Friday, April 19, 2013

Alzheimer, Trauma, Repression

Lately I come across a lot of people that tell me someone in their family suffers from Alzheimer.

AM: For a feeling person as you are it must be heart-breaking to assist a person who doesn't remember anything and to feel her pain that she can't feel. For people who are afraid of their own pain it might be okay but not for you. You clearly see that you want to live YOUR life and you see what you need to do to "spread your wings and 
to fly". I wish you can do it soon, it is never too late.


AM: Thank you for sharing with us your interesting observations. The behavior of your father showed one of the ways how repressed memories can bother a person who has lost his defenses against emotions that he has had to his disposal his whole life. He may loose his control and cry for attention, something he never dared to do in his childhood. Another person may become totally erased. Aging triggers the traumatic memories because we become again dependent from others when our forces decrease. This dependency demands again facing our old history. Alzheimer disease is then the alternative to continuing therapy. Either remember the old pain again or deny whatever comes up - as has been done the whole life (PTSD)




Assisting Alzheimer

Hi Ms. Miller,

I hope this letter finds you well. I wanted to express a situation to you in which I am being a part of and wanting to look at the deeper, underlying effects that I am allowing myself to participate in.

I care for an elderly woman her name is Kay, she is 86 years old and has Alzheimers disease. (Do you think this disease is a deep manifestation of repressed feelings? My instincts tell me it is, since it is a severe form of memory loss and loss of one's ability to care for themselves as the illness progresses more and more)

Her family has ways of doing things without telling Kay of the goings and doings of her personal belongings and her house. When her husband passed away a year ago, they took a lot of his things from her apartment the very night he died, and they took and have sold most of her belongings from her house and now are selling her house without telling her. Her daughter recently told us of this, and asked each of us (3 personal care providers), if they should tell her mother of her house being sold. But my feelings is that she already knew the answer and how we would respond to this question since they proceeded to do these other "behind the scenes activities" without telling her.

I know it would devastate Kay, she and her husband built there house from the ground up, lived in it for over 50 years, and I would even take her to see her house every week for several months, but we could only look at her house from the side of the street in my car since she was not allowed to go inside her own home. She couldn't understand why she didn't have the key to her own house and why she couldn't go inside it, why we would just sit in my car looking at it as strangers, never going in. I had told her(without telling her children), that her granddaughter had moved in and didn't want to invite her grandmother into her own house, the reason being she thought she would upset Kay to see all her possessions no longer there, and the inside of the house changed so much to what it used to be. I could understand this, however, if they had talked to her about this, the shock would have been understandable and explain to her the reason's and so
forth. Now, we are not to mention of her house being sold, and if she aks about how her house is, or about wanting a key to it, we agreed to say to her that her son was looking after it and that everything is fine and that when she would see him again (which is very rare), we would ask about the key(only if she remembered to ask).

I realize that a lot of what has been happening is very clear of the secrecy and lies that not only I grew up with and that I have peronally generated in my own life and how a lot of family's operate. I know that we live in a society where adult children put there parents away in nursing homes and take advantage of them due to there mental and physical fragility, by taking there money and whatever else for there own use. I understand where this is coming from the hatred, the anger, the denials, the hurt, the ways we take revenge on one another, unconsciously and consciously, the wanting to just put someone like a child or an elderly person away to not have to see them and remind them of what they represent. I know that Kay's children have a lot of blame and hurt and unexpressed feeling towards Kay and it is being expressed by these current actions.

I have a close relationship with Kay, and I know without a doubt that if she had been communicated with care about her house and belongings she of course would get rightly upset, but I also know she would understand...and due to the nature of her disease, she would "forget" allowing some residue of her needs being met even for a brief moment until the memory of that episode fades and the questionings of her house and belongings would arise again, but knowing somewhere in the depth of her being, the memory of being told and seeing allowed in her home would reside within herself even if she were to "forget".

As someone being a close care provider for Kay and using my "judgement" for what seems to be the "best" for her, I don't know where the line is drawn between doing what I feel is inately right in incidents when I have told her outright about her house and why she can't go in, and other things I have told her factually of things that her family had not told her. Along with the present agreement of witholding and lying to her due to her state of being...I have been confused and sad, and angry about how I am part of this and how we overall communicate and relate with each other on a daily basis.

I would sure appreciate your thoughts on this and your perception on the elder populaion especially the nursing homes and how the adult children take there hurts on the parents by these institutions. I know it is just not the parents, but the whole system of nurses, doctors, careproviders- like myself, ect... I have definitley seen how I have neglected myself in going into this profession, for i ahve asked myself for several, several years why am I doing this line of work, because deep down it does not bring great joy or fulfillment, only something that I know how to do and I am told I am very good...which seems to translate that I am very good at providing other's needs but my own. Do you think that when I can fully come out of the depressions and the deep hurts from my childhood that I can finally discover what and how I truly want to live my life? You discovered this through your paintings, and left psychoanalysis, and wanted to write. I have a
profound sadness on the possibilities that I may never know what it is I really wanted to do with my life other than being a care provider. I feel really, really sad that it may be too late for me, that whatever inclinations or inspirations I might have had as a child will never be discovered...that they have been pushed down so deeply down...that it will never see the light to exist. And I feel really, really sad not knowing if I will truly come to a place of healing, to spread my wings and fly.

AM: For a feeling person as you are it must be heart-breaking to assist a person who doesn't remember anything and to feel her pain that she can't feel. For people who are afraid of their own pain it might be okay but not for you. You clearly see that you want to live YOUR life and you see what you need to do to "spread your wings and 
to fly". I wish you you can do it soon, it is never too late.


http://www.alice-miller.com/readersmail_en.php?lang=en&nid=2708&grp=0709

Alzheimer, Trauma, Repression
Dear Alice Miller,

On July 15 a reader in your mailbox asked: "Do you think this disease [i.e. Alzheimer] is a deep manifestation of repressed feelings? My instincts tell me it is..."

When I was caring for my father who suffered from Alzheimer's disease in the last few years of his life, I had the same impression as your reader. My father had a severely traumatic childhood, however he never discussed it in depth with anyone, and when he did mention it, it was only humourously; his real emotions remained deeply repressed. When he retired from his work, he was stripped off his defences that enabled him to ward off his feelings of futility and emptiness generated by this massive repression; his childhood situation came back to haunt him. Gradually losing his memory and regressing to an infantile state of mind, he allowed himself, probably for the first time in his life, to behave like a child: to be unsatisfied, irresponsible, dependent, helpless, and to express his endless need for attention. My mother who could not tolerate his helplessness (as she could not tolerate her childrens' helplessness before) became the substitute of his mother - a woman devoid of feelings altogether - but this time, he could loudly protest. In his "senility", he allowed himself to say things that sounded delirious, but that were in fact very true; for example, he said that he doesn't recognize me; true: my father had never bothered to find out who I really was.

To care for a person with Alzheimer's disease is a huge emotional burden; the affected person shows you just how helpless he had been as a child, but you can do nothing to save him from his predicament. The "senility" makes it totally impossible to discuss the person's childhood with him. The feelings of helplessness and hopelessness are therefore transferred from the demented person who cannot deal with them, to the caregivers. Personally, this brought me close to psychological collapse. I therefore urge anyone who takes care of a demented person to take good care of THEMSELVES. Remember: you are not responsible for this person's miserable childhood. And the helplessness this person makes you feel is difficult to bear: it reminds you of your own helplessness in the first years of your life... It can also reactivate the frustration of a child who desperately tries to save his parents from their pain: the drama of the gifted child. Mission impossible - once again.

The correlation between psychological trauma and dementia has recently been demonstrated in a research presented in the 2009 International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease. This new research demonstrates that people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are twice as likely to suffer from dementia in later life than people without PTSD. This research gives further support to your readers intuitions.

Please feel free to publish this letter.

NP

AM: Thank you for sharing with us your interesting observations. The behavior of your father showed one of the ways how repressed memories can bother a person who has lost his defences against emotions that he has had to his diposal his whole life. He may loose his control and cry for attention, something he never dared to do in his childhood. Another person may become totally erased. Aging trigggers the traumatic memories because we become again dependent from others when our forces decrease. This dependency demands again facing our old history. Alzheimer desease is then the alternative to continuing therapy. Either remember the old pain again or deny whatever comes up - as has been done the whole lfe (PTSD)

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

"Coming Out " Works!

Yes we need to start coming out with our stories to remove the stigma once and for all.

“In our research, having a close friend that’s gay or lesbian can have a profound impact on support," Cox explained. “We see this across Democrats, Republicans, and Evangelicals. It really cuts across a lot of demographics and, in a lot of ways, is more powerful than ideology."

"The same isn’t true for women who have abortions. Most Americans know someone who is gay or lesbian, but they often don’t have the same personal connections with women’s own abortion stories. That’s not because women who have abortions are rare — in fact, one in three U.S. women has had an abortion by the time she is 45 years old — but rather because of a lingering stigma surrounding this aspect of women’s reproductive care. That societal stigma ultimately dissuades women from being open about their experiences with abortion by reinforcing messages about how the procedure is morally depraved, something to be ashamed of, and something women always regret.

That’s why women’s health advocates encourage a “coming out” model for the women who have chosen to terminate a pregnancy, similar to the process within the LGBT community. If politicians like Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) can “evolve” on pro-equality policies because they have personal connections with gay and lesbian individuals, perhaps they will also consider supporting a wider range of pro-woman policies if they hear more from women in their lives who have chosen an abortion. But that isn’t likely to happen soon, particularly if women still don’t feel safe to share their stories without shame and stigmatization.”
http://thinkprogress.org/health/2013/04/02/1809121/why-us-politicians-arent-evolving-on-abortion-rights/

Monday, April 1, 2013

Love is learned through experience not by teaching or preaching

excerpt below from the book Thou Shalt Not Be Aware: Society's Betrayal of the Child by Alice Miller:

Much of what Jesus said in the course of His life and, even more, His deeds insisted that He did not have just this one father (God), who insisted on the observance of His commandments, on sacrifice and was demanding, distant, invisible, and infallible, a father whose "will [must] be done." From His early days Jesus also knew another father--Joseph, who never called attention to himself, who protected and loved Mary and the child, encouraged the child, assigned him central importance, and served him. It must have been this modest man who made it possible for the child to distinguish what was true and to experience the meaning of love. This is why Jesus was able to see through the hypocrisy of his contemporaries. A child raised in accordance with traditional principles, who knows nothing else from the start, is not able to detect hypocrisy because he lacks a basis for comparison. Someone who knows only such an atmosphere from childhood will perceive it as normal in all situations, perhaps suffering because of it but unable to recognize it for what it is. If he has not experienced love as a child, he will long for it, but will not know what love can be. Jesus did know.

There would without any doubt be more people capable of love if the church, instead of urging its members to obey authority and expecting allegiance to Christ on these grounds, would understand the crucial significance of Joseph's attitude. He served his child because he regarded Him as the child of God. What would it be like if all of us regarded our children as children of God--which we could do, after all? In his Christmas message of 1979 in honor of the Year of the Child, Pope John Paul II said that it is the task of adults to instill ideals in their children. These words coming from a man capable of love are certainly well-intended. But when pedagogues, both clerical and secular, set out to instill prescribed ideals in a child, they invariably turn to the methods of "poisonous pedagogy" and at best train children to become adults who train others in turn instead of raising them to become loving human beings.

Children who are respected learn respect. Children cared for learn to care for those weaker than themselves. Children who are loved for what they are cannot learn intolerance. In an environment such as this they will develop their own ideals, which can be nothing other than humane, since they grow out of the experience of love.

I have been told more than once that someone who was able to let his true self unfold during childhood would become a martyr in our society because he would refuse to adapt to some of its norms. There is something to be said for this idea, which is often advanced as an argument in defense of traditional child-rearing practices. Parents say they want to make their child learn to adapt as early as possible so he or she will not have to suffer too much later on in school or professional life. Since we still know very little about the influence of childhood suffering on the development of personality, it would seem difficult to refute this argument. Examples from history also appear to confirm it, for there are many who were forced to die a martyr's death because they refused to accept the prevailing standards of society and instead remained loyal the truth (and thus themselves).

But who is it actually who is so eager to see that society's norms are observed, who persecutes and crucifies those with the temerity to think differently--if not people who have had a "proper upbringing"? They are the ones who learned as children to accept the death of their souls and do not notice it until they are confronted with the vitality of their young or adolescent children. Then they must try to stamp out this vitality, so they will not be reminded of their own loss.

In the history of art the massacre of children has been depicted over and over again. Let us take as an example King Herod's slaying of all the male children in his realm. He feels threatened by them because there may be among them the new king who will one day vie for his throne, and for this reason he brings about a bloodbath in Bethlehem by ordering every boy aged two and under to be killed. Mary and Joseph flee to Egypt in order to save their child. Their love not only saves Jesus's life, it also enables the riches of His soul to unfold, which ultimately leads to His early death. One could rightly claim that it was Jesus's authenticity that caused His death, from which a false, conformist self would have saved Him. But can a meaningful life be measured quantitatively? Would Jesus have been happier if His parents, instead of treating Him with love and respect, had raised Him from an early age to be a faithful subject of Herod or to live a long life as a scribe?

The fact that Jesus grew up with parents whose only goal was to love and respect Him can hardly be denied, not even by believing Christians, who, in accordance with religious tradition, see in Jesus the Son of God. Every year throughout the Christian world the child is honored in the celebration of Christmas, yet Christian pedagogy has never been guided by this. Even someone who assumes that Jesus owes his capacity for love, His authenticity and goodness to the grace of His Divine Father and not to the extraordinary loving ways of Mary and Joseph might wonder why God entrusted these particular earthly parents with the task of caring for His child. It is quite astonishing that none of Christ's followers has ever raised this question, which could had led to new directions in child-rearing. The caring parents of the child Jesus have never served as models; on the contrary, religious manuals generally recommend strict disciplinary measures starting in infancy. Once it is no longer a secret that certain psychological laws are behind this kind of model, once enough parents become aware that preaching love will not nurture the child's ability to love, whereas respect and understanding in childhood will, then those who receive this respect and understanding in childhood will no longer be the exception and will not have to to die a martyr's death.

If we also take Herod as a symbol of our own society, we can point to aspects of the story of Jesus that may be used as arguments either for or against traditional child-rearing practices (depending on our personal experience): on the one hand, the massacre of the innocents and, on the other, extraordinary parents, servants of their child, who in the eyes of traditional pedagogues would then of necessity have become tyrants. Society, personified in Herod, fears children's vitality and authenticity and attempts to eradicate them, but lived-out truth cannot be destroyed, not even when the officials of Church and state take it upon themselves to "administer" the truth with the intent of eliminating it. The repeated resurrection of the truth cannot be suppressed; again and again, individual human beings affirm and live it. The Church as a social institution has continually attempted to prevent this resurrection from taking place--for example, by instigating wars in the name of Christ or by encouraging parents, by instigating wars in the name of Christ or by encouraging parents to use strict coercive measures to deaden their children's souls (i.e.,feelings) in the name of the sacred values of child-rearing (obedience, submissiveness, denial of self).

The church's struggle (supposedly an expression of God's will) against children's vitality is renewed daily by training them to be blindly obedient to those in authority and to think of themselves as wicked; this approach is more reminiscent of Herod, with his fear of the resurrection of the truth in the child, than it is of Jesus, with His demonstrated confidence in human potentiality. The hatred rooted in the small child's reaction to this training swells to immense proportions, and the Church (in part unconsciously) abets the proliferation of evil, which, on a conscious level, it professes to oppose.

It requires no great effort to identify the apocalyptic features of our century: world wars, massacres, the specter of nuclear war, the threat to the earth's ecological balance, the depletion of energy sources, the increase in drug addiction--the list could go on and on. Yet the same century has also taught us knowledge that is utterly new in human history and that could bring about a decisive change in our lives if its full significance was to penetrate public consciousness. I am referring to the discovery to the territory that the period of early childhood is of crucial importance for a person's emotional development. The more distinctly we come to see that the most ominous events of the present and recent past are not the products of mature rationality and the more clearly we recognize the absurdity and unpredictable of the arms race, the most urgent becomes the need to investigate the origins and nature of the human destructiveness whose helpless victims we all are.

The magnitude of destructiveness that we read about in the newspapers every day actually represents only the last chapter of long stories we are usually ignorant of. We are victims, observers, reporters, or mute witnesses of a violence whose roots we do not see, a violence that often takes us by surprise, outrages us, or simply makes us stop and think, but we lack the inner ability (i.e., parental or Divine permission) to perceive and to take to heart the simple and obvious explanations that are already available. pages 96-100.

Alice Miller used a term above "poisonous pedagogy," which some people may not be familiar with, so I will enclose a link to a section in her book For Your Own Good: Hidden Cruelty in
Child-Rearing and the Roots of Violence, where she explains in a summary what the term "poisonous pedagogy" means 

http://www.alice-miller.com/books_en.php?page=3