Archive for the ‘Gaslighting’ Category

Stuck in a Quandary

October 28, 2013
…in relation to last year. Action needs taking in relation to what happened to Janie Greville between February and April 2011. The mental health services listened to protests and anger from distant members of her family  in relation to a blog she was publishing.

They took notice to the degree that they persecuted her until they had actually broken into her home in the middle of the night where she was in bed, frightened of this invasion, and took her to Worcester Psychiatric Hospital where there was no bed for her to rest on.


The ‘interview’ that took place in her home was a farce driven by a foregone conclusion.

Cheers - Crisis Over, Champagne Living Beginning

Cheers – Crisis Over, Champagne Living Beginning

Her crimes had been to write the truth about a man where truth didn’t flatter him, and to have treated an uninvited ‘home treatment team’ member as if he was someone she was familiar with (she was – and the treatment was mutual, with one difference. He thought he had the right to decide what should and should not constitute the content of the visit. He decided that his boasting of his music should be concealed, and she did not. He reported this as ‘inappropriate behaviour’ and as a ‘symptom of mental illness.’)

The decision to imprison her had already been made. The ‘assessment’ was a mere formality.

Janie has ventured to ask family members how they feel about her going back, now, to complain in formal terms about this appalling incident and series of incidents around it. They are frightened. Every time they hear ‘mental health services’ they picture Janie being bundled into a hospital and then emerging from it in a suicidally depressed state. They just want to forget it.

Will they ever be able to, when Janie can be incarcerated at the call of anyone who doesn’t like what she says because it’s both true and inconvenient to their reputation? Or because they don’t like her un-English open-ness, or her ‘arty’ self presentation on occasion? Or her forthright manner, or her sharp tongue?

Isn’t it time she did stand up for the truth, for justice and to demonstrate the absurdity of psychiatry, at least in relation to her case?

What should she do? Your comments will be most welcome.

The CLI Presentation – Words for Now :-)

February 23, 2012

Tracey Holley's New Home 🙂

There’s no doubt about it: anyone finding themselves a patient on a psychiatric ward is in a vulnerable, distressed state. Whether or not hospitalisation has been necessary – or even helpful – is, in this sense, less important than recognising the vulnerability and distress of the person in question.

Whether desperately unhappy; enraged; disturbed or confused, patients are characteristically in a state of overwhelm on arrival; the more so where they have been forced into the context.

Thus the first duty of caring professionals = nursing; medical and other practitioners, is to acknowledge and respond sensitively to the emotive state of the patient at this point.

Sadly this has not been my experience most of the time: indeed, on the contrary, the insensitive, inobservant, arrogant and cavalier conduct of staff in the early years of my experience of mental health services created within me the mission I have had ever since to address it’s traumatising, wounding impacts – impacts that for many, are more violent and repressive than the contexts from which they were taken.

However, outstandingly compassionate and sensitive behaviours by four members of staff stand out from this mellais of disgrace.
The first came within a year of my request for an alternative psychiatrist from the one I had been ‘given’ in 1997 and whose arrogant, insensitive attitude and behaviour had driven me to 2 suicide attempts (none prior to meeting her, none even as a thought, before it).

The replacement psychiatrist was far from perfect (are any of us?) but what he did have going for him, certainly in relation to me, was a transparent humanity and quirkiness that warmed my heart and assisted me to feel as protective and concerned for his own wellbeing as he clearly felt for mine.

His name was John King. He recognised my intellectual restlessness and stretching inquisitiveness, he noticed my creative impulses and achievements; he marked my impassioned love for my children; he found it difficult to get his head around the abuse I had endured from various quarters leading up to and continuing in relation to my personal breakdowns and difficulties in recovering from these.

The second came from a nursing assistant who, by the time of this particular incident, I had met several times during ‘incarcerations’ at Hill Crest Hospital in Reddditch. I am racking my mind to remember her name, I feel dreadful that it isn’t at the tip of my tongue. I ran into her at a seminar only a year or so ago : she is attractive, 40-ish, with dark, curly long hair; vivacious and warm: the very epitome of the kind of nurse that anyone could wish for on a ward.

In 2003 she noticed the painfully distressed state I was in and within a few days she asked me if I would like help to have a bath. Her manner was non-patronising, tender and empathic. She had surmised that I was in serious need of nurture – she couldn’t have been more right. ‘Normally’ I am frighteningly shy and inhibited about my body, having suffered body dysmorphia and eating disorders from my early teens that had affected my growth so that in some respects I appeared barely adult: this was only too evident to me and I tended all my life to hide away from inspection, or indeed, even from being physically noticed.

With her maternal warmth and gentleness I allowed her to run a bath for me and to re-enter the room after I had undressed and got into the bath. She gently washed my back – a form of physical contact that I had not felt able to accept for so long I had no memory of it. Indeed, when I reflected upon it, I had not received such gentle contact from humanity since I was a tiny pre-school child, by one of my grandparents. It was a healing, nurturing contact that catalysed my recovery.

The third person to stand out from the crowd was another nursing assistant who was small, bubbly and loved by absolutely every patient. She worked with the hospital team to advocate for my needs to have contact with my children and she succeeded. She took me away from the hospital for coffee hours where we simply sat and chattered like girls with no reference to ‘heavy issues’: again, my recovery was catalysed.

Finally, I received memorable respect and kindness during my most extraordinary imprisonment last year. It was extraordinary because my distress had been caused directly and almost exclusively by malicious efforts by my ex-husband and his wife to malign me in order for my ex-husband to continue to conceal the truth about himself; plus, by the mental health service who once more, and this time indefensibly, leapt to his aid by ‘rounding me up’ after hot pursuit and declaring me insane for writing a blog and for being ‘over familiar’ with a nurse who I had known (to be ‘over familiar’ himself at Hill Crest where I had first met him) by trying to engage him in music session whilst he was (ininvitedly) in my home…..

…one of the nursing assistants (support workers, as they are now called) took to coming into see me in my room when the ward was quiet, simply to have a chat, to show me her publications, her poetry and to contextualise me in relation to the triggers for her work. This was respect, courtesy, warmth, acceptance, treating me in a manner I could recognise as fitting in relation to my identity..

I hope that this indicates to you the kinds of positive risks these intelligent and responsible and compassionate individuals took and the gains their risks achieved in the journey of one mental health patient. So very risky none of it was – but they took the ‘risk’ of ‘coming out from behind’ real or supposed masks of ‘expertise’ and ‘clinical’ (=cold and heartless and judgemental) reserves of ‘professional identity’ and related to me as fellow human beings disposed to assist me at a point of pain and difficulty in my life.

I hope that you, too, find the courage to work in the interests of ‘shared humanness’ regardless of those pressures you may find to be remote, ‘professionally detached’ and covertly judgemental. Active listening is probably the most important skill any mental health, or any other health, professional can acquire and use.

Blast from the Past – Psychotic Depression Rises to Protect the Kids

January 17, 2012
Life Against Death: The Psychoanalytical Meani...
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It has come to my attention that some readers may mistake this publication for a ‘letter to my ex husband’ in the present day. Nothing could be further from the truth. It’s title is ‘blast from the past – psychotic depression rises to protect children’. ~There is it’s context. In order to protect the children’s residency with their mother the mother was obliged to erase his crimes against her in her mind and implicitly hold herself responsible for everything, whilst denying that he was capable, let alone guilty of wrong doing within his home in secret.

The other clear clue is the date: 2001




Dear [Husband]

Once a momentum is under way it is extremely difficult to overturn, stop or change it. To do that you have to be able to develop an enormous energy, strength and determination to make the upheaval required.

Last year you determined on a momentum of change which you have used great energy, strength and determination to proceed with, assisted by the involuntary alteration of your feelings regarding what you can live with and what you want – you decided that and you went for it, in response to my having denied the need for medication one fatal last time, and then becoming utterly unbelievable in the behaviour of my illness.

I seem to have been on a momentum since 1997 when, in utter madness, I jeopardized our marriage, our family life, the children’s security and joy and my own mental, emotional, economic, social and physical health and validity. Since last year I have been walking a road to death, a road of death, a momentum of helplessness, hopelessness and despair which is of its own kind, in its own way extraordinarily strong and relentless. A road of death so lifeless that there isn’t even the energy there to make a distinct action to speed destination.

It will now take a miracle to transform the road of death which I’m on, one which shows itself in my body, as well as in my infuriating behaviour and lack of functioning, through an inability to sustain weight regardless of how much I eat, which at times is a lot.

You are not God, and you are not Jesus and you are not in this world simply and purely to provide succour for others. Your position in this drama of life and death isn’t, though, as irrelevant as you either think it is or want it to be.

I beg of you to realise that for whatever reasons, reasons which are extremely complicated and profound, my link with life, and the return of my energy to that pursuing life and health and sanity rather than death, disease and madness, is you: your willingness to forgive, and through forgiveness, to take my hand and help me back to a place in which I can become a mother and a wife deserving of that status and brought to the stage where you can want for me to have that status with you and for the children. Along that path lies the chance for us to form twin pillars for Lorna and Amelia, so that they can finally move through and past these dreadful times and up into a healing adolescence – a hard stage at the best of times, for them it will be extremely painful and difficult and they will need all the support and firmness and security they can lay their hands on. Along that path also lies the chance for you and I to form the arch we could be for each other, to be there for each other always, and to share our joys and sorrows together, knowing that that shadow is always behind us, never forgotten, but finally fading in the distance.

It seems to me that you have decided that the girls don’t really need me and that if I can’t carry on or I die or I continue to be a dead person in a half living body, it won’t matter too much for them. I won’t deny that their bodies wouldn’t die if I wasn’t there or if I carry on in this death living with or away from them – but it will without doubt devastate their lives for good in either case, and I believe the present situation is devastating their lives and therefore their future lives.

Our marriage of me in denial of my illness is over, our relationship of that order is over. Would a relationship of forgiveness and assistance to health, and a marriage of loving following upon that regaining of health be so damaging to your life that it would do to you what is now happening to me? We both know it wouldn’t and we both know that this is my only chance of transforming my own appalling momentum and becoming the woman you thought was there when you fell in love with her (I won’t call that me, since I so little resemble her right now) so long ago – if you will let yourself remember just how much you believed in her, wanted her, loved her, enjoyed being with her, then perhaps you can come home and help me to bring her out of the deep freeze and put this appalling thing away for good.

I can’t make you do anything. I can’t force you to accept how much power you have in your hands to change the history of these years around so that in a future context they take on a different set of meanings and a different shape and are a reminder to take medication, not a threat of further pain or havoc. In such a scenario your initial strength and energy and determination to change momentum for the good of us all as a family would be looked back on as the most heroic, ambitious, wise move you ever made in your life – and in health I could never, would never, nor would ever want to, deny that without you I simply could not have made it through. The children would know that too: though they’d think less of me for not having the gargantuan strength to come through without you, I guess if you are honest with yourself you would realise that it would feed their souls immeasurably to have their mum back as A remembers though B has no conscious memory of it, I don’t think.

I don’t want to suck your life spirit from you and I don’t want your life to become just a resented chore. I want, desperately want, for you to want us all to grow through and heal through this ghastly mess together, and move beyond it together and to NEVER EVER VISIT IT AGAIN. If you can want to see me living through to health, vibrancy and lovability rather than to ignominious death, if you can take up your part in that process then you will have performed the first miracle of a larger miracle – the achievement of just that. I say miracle because right now it all seems just impossible – but it isn’t impossible, can be done and if you can want it to be achieved it will be.

I’m not fit to be a wife of any kind right now, I’m fully aware of that, and right now what’s needed is a bit of firm fathering more than anything else. When I grow up again, this time properly, I think, I truly believe, that you will remember, in what you see then, the desirable woman-potential in realisation which you sought in me so long ago.

Please oh please listen to me this time and respond positively. I don’t want to die this way. I don’t want to lose A and B this way. I don’t want all of my positive qualities, not that I can think what they are right now, but I must have had some, to be permanently extinguished this way. I know I’ve been so much, so very much trouble, and I know I’ve caused us all so very much pain and shock – please don’t close the book on us, our family, our history on this note. Make a leap of faith – and remember this, that if I let you down: smoke a cigarette, fail to complete agreed tasks, fail to meet ‘getting better’ targets, or god forbid ever talk of not needing medication or fail to take medication again – then we both know I would have to be the one to leave home, not you, so you know that you wouldn’t ever have to think about the ‘itinerant’ bit again.

Under the circumstances of your anger and your determination around that it was easy for you to close your heart to me, to turn your emotional back on me, to cut me out of your life, which isn’t to say life’s been easy for you since last year, I don’t mean that. To make the decision to forgive, which would be a massive decision and a massive achievement, will be harder. Harder because to do that you have to open your heart again, you have to be open to learning to trust me again, and allowing me to show you that it is safe for you to do that, show you that there are no more barbs, no more shocks, no more flares in store, only a slow but steady healing for all of us towards a future in which the children can heal, I can gain and maintain health and balance and you can embrace a family life which actually does give you space, love, fun and rest.

Been here before? In an echo yes, but not in reality. What’s different this time [husband], is that before, and I’m thinking of 1999 now, it was genuinely meant, but at some level presumably, I hadn’t taken in just how much further I could fall, how dangerous the illness was, how vital were the cautious steps I needed to take, how very very very carefully and tenderly and sensitively I needed to treat your feelings of affection, how important it was to ensure I allayed fear, anxiety, alienation, the time it takes to heal, the importance of your feelings and needs. I hadn’t learned my lesson of acceptance of the illness, most importantly. And this time the state of my body and other things show very clearly that we are talking life and death here, at the moment mainly death and of A and B’s emotional and mental welfare in the future.

Whenever I speak/write like this you think of blackmail, which is how something feels when a lot rests on you to make a commitment you’ve decided you don’t want to carry on with/make. I don’t know whether this point might help a bit – if I wasn’t sincere about what I’m saying, and determined to make a lasting miracle of the miracle of your commitment then I would pretty quickly either be: found to smoke a cigarette (have to go); fail to complete tasks set for me to do each day (have to go); fail to meet set (reasonable, achievable) getting better targets we set (have to go). So you’d be pretty quickly rid of me in any case if I weren’t unbelievably determined, which I’d have to be to pull through this miracle to meet the miracle of your commitment. Lorna and Amelia are in mind here, very much. I don’t want to lose them, I don’t want them to lose me, but as things stand they’ve lost me anyway and that’s almost worse, or would certainly get to be pretty quickly now. It’s the structure of their lives as much as or more than outings which form the basis of whether or not they’re going to come through this in tact. At this rate, quite frankly, they won’t.

The point precisely at which you may be wanting to say: right Janie – off you go now then, you’ve admitted you’re not coping, I’ll take over right now. But before you take that step be sure that you are confident that they deserve for you to give up on me like this, that your washing your hands of me at this unbelievable point in our lives and then saying – there we are, she’s sunk, her fault, the girls will be better off without a mother. Be sure, in other words, that in years to come you will be able to live with that, because once you’ve definitely refused to bargain around the miracle making that I propose, and remove, effectively the chance for A and B to have an emergingly positive mothering once more – then, there will be consequences for them which aren’t small, or to be brushed off. I sometimes wonder whether you or Honor consider that having lost your own mother in early adolescence shows that loss of mother isn’t utterly crucial in life – barring any comments on that in particular, our children have already had unbelievable traumas to cope with from young childhood, it is my unutterable grief to live with. There’s not a lot I wouldn’t be able to do to begin to make amends to them – the first step in that process is for you to make some move, some positive/responsive/negotiative move on what I’ve said. Incidentally my dad took us out for lots of outings. We got utterly buggared anyway. It is the answer in some families. It isn’t the answer in this family. What I’m asking of you will be tasting like raw tripe right now: bear with it, please bear with it. I may have bi-polar da da, – well, I demonstrably have, and I may be the world’s worst most impractical housewife which I’ve been this year for sure and which is one of the things we’ve got to tackle, which we’ve got to get me to tackle, – but I’m not stupid and I’m not without perceptiveness. In two ways. I wouldn’t have terrors about the children for no reason, nor fail them without working out what I need in order to stop failing them. I wouldn’t ask of you a commitment which you aren’t capable, fully capable, of making, nor, more importantly, ask that commitment of you if I were not ready to make a commitment in return which would ensure that your own pledge and the effort and sacrifice of that were not met in full by my own determination to make that commitment something which paid off for you as well as for the children as well as for me. One thing is for sure – you will never be in love with me as you once were, that would simply not be possible. Through and beyond forgiveness, though, lies love, and through forgiveness, through my own emergence as someone who can (with medication) achieve balance and express what positive potential I possess, I can become someone to whom you can turn when you’re in need so that the relations between us can become balanced, too.

I unleashed a drama I can never ever fully understand, never forget, never unmake, never paint as something minor or forgettable. You have done your level best to leave me as much as you possibly can, to cope inside it with the children without you. But I need you too, not to chew you up and spit you out, but in order, finally, to put things right, really right, for the children, for myself, for the history of our lives together. There are all kinds of ways people go through life in a living death, and often couples live inside a living death all their lives, without event, and never realizing that’s what they’re in (I guess that doesn’t work out so badly for the children in those families, I don’t know). For all the faults you find with us, and there are many, and they’re the only bits you can remember at the moment, probably, we weren’t in a living death together, though we did sideline each other a lot when the girls came along, and the drama of the 80’s had already stolen us some time. I should have accepted diagnosis then, I should have seen the writing on the wall after 1997, I shouldn’t have been listening to my sister and to the anti-psychiatry I schooled myself in as a student ; should, should, should… too late now.

But not too late for you and I to work together towards a miracle for the girls, for my health and humanity and for what could later be seen as the history of our relationship, which means it would be a miracle for you too. Forgiveness is the starting point, and that is what must be very hard for you to consider possible, even if you can accept that a huge amount is at stake in your ability to do what heart work would be necessary for it to be achieved. I guess it might have been a whole lot easier if I hadn’t let myself and everything else go so terribly badly – but I guess if I had held myself together a whole lot better when I crashed to oblivion then the situation wouldn’t be so critical right now; a bit of an irony really.

A miracle – an event which astonishes, which is unexpected, which brings much good, which few saw it as possible to achieve – well, that just about sums up what I am suggesting we go for together. I guess I was wrong about writing books, stupid and unimportant ambition in a world full of unread books and a life so much in need of living, learning working and loving, not commentating – delusions of grandeur or badly misplaced priorities.

More than anything else in the world I want to stop thinking about the past, thinking about health, about things which need doing, thinking about priorities, about A and B, about all the points at which I did wrong to you, behaved badly with you, still do, and want to, instead DO.

People surely come together because there are things they can give each other, problems they can help each other with, weaknesses they can help each other overcome. In various ways, by grievous default, I have helped you to find your strength, independence, resilience, confidence, to truly value yourself and so forth – in the face, that is, of the unutterable hell you went through when I was ill, ill, ill, ill, you pulled up those potentials in yourself – god help me I wouldn’t have wanted to help you find those strengths in that way, I wouldn’t want anyone to find them that way.

Theoretically in your leaving me and not being able to forgive me, or find love for me, maybe in an ideal world it would help me by default to find my practical abilities to cope with the every day, my emotional strength to overcome adversity for the sake of the children, the determination to sustain recovery and build real self-esteem, not arrogance, finally. Except that there’s one fairly well documented fact about what happens when people are unloved: they curl up and die. Not all people, perhaps, but most. Babies pretty well routinely do. Adults whose early injections of love weren’t healthy or sufficient do.

My behaviour in illness hasn’t been lovable to say the least of it. My behaviour now, in the curling and dying, and ‘spitting’ is far from lovable. To make the commitment, to start the miracle, you would have to do this: take hold of a person in your mind who you knew was lovely, lively, bright, full of potential, if too arrogant (you didn’t see that properly then, shame really, you could have ‘beaten’ it out of me, still another if), take hold of the idea that this person has got lost behind/inside a vicious illness which is under control in its rabid bits but the consequences of which are eating up that person, that person who A and B would so dearly love to see, be with, be mothered by – and, with that person in your mind, share with me the task, momentous task, of pulling up that person and adding in a DOING approach to the space where arrogance needed to leave in any case. ( I haven’t always been quite so awful at doing – that is, there is potential there too).

YOU’D HAVE TO BELIEVE THAT AN OLDER, WISER VERSION OF THAT PERSON IS STILL THERE, ALBEIT LOCKED UP IN THIS SELF-PUNISHMENT, DESPERATELY WANTING TO EMERGE and dismiss the ghastly excuse for a human being which I have been enacting, and which is taking a stronger and stronger grip in its death drive – everyone has a death drive, most, sensibly, keep it at bay – I want mine to be put at and kept at bay too.

I can’t predict whether or not you are willing to let the bucket down into your heart-mind in order to rescue the aspects/potentials/trapped personality of someone who you loved very much, I think, and who, I hope really hope, needs, if not right now deserves, some love now. I know it’s a schizoid way of talking incidentally, but it’s difficult to know how to express what I’m saying, and I think possible versions of ourselves can get stuck and lost and trapped at times – if it’s the crap bits great, but if it’s the best bits, well, not so good to say the least.

I can’t predict. All your energies and focus are away from wanting to think about, let alone centre, any part of me good or bad except with reference to explicit aspects of the children’s welfare, so I guess the odds aren’t strong. Stranger things have happened though, and when strange things happen, wonderful things can follow, so I have to hope that this is one of those times.

In all this talk about aspects and ‘I’ who is the ‘I’ who is talking? Not an easy question: maybe it’s partly a naff me, since needing help and rescue is pretty naff I guess, and maybe also it’s some central core of me knowing that this is just too huge for me to handle without you [husband], just too much for me to achieve on my own without your forgiveness and your willingness, through forgiveness and my extreme efforts with that forgiveness and support, to release love again in my direction when it has been earned, when this ghastly and unbalanced version of me is reformed/gives way to an older, wiser, kinder and less verbose version of who I was when we fell in love.

Published by Jessica Clements; Names and details witheld for reasons of security. The writer of this piece now regards it with surprise: she didn’t remember ever having genuinely being ‘in love’ with this man. Though she does remember being infatuated, a related sensation at the time. She had never been in love at the time of writing this letter and simply didn’t know the difference. She does now. She looks at this letter, doesn’t remember writing it, sees the gaslighting impact inside it – she had at this point blamed herself for his domestic violence. And was wholly complicit in its secrecy – by adopting it and claiming it as her own, even within her own mind. THIS is the power of the ‘gaslight’ effect.

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