mental health

Control and false memory

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MemThere has been much debate around therapy and false memory. How can therapists be sure that they not suggest anything that hasn`t happened? Like the recent revelation about the false memories of Thomas Quick, who remembered he murdered 8 people he did not actually kill. A recent documentary about the pscyhiatric ward that installed these memories in him, shows how destructive it can be if therapists lead their clients towards their own understanding of the world (lack of real empathy and mentalization). To not say things that provoke mental events that didn`t occur, can be harder than one thinks. So, what is important to think about to prevent this from happening?

To not “create” a child part that isn`t real: If you ask if a part has a certain age, you can ask: Are you the same age as the ANP? Are you older? Are you younger?

When one asks about the perpetrator: Was it someone you knew? Was it a stranger? Was he/her young, old, related, a neigbor?

When you ask about memories, you must be careful not to hint there HAS been something there. When doing EMDR, you just say: Whatever comes up, is okay. If nothing comes up, that is okay too.

When exploring, have an open mind, don`t think that you know what has happened, as we don`t. The most important thing we can do, is to just be there. It is actually very difficult to just Accept what is, without interpreting everything, but it`s something all therapist must try if they want to do a good job.



metacognitive therapy

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The Secret to Life in 2 Words

The sound of atonement

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How does it sound when heavy stones touch the earth? Can you see them sinners? Walking in their rugged shoes, barely able to move. How the sinful boulders finally tip over from the shoulders they rested on? Some of the stones land safely, on a meadow. Some start rolling down steep hills, crushing everything they meet. Some even fall on their unlucky feet. A short moment of relief. Why is there so little soft ground?


Therapy is change

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I love working as a psychologist. I learn as much from my client as they (hopefully) learn from me, and that is why I see therapy more as team-work than anything else. It’s about finding the recipe for a life THEY want, and like a good cook, one has to experiment with the ingredients available to find something that the customer likes. People are different, so we cannot expect that every type of treatment will fit all people. One of the working elements in therapy, is still how connected the client feels to the therapists, no matter what type of treatment therapists use. This actually gives a lot of freedom for therapists, if they don`t get too scared by not having a “manual” that can be followed from A-Z (I am a bit allergic to manuals, even if I of course apply certain principles in a consistent manner). 

In Norway we have an excellent trauma specialist unit, that I have heard a lot about. Some of the finest psychologists and therapists work there, and I can see that they have one thing in common: Respect for the people they work with. They aren`t normally bound to just one way of helping people, they care more about working together with the client, finding the soothing techniques that fits them, and using the resources clients brings with them. Of course,sometimes new skills have to be aquired, but it usually is easier to build on what`s already there. In my experiences, it`s often enough to KNOW that it is effective to use strategies; This knowledge might manifest itself in a thirst for knowledge. It`s like the body reawakened with a hunger for life. It can all be summarized with; Therapy is change! 

Når terapien går i ståNår terapien går i stå
Suzette Boon deler av sine kunnskaper i traumeseminar den 30. august.

The reader

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Bernhard Schlink

quoteI’m not frightened. I’m not frightened of anything. The more I suffer, the more I love. Danger will only increase my love. It will sharpen it, forgive its vice. I will be the only angel you need. You will leave life even more beautiful than you entered it. Heaven will take you back and look at you and say: Only one thing can make a soul complete and that thing is love.”

2014-09-10 00.30.03 2014-08-25 16.34.22
― Bernhard SchlinkThe Reader

The sound of life

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The decisions of our past are the architects of our present.” D. Brown: Inferno.

Have you ever seen the skies draw apart revealing the image you longed to see? Your very own personal mirror.
Have you ever felt sure on what your mission in life will be?

I have.

I`ll confess I`ve had several strange insights and thoughts through my life, often after waking up in the morning after my eyes have fluttered from side to side like they do when I do EMDR.

After working with EMDR my insights happen more often than ever. Sometimes it`s hard to follow my train of thought and ideas. Butthat`s okay, my ideas usually organize themselves and become more understandable when I give them time to grow.  I`ve realized that sometimes I have to draw my breath and let the ideas I present settle. I have also tried to learn the art of grounding, and most of the time I manage to live without floating too far from the earth.People around me know I`ve been working on something important (to me).

I have put a lot of time and effort into many of my ideas, and that also rings true for the kindness project. I have interviewed people, made a new blog and used time to plan everything. I`ve put a lot of energy into this, but it doesn`t mean that I`ll poured over books too heavy to lift. I`ve lived my life to the fullest while letting my (surprisingly clever) brain do its magic consciously or unconsciously.

Not everyone knows I`ve asked myself the same question countless times: Why is life so short? until I figure that one out, let me continue with what I`ll learnt so far:

“Denial is a critical part of the human coping mechanism. Without it, we would all wake up terrified every morning about all the ways we could die. Instead, our minds block out our fears by focusing
on stresses we can handle—like getting to work on time or paying our taxes.”
(I am fond of his books, but not denial)

I’m a fan of the truth… even if it’s painfully hard to accept.

Dan Brown

I also have some bad news that might frustrate some. Maybe your thinking: “I`ve been waiting for this “revelation” for WEEKS now, and this is what I`ll get in return? If this rings true for you, I do apologize.I can only assure you that the waiting will be worth it. ff course, you can shorten the waiting time by writing an email ( and I`ll give you the password. Some might even have an inkling what my new project will be (I have belief in the fearless conscious and unconscious mind) and tomorrow you`ll know for sure. Until then, we all make our small steps that sooner or later, might alter the future of humanity.

“consider this. It took the earth’s population thousand of years-from the early dawn of man all the way to the early 1800s- to reach one billion people. Then astoundingly, it took only about a hundred years to double the population to two billion in the 1920s. After that, it  took a mere fifty years for the population to double again to four billion in the 1970s. As you can imagine, we’re well on track to reach eight billion very soon. Just today, the human race added another quarter-billion people to planet Earth. A quarter million. And this happens ever day-rain or shine. Currently every year we are adding the equivalent of the entire country of Germany.” 

— Dan Brown



M. Lukies

The sound of silence

Quotes to Refresh Your Body and Mind This Winter Season

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Although he’s not quite here yet (there are still a few red and orange leaves clinging for dear life), Old Man Winter is definitely heading up the driveway.

Personally, I love winter. I love snow and fireplaces and hot chocolate. I love snuggling up with my dog (and other loved ones!), decorating for the holidays, and baking warm goodies.

However, winter is hard on some folks. For many, it’s difficult to nourish our bodies and minds when we’re overwhelmed by the cold and dark. Some people deal with seasonal affective disorder, while others simply cope with the winter blahs.

Below are 12 quotes that can boost your spirits and keep you going throughout the rest of autumn and the upcoming winter months. As always, take what works for you and leave the rest behind.

  1. “A cloudy day is no match for a sunny disposition.” — William Arthur Ward
  2. “To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring.” — George Santayana
  3. “One kind word can warm three winter months.” — Japanese Proverb
  4. “Meditate. Live purely. Be quiet. Do your work with mastery. Like the moon, come out from behind the clouds! Shine.” — Buddha
  5. “The color of springtime is in the flowers; the color of winter is in the imagination.” — Terri Guillemets
  6. “When snow falls, nature listens.” — Antoinette van Kleeff
  7. “Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.” — Rabindranath Tagore
  8. “Dark clouds may hang on me sometimes, but I’ll work it out…” — Dave Matthews
  9. “Weather is a great metaphor for life — sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad, and there’s nothing much you can do about it but carry an umbrella.” — Terri Guillemets
  10. “Winter is on my head, but eternal spring is in my heart.” — Victor Hugo
  11. “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.” — Alfred Wainwright
  12. “There is no season such delight can bring / As summer, autumn, winter and the spring.” — William Browne

How about YOU, sweet readers? What’s your favorite quote (or quotes) to get you through tough times?

Halting schizophrenia before it starts

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Halting Schizophrenia Before It Starts

October 20, 2014 4:23 AM ET
Meghan, 23, began experiencing hallucinations at 19. "Driving home, cars' headlights turned into eyes. The grills on the cars turned into mouths and none of them looked happy. It would scare the crap out of me," Meghan says.

Meghan, 23, began experiencing hallucinations at 19. “Driving home, cars’ headlights turned into eyes. The grills on the cars turned into mouths and none of them looked happy. It would scare the crap out of me,” Meghan says.

Marvi Lacar for NPR

The important thing is that Meghan knew something was wrong.

When I met her, she was 23, a smart, wry young woman living with her mother and stepdad in Simi Valley, about an hour north of Los Angeles.

Meghan had just started a training program to become a respiratory therapist. Concerned about future job prospects, she asked NPR not to use her full name.

Five years ago, Meghan’s prospects weren’t nearly so bright. At 19, she had been severely depressed, on and off, for years. During the bad times, she’d hide out in her room making thin, neat cuts with a razor on her upper arm.

Meghan had been depressed off and on for years, but the hallucinations signaled a subtle shift in her symptoms.

Meghan had been depressed off and on for years, but the hallucinations signaled a subtle shift in her symptoms.

Marvi Lacar for NPR

“I didn’t do much of anything,” Meghan recalls. “It required too much brain power.”

“Her depression just sucked the life out of you,” Kathy, Meghan’s mother, recalls. “I had no idea what to do or where to go with it.”

One night in 2010, Meghan’s mental state took an ominous turn. Driving home from her job at McDonald’s, she found herself fascinated by the headlights of an oncoming car.

“I had the weird thought of, you know, I’ve never noticed this, but their headlights really look like eyes.”

To Meghan, the car seemed malicious. It wanted to hurt her.

Kathy tried to reason with her.

“Honey, you know it’s a car, right? You know those are headlights,” she recalls pressing her daughter. “You understand that this makes no sense, right?”

“I know,” Meghan answered. “But this is what I see, and it’s scaring me.”

In other words, Meghan had insight, defined in psychiatry as the ability to understand that one’s unusual experiences are attributable to a mental illness.

What Meghan saw did not fit with what she believed. She knew she was hallucinating.

Meghan keeps a photo of her cat, Boo, on the wall in her bedroom. "She would stay in her room and keep to herself," Kathy, Meghan's mother, says. "Sometimes that was a good thing because her depression just sucked the life out of you."

Meghan keeps a photo of her cat, Boo, on the wall in her bedroom. “She would stay in her room and keep to herself,” Kathy, Meghan’s mother, says. “Sometimes that was a good thing because her depression just sucked the life out of you.”

Marvi Lacar for NPR

It’s the loss of insight that signals a psychotic break. This can lead to several different diagnoses, but in people ultimately diagnosed with schizophrenia, the break signals the formal onset of the disease. Typically, a first psychotic break occurs in a person’s late teens or early 20s. In men, the range is 15 to 24; in women, 25 to 34.

That first psychotic break can lead to a series of disasters: social isolation, hospitalization, medications with sometimes disabling side effects, and future psychotic episodes.

So, what if you could intervene earlier, before any of that? Could you stop the process from snowballing?

At 19, Meghan hadn’t had a psychotic break. She still had insight. That made her eligible for a new type of program taking shape in California that aims to prevent schizophrenia before it officially begins.

The program draws on research suggesting that schizophrenia unfolds much more slowly than might be obvious, even to families.

“You start to see a decline in their functioning,” says Dr. Daniel Mathalon, who studies brain development in the early stages of psychosis at the University of California, San Francisco.

“They were doing better in school, now they’re doing worse,” he says. “Maybe they had friends but they’re starting to be more isolated.”

Eventually, these subtle behavioral shifts may take on a surreal quality. A young person may hear faint whispers or hissing, or see flashes of light or shadows on the periphery.

“They lack delusional conviction,” explains Mathalon. “They’re experiencing these things; maybe they’re suspicious. But they’re not sure.”

"I valued my ability to think and learn," Meghan says. "To know that the one thing I valued so highly was dissolving away, that I was losing chunks of my sanity with every hallucination. ... That was more terrifying than the monsters that I saw could ever be."

“I valued my ability to think and learn,” Meghan says. “To know that the one thing I valued so highly was dissolving away, that I was losing chunks of my sanity with every hallucination. … That was more terrifying than the monsters that I saw could ever be.”

Marvi Lacar for NPR

Psychiatrists have a word for this early stage: prodromal.

Meghan took a screening test developed at Yale University Medical School that identified her as possibly within the prodromal stage of psychosis. That is, her symptoms could be indicative of early psychosis, but weren’t predictive.

She was referred to a clinic in an office park about an hour from her house called Ventura Early Intervention Prevention Services, or VIPS, operated by Alameda-based Telecare Corp.

VIPS is one of a handful of programs that have sprung up in California in recent years, based on a model developed in Maine by psychiatrist Dr. Bill McFarlane.

McFarlane believes that psychosis can be prevented with a range of surprisingly low-tech interventions, almost all of which are designed to reduce stress in the family of the young person who is starting to show symptoms.

McFarlane cites research done at UCLA suggesting that certain kinds of family dynamics — families that don’t communicate well, or are overly critical — can make things worse for a young person at risk of schizophrenia.

Meghan’s family credits the VIPS program for her transformation. “She’s not the broken little girl that she was three years ago,” Meghan’s stepfather, Charlie, says.

Marvi Lacar for NPR

“Our theory,” says McFarlane, “was that if you could identify these young people early enough, you could alter some of those family patterns. Then you could work with the family to start behaving not just normally, but in a way that was smarter.”

McFarlane’s programs bring families in for twice-monthly multifamily group therapy sessions, where participants take a nuts-and-bolts approach to resolving disputes at home and softening their responses to what the young person is going through.

“We assume parents can’t figure this out alone,” says McFarlane.

In some cases, participants are also prescribed antipsychotic drugs, especially one called Abilify, which McFarlane and others believe can stem hallucinations.

McFarlane himself is careful about recommending antipsychotic medications.

The drugs, he says, should be used cautiously, at lower doses than would be prescribed for full psychosis, and even then only in young people who aren’t responding to other treatments.

But in programs inspired by his model, the drugs appear to be widely prescribed, including in clients as young as 10 or 13. This fact has become a flashpoint in the conversation around schizophrenia prevention.

“No one is harder to diagnose than a child or a teenager,” says Dr. Allen Frances, a former chair of the psychiatry department at Duke University and chair of the task force that produced the fourth revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, or DSM-IV, the standard reference for psychiatric diagnoses.

“There are rapid developmental changes from visit to visit,” he says. “The tendency to overdiagnose is particularly problematic in teenagers.”

Frances points to studies showing that if you take three kids, all experiencing those surreal early symptoms, only one will get schizophrenia.

So what about the other two?

Frances says these kids are wrongly labeled and stigmatized. Their parents are terrified. And in many cases, they will be prescribed antipsychotic drugs, which can have serious side effects and haven’t been studied well in children.

“We have to be careful of any new fad in psychiatry,” says Frances. “The field has been filled with fads in the past, and often we learn in retrospect that they’ve done much more harm than good.”

But what Frances calls a fad is to others a model for mental health care.

To see these programs in action, the best place to go is California, where over the past few years a handful of programs have sprung up based on McFarlane’s PIER model.

One, in San Diego, is called Kickstart. Like the others, it’s paid for by a state tax on millionaires, passed by voters in 2004, that funds mental health. Services — everything from homework help to family therapy and outings such as kite-flying expeditions — are offered for free.

Joseph Edwards, Kickstart’s assistant program director, says for teenagers who might be developing schizophrenia, just being outside, with friends, is a kind of therapy.

“They’ll want to isolate,” says Edwards. “There’s sensitivity to a lot of stimulation. And a lot times we’ll see what we call day/night reversal, where they’ll stay up all night and go to sleep in the daytime.”

Edwards says if a teenager is really isolating, a Kickstart worker will drive to his or her house and cajole the person out. Anything, he says, to keep them engaged, with friends in school or at work.

Tony, 13, spends an afternoon at an arcade with Ashley Wood, his occupational therapist in the Kickstart program in San Diego.

Tony, 13, spends an afternoon at an arcade with Ashley Wood, his occupational therapist in the Kickstart program in San Diego.

Marvi Lacar for NPR

At an arcade in a strip mall, we meet Ashley Wood, one of Kickstart’s occupational therapists. Wood brought her client, 13-year-old Tony, here as a reward for being cooperative in therapy.

We aren’t using Tony’s full name because he’s a minor, at the request of his parents.

Wood has an easy laugh and teases Tony gently to pull him out of his shell.

“When we first met, he was so quiet,” she says, laughing. “He’s like, ‘Who is this chick?’ ”

“Nah,” says Tony, smiling shyly. “I was being a jerk.”

Tony had been getting in fights. He was angry at his mom, angry in school. And there was something else.

“I used to see stuff and hear [stuff],” he tells me.

“Like what?” I ask him. “Like … weird objects,” he responds. When I press him for more details, he shakes his head.

Are Tony’s symptoms the beginning of schizophrenia? Or just the routine weirdness of a teenage brain taking shape?

No one — not Wood, not his therapists — can say for sure.

Wood says what she’s teaching him will be helpful either way: “When he’s frustrated at school or at home, instead of immediately responding, kind of finding a way to communicate. So we’re trying to work on the impulse control as well.”

Impulsive, unruly, prone to angry outbursts, Tony sounds like a lot of 13-year-old kids.

That’s one reason that last year, the American Psychiatric Association opted to exclude the idea of “psychosis risk syndrome” from the DSM-5, the latest version of the manual of mental disorders. The screening test is generally considered to be only 30 percent accurate.

In 2011, a review of prodrome intervention programs called the idea of intervention in pre-schizophrenia “inconclusive.”

“This is an experiment far before its time,” says Allen Frances.

McFarlane believes the benefits of these programs are borne out in the work done at his clinic and others based on his model. In July, he published the results of a two-year study of two groups of young people at risk for, or in the early stage of, schizophrenia, which showed better functional outcomes for those who went through treatment.

He and other proponents say schizophrenia’s early window may be too precious to miss.

“We’re running up against the limits of what we can do for patients who develop schizophrenia, once it goes to chronic stages,” UCSF’s Mathalon says. “I think this is a direction we have to go in, but we have to do it carefully.”

When you talk to people who have been through these programs and ask them what helped them, it is not the drugs, not the diagnosis. It’s the lasting, one-on-one relationships with adults who listen, like Ashley Wood.

Tiffany Martinez, an early client of Bill McFarlane’s in Maine, chokes up when asked to describe what she thinks helped her climb out of an incipient mental health crisis that began when she was in college.

“To share such personal intimate details, you know? To have these people working so hard on it and so devoted and invested in the work,” Martinez, now age 26, says, “it’s like getting a chance. Just the program, what the program stands for alone, is hope.”

That same relief is palpable when you talk to Meghan’s mom, Kathy, and stepfather, Charlie.

“I thought we were going to have to take care of her for the rest of her life,” says Kathy. “I thought she’d forever be marginal, forever be medicated. I thought we’d just have to get used to it.”

Today Meghan is off all her medications. She’s animated, playing board games with her family, excited about being back in school.

Her family credits the VIPS program.

“We were blessed to have this for her,” Charlie says. “We really were. It saved her life.”

The dark side: Child abuse

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Small children scared to death of something they yet don`t understand. We shake our heads in disbelief. Parents, families and friends, who should love and protect them, harm them instead.
I know many are angry and saddened by the staggering numbers of abuse.  

It is not only war that haunts us, the evil acts of brothers, sisters and friends, haunts us 
I can`t stop being naive; Believing that things can get better, but I need to see actions by the governments and   powerful people that have our lives in their hands. Like Lilly Allen says: I love diamonds, I heard people die when their trying to find them. How many luxury goods do we need, while the world falls more and more apart? Is the empty life of so many the whole reason that positive change takes so much time?   

What if we all stretched out our hands. Not afraid of touching other human beings? But every person has their story, and some of the stories people carry with them, are dark enough to block out life even if it`s right in front of them. How long can they stay in the dark? How far can we cope with our own neglect of humanity? How long can we value ourselves, forgetting others in the process? Because there are thousand kinds of abuse, and us looking away, sure doesn`t make the world a better place. 

Child abuse should never happen. But it does, and we must face that. We can`t shake our heads in disbelief, at the same time as we do nothing. So, let`s shine some light, so that the darkness might lift a little.

Child abuse trauma: Theory and treatment of the …‎Briere – Sitert av 1176
Child sexual abuse‎Finkelhor – Sitert av 2951