Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Panic Attacks: A Counseling Case Study (Part 1) | CCEF

Panic Attacks: A Counseling Case Study (Part 1) | CCEF

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Dave and I listened to this podcast the other night. Really engaging. I absolutely adore David Powilson and wish he were my grandpa. I took a course from him at Westminster. He really is as kind as he sounds.

Being in counseling this year with a therapist who uses a different model than the "Three Trees" has been a real lesson in learning how to integrate things I already know or have been exposed to with new paradigms. It has sent my brain reeling more than once, but I think its a beneficial experience for me.

Hope you enjoy the podcast...its about 30 minutes long.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Hope for Sociopaths

What if my daughter is a sociopath? After watching last week's episode of House, entitled Remorse, that question peek-a-boo'd it's head right out from behind my laptop and scared the begeezus out of me. In the episode, House's team of diagnostic doctors were baffled by a patient's symptoms. Per the requirement of the formula of all episodes, the patient gets a lot worse before getting better. However, what interests House the most is not the puzzle of the her symptoms, but her apparent lack of emotion. Acccording to a brain scan, the woman proves to be entirely lacking in any conscience, empathy or love.

House is drawn to the woman and questions her. She sees right through his questioning and aims the arrow with accuracy directly at his jugular. "So, if you know your conscience is just an animal instinct, then you know you don't need to follow it. That's why you are talking to me." This is House's fear. What if I am so completely self-interested that I never choose what is best for others, only myself? Or worse. What if I am without a conscience completely? What if I am a sociopath?

Lucky for me, I have other close people in my life I can be critical of. Instead of examining my own lack of interest in others' feelings, I have a perfectly self-absorbed creature I can analyze, right here in my own home. She is 9 years old and I will leave out her name to protect the innocent. She scares me with her lack of empathy.

I immediately started flipping through my files of memories, trying to find evidence that she indeed has a conscience. Like House, there was very little proof in my files. Before completely panicking though, I remembered that I have a recent theory. We are all on the disorder continuum.

My Disorder Continuum Theory is as follows: Due to the fall and our inherent brokenness, we are all suffering from mental disorders, to some degree or another. Though I have not, nor has Ellie (yet), been diagnosed with Sociopathic Personality Disorder, we all suffer from at least a small form of it. To support my theory, lets ask this question: Who has NOT exhibited antisocial behavior or behavior that would suggest a lack of conscience? Or better yet: Who has ALWAYS considered the needs of others before their own needs?

How is my theory helpful, you might ask. The way I see it, if we are all suffering from some sort of mental illness, we shouldn't be surprised if evidence of one or several show up (like depression, anxiety, etc.). However, we should expect some. And, like Dr. House, the most important quest, needs to be finding the hope of redemption and change. Nothing is incurable. Not for House nor for God, anyway.

God, in his continued presence in our lives, works and is working (and has completed his work) for this healing. The most reassuring truth I cling to these days is this: God does not want me (or Ellie) to have a mental illness. And though I may experience panic attacks and depression or have a child who is cruel to her BFF and ruins said BFF's birthday, we have a God who is working to restore to us all our sanity. Our stories are not finished. We have hope because we have a Healer. We are being changed. We are being made sain and true sanity is the ability to receive love and give love without restraint.

By the end of the episode, Gregory House and his sociopathic patient both experience the evidence of change. For House and for us, there is no disorder, no disease, no brokenness that is without a cure. And, for a Monday morning, that is some really relieving news.

Friday, February 5, 2010

An Uncertain Guide to the Ancient Voices

I could be your guide.
Where are we going, you ask?
To Jacob’s Ladder.
We will climb down to where the Ancient Voices speak.

Have I been there?
Oh, no.
Well, maybe.
I’m still not certain.
But, I know you must go under.

Enter at your own risk, though.
We have to swim to get there.
No, I’m still learning to float.

I hold my breath, let go and lean back.
But, here, in these waters, you have to breathe.
Slowly, under your ribs.
There you go! You got it!
In and out.

If you forget to breathe?
No problem.
There’s a built in safety-feature.

Oh, hell yes!
All those ropes that tie you down?
Keeping you from floating away?
From losing yourself?
They don’t work in these waters.

You could get lost in here.
There are many voices.
But, you can listen to mine at first.

And if you lose your way?
There’s always a Voice to guide you home.
How fast?
Hmmm. I don’t know.
It might take awhile.
But you're strong, you’ll make it.

I could be wrong, but its like whiskey, I think.
Like a magical brew that slows your thoughts,
clouds your mind, and then amplifies the Others.
At first, they might rattle, like old men’s breathing.

They might just ask you a lot of questions.
They may try to reason with you.
Most likely, they are angry.
They are tired and hungry from wailing so long.
They may all come at once.

They will drag you out to deeper waters,
Where your feet can’t touch.
Where the Great Mystery will cut your skin like ice water,
And clench your throat.
Your chest will get tight.
Now, don’t forget to breath.

And then, the voices will pull you under.
They do not look for revenge,
but only for the truth of things.
And these voices will lead you to Those Voices.

But, its time to leave.
We’ve been wrapped in our cocoon of clanging symbols long enough.
Search the skies.
It’s a sign.
There’s nothing left here.
Only fleeting platitudes and a grating cadence.

Wait, Another Way?
No, I don’t think so.
The path we’ve already tried?
No, it doesn’t lead there, remember?
We bought that whole load once.
We just kept walking and walking and walking,
but we never even heard
a Whisper.

Come on, now. Let’s go.
The Ancient Voices are speaking.
Where they have always been speaking.
You will recognize them. You heard them once before.
Before you were born.

Are you ready?
One. Two. Three…

image: Between Two Waves, Makoto Fujimura