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Differences and disorders


devils daughter
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I don’t want to hijack another thread, but I would like to hear/read some more discussion about individual differences and disorders.

I have been miserable for years. Not much use to myself or others. I have wanted to get out of this life but I know that once such a decision is made it is irrevocable and, logically, I cannot be sure that is the “best” thing to do.

So here I am, being miserable.

I can go over my mistakes and ways that I might have hurt other people and feel intolerably guilty but haven’t known how I could have done better. With my current therapist I’m finally making some progress at being my own person and there have been times recently when I have felt OK. So, now I can talk about this with something besides just hopeless, helpless rage.

It seems to me like I’ve been pretty “disordered”. I looked for help and tried and could not find it FOR YEARS. The people who were “qualified” to do diagnoses didn’t, or else they didn’t know how to treat what they saw and didn’t tell me.

Finally, I have gotten some help – by doing my own diagnosing and getting some direction from a mental health patient friend. But for years IT HAS BEEN AWFUL!!!!!

There is hope in the new treatments available for personality disorders. But how to get us to what will help is still just hit-or-miss, from what I can see.

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I'm afraid I'm not sure what you're asking here, DD.

Clearly you felt, and still feel, miserable. And a part of it was that you felt guilty.

My personal belief is that no one should have to feel miserable. If it gets to miserable, something needs to change.

Now, whether feeling miserable automatically earns a "disorder" label doesn't seem that important to me. I think the label's only real purpose is to strengthen the desire to change something, for those people who aren't motivated enough just by being miserable.

To some extent, which disorder is diagnosed helps to plan treatment, but my opinion of psychology at the moment is that most treatment just comes down to taking care of the person as a person.

You said you saw a problem in "how to get us to what will help". Did you feel that something prevented you getting help, before? Do you feel we here at the site might be delaying someone getting help, now?

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You said you saw a problem in "how to get us to what will help". Did you feel that something prevented you getting help, before? Do you feel we here at the site might be delaying someone getting help, now?

No, malign, I think this site is wonderful.

It’s the mental health profession in general that think has done a poor job of knowing what to do to help me. Even if it came down to helping me to decide what it was I wanted help with.

So, I’m doing what I can to help bring that to folks’ attention, because I don’t think it’s generally understood by the professionals – even my excellent personal therapist.

I’m extremely grateful to this site for allowing me to do this. I’m still afraid that I will say something and get banned. But obviously I'm taking the chance.

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Allow me to suggest that your fear of getting banned is ... excessive? :-)

I've never seen you say anything that I would consider remotely ban-worthy.

We're all entitled to an opinion. And you're the one who lived through your experiences; none of the rest of us went through exactly the same stuff.

What do you think could be done better, to help professionals to interact with people in your situation?

For one thing, you expressing that might help others to advocate more effectively for themselves. {In other words, I think that's exactly one of the reasons our site is here.}

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Thanks, medlem. I'm glad if I can help.

Malign, I think the main thing is that psychotherapy is a relationship and people with PD’s don’t know how to do relationships. So. . . the diagnosis of a PD is then a useful thing – IF there is effective therapy for it. Which from things that I have read, as well as now my personal experience, there is.

One thing I have been thinking – maybe we clients need a “how to do therapy” from a client’s perspective. I’m a Myers-Briggs INTJ so the manual would be from a thinking perspective, not so much a feeling one. But maybe that’s OK and somebody else could write one from their perspective if mine was way off the mark for them. I’ll work on that.

Another thing I think that people like me need is a place to learn how to develop healthy relationships. This site is very good in that respect. At least for me.

In contrast, I had a bad experience in a group therapy when I announced several months beforehand that I was going to try letting part of me out that I usually didn’t. This was before the DDNOS was diagnosed recently. I had had a therapist who had suggested it 15 years earlier but the therapy with her failed. I left after 8 months, not feeling that I was getting anywhere. So it was a thought in the back of my mind that that could be part of my problems when I made my announcement but I didn’t specifically say, “I think I may have DDNOS so you should look out”.

Anyway, I had told the group and the facilitator and then several months later I got upset with the facilitator and did something that could be interpreted as manipulating and he became angry in the group and said that he felt attacked. And that “there’s a lot you can learn about yourself in this group”. . . or something like that. A shaming, dominating response.

He reacted to a part of me that I now call “female snotty bitch”. I did not consciously know that he might feel attacked by her. Almost all my whole life when I had been aware of that energy/feeling, I was very careful and would NOT let her act. This caused me problems because that energy system is also what understands social nuance, etc.

So, one thing I think that professionals could do better is to understand that it may need special training in order to interact helpfully with people like me. It was group therapy at a well-respected psychiatric hospital. But the facilitator only had master’s level training, and with no particular specialization.

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DD, I agree that pretty much anyone with a mental illness has some issue with relationships. Dr. Dombeck, who founded this site, was fond of saying (probably quoting someone) that people learn by relating to others. Our task is to create a safe enough environment for that to happen. Which is not that different from the therapy task, but just has to be handled differently because we're not therapists.

I'm an INTJ myself, and I agree that such things do color how a person looks at the world. There's an old link on here somewhere to an online Myers-Briggs test, but I'm too lazy to look it up. ;-)

One thought might be to try to treat the facilitator's reaction as just another data point in learning about relationships, if possible. I know it probably played into your existing guilt feelings, but ... people do sometimes get angry with us, in life, and we have to learn sometime how we're going to handle it. As for the guy needing more specialized training, I'd suggest instead he needed better supervision. Anyone might find themselves in a situation that tests their skills, and even therapists make mistakes (humanity being the overwhelming flaw we all share) ;-) but a good therapist would be able to own his mistakes and apologize. An excellent therapist could make a learning experience for the group out of his own failure.

Trust me, though: we're not much into shaming as a teaching technique. I'm not sure anyone could claim that it actually works, for one thing.

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The trouble was for me that in that particular group therapy situation, the person I was at the time, the other things that I was dealing with -- the facilitator’s response just shut me down. I was seeing an individual therapist as well and she had not responded well to what I now know to be my dissociation issues.

I stayed in the group for several more months, became seriously more depressed, and looked into going into an intensive outpatient program at another facility. I got a consultation with a local expert in dissociation. She thought that outpatient treatment at either facility could be worthwhile. I eventually went into another intensive outpatient stay at the same hospital because my insurance would cover it.

When I got out of the outpatient program I was going to be discharged back to the group therapy since I was in the process of finding another individual therapist. The group leader did not want me back. I think he felt that my anger with him would cause problems for the group as a whole. My outpatient case manager had said that he “should” let me back and I thought so, too. In an intense almost hour-long interview with him about me coming back I told him that it was like a switch in my head. I could turn that part of me completely off again. So I came back.

Eventually he was trying to do something to someone else like I felt like he had done to me once. From my perspective he was trying to dump guilt and more responsibility on them about some problems they were having with their adult child. So “female snotty” spoke up about that and at that point decided to leave the therapy group at the end of the month.

Dr. Dombeck is undoubtedly a great guy. When I talk about my trouble with the mental health profession I do not mean to attack anyone, and I don’t think less of Dr. Dombeck because of the facilitator’s failings. Again, I think this is a wonderful site, helpful and innovative.

But in that situation, when I needed help, when I did not realistically have at that point a functioning ego (which now I do), I did what I had always done when shamed – I shut down. The effect of that situation was iatrogenic, not helpful to me. Maybe my writing about it can be helpful to the profession.

For those of us stuck in not knowing how to have relationships I think the “scaffolding” theory of Vygotsky might be helpful to professionals. My late husband was probably schizoid – we did great together. When my children were young I was able to perform the role of mother reasonably well. But normal people? Up until recently I have been clueless unless I had a role or task definition in my head. What most people have, I didn’t.

My current therapist was able to ??? let’s say, repair the damage in my general capability to have a relationship. I documented that on a blog, “Emergence of a sense of self.” It’s been a while since I’ve read about ego and identity. It’s not entirely new to me but I don’t think I’m just copying somebody else’s ideas there. It blanket-blank feels too real. Plus, I think I see the results of it working in my life!!

Without that ego “containing” all of the . . . . again, I’m not sure what to call it. . . there was NO WAY I could DECIDE how I would react in the group therapy situation. I just shut down. That’s because I had the disorders that I did at the time.

So I appreciate the well meaningness of your comment

. . . people do sometimes get angry with us, in life, and we have to learn sometime how we're going to handle it.

But I had learned long before the event in group therapy that it was best to shut down when I was shamed. That was, of course, part of the reason that I could not do any better at that time.

It was the facilitator’s “fault”. Is that so wrong to say? I had my faults but that is part of what I was in treatment for. I got over it – I left and found better treatment. But it wasn’t easy and I didn’t have any guidance about how to do that from the professionals.

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Malign, I think the main thing is that psychotherapy is a relationship and people with PD’s don’t know how to do relationships.

With the help of a qualified counselor the therapy relationship can be a place to learn and grow. Hopefully this leads to more fulfilling relationships outside of the room. It's great that you have found a therapist who is helping.

Anyway' date=' I had told the group and the facilitator and then several months later I got upset with the facilitator and did something that could be interpreted as manipulating and he became angry in the group and said that he felt attacked. And that “there’s a lot you can learn about yourself in this group”. . . or something like that. A shaming, dominating response.[/quote']

Is it possible it was not his intent to shame or dominate you with his response, but that you projected this? I'd have no way of knowing this, but I do know I often catch myself projecting the very things I worry about or feel insecure about. One thing I try to do, sometimes with success and sometimes without success, is to take a step back and consider statements as only statements...without attaching any emotion or judgment to them. Helps me sometimes. Possibly his response was inappropriate and not helpful. I'm sorry if that was the case. Group therapy would be an excellent place to learn about oneself, and I would think this would also include the counselor.

He reacted to a part of me that I now call “female snotty bitch”. I did not consciously know that he might feel attacked by her. Almost all my whole life when I had been aware of that energy/feeling' date=' I was very careful and would NOT let her act. This caused me problems because that energy system is also what understands social nuance, etc.[/quote']

I hope that you can listen to all parts of yourself and try to find a balance. I know this can be very challenging.

So' date=' one thing I think that professionals could do better is to understand that it may need special training in order to interact helpfully with people like me. [/quote']

Specialized training would be helpful, I agree, but I don't think that even this would offer any guarantee that someone would become an excellent counselor. Another thing I'm trying to learn is that all interactions can be a learning experience, even when they are negative or involve conflict. This can be a place to confront feelings and fears and take a look at behaviors that aren't working for us. I still don't like conflict, though, and still struggle at times with this. Change can be extremely challenging.

It was the facilitator’s “fault”. Is that so wrong to say? I had my faults but that is part of what I was in treatment for. I got over it – I left and found better treatment. But it wasn’t easy and I didn’t have any guidance about how to do that from the professionals.

Maybe what's more important is how this affected you. I hope you are able to discuss this experience and your feelings about it with your current therapist, DD. I hope you continue walking on a healing path.

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Thanks very much for your comments, IJ. I appreciate you taking the time to read and respond to my post.

The path that I am on now includes, thankfully, this website and community. I do feel myself growing. This is a wonderful way try out different ways of relating to people without a whole lot of danger about consequences.

I respect that you and others who are aspiring to be counselors or who already are do so, in most cases, because you want to be helpful to people.

So I can understand if it is difficult to read examples of when the profession may not have been able to provide what was needed.

My work background, before I retired, was in science, math, and engineering for the most part. I think it is in my basic temperament to be analytical and technical. I don’t think I was like that because I had OCPD but likely my difficulties led to an OCPD adaptation, rather than something else, because of my basic temperament.

Being analytical and technical, I am able to accept – and even look for – mistakes and errors and not be unduly upset by them. I can look for them in order to fix them. OK, there can be too much of that and if one is rigidly stuck in that way of trying to cope, it’s a problem.

The facilitator, whether he intended to or not, did just react. I have reason to believe that it was due to a personal situation of his, which he had shared with the group. It was “wrong” of him. Doesn’t make him bad, makes him human, but it was interpersonally traumatizing to me at the time, striking into deep unhealed wounds. Seems to me I need to be able to recognize that, too, in order to find the help I need for myself. But I didn’t have that ability at the time, because of the you-know-whats. Fortunately I did have a mental health patient friend who thought the response was inappropriate too.

In contrast, malign’s comment to me had, I believe, a slight tinge of criticism, a small amount of belittling. I don’t see how I could possibly get helpful input from people if I didn’t risk getting that kind of response sometime.

The difference was: malign’s comment was “titrated”, a small amount, and the overall effect of his post was accepting of me. Also, I have some ego strength myself now and can be thankful for the input, “take what I like and leave the rest”.

But being an INTJ I still like to argue! Debate. See if, together, we can all come to a more realistic view of things. Even if it’s not the same view.

Many thanks, again, IJ for your comments. I appreciate what you said about your not liking conflict and I would like to understand more how you and others like you feel about that.

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First off, DD, I want to say that I think it's great that you feel comfortable continuing to discuss this issue. That alone is a sign of progress.

I'm sorry if it sounded as if I were trying to blame you for being unable to confront the facilitator at your group in the past. I do understand that you were not in a state where you were prepared to sustain that battle. He was wrong in how he responded, no matter how unprepared he might have been.

My focus, however, was on your current situation and capabilities. I was just trying to point out that that facilitator will not be the last "wrong" person you will encounter and that you will need a strategy for what you will do when that happens.

What I find, though, is that you already have a strategy, and moreover, you're applying it to this conversation: peaceful assertiveness of your needs. That's why I'm impressed by your handling of this. :-)

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So I can understand if it is difficult to read examples of when the profession may not have been able to provide what was needed.

Yes, it can be difficult to read, you are right. Good insight. I always wonder if perhaps there has been some kind of misunderstanding between the parties involved. I'm sorry that you had a bad experience with the counselor, DD. :o It's very important to feel safe and accepted in therapy. When you don't have this kind of environment it becomes difficult to explore painful stuff.

My work background' date=' before I retired, was in science, math, and engineering for the most part. I think it is in my basic temperament to be analytical and technical. [/quote']

My strengths are English, psychology, and social sciences. I'm an INFJ, very feeling and not much good at math and technical stuff. :) Diversity is a beautiful thing. :-)

Doesn’t make him bad' date=' makes him human, but it was interpersonally traumatizing to me at the time, striking into deep unhealed wounds. Seems to me I need to be able to recognize that, too, in order to find the help I need for myself. [/quote']

I'm sorry you went through that, DD. :) It sounds as though you have very good self-awareness now. This is a great place to begin healing old wounds.

Many thanks' date=' again, IJ for your comments. I appreciate what you said about your not liking conflict and I would like to understand more how you and others like you feel about that.[/quote']

You're very welcome. :) It is nice to see new faces here and people contributing to our supportive community. I like Malign's description of your post as being "peacefully assertive." I still struggle with being assertive. Peaceful assertive would be ideal.

About conflict. I still have a great deal of trouble with any kind of disharmony, especially amongst friends and/or family members. It is just very painful and frightening to me. I do see now that this happens sometimes and it doesn't have to be entirely awful. Enduring some unpleasantness and not running away or avoiding dealing with this when necessary, can lead to lessons learned and even growth. I still have much work to do with this.

Take care, DD.

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I can go over my mistakes and ways that I might have hurt other people and feel intolerably guilty but haven’t known how I could have done better. With my current therapist I’m finally making some progress at being my own person and there have been times recently when I have felt OK. So, now I can talk about this with something besides just hopeless, helpless rage.

Sweetie I don't think it matters what you could have done differently so much as what you DO differently now. It's rather like tripping, you can't untrip by getting up and looking at what you tripped over. The best you can do is make a mental note and try to watch ahead so that you don't trip over something else (but you will and that's okay)!

Does that make sense?

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