Hello Dr. Saltzman,
Thank you for reading this (and for your humane and thoughtful consideration as evidenced on your site). [Please use only my first name, Frank, for any of this that appears on the web.]
The reason I'm writing you is for some guidance in my next step down the therapeutic road.
I've been to three different psychiatrists over several years for about a year each of weekly visits. These sessions I found next-to-useless. I have a fair bit of intellectual insight so I didn't learn anything new. The approach was "psychodynamically oriented"- which I think is " pychoanalysis lite"- not quite the sphinxlike silence of the the stereotypical Freudian, but still a lot of dead air if I didn't speak . Of course, there's the question of my own resistance, my unwillingness to change - but that's one of the challenges a mental health professional has to deal with , isn't it?
I'm wondering if this bit from my history could be a key piece of the therapeutic puzzle (and would suggest the next step to take):
I thought I'd do some self-work on my own. Since verbal free association was'n working that well during my sessions, why not try free association of THOUGHT? everynight I'd let my thoughts go unguided, uncensored. Nothing happened for two weeks- then BANG, I entered into a state of regression where I was about five and was sleeping in the kitchen two rooms away from my parents' bedroom. I must have been having night terrors; I saw a demon or monster at the window. I got up and ran towards my parent's room but my father was blocking the doorway.
Then I saw an image of myself lying in a corpselike position with my arms crossed across my chest but with my hands around my throat.
And I came out of this state with a jolt of electricity through my spine and an intense fear for about an hour. (What happened next in that incident I don't know: Knowing the brutal ways of my father he may have treated me roughly and sent me back there to sleep)
For the next two weeks my sleep was disturbed- a fear that evildoers were landing on my roof and were going to come into my bedroom, for example. And then my DAYS got strange: why did a person carrying scissors near me give me an intense fear of castration? The shrieking sound of a heating plan seemed to me the dissolution of my own mind. Once for an instant I saw a silhouette of the devil. At random, I would begin sobbing. I was prescribed chlorpromazine and took it for a while. In retrospect, I wasn't a full-blown psychotic since my reality-testing ability was still strong-I felt the odd notions, never believing that they represented reality- I think I was dealing with an irruption from the unconscious. The doctor may have been too quick to medicate the situation? I'm OK (not really, I mean "sane") now years later, unmedicated.
Should I explore the whole memory for abreaction purposes (with the aid of a hypnotist)? Or is just an psycho-archaeological artefact and my energies would be better spent in the here and now?
Would you hazard a guess on what that image means? To survive I have to play dead and never speak my true thoughts and feelings? Or more ominously, I have to shut down my self-expression all the way to my grave? Or more ominously still, that the only way out of my pain is to die by my own hand?
(Currently researching ego states/Transactional Analysis/hypnoanaysis as a good fit)
Thank you for reading,
Thanks for your kind comment about the website.
In my opinion:
I would never submit to hypnotherapy of any kind for any reason. Bad enough to submit to treatment when you are fully conscious.
Abreaction is overrated as a healing modality. Being seen, heard, and understood often seems to work better.
Your idea about trying to remain in the here and now makes good sense. Very good sense.
If you require further psychotherapy, try to find a doc who is down to earth and who will meet you on the everyday level of your suffering and your fears. Too much retrospective analysis can be—in my opinion, as I said—harmful to people who are in psychic pain.
I imagine that your corpselike image does refer to some actual childhood incident or situation (or perhaps a compendium of such incidents), but without knowing you personally, I could not hazard a guess about its meaning.