Psychiatric Diagnosis: a brief guide and caution for the weary

The Medicalisation of Mental Distress Many people who experience distress, emotional and mental disturbance, anxiety, and a whole range of unpleasant or difficult experiences end up seeking medical help via the NHS or other healthcare settings. Psychiatry is a branch of medicine that attempts to systematise human distress in clusters of commonly observable and reportable…

Mental Distress and Suicide

Statistically, suicide is the highest cause of death in men between age 20 and 49.  This is not to diminish the female suicide rate, merely to present statistics.  And the suicide statistics are shocking, with greater numbers of men taking their own lives than are killed in road accidents, or by cancer and coronary heart…

Passive-Aggression: an expression of inauthenticity

Passive-aggression: the Suppressed, Repressed, Dissociated Possibly one of the most pervasive features of undesireable or antisocial behaviour we find in society is passive-aggression.  Passive-aggression is aggressive or hostile energy that is used to emotionally injure or insult the recipient in a way that attempts to conceal the intent of the aggressor.  It is the result…

Considering Starting Psychotherapy or Counselling?

Where to start The psychotherapy, counselling and psychology field can be very confusing if you are unfamiliar with how it all works and have no experience of seeking such help and don’t know where to start.  Here are a few points to consider: People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. They prefer…

Mental Health Feedback: help me help you

In a continual effort to expand my understanding of the needs of people who need help, I wanted to invite people to tell me something about their experiences of seeking help or being helped and what could be of greater helpf to them during times of need.  Your comments are valuable in developing my own…

Depression Part 5: Listening to Elvis

“I believe the key to happiness is: someone to love, something to do, and something to look forward to.” – Elvis Presley 3 key changes to remember: find someone to love in our life do something we love to do every day have something we love to look forward to Someone or some thing to…

Dissociative Identity Disorder

Still Like A House Fractured?  No, curiously I feel fractured but I see myself in the mirror and I’m whole, standing still like a house.  The mirror may be fractured, but my eyes still swivel like windows in this head, guided by a nose that acts as a weather vane.  I open and close my…

Recovering your self in 7 days

Hollowday There’s a hollow in me; an absence.  Like a piece of furniture missing from a room I haven’t been in for years.  I enter knowing something’s changed and I can’t say what.  There’s just the feeling.  Hollow. Dumbday I feel dirty on the inside.  I scrub the outside; wet hair, towel and soap, and…

PTSD, cPTSD, and Dissociative Experiences

I wanted to write something about the relationship some of us have to traumatic experiences from our past.  It seems important that I write this from an intuitive, non-technical place.  For me, this is because intution – as opposed to fear – is what we need to develop regarding our power to manage our way…

On choosing a psychotherapist

When choosing the right psychotherapist it’s important to remember some basic facts about psychotherapy if you want it to work for you: Psychotherapy is founded upon a trustworthy, secure relationship.  The best evidence from the longest-term study supporting psychotherapy’s effectiveness in helping people make changes in their lives says that the quality of the therapeutic…

Depression Part 4: downhill or uphill?

There are simple reasons we end up depressed, getting deeper and deeper into a state of numbness or hopelessness or meaninglessness or apathy.  All of the characteristics of a depressed state are the result of going away from something.  That something could be a problem, difficulty or truth we are avoiding.  Or feelings.  Or people. …

Depression Part 3: ‘bad’ feelings, alcohol and substance misuse

Depression as a Response to the World The world loves to divide feelings and thoughts into ‘good’ and ‘bad’.  But feelings and emotions really aren’t good or bad in the moral sense.  When we call them ‘good’ or ‘bad’ we tend to mean pleasant or unpleasant, comfortable or uncomfortable.  Most importantly, feelings and emotions are…

Depression Part 2: a well-worn path

Depression is one of the most common afflictions of human beings and one of the main reasons why people seek some form of help.  Depression has been medicalised in the last hundred years and ‘treated’ as a disease.  In some cases there are, of course, biological or other physical reasons for depression, such as chronic…

The Outsider Part 2: living off-label

Whilst most of us long for kinship with others who will accept us, approve of us, validate our ideas and beliefs, some of us don’t. Many of us will adjust ourselves in order to fit in and secure such approval, or for the sake of ‘a quiet life’, even to the extent of compromising our…

Why is CBT still being promoted as a cure-all?

As a psychotherapist I continue to come across the ad nauseam promotion of CBT – Cognitive Behavioural Therapy – both within the NHS and outside of it for what seems to be any and every ailment known to man, woman and child. This is partly due to the lasting momentum of a politically-motivated campaign of…

Personal Authenticity Part 3: the healing power of truth

“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:32 When it comes to healing ourselves from significant troubles, distresses, wounds, afflictions and traumas that we may have suffered, the one thing that I have found to be of primary importance is clearing any and all impediments to our seeing…

The Outsider Part 1: clarifying our place in society

If there’s one area of my work that I have a special interest in it’s working with people who feel like they don’t fit in or who find themselves rejected by the group. I wanted to start writing a series of posts on this subject because of the confusion and assumptions that we typically make…

Suffer the Little Children: abuse and its legacy for survivors

“I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.” – Carl Jung The term ‘child abuse’ opens a Pandora’s Box of definitions and meanings.  From words like neglect to domestic-, emotional-, physical- and sexual abuse; to bullying, genital mutilation, exploitation, trafficking, grooming – the list goes on.  These definitions describe…

Healing Minds: what works for you?

Often we are so socialised into looking to ‘professionals’ for their expertise that we forget that, prior to the boom in professions, we did a pretty good job of taking care of ourselves and one another.  Family, neighbours, community, aunts and uncles, grandparents: all of these community bonds have been eroded by massive shifts in…

Change Your World: Self-healing and Loving Kindness

Inspired by an article I read speaking about the benefits of pets to depressed people, I wanted to write a little bit about the therapeutic value of caring for other living things both as an aid to preventing and treating mental disturbance, particularly but not exclusively depression. “The greatness of a nation and its moral…

Existential Analysis: how I work with you

I first read Jean-Paul Sartre’s “Nausea” – a classic existential novel – when I was nineteen.  From a place of teenage angst it struck a chord with me as I recognised the overwhelming sensitivities I felt at the time and typically kept to myself.  Sartre speaks of experiencing the world in a felt way; a…

Narcissistic Abuse Part 1: the tools of manipulation

Normalisation of Narcissistic Behaviour Predatory narcissists are extremely damaged individuals who have gained a foothold and greater and greater influence in our society by virtue of our celebration of qualities towards which narcissists gravitate: celebrity worship, unquestioned obedience to authority figures, status obsessions, pre-occupation with appearances, the absence of depth of character and personal integrity,…