Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Get rid of yourself!

I just read the NYTimes-article "Following a Script to Escape a Nightmare" that Gianna links to today:

"Dr. Barrett supports the use of Dr. Krakow’s technique, although she said that ideally the nightmare work should be integrated with psychiatry and behavioral therapies to treat the underlying condition."

For a second I thought: 'Since when does psychiatry or behavioral therapies treat underlying conditions??' before I realized: it says conditions, not problems, or traumas...

Great! Pop some prazosin on top of your psych drug cocktail, Big pHARMa will love you for that, and ask your rat trainer (aka "therapist") to extend the rat training to include your dreams as well. Hopefully it won't take long then, before the true you, your true self, succumbs definitively, and doesn't even bug you in your sleep anymore.


Rossa Forbes said...

The Cambridge Online Dictionary defines "condition" as a "state." This is not necessarily a medical term. Somewhere in the same article the therapist says that the person had the power to stop what had essentially become a habit (you could also say a conditioned response.)

Marian said...

True. But experience tells us that "condition", in a psychiatric context, usually refers to a state of being diseased, that is, that the term indeed is used to refer to a medical condition, i.e. a disease.

On another note: Yes, you can get rid of a conditioned response by re-conditioning yourself, or being re-conditioned by a "therapist". Anyhow, this approach (too) defines the conditioned response as the main problem, not that which has conditioned the response (cf. the article saying that dreams/nightmares aren't analyzed, but simply replaced by more pleasant dreams). This approach deliberately avoids having to look at whatever caused the nightmares initially. Thus it prepares the ground for whatever caused the nightmares (and in about 100% of the cases it will likely be some sort of violence, abuse) to be continued unchallenged, and actually blames the victim.

Marian said...

P.S.: If we have the power to stop what had essentially become a habit, then why not stop war, domestic violence, oppression, child abuse, deforestation... you name it. Instead of trying to stop the - very healthy - responses to these atrocities?

Rossa Forbes said...

Marian - very good points but, presumably the person wants help now in making the pain go away. It is important that the person gains insight from why the pain is there in the first place. While it is true that the therapist said that the therapy doesn't get at the cause, Jungian analysis, say, takes years. Why shouldn't the person do what they can to make things better now? I think any thoughtful person would realize that they are contributing to their own pain and that they need to change the script and take control over something that they felt they had no control over before. The therapy is not about being superficial and pretending life is swell. It is more about changing your script, changing your outcomes.

Marian said...

Rossa, I agree. I don't advocate an approach that says you'd have to suffer until humanity as a whole figures how to get out of the habit of practising violent, abusive behaviors. - You risk having to suffer forever... - I don't even necessarily advocate analysis (Jungian, Freudian, or whichever) in an emergency/crisis situation, as it often takes years on end, as you point out, before you get in control of anything (if at all you do... ).

On the other hand, I think, this particular approach (and I mean the scripting-thing, not lucid dreaming as such) puts you about as much in control as taking psych drugs, and learning coping strategies does. That is, not at all. Focussing alone on nightmares as the big problem, victimizes the individual who happens to experience the nightmares. It's the same as biopsychiatry's exclusive focus on the individual's "symptoms" as the big problem. It doesn't recognize and acknowledge the nightmares to be a survival mechanism, and thus a sign of strength. My personal experience is that alone the insight that "symptoms", nightmares included (and I had a certain nightmare "haunting" me, me too), actually are a sign of strength, of an enormous willpower to survive, was enough to put me in control of some of this strength - my own inner strength, not a therapist's technique, a pill, or whatever else tools supplied by others - and use it consciously, among other things, to confront the "eyeballs", so to speak.

(Complex matter, and since I'm sitting here a little absent-minded, because I have to go to work again in a minute, I'm not sure whether it got clear what I mean... )