Therapy’s rash assumptions about trauma

Whether a therapist claims to be a “trauma specialist” or not, most of them make assumptions and generalizations about their patients that may, or may not be true.

When you recount your life to the therapist, isn’t it interesting that many therapists gloss over the really important stuff, and overly focus on stuff you really don’t care about anymore.

There are no set rules for which types of events are traumatic and which are not. This is determined by the one who perceives the event. Don’t you love it when therapists decide for you which events in your life were traumatic and which were not? This is one way that therapy truly erodes away the soul.

Most therapists that I met would automatically assume that rape was registered as a trauma, that is, something only therapy can fix. They may typically ask, “Have you worked that out in therapy?” What bullshit…like they are the one and only answer…..

A lot of stuff happened to me that never registered as a trauma, including rape, or did for a time and I got over it without therapy. I hated it when therapists dug this stuff up like they owned it, insisting I had to “process” it. This is how therapy creates a dependency, by insisting that if you don’t “process” events, their way, you are disordered by default.

Also, they assume the goal is to “get over” events. They push for this, but I challenge the idea that every single negative event in one’s life has to be “gotten over.” Any widows out there? Do you really want to “get over” the death of someone you really, really adored?

I still cry over Joe. I have the right to do that, even though it has been 15 years now. I don’t consider my feelings wrong or disordered. I want to be able to cry. Crying is human. I don’t cry often, but I do now and then. I cry over my mother, too. Do I need curing?

You aren’t traumatized or not traumatized. That is black and white thinking, in my opinion. There are gradients of it. You might be shaken by an argument you had with a friend, for instance, for a few hours until you go to bed, and then, in the morning, you aren’t thinking about it anymore. I had an irate  customer at my job who pushed my buttons very badly a few days ago. I was shook up afterward, more than I usually am. The next few customers more than made up for it with their patience and kindness. Within a half hour, I was no longer shook up.

Other traumas last a very long time, years sometimes, and, gradually fade without the interference of therapy, or in spite of therapy. I have seen therapists prolong a traumatic reaction, milk it for all its worth and make their patients worse.

For instance, a fellow patient was shook up over the death of a classmate. She brought this to the therapy sessions again and again. Her anger and rage only increased over the events. The therapist convinced her that the rage was an “underlying condition,” that it was always there, and that therapy was helping “bring it out.” Given that this fellow patient was overall miserable, and getting worse, I beg to differ.

Another thing therapists do is to assume that if you are traumatized by an event that happened during adulthood, it’s because of “underlying childhood trauma.” Then they nitpick over stuff that happened when you were a toddler as a way to avoid talking about what is really bugging you. Here, they are defining for you what is bothering you, instead of listening to your important and relevant complaint. It’s a way of deflecting and failing to listen, and it also minimizes the recent event.

Most therapists believe it’s impossible to be traumatized by psychiatric incarceration. This is because they are truly clueless about what really goes on in the wards. They believe, as most do, that some kind of “therapy” happens in the groups, that the staff are kind by default, that anything that happened there is likely a psychosis…of yours.

Most won’t even listen when you try to tell then the truth. “But you were a danger to yourself,” they will contend, as if that justifies cruelty and torture. This little remark shuts down dialogue totally. Or, “But you chose to go there. You were voluntary.” As if because you asked to be “hospitalized” it’s somehow your fault because you got yourself into that mess.

Another thing they do, when you are discharged, is to go on with the therapy as if there’s nothing to talk about regarding the imprisonment itself. Why? To the therapist, this couldn’t be something that needs to be “worked on.” They gloss over it and focus on stuff you don’t care about, even if you are dying to tell them what really happened there. Or, of course, some of them are responsible for putting you there. So the last thing they want to hear is how badly it sucked.

Not only that, getting sectioned by someone you are supposed to trust is a huge betrayal. It’s not a favor. Yet they expect us to thank them for being “right.”

If you dare complain about a “hospital,” you are likely to be blamed by therapist instead of listened to. They so often default to telling you how dangerous you were, or how you caused the cruelty yourself. Would they tell this to a rape survivor?

Therapy tries to define us, instead of allowing us to define ourselves. Therapy tries to force-heal us, instead of allowing us to find out inner strength to make the changes we need to make…or, if we wish, choose to wait. Therapy puts a time limit on grief and trauma, arbitrarily set by the therapist. How often have we heard, “You should be over it by now.” Or, “That was the past, let’s focus on something else.”

I have the right to think about the past in any way I choose, to use it any way I choose. My experiences are mine, and mine only. I have the right to keep anything in memory and then, retell it, years later, if that is what pleases me, or retell a story in a way that others may benefit. I have the right to all this, without the imposition of therapy.

I do not owe it to anyone to be silent on these matters. MGH cannot determine that I am obligated to be silent about water deprivation, especially since I never got justice on that. It has been seven years now.

I owe it no one to see a therapist. I do not owe it to myself, especially when someone else makes this determination. I can’t believe the number of people who think they know what I owe to myself. Even complete strangers! I hate it when therapists, too, claim I owe something to myself. The only things I owe are my credit card balances, taxes, and things like that…and that’s about the only thing another entity (the bank or the courts) can say about “owing.”

I do owe money. I do not owe my soul. I hope others see the distinct difference here.

I know my decision to stay away from therapy was the right one. Traumas do resolve in their own time. It’s not like only therapy can cure them or make them go away. If a therapist tells you that, it’s a red flag. Stay away.

 

3 thoughts on “Therapy’s rash assumptions about trauma”

  1. Any benefit I received from counseling ended after I was labeled SMI. Nothing like endless talks with someone who views you as hopeless and (sometimes) reminds you of the “fact.”

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