Every day I see people with “Clinical Anxiety”, “Panic Disorders”, “Phobias” and a variety of other diagnosed conditions. They walk out without the label – that kept them stuck. When they un-stick the label, they free themselves of the condition.
Perhaps it’s time to set yourself free?
The DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual) is used to diagnose and treat mental health issues. Each edition increases the amount of psychotropic-drug-treatable “conditions”. This new way of looking at normal phases of life (such as grief, PMS and toddler tantrums) can be dangerous. It can leave normal people who are going through a challenging phase, or even a normal process of life with a lifetime dependence on a pharmaceutical drug that alters their brain chemistry. This reliance on drugs can prevent them from healing and growing in a natural healthy way.
It’s important to note that the currently accepted “mainstream” is very new. Many people consider the history of medicine to go back thousands of years, and in this context the pharmaceutical component of mental health treatment is extremely recent.
The fist edition of the DSM was released only a few decades ago in 1952 - it listed 106 psychotropic-drug-treatable conditions. The latest edition released in 2013 has more than doubled that figure (Murphy Paul, 2006). It also lists perceived disorders as “subtypes” in order to not increase diagnosable conditions at an alarming rate, while still insidiously increasing the ease to medicate.
One possible explanation for the ever-increasing list of chemically treatable conditions is, “More than half the experts who compile the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders have ties to the pharmaceutical industry, according to a study published last month in the journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics” (Murphy Paul, 2006).
A cynic may call it a pharmaceutical rort. At a minimum, we need to be educated and aware of the facts.
A Few Important Facts to Consider
Then… we’re stuck.
We become literally stuck in our perceived affliction – identifying ourselves as it. “I am bi-polar, I have clinical anxiety, this is part of me”. There is nothing more destructive than identifying ourselves with a label that keeps us in a state of un-ease or dis-ease.
To put it simply, when something doesn’t sit right with us, it creates a state of “un-ease” within us – and that’s not so we can get labelled and stuck in that state of “un-ease”, but rather so we can get to the bottom of it and fix it. A Buddhist would explain it through highlighting the value of suffering – how it is though our challenges that we create wonderful growth, change and life. When we embrace our state of “un-ease” in order to fix and resolve what caused it, we transform our natural state into one of expansion, and ultimately greater ease.
Think of the famous butterfly fable – where the kind old man cuts a hole in the cocoon to help the struggling butterfly get out, only to see it flop to the ground and die. The creature was sadly bloated and too heavy to fly as it hadn’t gone through the struggle out of the cocoon that compressed and drained its body in preparation for flight.
According to ABC report (Funnel, A. 2014), “an increasing number of psychiatrists view the (DSM) manual with disdain – or even outright contempt”. Funnel goes on to explain, “treating people according to their mental health symptoms makes as much sense as a physician prescribing the same medication for chest pain, regardless of whether the pain is a result of heartburn, a simple muscle spasm or the beginning of a massive myocardial infarction”. He says, “It makes no sense at all. The symptom doesn’t necessarily tell you anything about the specifics of the underlying cause”.
A Few Examples
Below are a few recent examples of clients whose stories exemplify the way in which labels can keep us stuck, and how losing them can set us free.
Please note: Names and minor details may have been changed for those who choose to protect their anonymity.
Meg is a beautiful young woman who had a perfect “nose job” – and then became increasingly unhappy with her result. She couldn’t stop thinking about her nose, how problematic it was, and other people’s noses. She was diagnosed several times over a number of years with OCD. The treatment: medication.
Fortunately, Meg sought a natural alternative. She was on a low dose anti-depressant and she disliked the side-effects.
When I met her she was concerned that her “OCD” (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) was infiltrating into other areas of her life – she was starting to live into her label or diagnosis.
I told her the truth – she did not have OCD, but rather a classic phobia. Phobias are simply a misconception of reality, whereby the body/mind overrides reality at a sensory level that is completely illogical. Most people with a phobia are aware of their false sense of reality and illogical feelings – but they feel powerless to change them. And this is because they can only be resolved at the deeper unconscious level where they were created.
Within four sessions, Meg didn’t even notice or think about her nose. She no longer had to even consider being trapped in a lifetime of suffering with a condition like OCD. She came off her anti-depressant with no side-effects, which was remarkable to her because previously when she’d tried to come off them she suffered terrible withdrawal symptoms.
Meg overcame a simple phobia, and it was a simple process.
Mike had witnessed extreme tragedy several times in his family and was plagued with post-traumatic stress, grief, anger and sadness. He was self-medicating with alcohol to ease the pain. He had been to years of trauma counselling, workshops, retreats and rehab. He felt he was getting worse, and was at the end of his tether when I met him.
Diagnosed with a variety of personality disorders, clinical depression, PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) and alcoholism, he felt overwhelmed by his afflictions – a broken man.
Mike was traumatised - but that does not mean he has a PTSD condition. He was self medicating with alcohol but that did not make him an alcoholic – he simply did not know what else to do. His moods changed suddenly due to triggers in his family that would arise from time to time, but that did not mean he had a personality disorder. Instead, Mike like any other human being, was experiencing a normal human reaction to extremely disturbing experiences and events.
Within 5 sessions, Mikes’ tears spoke louder than his words as he expressed his relief in being able to create his own state of ease or calm, despite his tragic past circumstances.
He was able to move out of his experiences, and step away from them, distinguishing himself as separate to them – and this is what allowed him to heal and restore his healthy essence.
The labels he was given were keeping him stuck in dis-ease, in suffering, in his trauma and past. They had identified him as part of this trauma state; a state of un-ease that disallowed his recovery into his separate healthy self-identity. When he shed these labels and found his essence outside of his experiences, he was able to find strength, to grow, to re-form and to start a whole new journey into his own freedom and expansion.
Mike was able to become an inspiration to his children rather than repeating a cycle of sadness and dysfunction. He generated a whole new trajectory, not just for his own life, but for his children and their children’s children.
Nancy is a gorgeous and incredible woman who suffered a lifetime of extreme bulimia and alcoholism which was born out of her childhood.
When I met her she had been though years of counselling, psychotherapy and rehab. She felt completely lost and powerless, all the treatments landing her in “the worst place she’d ever been”. Fortunately, she refused the psychotropic drugs option offered by psychiatrists. She was diagnosed with bulimia, alcoholism, a variety of personality disorders as well as the standard clinical anxiety and depression.
Within 5 sessions over 2 weeks, Nancy had overcome the bulimia – an extreme condition where she’d binge and purge up to 13 times a day. She had no desire to succumb to this urge to purge which had ruled her life for almost 3 decades. She was previously using alcohol every day to the extreme and she had now lost the desire to drink to excess. She looked completely different; she felt like a new woman. She could barely believe how quickly and naturally she was able to overcome what she had been led to believe was a lifetime of addiction and affliction.
Nancy is an inspiration to those who feel stuck, and you can watch the video she sent me here. She explains that her breakthrough occurred when she understood that the states of un-ease she was experiencing were there to flag an underlying issue that needed to be fixed. She needed to fill gaps that had created a deep-seated emptiness. This went back to her childhood and when the emptiness was resolved she found her freedom.
Meg, Mike and Nancy have all turned what they thought was impossible into I’m-possible. They are living the life they thought they’d never have, drug free.
How to Know When to Lose a Label
If you’re unsure whether or not to Ditch the Diagnosis, you can check out When to Lose the Label here.
The bottom line: When we are emotionally challenged, injured or traumatized, we need to heal – in the same way as when we are physically challenged, injured or traumatized. It takes time, patience, acceptance, compassion and an understanding of how natural healing processes work.
Important End Note
It is important to add here that I have the greatest amount of respect for many Psychiatrists. And there are mental health conditions that definitely require medication. In fact, I work with some wonderful Psychiatrists who sent their patients to me before medicating where they see it fit – and occasionally I’ve had to refer clients to them.
Murphy Paul, A. (2006) Listening to Prozac: How do new disorders get into the DSM? Downloaded 21/11/2019 from https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2006/05/how-do-new-disorders-get-into-the-dsm.html
Rosenberg, R.S. (2013) Abnormal is the New Normal: Why will half the U.S. population have a diagnosable mental disorder? Downloaded 21/11/2019 from https://slate.com/technology/2013/04/diagnostic-and-statistical-manual-fifth-edition-why-will-half-the-u-s-population-have-a-mental-illness.html
ABC National. Funnel, A. (2014) Psychiatrists Split on Whether to Ditch DSM. Downloaded 28/11/2019 from https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/futuretense/the-psychiatrists-are-revolting/5680842
Disclaimer. Lyn Megan Macpherson is not a medical doctor, psychologist or psychiatrist, and does not claim to be one. She therefore holds no legal liability for the choices of readers who are encouraged to make informed decisions and seek medical advice if required.
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