The Haunted Self: Structural Dissociation and the Treatment of Chronic Traumatization (Norton Series on Interpersonal Neurobiology) Review

The Haunted Self: Structural Dissociation and the Treatment of Chronic Traumatization (Norton Series on Interpersonal Neurobiology)
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I must express extreme praise and admiration for the work and eventual understanding the authors of The Haunted Self have so relatively displayed in researching trauma related disorders and maladaptive behaviors. But the amazing thing is they were able to explain it in terms a sufferer can understand. This is not something that happens in research very often. I have been involved in research of some sort all my adult life and know that research produces facts and figures from which decisions and theories can be constructed with a reasonable amount of certainty. The one thing research cannot do is produce empathy and compassion. Being a post-modern theologian as well as an engineer, I know these two expressions can only come from a calling to help humanity. I am a fifty-one year old male who has suffered the agonizing pain of the effects of trauma in many different ways and forms all my life. After reading well over one-hundred and twenty thousand pages of research on my symptoms and problems and theorizing and journaling thoughts, I finally found not only an explanation but compassion and empathy within the pages of this book. I believe this is vital in any therapeutic relationship. Without a shadow of a doubt, the reader can make a therapeutic relationship with this book that can be externalized and extended into their patient therapist relationship. This book is to trauma and mental health as Einstein's theory of relativity is to physics or what the personal computer is to how we view information or, more importantly, what parole is to a prisoner.
I have been treated for many anxiety related symptoms but another symptom would just take its place after treatment. Then the original symptom would reoccur. This cycle has lasted all my life with devastating personal effects. But like most people with psychological disorders or underdeveloped functionality, it was hard to talk about what was really going on inside of me. I could neither express nor have the courage to face my inward demons. I was stuck in a living example of structural disassociation. My emotional self (EP) was stuck in the state of both somatic (empty) and exaggerated memories of accumulative trauma (or of personal perceptions of life events) while my normal every day self (ANP) was in a defensive war keeping me from dealing with the pain, relived trauma and torture of those memories. This actually caused a somatic type of discomfort. Of course this psychosomatic physical suffering just kept the cycle of mental distress going in a spiral of disassociation. Actually I was fighting for the gift of life as found in wholeness.
I have been inducted into the lifer's panic attack hall of fame. If that were not enough I have fought phobias, struggled with intrusive misplaced thoughts bordering OCD, mimicked heart attacks getting intimate with the EKG machine. I endured the embarrassment of publicly displaying tics and jerks and leg movements during stressful situations that I was ill equipped to handle. I would have to find some excuse for losing my current thought process during emotional and trying times. The list could go on but at this point I think you have the idea. I felt like a loser with no hope. Make no mistake. All of those labeled disorders were real. That is; they were symptomatically real due to trauma related structural disorder which affected and distorted my understanding of the gift of life. Treatment was nothing more than an aspirin for the pain. Healing started, however, through understanding the complex make up of my person.
The Haunted Self provided that understanding. I introduced the book to my therapist, whom is very good and someone I trust very much. She embraced the detailed theory as it applied to me much to my surprise. By the way, did I say she was good? Something amazing happened with this embrace. I know that what I am about to say will sound patronizing but healing is something one must share. Within five weeks of therapy using a facilitated understanding of this book by my therapist, symptoms began to weaken (of course I had already completed my homework and I desperately wanted change). Wholeness began happening in my life. Doors began to open to things I never understood. Changes began to happen to my thought process bleeding over into my actions (synaptic psychotherapy). I was actually creating opportunities for myself. I was able to accept past trauma perceptions and started believing and knowing that the defense used by my everyday self (ANP) only made things worse. I feel a life time of treatment, attempted understanding and suffering came to a head with nothing more than simple insight made clear to a somewhat neurotic person. Actually this understanding was presented as a detailed expression of the conflicting forces that wreck havoc on the lives of so many people that make up our world (makes one question the concept of spontaneous panic attacks).
This review is way too long so I will end here with a challenge. I challenge anyone who has been beleaguered with anxiety related disorders to look at themselves and their disorders from a different point of reference like the changing colors of light through a prism as presented in The Haunted Self. I also challenge all mental health professionals to at least look over this book and allow it to provoke your thoughts (it should be required reading for all doctoral students in psychology if only because of the post-modern interpretation of prior research). I believe this book is a holistic expression for a broad range of disorders that are now being treated separately and in this sufferer's opinion sometimes ineffectively. I do not pretend to be an expert in psychology as some of you who are will notice, while chuckling at my review, but I am a seasoned professional at suffering due to trauma or perceptions of trauma and the extreme bizarre anxiety and actions it produces.

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Life is an ongoing struggle for patients who have been chronically traumatized.
They typically have a wide array of symptoms, often classified under different combinations of comorbidity, which can make assessment and treatment complicated and confusing for the therapist. Many patients havesubstantial problems with daily living andrelationships, including serious intrapsychicconflicts and maladaptive coping strategies.Their suffering essentially relates to aterrifying and painful past that haunts them.Even when survivors attempt to hide theirdistress beneath a facade of normality-acommon strategy-therapists often feel besiegedby their many symptoms and serious pain. Smallwonder that many survivors of chronictraumatization have seen several therapists with little if any gains, and that quite a few havebeen labeled as untreatable or resistant.Inthis book, three leading researchers andclinicians share what they have learned fromtreating and studying chronically traumatizedindividuals across more than 65 years ofcollective experience. Based on the theory ofstructural dissociation of the personality incombination with a Janetian psychology ofaction, the authors have developed a model ofphase-oriented treatment that focuses on theidentification and treatment of structuraldissociation and related maladaptive mental andbehavioral actions. The foundation of thisapproach is to support patients in learning more effective mental and behavioral actions that will enable them to become more adaptive in life andto resolve their structural dissociation. Thisprinciple implies an overall therapeutic goal of raising the integrative capacity, in order tocope with the demands of daily life and dealwith the haunting remnants of the past, with the 'unfinished business" of traumatic memories.Ofinterest to clinicians, students of clinicalpsychology and psychiatry, as well as toresearchers, all those interested in adultsurvivors of chronic child abuse and neglectwill find helpful insights and tools that maymake the treatment more effective and efficient, and more tolerable for the suffering patient.

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