Whose Treatment is This Anyway?

From time to time I visit the madinamerica.com website. I am also subscribed to the pods-online.org.uk newsletter. Through these 2 sources I came across Ms. Noel Hunter who recently completed her doctoral dissertation fully entitled:

“Whose treatment is this anyway? Helpful and harmful aspects in the treatment of dissociative identity disorder phenomena”

Noel Hunter, MA, MS

Long Island University, Post

I’d like to do a brief review of her dissertation in case any of my readers would be interested in obtaining the complete dissertation so you can examine it for yourself. If you read this blog, you are probably interested in alternative opinions about how to view and heal what is known as dissociative identity disorder. I believe Ms. Hunter is uniquely qualified in her search for what works in the vast array of treatment methodology when it comes to d.i.d.: she admits in her dissertation that she had been diagnosed and treated for d.i.d. However, in a recent email with Ms. Hunter she wanted to clarify her objection to the current bio-medical model of the brain and mental health issues and thus she objects to the diagnostic categories as well which would include her ‘having’ d.i.d. But she was willing to affirm her experiences in the past that aligned with d.i.d., but said, “I do not have these experiences any longer and haven’t for many, many years.”

As with so many issues, there is a ‘public stance’ that the experts take on a subject. For d.i.d. the ‘gold standard’ of treatment guidelines is found at isst-d.org here: http://www.isst-d.org/default.asp?contentID=49

But if you’ve ever studied a subject in depth and been able to ‘look behind the curtain’ as our favorite wizard from Oz forbade Dorothy to do, you will know that the ‘unified front’ the experts present to the general public is often just a façade. And for that reason, I find Ms. Hunter’s dissertation refreshing. She is willing to take the reader ‘back stage’ and allow us to see the debates and disagreements and dilemmas surrounding this disorder that many experts feel we are too ignorant to understand. Ms. Hunter takes us backstage and gives us a tour that has direct implications for everyone trying to cope with and heal d.i.d.

After a brief introduction Ms. Hunter jumps into her subject with a literature review of d.i.d’s history, the DSM, alternatives to the DSM construct, and various existing treatments both specific to d.i.d. and generic to the disorder but which are used by therapists. She then moves into a 20+ page explanation of the methods that she used to examine and scientifically categorize the interviews she had with 13 people with d.i.d. for her dissertation. Yes, this section is dry, but it is an explanation of the processes that she used to try to remove her opinion as far as possible from the conclusions of her dissertation. So if you like that kind of stuff, dig in. If not, you probably can skip the “Methods” section.

The next section she gives the “Results” of her interviews with her 13 interviewees. From these people she discusses the “helpful aspects of treatment” and then the “harmful aspects of treatment” that were shared with her from the perspective of each person she interviewed. And finally she included “helpful aspects” of healing that the interviewees shared that were outside of the professional services they received from therapists. From these results, Ms. Hunter gave 2 broad recommendations to therapists. First she implored therapists to resist the denial and disbelief that seems to pervade the general public as well as the clinician when it comes to the stories of trauma survivors. Secondly she shares the need for systemic improvements in the mental-health system that all mental health patients need for their healing.

The last section of the dissertation is titled “Discussion” and is the author’s attempt to wrap all of her findings up. She does not attempt to tie everything up into a ‘neat’ little theory. She seems able to acknowledge the mishmash and contradictions of her interviewees and the subject itself as she summarizes her findings.


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.


Sam, I Am