TRAUMA HELPED BY MORE TRAUMA ?

The Sunday Times on Nov 10 reported, drawn from Psychology Today, two professors, Suniya Luthar of Arizona and Tanya Byron of London, with findings on life pressures on kids from the type of backgrounds where high flying successes are pursued more seriously. The common sense that this pressure damages mental health is now borne out by a measure that a doubled rate of mental crises went with more affluent backgrounds, with the success focussed culture around affluence was perceived to correlate with school pressures and social success pressures. Of course, it is not only affluent people who encounter these, but it illustrated the effects of a success focussed culture. An EECAF member whose background was certainly not affluent experienced a similar success pressure at that age as a result of ambitious educators. Its outcome was not success at all, instead a prolonged experience of crisis teenage psychiatry. It was not helpful. This service’s attitude was: a coping crisis inflicted on you by others cancels all your personal liberty. They were determined to impose their own arrogant program of unsuitable personal changes in every way that would please them. They exploited the crisis situation as grounds to threaten compulsion, for an agenda of stuff that was nothing to do with the crisis. By high handed certainty that meant they had to be fought as ill-treaters, by an already crisis stressed child, they totally failed as a service of care to provide any refuge or final escape from the folks who had caused the crisis. Which made a big difference to the adult life to come after it, as it meant the chance had not been regained to plan a future sensibly. This member mailed both professors to share from experience the concern that this could be the standard of so-called help given to the kids whose stress problem they have alerted to. Of course this is not done in high expectation of a response, from top professors who have been in the Sunday Times, but that is no reason to stop ex-patients expressing the concern against damaging unhelpful treatment and asking if it is being avoided. The question applies to adults too, in work pressure situations such as raised by the also recent well known story about too intensive work in certain types of trading. It is good that some recognition is being forced to happen for the well justified reasons for suffering crisis stress situations and to need for gently understandingly supportive help for the effects. But mainstream psychiatry is not to be trusted to deliver real help of that nature. Just by determining to take control and believing it should do, it can make the stressed person’s life disaster even worse. It needs to lose that power. In the slavery story from London too, there was a charity talking to the media about the mental trauma and needs to work with it, implying a mental health service being involved. Again, this was heard without any questioning of whether the approach to delivering such a need would be high handed and roughshod, and by it not deliver support at all but more trauma, more distress. So the EECAF member put that concern to that charity too. The theme of trauma help has run through recent news, but always without thought of any need to scrutinise the practices and powers of the services trusted to give it.