs. The public as a whole would not allow that to happen because it would mean that a greater degree of self-awareness and awareness of cultural systems is necessary and responsibility must be taken for mood states.
But if the ICD did become more widely recognized, we could shuffle a little closer to my fantasy book title I stated earlier: – “Beat the Locked-in Emotional State of Your Belief Systems by Understanding the Role that External Information Plays in Making You Construct a Set Habitual Skill of Allowing Natural-occurring Depressed Mood States to Take Over Your Life – No Drugs Necessary.”
Throughout history in almost all cultures, there have been dragons. Funnily enough, cultures have had a “bipolar” appreciation of dragons. The Anglo-Welsh cultures have seen dragons as fierce beasts that stand in the way of paths and roads and admirable achievements, and must be slain in order to make way, either for the path or for an achievement.
In Eastern (Chinese-influenced) culture, the dragon, on the other hand was a sign of wisdom. The ‘globe’ on which the dragon’s paw often rested was a symbol for many things, but may easily have signified life itself.
In pop psychology, the types of mental and emotional tribulations and pains that have beset many of us have been likened to “our inner dragons.” This has been an image that took hold a few decades ago, but still seems to raise its head in the idiom of clinical therapy of all kinds from time to time.
Many years ago, my wife and I were tossing around ideas about just how Af-x and Clinical Affectology could be “messaged” in a way that made sense to people – ostensibly to help them make some sense of the aims of affectology and how it might pertain to them. In a slightly amused way, I said, “Dragon Slaying Done Dirt Cheap” in a sort of marrying of the ancient ideas of the more devilish dragon mythology and modern use of the notion as representing the hurts and emotional ailments that can lie within all of us.
And, of course, being an Australian, there’s the slight whiff of AC/DC’s “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” song.
Out of the ashes of that long-ago chat with my dear wife, and a moment of light humor, comes this “seal of the aim of affectology”. I hope you like it. One of these days I might have the courage to paint it on the door of my car.
THE PIC ABOVE IS PART OF THIS POST -- THE EVIDENCE!
Just when you think we’ve witnessed the sublime to the ridiculous in the medicalizing of normal life experience, and it's safe to go back in the water, along comes a gem!! And here it is!
Kevin Hall writes in online media “NowPublic” about an issue that if it wasn’t real, one would think was straight out of the pages of Mad Magazine or Monty Python. It appears below.
Harvard's Massachusetts General Hospital's (MGH) psychiatric department (the people who created child bipolar disorder that led to the drugging of over a million innocent children with dangerous antipsychotic drugs) is now saying that you need "help" if you are "too religious" or don't like the way you look (see MGH's attached promotional fliers).
I guess that wraps up most of the world's population as a psychiatric drug market - as if the current 374 mental disorders ranging from reading and arithmetic disorders, shyness, seasonal disorders and general anxiety weren't enough.
It's no surprise that psychiatry would target religion as the majority of these stimulus-response machines in white coats are avowed atheist per survey. Watch out Pope! Yet, any rogues file of psychiatrists who have been prosecuted for medicaid fraud, sex offenses, etc. would show you that they would have little immunity from an "Ugly" disorder."
As an aside, there's never been one medical test (blood or urine, CAT scans, MRI's, etc.) to diagnose or prove the existence of any mental disorder. It's all subjective - based upon opinion of behavior - which is why they are officially called mental disorders and not "illnesses" or "diseases" in psychiatric manuals. They have been voted into existence by small groups of psychiatrists within the American Psychiatric Association.
Although the concept of drugging the Ugly and Religious appears a bit comical, creating new pharmaceutical markets for phony mental disorders is an extreme danger to society. You may want to ensure that you and especially your children refuse any mental health screenings that regularly occur in public schools and during physical examinations. It's really just drug marketing. Although MGH's fliers may appear slightly comical, psychiatry's targeting of over 8 million US school children for psychiatric drugs is an Ugly Sin.
Continue reading at NowPublic.com: MGH's new "Ugly" & "Sinful" psychiatric drug marketing | NowPublic News Coverage http://www.nowpublic.com/strange/mghs-new-ugly-sinful-psychiatric-drug-marketing#ixzz1vD1eJ265
Yes, you read it right! There are surreptitious moves afoot by those (no less) who spawned the ADHD myth, to bring this rubbish to bear and influence the DSM, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders that all psychiatrists use to diagnose your ugliness or your over-religiousness.
So, what’s new about this? Well, the blatant way in which it is being spruiked is new. For years, many psychiatrists have labeled people with Ego-dystonic Appearance Disorder in order to help fund cosmetic surgery. That was an around-about way of providing a service that otherwise may have gone unattended (if that’s your bag), but now we have this move to diagnose “ugly” – plain and simple!
In my book, Beat Depression the Drug Free Way, I write about Winston Churchill’s diagnosis – his “Black Dog” as he called depression – when what he really had was alcoholic melancholia! Others through late history: Joan of Arc would have been a schizophrenic because of her visions; Gandhi, paranoid, and God knows how many European and world artists have been, and are, psychotic.
C’mon, psychiatric “science” … LEAVE US ALONE!
TO SLEEP OR NOT TO SLEEP
Aw, Gawd, why can’t I get to sleep? Why do I wake in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep? What is it that makes my mind race along as soon as my head hits the pillow? Why can other people sleep through hurricanes and I can’t? Many of us have heard these questions ringing from somewhere inside our heads from time to time. For some of us, these questions seem to have become an ingrained habit as we fight long-term or occasional insomnia and other sleep problems. For others of us, we don’t process these questions in this way, and just simply ‘know’ that we’ve not slept well, always feeling tired and worn out.
So let's have a think about the "why" factor..
Just as we should look at the possible physical or organic causes of all mental and emotional symptoms, we should also be aware that many symptoms are driven only by unconscious or subconscious dynamics. And that we often do not consciously know those causes. Mental health (or more correctly, mental illness) gets a lot of professional press these days, much to the detriment of any focus on insomnia and the mental illness issues it can cause.
But more recently, researchers are discovering that insomnia and other sleep maladaptions are playing a direct part in the rise of deep depression in our culture, particularly with adolescents. So, maybe it’s time we realized that there’s more to the idea of apparent and observable symptoms in mental health being caused by non-observable underlying emotional problems – or in some cases mere emotional habits.
In many years of practice, I have seen people whose only problem in life is their problems around sleeping. As the title pic above says, I've even seen some who describe themselves as "serial insomniacs". But while they claim that insomnia is their only issue, it has to come from somewhere, wouldn't we agree? These are people who say that there's nothing physical or organic that's causing the problem, and they can't think of anything emotional that might be causing it. So I ask them, if it's not subconscious and it's not physical or environmental, why don't they simply consciously think themselves to sleep? This, of course, is a glib and rhetoric question to an often serious problem; but it gets close to the mark. Never a truer word said in jest.
If there is no known physical cause for sleep deprivation, and we can’t demand of our mind that it shut down and go to sleep, then there’s nothing else for it; the problem must be driven by subconscious causes – anxiety, worry, stress, and even guilt may be contributing factors. Not to be sexist, but most men don’t want to admit anything other than they can’t get to sleep – or they can’t get BACK to sleep after waking in the middle of the night – because of environmental factors. And by that we mean those things that are going on in life that cause stress and worry that are not their fault! Let’s blame it on the bladder! Maybe not their fault, but we humans have learned to react to those environmental stress factors in certain individual emotional ways that produce these sleep problems.
As an affectologist and Af-x practitioner, I am not overly fond of New Age or ‘alternative’ ideas posing as explanations, but in this case, I have a favorite saying that “dreams and sleep problems are a window to what’s going on at a subconscious level.” If we understand this, then we must understand that the best way to treat those problems is not to just ‘take the pills’, or to try to deal with the problem itself, but to deal with whatever is driving the problem. And in the world of the affectologist, we know that trying to uncover – to find out – what that underlying problem is, is most often fruitless, and often flawed as a means to change the dynamics. We must make changes to how we have learned to react and respond to stress triggers and discomfort in our lives.
Af-x is a system of therapeutic balancing focusing only on affect, or internally-registered emotional patterning. As a consequence of the affect re-learning that is the core of the Af-x approach, it is very common for clients to experience positive change to any number of symptomatic issues as a result of deep-seated emotional changes for the better. An example of this (and there have been many such examples) can be seen in a review message from Charles P. who offered this quip, months after therapy had successfully concluded. He wrote, “I came to Af-x because of my anxiety around my job. At the time it was stressful and demanding. It’s still stressful and demanding, but I handle all that with ease now. When I went for my sessions, I didn’t even think about all my sleepless nights. But since that time, I now sleep like a baby, and maybe too much. Maybe I should come back and get you to wake me up!”
Of course, this was a joke, but it highlights the fact that our sleep problems, if they are not physically caused, are part of our whole inner world that we call our subconscious emotional (feeling) make-up. Resolve the subconscious emotional imbalance, and all else is influenced and improved upon.
Even though we live in a culture that is increasingly concerned ONLY in the symptoms – the outer expression – these problems of insomnia, sleep deprivation and “sleep interruption” don’t live alone. Nor are the problems of depression, bipolar, stress and anxiety. They are part of a family of dynamics that are, in turn, part of our learned affect (emotional response) personality.
When Raymond sat in my office for Af-x work, I was well aware of his elevated position in one of the Christian Churches in this country. The temptation for me to quote the Bible’s 1 Corinthians 13:11 was huge – “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things”.
Whether or not Christian teaching is embedded in my life is entirely beside the point, as I am careful to never indicate or expose my own belief systems in the professional setting, believing that the most respectful way to treat a client is to offer only useful neutral templates for change. But this quote essentially expresses the underlying aim of Af-x and Clinical Affectology. If I can be so bold as to re-express the Bible’s sentence: “when I was in my early stages of emotional development, I learned certain responses and feelings, I continued to repeat those things, I felt as I had learned to feel: but when I became an adult, it was important for me to realize the habit of feeling as I did when it was not productive as that adult, and seek to change those learnings”.
Raymond was attentive to the delivery of my explanation about our work. At one point, out of nowhere, he asked “what constitutes ‘failure’ in Af-x?” Like any other therapist, I was a little lost for words because it is naturally apparent that people come to therapy realizing that “failure” (a ghastly word) would be that they did not divest themselves of the discomfort they are feeling in life.
I recall saying something inane like, “you may find that you do not successfully achieve everything you’re hoping to get out of therapy” and I proceeded with the session. But my inability to answer his question in what I thought was an adequate way played on my mind, and I later directly contacted Raymond (something that is anathema to an Af-x practitioner until after efficacy review has been done a few months later), apologized, and asked him, (excerpt from my email) …
It’s unusual and “against my own rules” to contact clients post-session, but I have a favour to ask.
But that’s AFTER I tell you I enjoyed meeting you and skirting around trying not to quote 1 Corinthians 13:11…!
I was surprised by your question re “what constitutes failure?” simply because I’d never been asked that question – or, certainly not in that way.
But you went on to say that you could not see how anybody could participate in Af-x work without walking away ‘changed’ in some way.
Of course, we both agreed with that….but…are you comfortable to elaborate? …
He happily replied to my question and I am choosing to use the majority of his response here, simply because I could not have put it a better way … he wrote …
Thanks for your note. I enjoyed our meetings too and have been pleased to trust/know that the content of the sessions is seeping ever more deeply into my subconscious. Yes, 1 Cor 13:11 has much to it.
The question about failure arose for me because of the different approach of Af-x to the therapeutic encounter. In other forms of therapy (I use the word loosely) it seems to me that a client might present with a problem which is then addressed in the course of many hours of contact with the therapist. Week by week, the client will test progress by evaluating changes to feelings and attitudes, but if there is no perceived change by some point, the client might well declare that the therapy had failed.
In Af-x, by contrast, for large parts of the encounter the therapist is not addressing the client's conscious mind at all, but the subconscious. For instance, I cannot consciously recall much of what you said in the guided parts of the sessions but I know that it is remembered by my subconscious. And that prompts me to think that I must simply accept the premise of Af-x (which I am able to do) and then trust that my subconscious is doing the work, regardless of how I evaluate consciously my attitudes and feelings.
If that is the case, it sounds odd to speak of failure with Af-x. What possible measure of failure could be used? I suppose if I came to Af-x because I wanted to stop smoking a pipe (shocking, I know, but it could happen) but then continued with contented smoking, it might make me think the process had failed. But what if there was some unexpected and (consciously) unsought change, as I’m absolutely sure does happen with some of your past clients? Has Af-x still failed? What sense would it make to speak of failure given that it is the subconscious rather than the conscious mind that is charged with doing the work? What markers could be available?
It seems to me that Af-x can offer the client relief from the burden of anxiety about success (a very worldly marker, after all) and instead offer the opportunity to rest comfortably with an awareness that the subconscious is taking care of things all the while.
What happened here? How did Raymond suddenly become this attuned to the essentials of subconscious affectology work? One answer would be that he, as an educated and searching person, already had the latent belief system that he eloquently expressed in his answer to me.
The other answer would be that I am very attentive to the need for as much ‘psycho-education’ to be included in quality therapy work as much as the need for ‘psycho-therapy’.
Given that I diligently ensure that clients are prepared (through correct written information) for the challenges and ‘opposites to mainstream psychotherapy’ before they even present in my rooms, I can’t help but believe that Af-x had a hand in both the above answers to the miracle of understanding that was Raymond’s. His latent or dormant belief system was stimulated and brought to life by my careful and exacting explanation about the human subconscious mind and its ignored resources.
As is persistently pointed out in my book, Beat Depression the Drug Free Way, the moral of this story is that knowledge is power and only the educated are free. Psychotherapists the world over should take heed: – – treat all therapy sessions as quality information delivery as to the approach and intent of the therapy, and respectfully treat all clients as students in the course of life ... that is ...EMOTIONAL LIFE.
In Martha Rosenberg’s excellent article in the online magazine “Alternet”, we can take a worrying look at the mechanics of just how the drug companies manipulate information and promote ‘illness’ to influence you into believing that medication is necessary. In Beat Depression the Drug Free Way, I write extensively on the subconscious desires that many people have to ‘find an illness’ to divert responsibility away from themselves. This is exactly the plan of drug companies when they take everyday experiences and brand them as diseases.
Rosenberg offers an identical argument to my own when I write specifically about antidepressants and the attempts that many of us go through to end depression and fight the concerning idea that we need to be drugged for the rest of our lives.
Since direct-to-consumer drug advertising debuted in the late 1990s in America – particularly on television, the number of people on prescription drugs for life has ballooned. Yet, in Australia, where direct-to-consumer drug advertising is illegal (but still cleverly carried out in a surreptitious way through encouragement to ‘see your doctor’ about one condition or another) the trend has seemed to follow, with a greater proportion of the public than ever before having built reliance, dependency or outright addiction to prescription drugs.
This article, 6 Kinds of Pills Big Pharma Tries to Get You Hooked on for Life, is worth a good read, and can be found here.
Although to most psychologists and affectologists, this passage is preaching to the converted, it serves us well to understand that it is an easy ‘way out’ for most people to blame genetics and hereditary traits for mental or psychological maladaptions like depression, bipolar, neuroses, anxiety, and so on. I’m guessing that many people would reject this idea. They would say that it’s an insult to their intelligence to suggest that they are that fixed on the idea of handed-down genes. ... Yet the same people seem to accept without question the idea that those maladaptions can be cured or at least managed by psychotropic medications – antidepressants, psychotropics. What they need to do is consider the intellectual formatting of their ideas. If we accept that chemicals are needed to change a mental or psychological maladaptions, then we must (ergo) accept that those problems are caused by chemical maladjustments in the brain. And on close inspection, this hypothesis, we must say, doesn’t make any sense at all.
From the perspective of ‘doing therapy’ and helping people feel better, it is not useful to adopt the genetic (hereditary) paradigm.
Even though in my book, I included a whole chapter (chapter nine, “The Gene Illusion”) and examined the ‘predisposition myth’ and what were the other powerful influences that might SEEM LIKE a genetic predisposition, that information was not about proving one thing or another. It is about realizing that what we tend to believe today about genetic predisposition toward depression (or any other psychological, mental or emotional problems for that matter) has never EVER been proven. Saying that it’s never been shown to be true is not the same thing as ‘it’s not true.’ I’m interested in you making your own mind up about the things you’re being told.
For me, the jury is out. I am not a geneticist, and I’m not necessarily all that interested. It is enough for me to say that there may be some substance in the genetic proposition, but it does no good – in the therapeutic sense – to accept it. That acceptance can easily become a sort of “worshipping” of the "I have a disease that I can't do anything about" god, and the best, easiest and most effective way to never take any responsibility at all for one’s psychological personhood.