Most of you will know by now that I’m the founder and director of Powerchange, and have a passion to see men, women and young people everywhere live lives that they are proud to own, and for them to have a baseline of persistent happiness.
No, that doesn’t mean I’m naive enough to think that any sincere and emotionally healthy person can be – or in fact would want to be – deliriously happy day in day out. Most of us know that the growing times we experience are most often within times of trouble and pain, and we need a good few of them through life. To remove them would leave us with shallowness and superficiality – and with no points of reference to compare our current happiness with unhappy times we would lose any sense of happiness anyway.
However, we also know that constant ‘baseline’ unhappiness is not at all good for your health, leading to all sorts of identifiable relational damage emotional and physical illness.
Some time ago our Powerchange team coined the phrase Persistent Unhappiness Syndrome™, a label that describes a condition we regularly identified in our clients of, wait for it, Persistent Unhappiness.
Is your baseline state one of happiness or unhappiness? In other words, when all the pressures of the day/week/month are through, you ‘land’ on a foundation of feeling happy. The alternative is you constantly expending energy, effort and money on getting away from a nagging sense of UNhappiness, that when you run out of resources, or stop doing all those self-entertaining, happy-making activities – or simply drinking the pain away – finally captures you once more.
You are suffering from Persistent Unhappiness Syndrome™ when your default emotional ‘state’, how you feel, fulfils some of the following criteria:
You look back on the past and are predominantly conscious of a sense of dissatisfaction, pain, rejection or worthlessness.
You have had to work at being happy on a day to day basis for more than six months, or are constantly trying harder, or caught in the ‘perfectionist trap’.
You have to focus on enjoying other people’s lives (successes, joy, rewards, achievements, peace) more than your own in order to feel happy, satisfied or fulfilled.
You are trying to avoid the word ‘depression’.
You are on any sort of psycho-therapeutic medication.
The future looks bleak – more a challenge than an opportunity.
You are consistently not sleeping well due to troublesome thoughts (rather than a troublesome bladder).
You can’t remember experiencing a lasting deep sense of inner peace.
Yes, I know it sounds a bit esoteric or spiritual even, doesn’t it. For most people it is neither esoteric nor spiritual. Either way, PU Syndrome can be a nasty little undermining emotional ‘illness’.
Thankfully there is a cure…
As you address and ‘re-write’ some of your current beliefs, expectations, memories, lifestyle and values, you will find that you wake up each day WITHOUT those PU symptoms – in the same way that a person who has been cured of cancer wakes with a whole different perspective on their life.
If you’re a sufferer, our team can help. [contact-form][contact-field label=’Name’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Email’ type=’email’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Website’ type=’url’/][contact-field label=’Comment’ type=’textarea’ required=’1’/][/contact-form]
(Not on antidepressants? Then miss out this first paragraph.)
A health warning. Do not abruptly stop taking most psychiatric drugs. Most psychiatric drugs are far more dangerous to take than people realise, but they also can become dangerous when discontinued too abruptly. Most have addictive qualities and can produce withdrawal symptoms that are emotionally and physically distressing, and sometimes even life-threatening. These drugs include neuroleptics or antipsychotics, such as Haloperidol or Olanzapine; antidepressants, such as Citalopram and Sertraline; stimulants such as Ritalin; minor tranquillisers, such as Diazepam; and prescription sedatives or sleeping pills. (see here) Stopping psychiatric drugs should usually be done gradually and with professional guidance. No generalised information can substitute for individualised medical or psychological care, however it is important to find help that is consistent with your own philosophy, and our approach is offered in that spirit.
The safest antidepressant treatment is undoubtedly Auto Therapeutic Medication (ATM) – that is, the antidepressants you create in your own system, at the strength your body knows it needs, with your own inbuilt chemical plant.
There are literally dozens of different types of ATM drugs and, though you may not know their assigned names, your body will already be familiar with them. They have NO unwanted side effects, NO toxicity, and NO stomach upsets. They do not need to be taken every day, or at any particular time of day, though their benefit can be felt whenever you need it, and you can take one on demand. They have NO withdrawal symptoms (or ‘discontinuation syndrome’ as your GP is likely to call the often debilitating – and occasionally horrendous – results) and you can DOUBLE the dose whenever you like with NO increase in harm. If you feel a bit miserable, take several at once.
HOWEVER, just like any other psychotropic drug, the WAY you take your self-produced Auto Therapeutic Medication REALLY DOES MATTER. It needs to be taken with the right THOUGHTS in your mind, associated to the right WORDS spoken before, during, and after you take it, and with a similar RITUAL that you use when taking any other drug, even simple painkillers like asprin.
The range of ATM medication in your body is huge. You can get ATMs that literally help you take exams, calm you down when driving the car or under stress, and help you come off drugs prescribed by your GP or psychiatrist. Others will enable you to sleep better, improve your sex life, and overcome phobias.
First of all, let me make clear that for many many people ATMs can be very effective. They are real, not imaginary, chemicals. Their efficacy is 100% dependent on your own natural internal ‘pharmacy’, and firing up the ATM is like pressing a button in the chemical production plant inside your body that produces all the essential therapeutic drugs you currently need for your physical and psychological wellbeing.
In order to press that button you do NOT even need to actually put a physical tablet in your mouth. It is perfectly possible to issue an order to start production, and like any good production plant what the boss decides starts to happen. Literally. Real chemicals.
Your internal drug production plant can be switched on by many things. Here are just three of many:
1. Your production of endorphins (‘self-originated morphine’ – the word comes from ‘endo’: ‘self-‘ and ‘orphin’: from ‘morphine’) is switched on by particular kinds of EXERCISE, which is one reason your doctor recommends physical exercise for your wellbeing.
2. You production of adrenalin is fired, not just by experiencing a REAL disaster or trauma, but by you sufficiently IMAGINING DISASTER OR TRAUMA – as any horror movie maker and adventure park designer knows only too well.
3. If you imagine a deliciously prepared and gorgeously presented dish of your FAVOURITE FOOD, your mouth begins to water in response to your being stimulated by the thought. (Try it.)
Cuddling a PET or BABY, or giving someone a HUG or KISS is a trigger too.
Here is how it works:
Taking Auto Therapeutic Medication requires the multi-sensory stimulation of your brain. It requires – at least until your body has got used to it when you will self-medicate ATM automatically as situations arise – that you associate the process with THREE things:
Your brain’s chemical plant is switched on by ACTION. You need to reach out to an imaginary bottle of imaginary tablets, or a sheet of imaginary foil-wrapped capsules, and use your real physical hands to remove the ATM, look at it carefully, and put it in your mouth, swallowing it with a real glass of water. (Some people like to replace the imaginary bottle with a packet of ‘Smarties’, but I don’t particularly recommend that as there are a few minor risks attached – though nothing like the risks associated with taking real antidepressants.)
Your brain’s chemical plant is switched on by INSTRUCTIONS. These may come from anybody and anything, but because you are the person most affected by the chemical production I highly recommend that you programme it to ONLY accept instructions that YOU have specifically given. The words you say and the words you THINK, change your brain. Make sure they are going to serve you well. Thoughts are stored bio-chemically in the body, so make sure yours are good.
Your brain’s chemical plant is switched on by IMAGERY. Imagine taking a simple pill that will force you to feel great but cannot do harm. You decide on the colour, and whether it is a capsule or an ordinary round tablet. You decide on the size, as bigger ATMs tend to work better than smaller ones. You decide on the strength (If you find big ones harder to swallow then you can choose a smaller high-strength one if you prefer.) What you IMAGINE always affects the behaviour of your brain. It is well known in the pharmaceutical industry that RED tablets have a different effect than BLUE ones.
Recreational drugs make people feel good for a time, but their effects can be DISASTROUS in the medium to longer term. ATMs are completely harmless in the normal run of things, and because your brain perceives them as an instruction to start up the chemical production, for many people they REALLY WORK, producing REAL CHEMICALS in your brain.
As the man said, “According to your faith be it unto you.” In other words, you decide: increase your faith and you’ll get a more powerful result. For many many people, Auto Therapeutic Medication is just what they need to get them through the more emotionally disturbing periods of their life.
For more information on AutoTherapeutic Medication, or a conversation with our ATM specialist, click through to our Contacts page and just ask. Our phone contact number is on that website too. We are here for you.
“Ok, so tell me the truth.” “I only wish I knew the truth.” “I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth …”
So what is it about truth that is so important to us? What does knowing the truth provide for us? And do we really want to know the truth? About ourselves? About the ‘real’ uncomfortable world we live in? Truth is an interesting commodity. It is not the same as ‘facts.’ Without our concern to know it, or at least promote it, the world would grind to a halt.
Maybe we are like Colonel Jessep (played by Jack Nicholson opposite Tom Cruise) in the film “A Few Good Men” who shouts out in the courtroom, “You don’t want the truth. You can’t handle the truth!” The question is: Can I, and can my client?
An appreciation of Truth is an essential ingredient in every aspect of human life. It is the basis for all trusting and at the core of human interaction. Without it we live in a fantasy world, a world of distortion, a world where we are vulnerable to being deceived and taken advantage of.
In emotional health terms, truth plays another very important part. It helps us grow up. Small children know nothing of the big world in which they live. A baby is ignorant of everything beyond its simple familial relationships. As it grows up it learns about the world, letting go of some of its initial impressions and facing some of the harder truths about life. Wise parents will do their best to pace the speed at which truth arrives in the lap of their kids. Too much too soon creates trauma, and doesn’t allow time for the young person to adjust their life to fit. Too little hampers the process of maturity.
People also face situations where they decide “Don’t tell me, I don’t want to know”, or “Too much information!” (See ‘Sufficient Truth’ below.)
Corrective Truth Technique is used by our coaches to increase self-confidence, boost emotional strength, and establish an immovable foundation for future development of the client’s life. It is easy to assume that all unknown truth is unpalatable, will hurt us. But not so. Truth can be astoundingly liberating and wonderfully beneficial. It can feel like winning the lottery (Though I’ve never bought a ticket let alone won anything!)
Applied Corrective Truth via Powerchange’s Corrective Truth Technique can be used to undermine the subjective inhibiting beliefs the client has constructed from their experience of the world. “The thing is, I’m rubbish.” “I’m hopeless at most things.” “You can’t trust anybody these days.” All not true of course. Corrective Truth professionally applied to the depths of a person can (…will, does…) transform a client’s thinking and renew their zest for living tomorrow.
No one in their right mind wants to know – or can know, or can tell – “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth” The well known legal phrase makes a mockery of the UK legal system, not least because the person who makes that commitment is deceiving themselves and the court already. Each of us is selective about the truth, even those who want to ‘tell the truth’ cannot do so. The ‘Whole Truth’ isn’t available for them to tell.
I’ve found that a commitment to seek out and personally tell ‘sufficient truth’ is often a good guide, and better still, for me to set out to be trustworthy. I like to live by a Personal Mission statement I put together to guide my life in 2002. Part of that Mission is “To seek truth, and keep eternity in view.” The truth is, I don’t always tell the truth, but I’m committed to seeking it and knowing it, and living in it as a long term goal. Yes, sometimes I withhold it. I ask, “How much of the truth is going to be helpful for this person to know?” “How detailed does this need to be for them to understand it and accept it?” “Do I have their best interests at heart as well as my own when I tell them the truth?”
Powerchange coaches use Corrective Truth Technique to establish a reliable foundation in our clients’ lives that is ‘truth’-based and is in turn able to support more Truth. We allow it time to ‘set’, to harden like concrete, and on that sound base the client can build his or her new life, one that won’t crack when the storms come.
However uncomfortable to discover, the Truth can provide a new and more reliable personal foundation when apparently ’good’ things that we have for decades consistently believed to be true are revealed to be deception.“I always thought you were my sister. I can’t believe you didn’t tell me all these years you are actually my Mum.” Yet when I ask the client “Aren’t you glad that at least now you know the truth?” Almost without exception the person will say yes. The truth is very attractive.
However liberating or unpalatable Truth may be – and it is often both in some measure – there’s one thing that will always make our Corrective Truth Technique very attractive …
The important word here is ‘hidden’. Truth seems to come in at three levels, public, private and hidden.
Public Truth is what we tell other people is the truth. And it is of course, or at least some of the truth. None of it is technically untrue, but provides a favourable slant, putting us in a good light. (Or a self-deprecating light if we prefer that!)
Private Truth is the truth that we would rather our public did not know. We may confess it to a priest, a good friend, or a coach or counsellor, but it has a definite element of confidentiality about it. One reason for this confidentiality is that the consequences of that ‘truth’ getting out may be potentially very damaging, not just to us (not necessarily EVEN to us) but to others we care about or something else we value highly.
Hidden Truth is of a different order all together. It isn’t necessarily secret – though it may be. It is hidden. It is this ‘deep truth’ that we may not realise ourselves, so hidden it has become inaccessible to us. Initially we may have deliberately buried it deep, or distorted it to ourselves, so even we won’t be able to find it. And then we discover how successful we’ve been: it is now distorting US and we can’t find it whatever we type into the ‘Search’ box of our memory.
I’ve been coaching professionally for 15 years now, and I reckon it is the revelation of this truth that is often the MOST freeing. When we’ve found the ‘file’ it is in, we can delete it, or at least restore it to its uncorrupted original. It brings instant and wide-ranging freedom:
“My parents’ divorce never was my fault!” “I couldn’t have made any difference to saving the girl’s life if I had wanted to.” “I was only five – he was an adult.”
Signs of a Hidden Truth lurking: “OK, so how do I know when there is a Hidden Truth distorting my life?”
You’ll know. Here is an incomplete list of signs:
Never quite succeeding for some reason
Going to great (irrational) lengths to avoid a particular situation
NEVER (or ALWAYS!) doing this or that
Feeling you need to be ‘careful’ all the time
Never really knowing a ‘sense of abandon’
Never seeming to be able to shake off a sense of fear
Feeling ‘hampered’, as they say in snooker.
Even when the Hidden Truth reveals you were wrong, at least it gives an opportunity to accept that aspect of your humanity and grow some more, drawing useful learning from it for the future. As I’ve said before, the chances are a person cannot get to this Hidden Truth by himself or herself. The person is too ‘inside’ it. So you need to see a pro – not least because friends and family are too close.
A professional coach will ask the key questions no one else is asking, and won’t be swayed by red herrings or smoke screens (human beings are highly skilled at keeping hidden truth well and truly hidden) and won’t let you out of a bolt hole. After all, YOU want to get to it too, don’t you? That is what a good coach will do for the client – get to it. He or she will ask questions – in a way that works – that reveals the Hidden Truth.
A pro will provide the solutions to SORTING IT OUT. And when all is revealed, the source of the pain, discomfort or persistent unhappiness loses its power, and peace and joy become a much more real possibility. More often than not the new understanding becomes highly useful and explains so much about your life that didn’t make sense before.
That is my Second Secret of Successful Coaching: Get to the Hidden Truth.
– number five in thePowerchange ‘SEVEN’ course we are running at Bethany Cottage on Saturday’s once a month. For most of us control is a BIG DEAL.
This is a MASSIVELY important thing to consider, as it impacts of so much of our lives and thinking.
Are we really in Control – do we want to be?
What about ‘luck’, chance, predestination, God, freewill, and mathematical randomness – where and how do they fit in?
What about the responsibilities I have? If I have children or a job that involves 100s of other people’s lives – how do those responsibilities ‘dictate’ my life?
Or maybe it is believing that I CAN be in control (or that I actually am in some way) that really matters?
Needless to say, what YOU think matters – or should that read: What you THINK matters?! Of course it does.
When I feel such a small cog in such a big wheel, am I just deluding myself when I want to be in control – or it it wiser to give up – and how would that affect my life?
By the end of Saturday it will be nice to have some fresh perspectives (or whatever) that we can use to calm, reassure and inspire us.
There will, of course, be the gentle atmosphere of Bethany Cottage, the laughter, chatter, good food, and good company of the others in the group. If you’ve never been to one of these days and would like to join us on one in the future, let me know – or sign up on the front page of Powerchange.com (right hand column!) and we’ll keep you in touch.
And while we are on the subject, what about people who want to control US? And how do we get back into control of things that have now taken us over – or are ‘beyond our control’? How do we control other people? Discipline? Punishment? Rules and Laws? Prison? And then there is SELF-control. Do any of us have it?
And what about those of us who are born nonconformist? 😉
Maybe the need or desire to be in control is overrated, or control is a delusion and we can just give up and ‘go home’? Then what?
Well, I suspect that people WILL ‘go home’ at the end of the day (we’ve only so many beds!) but with some clearer thoughts, some peace of mind, and a more mature view of what Control might be about. Three ‘Top Truths’ about Control that can guide us, perhaps. Might be particularly useful in this pretty foundation-less and insecure world.
You could send me a quick comment on a time when you felt very out of control – and how you got BACK into control again. Or didn’t.
What empowers you, gets you out of bed and into your day each morning?
Passion? Yes, it helps. Determination? Yes, that too. Fear? Definitely, though I’d prefer to call it something else. Ambition? It plays a part. Providing for the Family? For many. A vision? Often. Love? Sometimes.Money?Hatred?Longing for Justice?Pride?Hunger?Blatant self interest?
Most people seem to be motivated by a mix of these and a million other motivators (as many as we have a word for), some pulling us forward, some pushing us from behind. We are driving TOWARDS one thing whilst actively trying to get AWAY FROM something else. Towards success, away from failure. Towards recognition, away from insignificance. Towards prosperity, away from poverty. Whole libraries have been written to support one motivational theory or another. One thing seems clear. Whether we have noticed what it is or not, each of us is motivated by SOMETHING – three things – and it is better for everyone if they enhance our world rather than damage it.
Identify three motivators that energise you, and chose one for each of these categories:
My Public Motivator. It’s the one you tell people inspires you, and is likely to appear noble, good and admirable. It is rational, thought out, smells good and is suitably dressed.
My Private Motivator. The one that you suspect might be more honest, but wouldn’t want to admit to in public, or at least not beyond your circle of close trusted friends. It’s the one you are more likely to think about when you are standing alone naked in front of the mirror.
My Secret Motivator. Not so easy, is it? This is the tiger that you’d prefer didn’t exist yet subtly controls your everyday life from its underground den. The one that you suspect is there but have managed to avoid discussing with yourself for fear it is too wild for you to control. You’ve kept well clear for years – banished – and successfully made the resulting gap a no-go area.
Funnily enough, seeking out this apparent monster, freeing it from its exile and bringing it fully into your life completely transforms it from a source of terror to a source of power. It is unlikely that you’ll be able to do it alone. It is something that we do with our Powerchange clients in the gentle confidentiality of a specialist coaching appointment. Slowly the client meets and makes friends with the tiger and realises it’s strength is available for them to use. The unknown they feared is no more. They are empowered, more not less in control and as a consequence, can relax and, no longer under threat, can be more honest too. Much happier. Motivated at a much deeper level – by good things.
How about discovering your Secret Motivator? We’re here to help.
When you’d like to let the cat out of the bag, just let me know.
Acceptance or affection – what would your priority choice be?
I’ve thought a lot about it this month – not least because we are running the next ‘C’ in the SEVEN series in Powerchange and its ‘Clarity’ and as I was preparing the course I wanted clarity on this for me. Acceptance or Affection?
For me it is definitely affection. Acceptance is great, but affection is better. Acceptance is an early condition that allows affection to flow, but affection changes us at a different level. Acceptance makes the connection. Affection is the content. It is the oil, acceptance is the pipeline and tap. Affection ‘affects’ us, pouring in the tenderness and warmth, the love that human beings are designed to respond to…
… provided it is sincere. I guess insincere ‘affection’ is no more than treating the other person as a toy. I’m not even going to suggest ‘sincere affection’ as a qualifier, because affection HAS to be sincere in order to fulfil the definition.
Affection is giving not taking. It means something is transferred from one person to another. Affection is transforming – even in animals. Their heart rate slows, breathing becomes deeper, ‘good’ chemicals flow around their arteries and into their cells. Oxytocin, vasopressin, dopamine.
Affection – bring it on! Sex is about reproduction. Making love is about affection. A kiss on each cheek is (normally – there are notable exceptions) about acceptance. A sincere durable hug is more affectionate. Affection – the expression of sincere love.
Affection. It grows as it is spread around. People around you are desperate for some. Share some today.
No, not the National Digital Stewardship Alliance, or the Northumberland and Durham Swimming Association or one of the other 39 abbreviations on Google! This NDSA is something you can do for yourself every day and live happier, more content and with less emotional pain. I know, sounds … interesting?
For anyone in the mental health world, either as a patient, therapist or GP, an NDSA is a godsend.
‘ND’ stands for ‘Non-Drug’. Anything non-drug means you are not going to suffer any pharmacological side effects from taking a drug. Whether those drugs are illegal substances or whether they are legal, prescribed or not, you won’t get ANY side effects. Indeed a godsend when unwanted side effects are one of the biggest challenges the medical profession has to face.
The ‘SA’ stands for ‘Sensory Adjustment’ and that is good news for anyone who is easily overwhelmed, has to handle high workplace or domestic stress, tends towards bi-polar behaviour, or just wants some peace thank you.
So there we have it: Non-Drug Sensory Adjustment, NDSA. You can make those adjustments yourself or get some Powerchange coaching to avoid the pitfalls (and occasional impossibilities) of DIY psychology. And there will be more on the Powerchange website in the next few days. I’ll keep you in touch via Twitter if you’re into that.
NDSA is set to make a significant difference to those who are hunting for a more relaxed approach to life, without surrendering their futures to drugs – from caffeine to … Exactly.
It means just what it says. Your brain uses over a hundred different carefully balanced chemicals to keep you thinking straight. Sometimes they don’t work as we want and the traditional approach is to intervene with a drug – from “I need some strong coffee” and and “I must have a cigarette” to a visit to the doctor for a course of anti-depressant or sleeping potion. But more often than not there is another way. With an NDSA you change the sensory input into that brain so the chemical balance is restored naturally.
A physical comparison would be an injured leg. Few people would resort to wearing a calliper when your leg can be helped to grow strong and support you properly with some physiotherapy. NDSA coaching is a kind of ‘physiotherapy for the brain’. Instead of needing constant support well into the future (with all the chafing arm-pit side effects of a psychological crutch or the pressures of a wheelchair), you grow strong, reducing the sensory impact of past experiences or ongoing present stress, and moving forward in your life as an emotionally healthy person.
If you are a health professional and you want a downloadable pdf on Powerchange Coaching, that will be on the website sometime next week. Or email me direct: email@example.com and I’ll send you a copy. It explains the bio-technical neurological principles behind NDSA. Here’s a great pic that says it all:
Here’s to a non-drug and side-effect-free future for many more people in the UK.
It is in the news again today, with a report out saying care for schizophenia in the UK is terrible.
Here is a quote worth reading: ‘Schizophrenia’ is a scientifically worthless, stigmatising label, which falsely groups people with a wide range of conditions together. It also fails to inform prognosis and treatment, and actually reduces people’s chances of recovery. (Bentall, Hammersley & Romme, Manchester University, 2006)
It is now being argued by an increasing swell of enlightened medics that these peoples’ behaviour is the natural reaction to a whole spectrum of overwhelming or catastrophic life events that cause clients to find ways to avoid facing the agonising realities of a particularly unattractive life. (Who can blame them?)
I agree. Here is my prescription:
1. Dispense with the stale old label – however professionally convenient it may have been to have it – and along with it get rid of the crippling thought that you’re stuck with it for life. You’re not.
2. Sort out those damaging life events, the limiting beliefs and thinking that result in a self-reinforcing feedback loop of deep personal emotional pain.
3. Provide an increase in resilience and personal power, and create new resourceful alternatives to current auto responses.
In other words, deal with the CAUSES. There are some amazingly powerful tools now available to the ‘talking therapies practitioner’ that mean the client/patient is free from the persistent unhappiness and suffering incurred by the retention of those things in their neurology. Often for ever.
And as a little bonus for all concerned, it will not cost the NHS (ie, the UK taxpayer) the estimated £12 billion a year. That’s £461 a year for each of the 26 million UK income tax payers.
“An elephant in the surgery waiting room? Yes, yes, my dear, of course there is!” (Hmmm. Andrew is suffering from Imagined Elephant Syndrome. DSM IV No: 54321. Now the pharmaceuticals rep. who was in last week said there’s a new drug available for that. What was it again?)
1. An increasing number of GPs are putting their professional lives at stake – and some have lost their jobs – by staying curious about the elephant, asking themselves how it is others can see something that is invisible to them. (Perhaps they are recovering from Elephant Blindness Syndrome?) More seriously, I just want to honour their honesty and thank them for their courage and invite them to keep looking. There is a whole herd of elephants in there.
2. If you can’t find anyone near you who can help you with this, email me or give me a call. Powerchange (check it out) is developing a healthy track record for Therapeutic Coaching, with NHS doctors using and recommending our services. (We don’t do ‘five minute miracle cures’ but we have a growing dossier of success testimonials.)
“Psychiatry is finished.” It wasn’t said loudly or in a gratuitous or all-knowing way, but with a quiet authority
Many in the Association for Coaches annual conference on Neuroscience will have picked up on the significance of this almost throw away line. It came from a older man who has been in the field of psychology all his life.
Professor Dr Paul Brown is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine; and was for nearly forty years a Member and then Chartered Clinical and Organisational Psychologist of the British Psychological Society where he was also at one time the Registrar of the Clinical Board of Examiners, until he “left in 2001 in despair“. So what on earth was Professor Brown on about, or what planet is he on? Finished? You must be joking, Professor … or know something we don’t.
He does. A lot. The 350 professional coaches listening were spellbound as he quietly debunked the psychological world view of the last two centuries in the light of the real-world neuroscience that is making its way across the world here in 2012. Those listening to him were invited to change their own view as he explained the significance of an endless stream of new research and biology-based studies that provide clear cogent incontrovertible hard evidence that the drivers of human behaviour are not what ‘old psychology’ [my label] thought. The way you and I change as we respond to the world is physically identifiable within the circuitry of the brain and central nervous system. Emotional health and wellbeing are growable, repairable and redeemable. Damage no longer needs to be perceived as permanent.
We are getting rid of the black-box mystery. “In the last 15 years we’ve seen psychology based in science” he said, and his hearers could sense the relief around them in the room. Something subtle implied there perhaps? Professor Brown proceeded to talk about the authentic science now behind our understandings of love, anger, disappointment, trust, and how human beings make meaning. He set out the evidence for loving human relationships being core – utterly fundamental – to human well being and how this is seen in the brain. He explained how every (every!) human though and action, every interaction between human lives, from months before birth to the moment we die, changes brain structures for better or worse, creates new neurology and is utterly personal to that individual. He explained how every human brain across the world works in the same way, with cultures, family and friendships creating the multi-millions of neural networks that make us the unique individuals we are. He went on and on, fact and insight after fact and insight. Brilliant.
I could have cried. For the last two or three years in our team we’ve been coming to similar and in some cases virtually identical realisations but not as a result of the powerful and carefully controlled research accessible to university scientists – I’m envious of Dr Brown. Our little company doesn’t have that time or the money. Frankly, with my very limited academic background, if I did I wouldn’t know where to start!
We’ve even dared to teach what we have found – in our extended coach training course, carefully presenting it as theory in the absence of carefully established research, then showing by example how well it works.
No, the basis of our discoveries have not been in copious scientific study but in year after year of staying curious, of watching very carefully, listening with our eyes as well as our ears, of experimenting with the questions we use in coaching the hundreds of people we have seen. We’ve not had the doctoral power of research that ‘Dr Paul’ has had. All we’ve had is eyes to see, ears to hear and the confidence to express our ideas using illustrations taken from 21st Century life. As Professor Brown was speaking I could have reached into my bag and pulled out an iPad with presentations therein that are very complementary to his.
Psychiatry’s demise hasn’t hit the headlines yet, but it will. There are those who have been wedded to ‘old psychology’ for years, drunk on the power it has given them as they’ve prescribed away, basing their opinions on packaged diagnoses lifted straight from DSM-IV, the psychiatrists Bible. People have been permanently cursed with highly adhesive diagnostic labels of emotional ‘conditions’ and at the same time had to accept the word ‘incurable’ watermarked into the paper if not actually written on it. We are now discovering that things are not as we thought. The brain is ‘plastic’ and heals itself. The word ‘permanent’ can no longer be etched indelibly into its neural networks. The future looks brighter for us all.
Yes, there will always be those who deny the growing mountain of evidence that reveals the extent to which depression, sadness and emotional damage is not just repairable but can make people stronger, more useful and better resourced. There is a growing number too who are sufficiently free from the confusing clutter of old psychology to embrace the evidence on offer. I spoke recently to a group of 40 GPs in a Medical Education Centre in West Sussex and at the end two of those GPs came to me and asked if I would see a member of their family. That’s five percent.
The night before the Association for Coaching conference, I finished Dr Martin Seligman’s outstanding book on wellbeing called ‘Flourish’. (If you haven’t read it you’re missing out.) Dr Seligman (Marty to his friends) is another David in the field standing out against the traditionalist Philistine giants that are trying to shout down those presenting the evidence. Let them shout until they are exhausted, for the world has changed. Relationships, businesses, families, children, teenagers, emotional health and wellbeing will never be the same, thank God. They will be better.
So “psychiatry is finished” – or at least lying on its death-couch. Now after all these decades of endless drug-induced ‘slavery’ some people will retake control of their own wellbeing and future lives.
Dr Paul Brown spent several minutes of his time talking about some answers: developing trust, love, hope. He showed how healthy loving relationships inspire trust, and hope, and are a healing panacea for so much of the unseen damage in our brains. Loneliness, rejection and separation are poisons of wellbeing. Community, friends, life partners, affection, joy are the answers. Love heals. Did I perchance hear an echo from the ancient writings of Professor Paul’s namesake of 2000 years? “Now abide these three; faith, hope and love. The greatest of these is love.”
Two millennia further on from when those lines were penned it seems researchers may be revealing the neuroscience behind the poetry.