The Biomedical Model of the Brain

All of us live with assumptions that affect every part of our lives. These assumptions help us form mental paradigms from which we operate and assimilate new and old information. As I’ve sought to help my wife heal from dissociative identity disorder, I’m sometimes uncomfortable with what I read from various mental health sources (professional and layman) as I’ve tried to make myself more knowledgeable about this disorder and how best to help my wife heal from it.

A couple months ago I found a link to this website (madinamerica.com). It seemed to advocate a paradigm outside what I typically read in mental health circles AND it is largely authored by psychiatrists and psychologists. Then recently one of their articles had a link here (abct.org/docs/PastIssue/38n7.pdf) that directly dealt with the prevailing mental-health paradigm and assumptions of the ‘biomedical model of the brain” and its objections to this paradigm. This issue is in The Behavioral Therapist, volume 38, no.7, October 2015 and is authored by experts in the field of psychology and psychiatry. I was curious if this publication was from the fringe of the field or not and so I checked out Wikipedia here (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Association_for_Behavioral_and_Cognitive_Therapies).

I’m not going to go into detail what The Behavioral Therapist takes an entire issue to cover. Please, please read this for yourself. Be informed. This issue considers some fundamental concerns that those in the mental health field have with the prevailing biomedical model of the brain. It also explores implications of what that paradigm means specifically for how therapy is conducted and especially the wide-spread use of medicine to treat mental disorders. If you are taking any psychiatric drugs, you owe it to yourself to see what the evidence of 30 years of clinical trials reveals especially when it comes to the effectiveness and long-term effects of these drugs. There seems to be a dichotomy between the evidence and what the public is commonly told.

On a happier note I have often wondered how someone who has no supporting spouse or SO might try to replicate some of the attachment theory methodology that I espouse on this blog. Recently one of the blogs that I frequent asked what I see as a related question here, Lazarus and Lithium, and another lady whom I also follow provided this organization (paws4people.org) as a possible solution. No dog can do what a supporting spouse or SO can do, but I think this is a great, second-best option. And so I wanted to pass along the information to any who might be interested.

I’m sorry for the lack of hyperlinks, but as the note in my sidebar indicates, I got in trouble on WordPress over the use of hyperlinks in the past. So please just copy the address into your search bar and it should get you where you need.

Please take time to read and be informed. I tried to keep my opinions out of this as much as possible, but many of the experts within the mental health profession are concerned with fundamental issues that will affect you and your loved one as he/she attempts to be healed of this disorder. I would love your comments and/or critiques on any of the links and material with which I have provided you.

Blessings,

Sam, I Am

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18 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Andi
    Nov 06, 2015 @ 12:25:23

    My hope is that people are in a treatment that will allow them to attract healthy, supportive people in their life to help them through their healing process. It doesn’t need to be a spouse or significant other, as much as a sort of “tribe” that shows up for you when you need it. Attachment can happen in many ways and everyone needs different things in that respect.

    Reply

    • Sam Ruck
      Nov 06, 2015 @ 14:13:46

      Hi Andi,

      thanks for stopping by. I do agree that no one person can do it all and it’s definitely great if there is a ‘tribe’ involved. My wife’s counselor, our son and even our cat can provide things to the various girls that I simply can’t. But I guess I was thinking about the ‘primary attachment figure’ that each person has. Hands down I am the person/thing of choice for ALL the girls in my wife’s network even with Jenny who still won’t allow me to touch her.

      I’m very glad you provided that link over on the other blog. I think that’s a great program and hope that it expands to help as many people as possible!

      Sam

      Reply

  2. livingintraining
    Nov 18, 2015 @ 15:19:06

    Often we get lumped with borderline personality disorder because treatment providers do not wish to examine and do the often years of post-traumatic stress disorder therapy that is involved with getting us to a point of co-consciousness and the natural reintegration that happens as the trauma is unraveled and effectively dealt with. Attachment therapies are a good idea, in the fact that much of our trauma comes from not having healthy relationships, however, I’ve found the most effective therapy to be dialectical behavior therapy, as used for borderline patients. It teaches the host and alters to rely on each other’s strengths so that the host can effectively function at great lengths on their own, the entire System intact and healthy. The idea is that the System becomes a fluid entity, with rare dissent. Every true System has an alter that fills the role we look for in someone else. As a DID therapist, I will focus on those roles being filled internally, not externally, thus eliminating the majority of the symptoms… Providing the System is fluid.

    Reply

    • Sam Ruck
      Nov 19, 2015 @ 07:24:47

      Thanks for sharing what is working in your situation. I’m not familiar with dbt, but I’m glad it is working for you and the system. Yes, I have REALLY struggled to teach the 8 girls that each of them have strengths to contribute to the group. They still want to function as 8 separate individuals rather than as a group/system where they all win by helping each other. Maybe I need to look into dbt.

      Take care,

      Sam

      Reply

      • livingintraining
        Nov 19, 2015 @ 16:38:05

        Your wife should really be working with a treatment team (psychiatrist plus psychologist/LMHC/LCMSW) who specializes in D.I.D. the layperson Singleton does not understand the layers of a lifetime of trauma to create something as unique of a personality disorder as D.I.D. this is why we go through 7 years of college plus years of supervised training before we are allowed any licenses of any type. Google doesn’t offer the cutting edge journal articles that we as professionals have access to, nor do the average Singletons show up to our conferences. Your best support for your wife is pounding pavement and using those research skills to find the doctors she needs. Or…go back to school and specialize in it. The world is full of enough armchair psychiatrists.

      • Sam Ruck
        Nov 20, 2015 @ 10:37:37

        I’m sorry you see me as nothing more than an ‘arm chair therapist.’ On this blog I have tried to stay positive toward the d.i.d. experts, calling for more collaboration between those of us spouses and SO’s who are ‘in the trenches’ 24/7 and those who could give us their expertise on a broader set of issues. I was on Kathy Steele’s (past ISSTD president) website a while ago and somewhere she mentioned how many hours she had spent over her career helping people with d.i.d. I did the math, and I more than equaled her hours in the 7 years I have walked my girls thru the healing process. So, she has a mile-wide of experience and I have a mile-deep of experience. Our knowledge could complement each other’s if I could ever get any from ISSTD to listen, but thus far none of them have had any interest.

        Peter Barach another past president of ISSTD calls d.i.d. fundamentally an attachment disorder. I have complete access to ALL the girls in my wife’s system in a way that not even our son (the only other person who interacts with everyone in the system) does. How is my wife’s counselor going to undo the attachment issues when she doesn’t even have access to the entire group and especially the girls who were most deeply traumatized??? I have spent 7 years, going one by one and undoing each of their attachment issues, and once I accomplished that in each girl, it enabled them to begin connecting to the others in the group. But they refuse to connect to the others until I provide them the safety that they find from attaching completely to me.

        If you have read this blog, you’ll know I don’t really accept the term ‘singleton.’ It is NOT accurate. I promote the term ‘non-dissociated multiple.’ The girls have taught me a lot about myself and I have learned to listen to all parts of my self. But as such, I DO understand my girls, in some ways even better than they understand themselves since I am the ONLY one who has access to everyone in the system. That doesn’t mean I’m omniscient. They have ‘inside’ knowledge of the system that I must rely on as I help them. But I have an outsider’s perspective and complete access to everyone that they must rely on (None of them can talk to Jenny yet and Karen and Tina are only partially connected to the main group). We are a team and together we have a fuller knowledge than either does on his/her own.

        I would LOVE to be allowed to attend the ISSTD conferences, but I am NOT welcome. Sadly they do not understand how much they need the expertise of those of us in the trenches, those of us who had to deal with the panic attacks, the sexual dysfunction, the attachment issues and everything else on a day by day and hour by hour basis all the while having to deal with the fallout from our loved one’s disorder and the extreme secondary trauma that it causes us. A lot of those issue are really superficial in the major scheme of things, and we are already thru them. Now we are in the deeper areas of healing where the professional literature doesn’t even discuss. My wife tells me she is way past anything she has ever read about in d.i.d. literature. And so far I’ve found nothing in the lit. that would prove her wrong.

        But I really do wish I had a team of people willing to help and collaborate with me because I don’t have all the answers and there are issues where the girls resist what I am doing with them. Maybe with a team I could find alternatives or the girls might accept someone else’s help when they can’t or won’t accept mine. But of ALL the therapists I have reached out to, they have ALL blown me off. ALL OF THEM. We don’t have any trauma therapists in our area for me to see in person. So I am on my own even though I did NOT choose to be.

        Take care and I wish you the best in your healing,
        Sam

      • livingintraining
        Nov 20, 2015 @ 10:55:22

        When there is a space to be filled, fill it. Go back to school and become properly educated and trained. Bring authority to your experience. There is no try. Do. Otherwise you simply perpetuate the lack of authority around D.I.D.

      • Sam Ruck
        Nov 20, 2015 @ 14:03:42

        Maybe when I get my girls completely thru this, I’ll have the time and energy to do that. Right now it takes everything in me to keep the girls moving forward while holding my little family together so that we don’t become another casualty of this disorder…

      • livingintraining
        Nov 20, 2015 @ 14:18:24

        Just how severe are her symptoms that you feel the entire universe that contains the two of you will disintegrate without you holding it together? I assure you, if things are that complicated, you need to look into Shepard-Pratt in Baltimore that specializes in DID treatment. She will get the care she clearly needs by doctors who have dedicated their careers to this disorder.

      • Sam Ruck
        Nov 25, 2015 @ 08:35:14

        In the major scheme of things, her symptoms are pretty mild for someone with d.i.d: I think that is because of how much support our son and I give all the girls. But we are talking about the accumulation of 27 1/2 years of a dysfunctional marriage and family life. The stress is always there. I have never had a healthy wife and our son doesn’t have a healthy mother. But we all are trying to make the most of a bad situation.

        If we lived closer, Sheppard Pratt might have something to offer as a support for what our son and I do to help the girls heal and connect. But sadly most d.i.d. programs that I am aware of seem to exclude the family members who are there 24/7 and have to deal with daily life in the trenches with this disorder, instead of seeing them as instrumental to the healing process.

      • livingintraining
        Nov 20, 2015 @ 14:20:32

        It is not your place or responsibility to “fix” anyone else’s mental health issue. Only they can do that for themselves.

      • Sam Ruck
        Nov 25, 2015 @ 08:41:53

        It is sad to me that you would use this clichéd, western quip. I watch the blogs on WordPress. I know how desperate people are with this disorder; how desperately they wish they had someone to help them on this healing journey. It’s not about ‘fixing’ someone. It is about me walking this healing journey with my wife. You seem to accept the place that mental health ‘experts’ have in the healing process, and yet you belittle the place family and loved ones have. That truly is sad to me. I wish you the best in your healing journey. And I hope you can find a companion to walk the healing journey with you. It’s about love and attachment and connection, not ‘fixing’…

  3. flyhighandflutterbys
    Nov 30, 2015 @ 05:07:43

    As someone who has DID but have not progressed in life to have a spouse yet, I form positive attachments with my therapist, my friends and even a couple of my work-mates. Obviously my therapist is the one whom I form the strongest attachment with and she takes into account my younger parts and even plays with them. But each attachment I form with people, I learn that there are safe people in the world and I know this will help me to form a healthy attachment to my spouse when the time comes. I have considered getting a therapy dog but I’m still trying to understand what the benefits of a four-legged companion would bring and how to go about getting one.

    In regards to publications, from my experience as a researcher, one needs to be a little careful about the quality of publications. Be a little wary about open access journals (publications where you do not need to pay to read the articles) as they may not be good quality and may not be peer-reviewed by experts in the field. To publish in a high quality journal and set open access for your publication, you need to pay extra money, which most researchers (unless you are rich with funding) would not be willing to pay. Also try to read publications from high quality journal groups such as Elsevier (I did notice on The Behavioural Therapist site, that the association has Elsevier journals but The Behavioural therapist is not one of them).

    I am saddened to hear that many people with DID do not have access to therapist who are trauma specialist and are happy to enlist the support of SO. I did not realise this was an issue or perhaps I have been ignorant of the issue as I have been lucky enough to be referred to a trauma specialist.

    Reply

    • Sam Ruck
      Nov 30, 2015 @ 06:57:44

      Thanks for stopping by and for adding your thoughtful comments. I appreciate your comments and critique coming as a researcher and yet not belittling my position as a spouse. You sound like you have a great therapist and I’m glad you’ve got a support network of healthy attachments!

      Sam

      Reply

  4. flyhighandflutterbys
    Nov 30, 2015 @ 22:02:43

    Sam, I think your wife is very lucky to have a husband like you who puts in so much effort and resources to help your wife to heal and ensure she feels safe – I really commend your efforts.

    I just wanted to warn you about research publications/articles as someone who may not have researched before, may not understand about the quality of publications and given that you want to help your wife as best you can, I think it would be helpful for you to know these basic things.

    I am very lucky to have my therapist, she is very open to dissociation and DID and we are both learning what is best for me. She is also open to having other people, who are significant to me, join my sessions. A couple of times when my friends who accompanied me to my sessions (due to safety or logistic reasons), my therapist has always asked if they would like to join (but for understandable reasons, they decline and stay in the waiting room).

    I hope you are able to find a therapist at some point that can help with DID to help ease the load on your shoulders.

    FHFB

    Reply

    • Sam Ruck
      Dec 01, 2015 @ 07:02:26

      FHFB,

      I really do appreciate your thoughtful comments. I’m not sure what I can do about the fact that I don’t have access to the best d.i.d. literature out there, though. So I try to read widely and do the best I can. In the end my wife and I work as a team. I certainly do a lot of suggesting and gentle leading, but I also listen, listen, listen and am constantly tweaking what I do based upon their interactions and feedback.

      I would love to be a part of therapy sessions sometimes, but sadly neither my wife nor her counselor are willing to do that. I had one lady on this blog a long time ago and she likened her d.i.d. to cancer and said she would never think of going to the doctor without her husband there to support and help her…but that is not my wife’s attitude and so I work within the constraints that she gives me.

      Again, thank you for your thoughtful comments. I really do mean it!
      Sam

      Reply

      • flyhighandflutterbys
        Dec 01, 2015 @ 07:30:33

        Hi Sam,
        If there is a research article, that you need, please feel free to send me a message with the article details and I can try to find it for you since I may have access. I understand you are trying to do the best you can.

        In regards to having SO present in therapy, I guess from my personal experience, I wonder if your wife regards her relationship with her counsellor to be sacred, just like how she finds the relationship between you and her to be sacred? My interaction with my therapist is one that I cherish a lot and while its professional, there is something still quite comforting and safe about it. Maybe it is her child parts that do not wish to ‘share’ their counsellor with anyone else since it is their time and their safe place – kids can show their selfish side at times. I’m happy to see that you are understanding of your wife and respect her therapy needs. Keep up the supportive work!
        FHFB

      • Sam Ruck
        Dec 01, 2015 @ 08:27:09

        FHFB,
        Thanks for the offer about articles, but I guess I don’t even know what IS available. I love reading anything on attachment theory as I feel it has been completely validated in our own experience. And if there was anything about the role of spouse and SO I would be interested. Sadly most of what I see available to the public concerns the attachment role of the therapist in the therapeutic process. Spouses and SO’s are there 24/7 in the trenches. Therapists simply can NOT replicate nor should they try to do what we MUST do lest our marriages, relationships, and/or families fall apart. I wish I could find a research therapist who really understood that they MUST empower the spouses and SO to embrace their role in the healing journey and that the therapist really should be a resource guide for us and a collaborator. I do believe in the valued place of the therapist, but they simply can NOT do what a spouse/SO must do in the attachment arena…

        As far as why I am not welcome in my wife’s counseling sessions, I understand why even if it saddens me. When she first started counseling it opened a LOT of the wounds I had suffered over the course of our 20-year dysfunctional marriage. And so many of their sessions were just trying to deal with the weekly fallout from my anger and frustrations over how I had been neglected in our marriage. So my wife needed a safe place to discuss me.

        But I was journaling like crazy and slowly I came to terms with things (which I have shared on this blog in various entries). But it took me 2-3 years for me to resolve most of my issues, and by then the girls were used to me NOT being part of the sessions. I still wish we had a counselor who understood my role in this journey, but it is what it is. And so I do what I can on my own.

        As far as the littles, I am their safe place. It’s another reason why on this blog I have repeatedly called for collaboration between spouse/SO and therapist because my wife’s counselor has NEVER had any access to the 4 littlest girls and 3 of the 4 held the greatest trauma. I alone have had complete access to them (though they see our 24 year old son as their big “Brother”) and so I alone have had to figure out ways to help each one heal. I wish I had had help and someone to give me suggestions and guidance but since I was shut out of the therapy sessions, I had to figure it out on my own.

        Sam

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