Dr. Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D,B.C.S.A.,DAPA.

Dr. Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D,B.C.S.A.,DAPA.
e-mail: batushkad@yahoo.com

Thursday, November 12, 2009


I met with a client in the deepest, darkest despair and feeling suicidal. He felt as if all was plummeting at once as a relationship had ended and he had lost employment at the same time. He felt detached from family members and others. He felt that there had been many situations of depression in his life. The mental health system today would spend little time looking at his experience, would take the account and assign him a diagnostic label and more than likely recommend a drug for him to take indefinitely. Instead, I looked at the ways that he felt oppressed, of what had once made him happy, how he could begin to feel empowered, and ways to develop a support network. It was not important to rehash all the traumas he had endured but rather to meet him in his present place, and offer him authenticity and a safe place to express himself and to feel that he has someone willing to listen, understand, and journey with him. It was only after a few session that his despair began to dissipate. This is the power of two humans coming together to share their common humanity. No drug can replace this. There was no 'chemical imbalance' at work here rather an imbalance in our society that created this individual's distress.

I recall a number of years ago working with a young man whose father was drug addicted and abusive. The family dynamics were often chaotic and shrouded in what Laing would term mystification. Communication was poor and this young man had endured serious traumas that led to the development of what many would label 'psychosis'. It was decided to see what would occur if he was removed from this environment for a time. The results were astounding in that the behaviors that had been so disturbing to others almost ceased to be, the experience of hearing voices which had been present at times before were not seen, and there seemed to be some solace he found. As sadly predicted, once he returned to the home environment, the challenges he had all returned. This demonstrated clearly the impact of the environment, traumas, and familial communications upon individual well being. I have seen this circumstance unfortunately play out in many of my client's lives where when provided a period of 'sanctuary' where they found a relationship with another, felt validated, and were away from the things that led to their 'madness' they began to recover and wherein they were returned to their previous environment, everything unraveled once again. I believe this is an important aspect we must look at in the mental health system, for it appears we are failing because we do not provide sanctuary for people, rather we take them and 'do' things to them, thinking it is in their best interest, we 'treat' them, but often we are only forcing their compliance with oppression and we are returning them to the private hells that caused their distress to begin with. The mental health system faults the person's brain, and ignores all the other dynamics. Unless we can get to the true root of the distress, unless we can work with the entire family system, our efforts are often in vain.

-Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D.

1 comment:

Brenda said...

I so agree. I live in New zealand had my own journey after terrible trauma, alienation etc. I eventually found self hypnosis 12 years ago which turned my life round for the better, I got out of my negative stuck thinking. I trained as a hypnotherapist and are now developing a practice. I like what you said "two humans coming together to share their comon humanity"

Brenda Cheyne wellington-hypnotherapy.co.nz