Friday, 4 January 2019

Common Sense

Winter 1985 York

Psychotherapy and counselling only works if the recipient has insight into their condition or problem
So many " professionals" allow their time to be an emotional romp rather than an effort to explore the roots of the problem  and yesterday I was reminded of a moment when I witnessed a real eureka moment during a therapeutical interaction.
The moment was a pivotal one.
The patient had slashed at her arms and neck with broken crockery after a particularly difficult weekend leave at home and was being seen by the psychologist moments after allowing me to dress her wounds. She was crying and forlorn, but managed to share that her husband had emotionally battered her during a family celebration designed to celebrate her inpatient improvement and removal from a mental health section.
Much of her therapy was concerned with abuse this patient had received at the hands of a critical and emotionally weak, jealous father. 
Confused and distraught the patient kept referring to her husband's behaviour  by repeating the words " Why.... why why?  " as she ripped at her bandages and as I stood to intervene the psychologist, a thin , vital little Yorkshireman waved me away with a grim smile
He knelt at the patient's feet, took her hands and caught her gaze
"His teeth fit your wounds" he said slowly " His teeth fit your wounds!" 
" Do you understand?"  and eventually through her tears the patient nodded
The link between her choice of husband with the behaviour of the  ghost of her father clarified by a simple phrase.
Eureka 


66 comments:

  1. Wow....what an insightful and gifted man that psychologist is.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Long since retired and perhaps dead now ..this was in 1985 and a memory still with me

      Delete
  2. I wish more psychologists were that insightful.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oh John....................

    ReplyDelete
  4. His teeth fit your wounds--what a chilling statement. One to remember.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I have never heard that phrase before, but it is a perfect one, in so many situations.

    ReplyDelete
  6. What an interesting way to put it!

    ReplyDelete
  7. That Yorkshire psychologist knew his stuff I would say John.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He was a psychiatrist and also a psychologist , a rarity in those days

      Delete
  8. MaggieB5:13 pm

    I can understand why the memory of it, is so vivid. Just curious though, was English the Psychologist’s mother tongue, as it sounds more like a translation? MaggieB

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He was from Leeds I think...still Yorkshire

      Delete
  9. I remember my mother saying when I was young, that she couldn't understand why so many women who came from abusive homes with violence and alcohol, chose to marry abusive alcoholics. She felt something made them want to relive that abuse over and over. Hopefully every person has that moment of clarity you witnessed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The reasons are many and complicated and so many don't even get that far in realisation

      Delete
    2. My ex was a violent alcoholic and God knows I asked for a divorce many times. I had a job and could do it BUT he had me so beaten down, lack of sleep (I probably got 3 hours a night - non-consecutive) that it was all I could do to put one foot in front of the other. I did, however, keep track of every incident, took pictures, reported him at my work to the Medical Service and to the police. Eventually he was done for domestic violence. Trouble is, he is bipolar and no non-bipolar can keep up with their manic phases. I was worn out. For ages I was terrified he would commit suicide (I felt an obligation to help him) until the idea that he would end up (unintentionally I believe) killing me instead made me realize I had to leave him to his own devices. He had therapy and medication available to him so it was his battle not mine. In the end he ran off with a bar room skank and it was the best day of my life - I got my divorce, bought him out the house, changed the locks and went no contact!

      Delete
  10. What a perfect turn of phrase to explain the situation. Wow, just wow.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes after thirty three years I still remember it

      Delete
  11. Oh, gods, John. After 3 husbands, I gave up. I say, "My picker is broken." because I always pick the wrong one. Now, I know why, after more than half a century of therapy that didn't, ever, touch on that.

    ReplyDelete
  12. The core truths, can be the hardest to face. I always remember that origin got us where we are, but it is not destiny.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sometimes they are the easiest to face .....the key to change

      Delete
  13. Anonymous5:50 pm

    Tears. Enough said.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Damaged parents create damaged children.. 'His teeth fit your wounds', what an insightful psychologist and so rare.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous6:24 pm

      No Jacqui you're wrong. You can't simply think that your first sentence fits all situations. I was a damaged child and whilst I will never be able to rid myself of that I was able to make sure that once an adult I was able to ensure my own child had a very different childhood. A safe and loving one. She's now a mother herself and has said she experienced a wonderful childhood. For me to hear that is indescribable. For you to imply that I as a damaged child who became a parent was someone who would damage my own child is very thoughtless and hurtful. I did everything in my power to make sure my own child did not suffer as I did.
      John - I'm a regular reader and commenter however if you don't mind I'll remain anonymous this time. Some wounds don't ever heal.

      Delete
    2. Is there any adult out there (or in here) who could not be described as "damaged" in some significant way? Of course, there are huge variations and different extremes, but sometimes the most significant damage can to others seem apparently slight. Damage that stays embedded in the mind can be the worst. John, your blog navigates impressively from whimsy to the deepest depths of the human predicament.

      Delete
    3. The word here is insight
      If you have insight you have power
      Power to change patterns of behaviours

      Delete
    4. Anonymous. I should have said 'damaged parents may create damaged children, my apologies. I should not have generalised.

      Delete
  15. Barbara Anne7:02 pm

    What a chilling and insightful statement. I hope the patient left her abusive husband and has peacefully flourished ever since.

    Hugs

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have no memory of the outcome , just of this event

      Delete
  16. Oh yes, Frightening but so clear.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thought provoking....well it must have been , I remembered the whole thing

      Delete
  17. Anonymous7:20 pm

    I have two Ph.D's in my family - both psychologists, and I wonder if there is a statistical analysis on how many patients take the advice and/or profit from their counsel?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope they went into the profession with good intentions

      Delete
  18. Almost like the 'wounded' send out signals and attract 'the perfect fit' unwittingly/unknowingly.
    She was SO fortunate to have sensitive and effective psychologist.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes....that's what I learnt and always remembered

      Delete
  19. Powerful. And painful - and the start of healing.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Words can cut so deeply and words can be the beginning of healing.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Sounds like the last scene in Dracula. I thought that was a good looking house - if a little brick-heavy - then I saw the bars on the windows.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Actually, all but one are glazing bars. I'll buy it.

      Delete
    2. That was our hospital , a rather beautiful one inside , with most of the original features.... it now lies empty

      Delete
    3. 2 minute walk from York minster

      Delete
  22. Whoa. That was an experience. I think it had to do with the delivery and the fact that he addressed her in a very direct but sympathetic way. She probably saw it for the first time then. Excellent professional!

    XoXo

    ReplyDelete
  23. I am friends with a psychologist and he is interested in existentialism and goalkeepers as am I.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I thought the idea of this would be obvious to a professional? though the explanatory metaphor is indeed, inspired.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It wasn't obvious to me but I was only a very junior staff nurse

      Delete
    2. I was thinking more of a psych professional. Am I right in thinking you are hinting that many of them would never explain or even understand?

      Delete
    3. I think psychotherapy on a mainstream psychiatric ward in those days was rare

      Delete
  25. I read a remarkable article recently about unhealthy behaviors and mental illness in adults and basically, what it said was that the things which hurt us as children astronomically raise the risk factors for us to develop addictions and many problems. As one researcher said, "Don't ask 'what is wrong with you?', ask "what happened to you?'"
    Bless that wise doctor.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Sad when they shut Bootham down. Helped a lot of people who now have not got the care they need.

    ReplyDelete
  27. A psychologist might have plenty of degrees and certificates but you can't learn wisdom.

    ReplyDelete
  28. It is a chilling and Terribly sad phrase, that I and probably a few people can understand /relate to in a way that we would rather not.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm with you Candice on this one.. unfortunately!

      Jo in Auckland

      Delete
  29. Poor woman. I hope this amazing comment gave her the strength to leave her husband and never be a victim again.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Wow. What a chilling way to reveal the truth.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Why is it that some who experience damage as children repeat the behaviors as adults and others do not — seem to have the knowledge, desire intent to not behave in the same way? So many varying individual factors to explain it, I suppose.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Hope this new year brings you happiness, resolution of your current trials.

    ReplyDelete
  33. I never thought about it like that but it is an apt metaphor.

    ReplyDelete
  34. A chilling comment well said.

    ReplyDelete

I love all comments Except abusive ones from arseholes