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

14. A little background on Freud (part 4)


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It must be noted that life in Victorian times was completely dominated by males, and women had no power and very few rights. Freud’s outlandish suggestions did, at least, provoke people to reflect and think more in depth about how parents could somehow contribute to the personal development of their children.

Freud often used “neologisms” (terminology that Freud himself invented) but failed to provide any actual definitions. This contributed further to misunderstanding and confusion over his theory which led to such a broad range of interpretations and viewpoints. He has been accused of being obsessed with sex and has caused much offense by referring to sexual experiences during childhood. This is dependent on one’s interpretation of his work which might be better understood if his environment (at that time) is taken into consideration. His preoccupation of sex possibly shows his own personal projections from his own upbringing (his own father was twenty years senior to his mother) and fantasies with a negative view point of sex reflecting the epoch and the sexually repressed society that he lived in. However, although Freud’s theory of psychosexual development has stirred much controversy, it was, at least, a starting point for research into child development and child psychology. Building upon this foundation, the following more recent approaches emerged: Erik Erikson’s (1959) theory of psychosocial development [2], John Bowlby’s (1973) theory of attachment [1], Jean Piaget’s (1973) theory of cognitive development [3], and Lev Vygotsky’s (1978) theory of social development [4] (which stressed the importance of social interaction) have all surpassed Freud’s theory.

In today’s counselling environment, elements of Freud are still apparent in that a client can talk freely about their presenting issues, their past experiences and family background. Likewise, any lack of memories would, with the client’s consent, be explored.

In conclusion, although Freud’s work has been heavily criticized, his psychosexual development did bring some taboo topics out into the open and it was a starting point in the research of child development which led to the more recent theories of child development. Much of Freud’s work is so ingrained in todays psychodynamic counselling and psychotherapy that some of his terminology has seeped into our everyday language. The phrases “anally retentive” and “Freudian slips” are still used in our language today. Despite the lack of empirical evidence to support Freud’s theory of psychosexual development, and its somewhat dated point of view, the basic principle of there being an association between childhood experiences and adulthood traits is still worth bearing in mind as we try to raise our children with the best intentions. Today, most parents are aware that they DO actually play a huge part in their child’s development and it is generally accepted by most people that their childhood experiences do have some influence on their behaviour in adult life.

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!


  1. Bowlby, J. (1973) Separation: Anxiety & Anger. Attachment and Loss (vol. 2). London: Hogarth Press.
  2. Erikson, H. E. (1959) Identity and the life cycle. New York. Norton.
  3. Piaget, J. (1973) Main Trends in Psychology. London: George Allen & Unwin.
  4. Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.


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!


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!


  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!

Brain Injury, low carb, MS and Ketogenic Diet, My Story, myelin, sugar is dangerous, Uncategorized

6. High Fat, Low Carb (HFLC)

High Fat, Low Carb (HFLC)

High fat

With Multiple Sclerosis (MS), holes appear in the myelin (fatty insulation covering the brain’s “wires”). These holes distort or prevent signals getting from the brain through to, for example, a finger. A high fat intake helps myelin  by giving it the nutrients that it needs.

I am not saying to eat the so-called “bad” fats like fish & chips or processed foods because they don’t give our body nutrition. However, “good” fats come from foods such as, for example, salmon, avocadoes, coconut oil and cream. Since our body doesn’t manufacture these nutrients, it is vital that we get them from another source, i.e., food.



Also, because fat is filling, it means that I feel full and satisfied after eating and am never hungry. The problem when sugar is consumed is that you feel hungry because the sugar has not replenished your cells or given them any nourishment so the body still feels hungry for nourishment. To make matters worse, the body also craves more sugar to make up for the lowered sugar level (see blog 5).

Low carb/ no sugar

Initially, this was the difficult part! Low carb means low carbohydrates which are all the foods I used to eat! This includes breads, crackers, pasta, potatoes, rice, and of course cakes, biscuits etc. The desire for bread and pasta left me after some time. I also found it difficult to find something to eat at lunchtime, for example, in the canteen, which doesn’t contain bread, pasta, or chips (fries)! The trick is to always take my own prepared lunch which doesn’t contain carbs AND saves me money too!

I found it difficult to stop sugar (because I was addicted to the stuff!) but after a short while, the craving for something sweet left me. This was indeed a liberating moment, to be completely free of sugar cravings.  It had ruled my life for 20 years! However, once I got the initial few days over with, the cravings left and didn’t really come back. I rarely crave something sweet.

I have had much help from “The Wahl’s Protocol” book (see blog 4 for link to this book) which explains the science behind the influence of good nutrition on the cells in more detail. I have also had tremendous help with what to eat from Libbyditchthecarbs who has a website, Facebook page, and published books with her low carb recipes including low carb meals, deserts, snacks, family meals, lunches, and party foods. You name it, Libbyditchthecarbs  has a recipe for it! From time to time, if I do fancy something sweet, I can still have something sweet and low carb! Through Libbyditchthecarbs, I found quick, easy and delicious recipes for sweet treats, deserts, and amazingly good “fat bombs” which satisfy any cravings for something sweet. Link to ditchthecarbs:

I have been high fat, low carb for a couple of years now and my improvements so far include:

  • being able to think straight (no brain fog)
  • better leg “connection” (quicker reaction time and more controlled movements)
  • mobility; more natural, balanced walking
  • better balance
  • less dizziness when moving head or turning round
  • the feeling/ sensation on the left side of my face has returned
  • the feeling/ sensation in my fingertips has returned
  • finger “connection” (quicker reaction time and improved fine motor skills)
  • clearer skin/ better complexion
  • whiter eyes
  • and a more stable state of mind, no more cravings for chocolate!!

I also think that my eyesight and “face blindness” have improved slightly but I will talk about this in more detail in my next blog. 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, sugar is dangerous, Uncategorized

5. Sugar and Aspartame


Sugar, for me, is highly addictive and I was particularly addicted to chocolate. Of course, I didn’t understand any of this at the time but I now know that the reward system in the brain is stimulated by sugar in the same way as it is stimulated with drugs like cocaine and even heroin. This means that when I eat sugar, the neurotransmitters (dopamine and opioids; in the brain’s “reward system”) are released which makes me feel good. This is why I feel good when I eat sugary stuff. Soon after eating sugar, your sugar levels then drop to below their initial level leaving you feeling depleted. This is when your body thinks that it wants more to compensate which explains why I always wanted more and why it is so addictive. Researchers have even shown this addictive nature of sugar on the behaviour of rats and observed craving, bingeing, and withdrawal behaviours (Avena, Rada, and Hoebel; 2008).

pink sugar.jpg


I was aware of the fact that once I started to eat sugary foods, e.g., at 7:00 p.m., I would want more of it an hour later and more of it after that until I went to bed. I would have cravings for something sweet, which, at times, would completely take hold of my brain until I gave into it. These are all signs of my addiction. However, sugar is not good for me. It plays no role in maintaining my body and can clog up liver function. The liver stores excess sugar as fat when we eat too much of it, and, as is the case in too much alcohol, can lead to liver disease. Most of us know about the links between sugar and diabetes but sugar has also been linked to a number of illnesses including higher risk of depression (Westover and Marangell; 2002) and heart disease (Fuller, Shipley, Rose, Jarrett, and Keen; 1980).

So, after experiencing a sugary “high”, we are more likely to want to repeat the pleasurable experience, especially as a reward, for example, after a hard day at work. Being bombarded by advertisements (the advertising companies know the psychology behind it too!) only makes it harder to ignore and easier for us to grab a packet of sugar/chocolate treats on the way home. However, the more of this white substance that we consume, the harder it is to achieve that “high” again. Yes, I AM still talking about sugar here! Our brains adapt to higher levels of sugar and compensate by releasing less dopamine/opioid neurotransmitters so the only way to achieve the “feeling good” factor is to eat even more of it. Just like other drugs, our brains become adapted to more and more of it.


Realising that I was a “sugar junkie”, I decided to give it up and in my desperate attempt to avoid sugar, I then chose diet versions of everything instead. To me, this meant low fat versions too. I would read “diet” or “low fat” on the label and think that it meant it’s good. Little did I realise that many low fat products actually contained even more sugar! Many diet products contain aspartame and most diet drinks contain aspartame. So is aspartame ok?



Like I have said before in a previous blog, I used to drink a fair amount of diet, carbonated drinks thinking that I was being healthier drinking the “diet” version! When I had my MS event, which left me visually impaired, and with left side weakness and hemi-neglect, I later started on a high fat, low carbohydrate (HFLC) way of eating. I don’t call it a diet because I have never succeeded on any “diet” that I have been on and I just don’t do diets anymore! So, I continued this way of eating for over a year, and experiencing huge improvements in my health, I decided to drink some diet carbonated drink one evening to see if it would have any effect on me. It tasted different to how I remembered it and was extremely sweet and artificial tasting.


However, the next morning, when I woke up, I noticed immediately that I could not feel my left hand fingertips again. Can you believe that? A few glasses of diet carbonated drink on Friday evening actually caused me to lose the feeling of my fingertips again by the following morning. My brain felt sluggish and as though it was in some thick fog again. I couldn’t think straight at all, and my left leg felt as though it was not properly “connected”. That’s how it feels when my leg is not receiving the signals from my brain to move. It is like the leg is not plugged in and is slow, doesn’t respond, and is heavy.

As I continued back on the HFLC way of eating, the feeling in my fingers returned again in the following few days, but it was fascinating at how this diet drink had had such an immediate effect. I have since tried other foods with aspartame in them and have concluded that aspartame has negative affects on my brain causing me to lose the feeling in my fingertips, stops the connection with my left leg, and causes my brain to become foggy and unable to think straight. I even found one brand of diet drink that didn’t contain aspartame and drank that from time to time. On one occasion though I bought the wrong bottle by mistake and the next morning, found again that I had lost the feeling in my fingers. At the shock of this, I looked at the bottle and then realised that I had got the wrong bottle by mistake. Likewise, I bought some mints that I thought were aspartame free but soon had the same affect on my brain and, again, when I looked at the ingredients, they contained aspartame. I have also, on occasion, had a sugary treat and found the same thing. My fingertips lose their feeling, my brain can’t think straight and my leg loses its connection. So what have I concluded?

I have concluded that sugar is not good for me; my MS symptoms and my brain function deteriorate almost immediately. I have concluded that aspartame is not good for me either; again my MS symptoms and my brain function deteriorate almost immediately. Sugar and aspartame are like poison to me.

Next time, I shall talk about more about the high fat, low carb/ ketogenic way of eating. 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!


Avena, N. M., Rada, P., & Hoebel, B. G. (2008). Evidence for sugar addiction: Behavioral and neurochemical effects of intermittent, excessive sugar intake. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 32(1), 20–39.

Fuller, J.H., Shipley, M.J., Rose, G., Jarrett, R.J., & Keen, H. (1980). Coronary Heart Disease Risk and Impaired Glucose Tolerance; The Whitehall Study. The Lancet, 315, 8183, 1373-1376.

Westover & Marangell (2002) A Cross-National Relationship Between Sugar Consumption and Major Depression? Depression and Anxiety, The Official Journal of ADAA, 16, 3, 118-129.