Therapy and Harm

grit

MyPTSD Pro
Hi everyone,

I have felt at the beginning of my therapy journey that therapy has been extremely difficult. I am doing OK now. also I am considering of leaving therapy in the next few months.

I remembered thinking that therapy is sort of triggering in such that I am reduced to the trauma memories and then have to re-experience in order to recover. But having psychosis (I do not remember) at 5yrs old in memory in 40+ yrs old is completely different story!

But some of the memories that came up did not make sense for me. One memory was sort of having psychosis but I never had one. Another one was having panics but again never had one.
The fear of these thoughts and feelings in my body scared the shit out of me.

I had to stop therapy each time to get out of the triggering situation and see what else is happening and then go back again on the verge of panic, stop and start over.

Finally, I actually thought to see what the fear is - push it through. Unfortunately none of my many therapists could tell me what may happen if I stop dissociating. Well sadly, I panicked one day and thought I was dying, or having heart attack but yet was super aware of panicking cause I could fell the extreme anxiety and was holding my belly rather than my chest. Thanks goodness I was at home alone with my husband and asked him to hug me for few minutes so I could allow to let go out of control. I spent the rest of the night listening to soothing music.

A strange thing happened 12 hrs later where I felt completely different and sort of memory consolidation. Also I thought my dissociation was lifted in such that now I have full control over it.

In therapy after, all fears were gone. all dissociation were gone (meaning my senses were present while I talk about the past). Before I would experienced deep tunnel vision and blindness or deafness or muscle loss - no feeling of my legs. all stopped now since that fateful panic event.

Now, I felt angry after for a while in such that maybe a lot of people end up having panics, psychosis, and such when all their maladaptive coping are lifted and this is not communicated and causes iatrogenic.

People come to therapy with some maladaptive protection (albeit a problem itself) but when it is lifted, people then fall back to original experience they dissociated from or suppressed deeply and that experience is psychoses or something as overwhelming as such! Idk and just exploring what I felt and learning.

I know a woman from one of my group whom when I met told me she came to therapy at 28 professionally regulated employed, semi healthy but had strong reaction to her brother's suicide. Since then (with the same therapist), she lost her job, never got a boyfriend, and become so reclusive that the only few times she goes out was to come to the therapy and was ultimately diagnosed with bipolar. when I met her she was 42 completely dependent on the therapist, lost deep relationships with all her family. It is my feeling that the bipolar may be what came after all her other defenses were lifted without training or teaching or showing how to manage or function. I do not even know what could be done. and this is my feeling of her situation and she is the one who shared this information.
I know I left therapy where I felt the therapist wanted to stop certain things (dissociation) but could not tell me what happens then from scientific point of vew or at least the many different ways things may go wrong just as much as right?

I think what I am trying to understand for my own growth and understanding of healing is asking did anyone ever feel they are worse than they were when they came to therapy?

I do not have medication so I do not know about that but would love to hear it if this is also a problem.

I am coming to my over 5yrs of therapy and would like to hear how others experience both good and bad or worse so this helps me in my own journey.

Thank you for any input or advise.
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
I totally get what you are saying.
And I said to my T that I felt I was free falling off a cliff by getting rid of my (maladaptive) coping mechanism, as there was nothing to replace them with. T tried to ground me with it and to go a bit slower.

But yes, I have been worse. I never had SI before. I didn't feel much before. I didn't have nightmares before (save for a period when I was 24). But also, maybe I did but blocked it all out? Idk.

But I do feel better. I feel more real. I feel.
So whilst it's so hard at times, I feel like I am discovering me.
 

grit

MyPTSD Pro
Thanks @Movingforward10 for sharing your thoughts and experience. It is really challenging for me to hear you developed or become aware of having SI. That is very serious thing. But I am happy to learn you have a good therapist and working through.
 

Renly

Learning
I agree. This for me is the getting worse before getting better stuff. I feel my overall day to day functioning has decreased a lot since beginning therapy…my PTSD seems so much more active now that I’m revisiting all the trauma. But I also realized that my work-a-holic “functional” behaviors were also maladaptive coping skills (even if they are socially acceptable). I have been slowly killing myself on one end of extreme behavior (work-a-holic) or the other end (alcoholic) to avoid feeling and to run away from trauma. I’m hoping this increased inability to function in my day to day life doesn’t drag out too long. But, I also realize I’m working on treating an illness (even though that still seems weird for me to say since it’s my mind/brain) and I am learning to be compassionate towards myself. My T said something along the lines of what if you were getting chemo to treat cancer?…you’re going to feel bad, you won’t function the same in your day to day, but if you’re getting the right treatment you will get better. It just takes time. Sounds like the woman in your group needs a new T and a new treatment plan…seems like an unhealthy situation. Maybe talking out your concerns with your T will help develop a better game plan for your own treatment. Or give you the info needed to know if it’s time to make a change.
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
Thanks @Movingforward10 for sharing your thoughts and experience. It is really challenging for me to hear you developed or become aware of having SI. That is very serious thing. But I am happy to learn you have a good therapist and working through.
I feel like back tracking a bit about the SI. It's not much, not constant, just been moments in time.
 

grit

MyPTSD Pro
@Renly
Thanks for your thoughts.
I did not stay with that therapist for more than 7 months! but I do think about that woman now and then - lovely, fragile and intelligent being.

I think I am trying to see through what I gained and lost, what harmed (not hurt), and what worked for me so I can articulate and I am struggling.
 

whiteraven

MyPTSD Pro
I think what I am trying to understand for my own growth and understanding of healing is asking did anyone ever feel they are worse than they were when they came to therapy?
Oh, yeah. And I often wonder if I wouldn't be in this place (which is better, but in many ways it's just as maladaptive) if I hadn't gone through so much therapy. I do think that connecting with someone can help us see things differently (and sometimes give us different tools to work with), but I never forget that the psychologist (or whatever) is just another person who happens to have specialized (and biased) training.

I have stopped therapy several times when it got to be too much--when I definitely got worse--and the break was healing.
 

grit

MyPTSD Pro
@whiteraven thanks for sharing your journey. I really see the importance of connection with one person and how it makes sense. And you are right a professional person can speed up the process of recovery but also prolong it because (IMHO), how much control does one have over feelings or thoughts?

I find sometimes I have nothing to say in therapy and feel OK I could focus on my school this hour or be with my husband ...but in real life, experience just comes and I react spontaneously. I think this is where I feel how much time may be wasted and paid by just sitting and not knowing anything to say or do ....just there...normal but obviously not really cause therapy is planned, determined and paid.

I find harm/therapy really interesting because it is very hushhush like not talked about. I googled harm psychotherapy and not much out there. Even reddit failed - where everything seems to end up! (-;. I find few with doctors and medications and can see clearly a side affect of medication being so concrete but not so much the relationship in therapy being harmful. Just wondering and exploring.

My ultimate goal (and probably underlying thought of this post), is there a time when the hot spot is met and surpassed and doing therapy becomes redundant and may even venture out to extreme and subtle harm that is hard to pinpoint. I actually saw quora that said something like no shame in being therapy and concluded since there is no shame in therapy then being in therapy is good and there does not have to be an end. and I thought that was awkward comment. and I thought not having shame and doing something that requires time and money are two different things.

I find the process of talking about my childhood so frequently interesting, provoking, healing in a lot of ways but also wasting of precious time I could spend on other things. I am quite sensitive for time...lol getting older and feeling really do I want to think about when I was 5yrs old again?


Trying to make sense of my thoughts and see if others have had similar. I find fascinating when people say they know things about their therapists and I often feel I do not want to know much about my therapist (or actually) not enough to paid for it and make commitment to it.

Thanks again
 

Friday

Moderator
I find harm/therapy really interesting because it is very hushhush like not talked about. I googled harm psychotherapy and not much out there. Even reddit failed - where everything seems to end up
Outside of university, where it’s discussed from day 1* onward? I’ve found most of the reeeeeeally interesting, thoughtful, evolving, and nuanced conversations both in ethical journals (psych, medicine, and ethics in & of itself) & professional journals. Conferences are another place where it’s discussed, but the nature of conferences is rather limiting.

* I had a couple “day 1” at uni, since I started school in my 2rd trimester and was put on bed rest a hot minute later, and couldn’t come back until my kid was 2 months old. My first professor was a Developmental Psychologist, whilst my 2nd (who later became one of my advisors) was a Physiological Psychologist aka /Neuropsych /Biopsych. Their approaches? Completely different, but equally THIS!!! ACHTUNG!!! WARNING!!! ATTENTION!!!

<grin> I will never forget the DevPsych Day1, who strode out onto the stage, got people to raise their hands for what degree program they were in (about 1/3 psych, 1/2 nursing, and the remainders mostly teaching), gave her own credentials / brief overview of her CV and rhetorically asked if we knew what that meant?!? “It means I AM A HIGHLY TRAINED MASTER MANIPULATOR!” 😁 And then proceeded to both tell us how she was going to manipulate us, to what purpose, and why. Both right there in that first class, and throughout all of her classes, she had a running commentary of the techniques she was using (on us), whether we’d studied them yet, or not, and whether they tied into the subject matter or not. Absolutely brilliant teaching style.

But regardless of what discipline any of my professors were -and my schools hired a taste the rainbow of schools of thought- or what class they were teaching? Both the very real, and potentially deadly harm, that not only can be done but that has been and will continue to be done in psych was a topic each and every single quarter. In part, because it’s a soft-science, in it’s infancy. But mostly because it’s the nature of the job. As a highly trained master manipulator -hopefully!- most of the harm one inflicts will be intentional, some will be accidental, some will be despite your very best efforts not to. The exact same way “this is what can happen if you f*ck up, or get unlucky” is pounded into nurses and doctors. Without the lab tests or autopsy to confirm.

What I find very odd/interesting, personally, is that the softer the science? The more people seem to just blithely trust it. Back when medicine was in it’s infancy “trust the doctor, they know best” & “just fix me” were the mainstays. ((“My therapist says,” & “just fix me,” now being zeitgeist for psych)) But with hard evidence up to eyeballs, and not just correlation but causation known in medicine? Or chemistry? Or whatever? People seem to take facts and hard evidence as less reliable than opinion and feeeeeelings. IDFK. Or, rather, I do actually know the science behind that. It’s just what people do, as a species… Because people are crazy. 😉

Still just cracks me up.
 

grit

MyPTSD Pro
lol your spoil alert was very interesting @Friday ! thank you for sharing. I am heartened by the "manipulation" comment.

I remembered once saying to my therapist literally: easy on the techniques, there is adult in the room using humor but not really! She was taken back.
Another time I was quiet for a long time and asked her what she thinks of the progress and she said twice this question surprised her? I was rolling my eyes thinking why? and she said she did not expect it and I said why not? and she said well she did not expect this question will come up and I said well we are in therapy and I asked how is it going from your end so this is not surprise but in context you know! we are still talking about therapy. Anyhow, she said she was surprised I could ask that question. That sort of took me into a bit of interesting. I often think of how am I doing healing and was not sure what she plans for my treatment sort of.

These sort of interactions sort of made think hmm now it is just a normal conversation but I am investing time. I think she is a fine person and therapist but I am more interested my time and commitment than her time and goals.

So yeah, I am curious about if there is a harm what may instigate? My gut tells me a client cannot instigate their own harm so trying to learn from others stories....

*harm to me is damage or injury physical, psychological, spiritual and or emotionally. Hurt is wounded or injured in feelings or physically but not in the person.
 

whiteraven

MyPTSD Pro
I find harm/therapy really interesting because it is very hushhush like not talked about.
Although the ethics and morality of treating patients is talked about professionally, I've noticed that it's dealt with very differently in practice. And that's not just in mental health, but it's also in general medicine. True harm is seldom admitted to or addressed, and healthcare providers don't often say anything that might reflect badly on their peers.
 

Sideways

Moderator
True harm is seldom admitted to or addressed, and healthcare providers don't often say anything that might reflect badly on their peers.
Medical malpractice. It's a pretty big industry, so I'm not sure that I'd agree it's something people 'often' don't talk about, given, for medicine generally, people 'often' litigate. Or appeal to professional regulators. Or both.

That's harder with mental health, though, where the complainant has the burden of being mentally unstable (for want of a better term), and so 'less reliable' (legal terminology is awkward and clunky).
 
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