Brain Injury, Counselling, Freud, My Story, psychology, thoughts influence on physical body, Uncategorized

Freud (part 3)

 

Freud: emotions and the past

 

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Although criticisms of Freud are perhaps more known nowadays than his actual work, many of Freud’s ideas are still used in the fundamental core of today’s counselling environment. Freud’s belief that one’s past emotions could cause problems in one’s present was ground-breaking and this concept is accepted by many psychologists today. His idea that mental illness is not (necessarily) due to physiological but psychological reasons, which can be helped by talking openly and honestly about what is on one’s mind, remains accepted today.

The idea of talking freely is still at the heart of psychoanalysis and many counselling therapies in general today with the additional advantage of bringing “hidden” thoughts and feelings from one’s unconscious into one’s conscious. Similarly, many further therapeutic techniques have built upon this concept. For example, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) attempts to help the individual modify their habitual patterns of cognition. These patterns of thinking have usually been learned as a child and although they served well in childhood, are no longer helpful in adulthood. Such patterns of cognition are only accessed through the client becoming consciously aware of their internal thoughts which can then be altered appropriately.

Today’s clients are more aware of the process of counselling from the outset, and are encouraged to talk about their thoughts, feelings and past with an empathetic, genuine, non-judgemental therapist who offers unconditional positive regard (in the case of client centred therapy).

Freud also used “free association” as a “talking freely” technique whereby the client responds to a word by saying what springs to mind in association with it. Freud claimed that this was accessing the unconscious mind. He believed too that unconscious thoughts and feelings slip out verbally from time to time (“Freudian slips”) revealing what one is really thinking and feeling.

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Bibliography

Storr, A. (1989) Freud: A very short introduction, New York, Oxford University Press Inc.

Brain Injury, Counselling, Freud, psychology, stages of development, Uncategorized

A little background on Freud: part 2

Psychosexual developmental stages

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Freud developed a theory on “psychosexual development” based on the principle that the “libidinal” energy is continually moving throughout development and is concentrated on certain objects/areas in the process. It was thought that if an individual’s progress through the early psychosexual stages, i.e., in early childhood, is somehow disrupted, the consequential fixation at a certain stage leads to certain behaviour/ personality traits in their adult life. Freud described five stages: oral (0-18months) where the baby’s focus of attention is purely on the mouth, i.e., feeding, suckling; anal (18months-3years) where the individual’s attention is focussed on toileting needs, especially defecation and related pleasurable feelings; phallic (3-5 years) where the individual becomes aware of the genitals and related pleasurable feelings, e.g., when going to the toilet; latency (5-adolescence) where individual’s sexual activity is insignificant; and genital (adolescence on through adulthood) where the individual’s love for himself is transferred onto others with a strong physiological drive to reproduce.

Freud claimed that whereas a healthy personality would develop after progression through all the stages had been successfully accomplished, if conflict arose during one of the stages, the individual would remain fixated at that stage. According to Freud, fixation at a psychosexual stage was due to disruption, e.g., at the oral stage, a mother being unable to breast feed. These fixations would result in compensatory characteristics still being evident in the individual in adulthood such as: disruption at oral stage would lead to passivity, or/and oral habits such as overeating, sucking thumb, smoking etc.; disruption at anal stage would lead to obsessive cleanliness, order (as a reaction formation against revulsion over dirtiness of defecation), stubbornness (rebelling against parents’ toilet training, i.e., defecation) and parsimony (associated with hanging on to faeces because money and faeces are often paired in language, e.g., filthy rich); and disruption at phallic stage would lead to narcissistic tendencies and use of sex to relieve emotional build up. Claims about disruption at the genital stage were not mentioned.

More controversially, Freud believed that sadistic, masochistic, exhibitionistic, voyeuristic and fetishistic tendencies, and an interest in homosexuality were basic instincts in everyone (but further accentuated in neurotic individuals) which collectively create the adult libido. If accentuated instincts of neurotic individuals were not repressed, the individual would become a sexual pervert, however, if such instincts WERE repressed, the individual would become neurotic. It must be mentioned that, although today, some of Freud’s theory seems ridiculous to many people, and obsessed with sex (!), in Freud’s epoch such topics were completely taboo and it was therefore the beginning of overtly questioning such topics and bringing such subjects out into the open. I suppose we had to start somewhere… and there is still a long way to go! If you liked this, be sure to subscribe. It’s free and you will have access to my weekly blogs. If there are specific areas of interest that you would like me to write about, please comment or write a question and I’ll do my very best to answer. I would love to hear from you!

Bibliography

Storr, A. (1989) Freud: A very short introduction, New York, Oxford University Press Inc.

Counselling, Freud, psychology, Uncategorized

11. Freud: part 1

A little background on Freud

Free stock photo of vintage, glasses, science, antique

Freud, today, doesn’t have a great reputation since he mentions sex a lot throughout his work and seems to have been obsessed with it! However, that aside, he did actually have many excellent ideas, some of which have been carried through to today’s psychology and counselling. Here is a brief introduction to Freud.

Born Jewish in the Czech Republic, Sigmund Freud (1856 – 1939) moved to Vienna with his family where he remained thereafter. After his initial interest in zoological research which was based on the (then novel) idea that physics and chemistry underlie (and determine) all processes, Freud transferred his determinist philosophy to the development of psychoanalysis [2]. Thus, his explanations for all psychological aspects were heavily based on the “cause and effect” principle, sparing no room for any religious or spiritual influence. He married and had six children, the last of whom was Anna who also became well known in the field of psychoanalysis.

His obsessive work ethos led to vast volumes of work, however, many of his colleagues were driven away from psychoanalysis due to Freud’s denial of any difference of opinion. Freud learned about hypnosis from Josef Breuer who was trying to establish a “talking cure” and also studied hypnosis with Jean-Martin Charcot. Working with a small group of female patients with “hysteria”, Freud and Breuer [1] realized that these hysterical individuals benefitted greatly from remembering and describing the first time that they experienced their symptoms. Such memories were often retrieved from the subconscious through use of hypnosis and it became apparent that most were painful or embarrassing memories that had been “hidden” (repressed) from consciousness. Freud coined the phrase “repression” and noted many other “defence mechanisms” that individuals commonly adopt in order to cope with life’s experiences, which are still important and recognised in the field of psychology and psychoanalysis today.

For example, in the case of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), where traumatic memories have been repressed, it is often considered beneficial to release emotions. Freud then described a conflict within the mind between the emotion (trying to remain conscious and be “let out”) and the part of the mind which was trying to hide the emotion. This conflict within the mind was damaging and, according to Freud, would even manifest in physical problems. His “conversion hysteria” suggested that such conflict of the mind is converted into the physical symptoms, e.g., hysteria, and physical symptoms were described which reflected psychological pain symbolically, e.g., a broken heart when love is lost.

Broken Heart Love Damaged Broken Heart Bro

Realizing that current problems could be associated with or due to (negative) experiences from the past, and that the majority of his female patients (with hysteria) had had (negative) sexual experiences, Freud began to focus on the influence of those experiences and the patient’s imaginative worlds. Part 2 of this will be next week.

If you liked this, click the little star below (to like) and be sure to subscribe. It’s free and you will have access to my weekly blogs. If there are specific areas of interest that you would like me to write about, please comment or write a question and I’ll do my very best to answer. I would love to hear from you!

References

  1. Freud, S., & Breuer, J. (1895) Studies in Hysteria. Translated by Nicola Luckhurst, with an Introduction by Rachel Bowlby. Penguin Books, London 2004.
  2. Storr, A. (1989) Freud: A very short introduction, New York, Oxford University Press Inc.
  3. Thompson, C., & Mullahy, P. (1951) Psychoanalysis: evolution and development (3rd ed.). New York: Hermitage House.

 

Brain Injury, Counselling, low carb, MS and Ketogenic Diet, My Story, positive energy, positive thoughts, thoughts influence on physical body, Uncategorized

10. Our thoughts

Our thoughts

Can our thoughts really have an effect on our health? I believe that the attitude of our mind can indeed have serious effects on our health. I have met many people over the years with different illneses, disabilities, backgrounds, upbringings, experiences etc., and the people who have a love for life seem to be much happier than those who cannot see any good or anything positive.

Dandelion, Flower, Plant, Blossom

Someone close to me is on antidepressants for depression and always focuses on the negative things, and anything negative. I wonder if this is the very stuff that feeds the depression and maintains the low mood. From my own experience, I can leave the house in the morning in a bad mood ignoring all the positive stuff and purely focussing on the dog poop on the road, the noisy neighbours, and how late my bus is! However, I have also left the same house another morning in a good mood admiring the “weeds” growing by my front door, the leaves of the silver birch tree at the front of my house, the patterns of the clouds in the sky, and breathing in the fresh air into my lungs giving me energy for the day.

Catching myself is the first step to stopping myself from falling lower into a miserable day that is not going to do anyone any good. I find that if I remove myself for a while, breathe slowly, calm down my thinking, i.e., meditate (even for 5 minutes), and try to look for something positive. I don’t mean pretend to myself that it is all great, I just mean looking out for something. If you intend to find something positive, you always manage to find something positive. So, can our thoughts have an effect on our physical body?

The water experiment

Below is a clip from Dr. Emoto’s experiment on the consequences of our thoughts on water. In Masaru Emoto’s water “experiment”, he exposed water to a variety of diverse properties (words, music, images) that had different levels of energy, e.g., spoken words (gratitude, love, Hitler, kill). He then froze the water and observed its structure under microscope, to show how these different levels of energy had had an effect on the water’s structure. Despite the criticism from many scientists with regards to Emoto’s “experiment” for not being carried out under the strict scientific conditions or complying with the basic scientific regulations, the whole concept is quite wonderful. It is similar to when someone has angrily prepared your food, the food doesn’t taste as good but when the food has been made with love, the food tastes much better. Does anyone else notice this? It’s even the same with a cup of tea that someone has made. I can’t explain it. I’m not going to even try to explain it but I do think that Dr. Emoto was onto something amazing! The YouTube clip below shows Dr. Emoto’s pictures of water crystals and is under 4 minutes long.

If positive and negative energies had these effects on the water crystals, what affect might they be having on our own body which contains a high percentage of water? Could a change of thinking help with a change of physical health? If you liked this, be sure to subscribe. It’s free and you will have access to my weekly blogs. If there are specific areas of interest that you would like me to write about, please comment or write a question and I’ll do my very best to answer. I would love to hear from you!

Counselling, grief, Uncategorized

9. Grief

Grief

Free stock photo of man, person, wall, alone

There are a few models of grief which try to explain how we cope with grief and loss. One of the most well known is by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross who describes 5 stages of grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. People don’t necessarily go through these stages in any specific order but these stages are common throughout the process of dealing with grief. For more details of these stages, see this link:

https://www.psycom.net/depression.central.grief.html

Another model of grief is the Dual Process Model of Grief by Stroebe and Schut which takes a slightly different perspective and focuses more on the oscillating between, for example, carrying out an everyday chore one minute, then being overwhelmed with grief the next. More details of this model can be found here:

https://whatsyourgrief.com/dual-process-model-of-grief/

Finally, the short clip below shows an idea of how we incorpoate grief into our lives.

Whilst none of these models/ ideas above have a “correct” solution to how we can cope with grief, they do attempt to show us some common elements that many people do go through. This in itself is perhaps of some comfort to know that we all process grief in different ways and we all cope with it in our own way.

If you liked this, be sure to subscribe. It’s free and you will have access to my weekly blogs. If there are specific areas of interest that you would like me to write about, please comment or write a question and I’ll do my very best to answer. I would love to hear from you!

Brain Injury, hemineglect, My Story, myelin, prosopagnosia, sight loss, Uncategorized

8. Hemineglect

Hemi-neglect

 

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This is a very strange one! My hemianopia means that I cannot see (in my case) the left side but hemi-neglect is that I “neglect” that side. What? Yes, I actually forget that the left side exists and it somehow doesn’t really exist to me. As crazy as this sounds, I forget that the left side of my body is there and tend to ignore it. Because my left leg and arm don’t automatically move in coordination with my right side, I have to pay attention to them, especially, for example, when walking. It takes a lot of concentration to move my left leg in time with my right leg to be able to look like I’m walking “normally”. Likewise I have to concentrate on my left arm, to swing it in coordination with my right leg. That took a LOT of practice! This can all go horribly wrong at times if I’m distracted, or am tired and can’t concentrate. It can be challenging to walk whilst having a conversation! This is when I forget to lift my left leg and trip!

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I also need to pay attention to make sure that my left side is dressed appropriately before I leave the house in the morning. Do I have my left shoe on? Is my left arm IN the sleeve? Have I brushed the left side of my hair? These are the things that I sometimes forget…even though my right side IS dressed. I try to always focus on the left side first but at times, I still forget! But it’s not only the left side of my body that I “neglect”, it also happens with the left side of my visual field, i.e., what I can see.

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It is really difficult to move my eyes, head, legs, arms, or body towards the left. For example, if I’m reading, it’s exhausting moving my eyes to the beginning of each new line of text, i.e., the left, as I read…or write. This has improved over the years but I used to have a bright red ribbon down the left side of the page so that my eyes would eventually find the left side! Nowadays, I use a marker (long strip of card), which I can just move down a line after reading it, and this helps too. Also, if I have to physically move to the left, e.g., to avoid walking into something, I often have to stop because my body just refuses to move to the left. Once I stop, I can force myself to move left through sheer determination and concentration. So, how does this affect me in my normal daily life?

This can be a challenge in many ways. Crossing the road can be difficult because I cannot depend on my eyes/ brain to acknowledge the left side so I have to find a pedestrian crossing. I have learnt over the years not to rely on my hearing in this situation either because, on a few occasions, I have been in a rush, was bored of waiting for the traffic lights to change, couldn’t hear any cars coming so stepped out to cross the road…in front of a cyclist! On the few times that this has happened, the cyclist has swerved, shouted abuse at me and I have shouted apologies at them. Even hearing something from the left just doesn’t register the same in my brain. People sometimes come from my left side and then tap me on my left arm. This always gives me the fright of my life because I haven’t seen, heard, or noticed them approaching me. My fright at least gives them a laugh!

Another funny thing that happens fairly often is when someone waves at me when they are walking towards me. Bear in mind here that I also don’t recognise faces (prosopagnosia) so I have no idea who the person is. Most people wave with their right hand, which, if they are walking towards me, is to the left of them. Therefore, I don’t see them waving but often notice that the person is staring at me. I then smile as I would to a total stranger, and am surprised when the person suddenly stops in front of me and speaks. On hearing their voice, I usually know who it is.

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If you know of anyone with hemi-neglect, hemianopia, prosopagnosia, stroke symptoms, left/ right -sided weakness, or anything similar, please let me know or tell them about this blog. I would love to hear from others who go through this or have had similar experiences.

If you liked this, be sure to subscribe. It’s free and you will have access to my weekly blogs. If there are specific areas of interest that you would like me to write about, please comment or write a question and I’ll do my very best to answer. I would love to hear from you!

Brain Injury, low carb, MS and Ketogenic Diet, My Story, prosopagnosia, sight loss, Uncategorized

7.Improvements in my eyesight and face blindness (prosopagnosia)

I was admitted to hospital with loss of function of my left leg and left arm. The doctors told me that I had had a stroke (but I know now that it was actually an MS “event”) and I was put into a stroke ward. I was 35 years old and the youngest person on the stroke ward. I remember the cleaner coming into the ward and doing a “double take” when she saw me, unable to believe that I was there. Every morning on waking up, I would find something else (of my body) that didn’t work. My leg was getting worse and worse, my arm was getting heavier, my face was getting even droopier, and the doctors couldn’t tell me if I would be able to move my arm and leg or walk ever again. I couldn’t take it all in! I honestly thought my body was just closing down. A day or two later, I woke up one morning and found, to my horror, that I couldn’t see!

grayscale portrait photo of shocked woman
Photo by Alexander Krivitskiy on Pexels.com

I was opening my eyes wide open but couldn’t see anything. The daylight coming through all the windows was unbearably bright and I couldn’t focus on anything, make out any shapes, or recognise anything. It was as though the ward was full of bright light and, although I could hear the familiar sounds, I couldn’t see anything. I remember trying to look at the woman across the ward from me, trying desperately to find her and focus on her but I couldn’t. Eventually, I heard a nurse nearby and told her that I couldn’t see anything. She went off to get a doctor and came back with a doctor who asked me questions and then left. It truly was a shocking, scary moment and I don’t remember anything from that day but I do remember going to sleep that night thinking that I was going to die. I thought that my body really was closing down and that I wasn’t going to wake up again. I actually prayed to God that night and eventually fell asleep. As you might have already guessed, I woke up the following morning alive!

person holding round smiling emoji board photo
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Time passed in hospital and although I couldn’t focus on anything, I could see fuzzy people, and could mostly make out what things were. Later, I was wheeled down to the eye department and had to try to read the eye chart (of letters) on the wall. I could make out some of the letters and read what I could from the vertical column of single letters. This was when I was told that I had hemianopia, which is that I could only see one (right) side of things. I had only seen the last letter of each line of six or seven letters.

I couldn’t see people’s faces properly either. They were out of focus and I could only see the right half. I had to rely on listening to their voice to identify who it was. When I finally left hospital, able to walk a little, I couldn’t see well enough to walk anywhere. Over the following two years, my eyesight gradually got more in focus but it still wasn’t great. After a week at the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB), I learnt that I could not tolerate fluorescent lighting and that some coloured glasses might help with the brightness of the light. This was life changing because I couldn’t bear going outside in the light. I went to an optician who had colour equipment. As soon as I looked at text through the green tint, the lines of text went into lines and I could see it properly. It was amazing.

Eventually, I was able to get coloured glasses that also helped my eyesight, however, as things became clearer, I became more aware of the fact that although I could see the right half of peoples’ faces, I still couldn’t recognise who they were. This prosopagnosia (face blindness) has caused some difficulties. I have lost friends through this because they cannot understand that I don’t recognise them (when I am looking directly at them) or have taken it personally believing that I am ignoring them on purpose. It is such a hard thing to explain and I can’t understand it myself and I live with it!! I can see the person’s right half of their face but cannot recognise it. If there are several people all together, it is even worse and my brain goes into “overload” and I cannot recognise anyone or anything. It is like there is just too much information going into my brain and it can’t process it. However, since starting on this high fat, low carb (HFLC) lifestyle, things have definitely improved.

close up cooking cuisine delicious
Photo by Oscar Mikols on Pexels.com

Improvements in my eyesight and face blindness (prosopagnosia)

This is a difficult thing to measure and monitor but since being on this HFLC lifestyle, I do think that there have been improvements to my vision. Not only has my eyesight improved in general, i.e., my focus is slightly more stable, but I can also see more of the visual field too (the space that you see with your eyes). For example, where before, I could see the last letter of a word, I can now see half of the word.

Likewise, I can see the right half of objects, the right half of scenes/vistas and the right half of peoples’ faces. Isn’t it amazing that my brain, on some level, must be perceiving the whole object but only an exact right half of the information gets through?! On a really good day, I can sometimes see a little of the bottom left corner of a face, i.e., the full chin and jaw. I’m hoping that this will continue to improve as I stick to eating HFLC. Another strange thing is that after my MS event, I couldn’t even visualise someone’s face, and had no visual memory of faces. Now, however, I can sometimes visualise (or visually recall) a face. So, if I’m thinking about someone, I can sometimes see them in my mind. This doesn’t always happen. For example, if I meet more than one person at a time, my brain gets overwhelmed and can’t process all the information. This means I ignore most people if I join a new class until I have met them one to one and my brain has had a chance to process all the information. Similarly, before, when I went to new places, I wasn’t able to record it in my mind and indeed would not recognise it if I returned to the same place at a later date. Now, I can often remember and visualise places and can often recognise them when I return.

Finally, I have to admit that, despite it being a huge irritation at times, it can also be hilarious! I have walked past people who I’m looking for, have taken someone’s arm thinking it was my friend but it wasn’t, have been unable to find things that just happened to be slightly to the left. People ask “why can’t you just turn your head round and see the other side then?” As obvious and completely rational as that sounds, it doesn’t work! Obviously, if I read the letters “rple”, I know that there’s something missing and can then make my eyes move over to the left to see “purple”. However, for other things, it’s not that obvious and I forget all about the left side’s existence (hemi neglect). I will talk about this in more detail next time.

If you liked this, be sure to subscribe. It’s free and you will have access to my weekly blogs. If there are specific areas of interest that you would like me to write about, please comment or write a question and I’ll do my very best to answer. I would love to hear from you!