In life there are struggles and many ups and downs. My life has seemed to have more downs than ups but I still survived them. I will continue to survive life’s twists and turns as I venture through my life paths. I am not perfect and I make way more mistakes than I would like to admit. However, where I am currently in my life is far better than where I was just 5 years ago. I finally nerved up and moved from Virginia where I never believed I could because I wanted to be there when my kids come find me when they each turn of age when they are allowed to. I could not move out of emotional entrapment done to myself by my own mind. I finally worked through that and moved here to Upstate South Carolina about 8 months ago. I am not happy where I currently am though. I don’t know anyone here really and I have no friends. The so called family that is here has only made it harder for e to be happy here and want to stay. I thought moving here could help my mother realize I am her daughter, her oldest child, and I deserve better than the life she provided for me. Unfortunately because of my traumatic childhood in which she was part of creating I have PTSD and it has caused me more anxiety being around her and the narcisstic behaviors and things she says. Her own victimization when I try to address something creates animosity within the relationship and causes a complete attitude from her of shutting me out of her life like she did most my growing up. She never really had to take care of me when I was young. I was raised by a system from a very young age, though not young enough not to suffer from the effects of abuse. So when something happens I try to talk to her by text about it only for her to deny and invalidate my experience and then attack me. I get defensive and bring out the things she has done to harm me in my life and she feels she owes no apology, she was a young mother is her excuse, and she’s moved on and so she says I need to move on and forget all that. I cannot just forget. Much of my life is a mystery and blank to me because of the trauma I have just forgotten. But when triggered I experience emotional triggers and flashbacks more than actual flashbacks and triggers of the actual physical and sexual abuse. Anyway I was doing emotionally well and protected myself by not being around her and limiting my contact with siblings and other family that increased my triggered emotions until I moved here. Now I am stuck here for the remainder of the year until my lease ends and I can move elsewhere. I however never wanted to move back to Massachusetts because I felt that was moving backwards in life. now I want to go back to Virginia because the last 8 months I lived there I met some awesome people and created great support system and friendships I dont want to lose. I also really wanted to move to the beach which in Virginia is 3 hours or more away from my friends and I still would be lost there like I have been here in SC without friendship and supports. In Massachusetts I have friends too friends I have had for years even though I left there 11 years ago, I was raised there and know lots of people and could have support there too. There I would be closer to the beach or even could look for a place at the beach. I could also just start over in a completely whole new state on a beach and hope to get a group of awesome friends like I have in Virginia that are accepting, friendly, care, loving, and very supportive. Though I have a lot of good about moving back to the area I moved friend in Virginia there is some bad. it puts me back in an area that’s close to siblings that are just like their mother and have many traits of their father manipulation, lies, no values, selfish, and narcissism. I would however be close to where I was when I lost my kids and would be near for them to find me. But with the internet nowadays they should be able to find me easily since I keep an online presence everywhere I go. Also I like gardening and want to go somewhere and be able to garden still. I have thought about staying in SC and just moving to the beach which is atleast 3-4 miles away currently from where I am and that will give me the independence and space away from those that live here I want away from. I have never been out west like the western shore board near the beaches there or down south like Florida beaches either. Those could be options I look into to. But right now I am very unsure and confused on what to do and where to go from here. Anyone have any suggestions or further information that could help in y decision I welcome your voices.
Meeting the True Needs of Children Diagnosed as ‘ADHD’
By Dan Edmunds
How should one look upon Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and what is the effective way to aid those who are given this diagnosis? There has been considerable debate as to whether or not ADHD is a genuine disorder. Psychiatrist and professor Robert Hedaya (1996, pg. 140) mentions that an examination by Hartmann in 1993 felt that ADHD is actually normal variant of human behavior that doesn’t fit into cultural norms.
In addition, there is no objective test for this disorder. Hedaya (1996, pg. 140) mentions that a commonly used test is the TOVA (test of variables of attention), a test where the client must use a computer and hit a target at various points. This test is designed to measure the person’s response time and distractibility. However, Hedaya (1996, pg. 140) notes, this tool cannot be relied upon to make or exclude the diagnosis in and of itself. Hedaya (1996, pg. 268) notes that there has been controversy in the use of stimulants for the treatment of ADHD, he states, medications alone do not provide adequate or full treatment in this disorder.
Hedaya (1996, pg. 269) notes that the most serious risk in the use of methylphenidate (Ritalin) for ADHD is that about 1% of these children will develop tics and or Tourette’s Syndrome. Hedaya asks the question,”One might wonder-, why use methylphenidate at all?” Hedaya argues that the side effects involved in the use of methylphenidate are mild. However, he notes that side effects include nervousness, increased vulnerability to seizures, insomnia, loss of appetite, headache, stomachache, and irritability. Hedaya (1996, pg. 271) argues that the causation of ADHD lies in problems in dopamine regulation in the brain and states that stimulants work by stimulating dopamine in the brain and thus the symptoms of ADHD are lessened.
However, previously Hedaya states that Zametkin (1995) noted that stimulants have the same effect in both those diagnosed as ADHD and those who are not (Hedaya, 1996, pg. 139). Dr. William Carey of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia commented at the National Institutes of Mental Health Consensus Conference in 1998 that the behaviors exhibited by those considered ADHD were normal behavioral variations. A Multimodal Treatment Study was conducted by the National Institutes of Mental Health in 1999 in regards to ADHD. Psychiatrist Peter Breggin and the members of the International Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology challenged the outcomes of this study because it was not a placebo controlled double blind study. Breggin also argues that that the analysis conducted of behaviors in the classroom of those children studied showed no significant differences between those children receiving stimulant medications versus those who only were utilizing a behavioral management program (MTA Cooperative Group, 1999a, pg. 1074). Breggin notes that there was no control group in the study of untreated children and that 32% of the children involved in the study were already receiving one or more medications prior to the onset of the study. Of those in the study who were the medication management group, they numbered only 144 of which Breggin finds to be enormously small.
Breggin states that in the ratings of the children themselves that they noted increased anxiety and depression however this was not found to be a significant factor by the investigators. Breggin also believes that the study was flawed in that drug treatment continued for 14 months whereas behavioral management was utilized for a much shorter duration. Breggin argues that the behavioral management strategies, which involved mainly a token economy system, were ineffective as well and did not take into consideration family dynamics but regardless, the study still showed that there was no difference between the populations treated with drugs versus those undergoing behavioral management solely. Breggin notes that many of the children receiving medications had adverse drug reactions, which consisted of depression, irritability, and anxiety. 11.4% reported moderate reactions and 2.9% had severe reactions. However, Breggin also states that those reporting the adverse drug reactions were not properly trained, but were rather only teachers and/or parents.
The study, as Breggin concludes, showed no improvement in the children treated with medications in the areas of academic performance or social skill development. Breggin feels that the study was improper in that all of the investigators were known to be pro-medication advocates prior to and after the study. Breggin states that Ritalin and other amphetamines have almost identical adverse reactions and have the potential for creating behavioral issues as well as psychosis and mania in some individuals. Breggin argues that these medications often cause the very behaviors they are intended to treat. He notes that children treated with these medications often become robotic and lethargic and that permanent neurological tics can result.
In his textbook, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Russell Barkley, an advocate for the use of methylphenidate in the treatment of ADHD, notes that there is little improvement in academic performance with the short-term use of psychostimulant medication. Barkley also acknowledges that the stimulant medications can affect growth hormone but at present there is not any knowledge of the long-term effects on the hypothalamic-pituitary growth hormones. Barkley (1995, pg. 122) also states, at present there are no lab tests or measures that are of value in making a diagnosis of ADHD.
Dr. Sidney Walker, III, (1998, pg. 25) a late board-certified neuropsychiatrist comments that a large number of children do not respond to Ritalin treatment, or they respond by becoming sick, depressed, or worse. Some children actually become psychotic – the fact that many hyperactive children respond to Ritalin by becoming calmer doesn’t mean that the drug is treating a disease. Most people respond to cocaine by becoming more alert and focused, but that doesn’t mean they are suffering from a disease treated by cocaine. It is interesting to note Walker’s analogy of Ritalin to cocaine. Volkow and his colleagues (1997) observed in their study, EMP (methylphenidate, like cocaine, increases synaptic dopamine by inhibiting dopamine reuptake, it has equivalent reinforcing effects to those of cocaine, and its intravenous administration produces a high similar to that of cocaine. Walker (1998, pg. 14-15) that in addition to emotional struggles of children leading to ADHD-like behavior, that high lead levels, high mercury levels, anemia, manganese toxicity, B-vitamin deficiencies, hyperthyroidism, Tourette’s syndrome, temporal lobe seizures, fluctuating blood sugar levels, cardiac conditions, and illicit drug use would all produce behaviors that could appear as what would be considered ADHDEhowever Walker feels that these issues are most often overlooked and the person is considered to be ADHD.
F. Xavier Castellanos states at the 1998 Consensus Conference that those children with ADHD had smaller brain size than those of children who were considered to be normal. However, Castellanos reported as well that 93% of those children considered ADHD in the study were being treated long term with psychostimulants and stated that the issue of brain atrophy could be related to the use of psychopharmacological agents. Dr. Henry Nasrallah from Ohio State University (1986) found that atrophy occurred in about half of the 24 young adults diagnosed with ADHD since childhood that participated in his study. All of these individuals had been treated with stimulants as children and Nasrallah and colleagues concludes that cortical atrophy may be a long term adverse effect of this treatment. Physician Warren Weinberg and colleagues stated, a large number of biologic studies have been undertaken to characterize ADHD as a disease entity, but results have been inconsistent and not reproducible because the symptoms of ADHD are merely the symptoms of a variety of disorders. The Food and Drug Administration has noted (Walker, 1998, pg. 27) that ee acknowledge that as of yet no distinct pathophysiology (for ADHD) has been delineated.
There has been concern as well about the addictive component of psychostimulants. The Drug Enforcement Administration (1995c) reports that it was found that methylphenidate’s pharmacological effects are essentially the same as those of amphetamine and methamphetamine and that it shares the same abuse potential as these Schedule II stimulants.
Breggin states that psychiatrist Arthur Green in the Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry published in 1989 reported that all commonly diagnosed disorders of childhood can be linked to abuse and/or neglect. Abuse and neglect produces difficulties in school, such as cognitive impairment, particularly in the areas of speech and development, combined with limited attention span and hyperactivity. (Breggin, 1991, pg. 274)
Being that ADHD is a subjective diagnosis and that stimulant treatment has been shown to have risk as detailed above, what is the effective alternative to aiding those who have been diagnosed ADHD and what actually is underlying the difficulties that these individuals may be manifesting? Psychologist and educator Michael Valentine (1988) suggests that it is necessary to love your children, care about them, do as much as possible to have them grow and develop, teach them social skills, and teach them how to identify and express their feelings and to become uniquely human; but at the same time, care about them and love them enough to give them guidance, structure, limits, and control as they need it.
Valentine advocates a psychosocial approach to aiding children and adolescents who would be considered to be ADHD. Psychiatrist Peter Breggin also advocates this approach and feels that it is necessary for parents to feel empowered and for their to be a compassionate therapeutic adult in the lives of these children. Breggin (1998, pg. 308-310) feels it is necessary to examine the effects of institutionalization and placement on children as well as the effects of psychiatric stigmatization (that is, the effects on esteem of receiving the label of ADHD itself). It is necessary to examine the experience of the child and if they have suffered physical, sexual, or emotional abuse from adults, or have experienced peer abuse. It needs to be examined if they have an appropriate educational setting and if any conflicts exist with instructors or if the educational environment is stressful to them.
Psychiatrist William Glasser (2003, pg. 31-32) comments in this regard, Epediatricians are being called in to diagnose schoolchildren who do not cooperate in school because they don’t like it as having attention deficit disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Treating them with a narcotic drug is only confirming what many psychiatrists and pediatricians already believe: that it’s better to use drugs than to try to apply their prestige and clout in the community to the real problem: improving our school s so that students find them enjoyable enough to pay attention and learn in an environment where drugs are not needed. This misguided psychiatric effort has created an epidemic of drug treated mental illnessEin the schools.
Breggin continues that it is also necessary to examine the environment the child lives in and the stressors around them. It is necessary to build relationship and collaboratively design structure and limits with the child or adolescent (Breggin, 1998, pg. 318) Breggin feels it is necessary to train parents in relationship building with their children and in working through situations of conflict. He states, parent management training has consistently proven successful in improving parent self-esteem, in reducing parent stress, and in ameliorating ADHD-like symptoms, especially negative attitudes toward parental authority and aggression.
Dr. David Stein (2001, pg. 236-238) has detailed a drug free approach to aiding children who are diagnosed as ADHD who Stein prefers to call highly misbehaving children. In this program, known as the Caregiver’s Skills program, Stein states it is necessary to treat your child as normal and not diseased. He states that the children should not be taking any medications, as they are risky for the child’s health and merely blunt behaviors. Stein argues, if the behaviors don’t occur, we can’t help (them) learn new habits.
The program encourages social reinforcement rather than material reinforcement, encouraging parents to refrain from excessive prompting and coaxing. The program encourages development of target behaviors and consistent encouragement and social reinforcement as well as consistent consequences for misbehavior. The program encourages the self-assessment and evaluation of the child of their own behaviors.
Barkley, Russell, Taking Charge of ADHD, Boys Town, NE, Boys Town Press, 1995)
Breggin, Peter R., Reclaiming Our Children, Perseus, Cambridge, MA, 2000)
Breggin, Peter R., Talking Back to Ritalin,Common Courage Press, Monroe, ME, 1998)
Breggin, Peter R., Toxic Psychiatry, St. Martins Press, New York, 1991)
DuPaul, Barkley, and Connor, Stimulants (article appearing in text Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, 1998).
Glasser, William, Psychiatry Can Be Hazardous to Your Mental Health, Harper Collins, New York, 2003)
Hedaya, Robert J., Understanding Biological Psychiatry, W.W. Norton, New York, 1996)
Nasrallah, H.J., Loney, S. Olson, M. McCalley-Whitters, J. Kramer, and C. Jacoby, Cortical Atrophy in Young Adults with a History of Hyperactivity in Childhood, Psychiatry Research, 17:241-246, 1986)
National Institutes of Mental Health Consensus Conference Statement, 1998
Stein, David, Unraveling the ADHD Fiasco, Andrews McMeel, Kansas City, 2001)
Walker, Sidney, The Hyperactivity Hoax, St. Martins Press, New York, 1998)
Weinberg, Warren et al., Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: A Disease or a Symptom Complex, Journal of Pediatrics, 130, 665-6
Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D.
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Dan_Edmunds
COMMITMENTS : Cutting the Cord : Saying goodbye to your therapist can elicit bad feelings–unless it’s handled right. Then the parting can be a chance for growth.
That period of wrapping up therapy and saying goodbye is known as “termination,” a word that evokes images of being fired from a job or being stalked by Arnold Schwarzenegger. But mental-health experts consider termination a crucial stage in therapy.
If handled properly, it provides an opportunity to re-examine the issues that led the client to seek help in the first place, to evaluate the therapy itself and to deal with feelings that might bubble up in the face of bidding farewell.
A so-called natural termination, in which the two of you agree to end treatment because your goals have been met, is difficult enough. Who, after all, likes to say goodbye, especially to someone who has helped you so profoundly and so intimately? But a premature termination, where a dissatisfied client leaves without much notice or a therapist departs before the patient is ready, can be downright traumatic.
“It’s always best if people can have time to pay attention to the process of saying goodbye,” says Carl Shubs, a licensed clinical psychologist in private practice in Beverly Hills. “If people leave too abruptly, it interferes with the process–they’re not able to deal with the sadness or anger, the mourning that occurs.”
Adds Sylvia Martin, a licensed marriage, family and child therapist in private practice in Sherman Oaks: “Termination is a time when people start to deal with all their losses. It can trigger feelings about old issues, or issues about the relationship between the therapist and client.
“If there is an old loss they have not grieved, they will tap in and experience the same feelings,” she says. “Maybe they had a feeling of abandonment when they were young and did not understand it. Or maybe they have not had the luxury before now of dealing with a loss–for example, going through a divorce with two kids.”
If it is the patient who says so long, a good therapist will try to determine if he or she wants out because the topics being discussed are becoming too painful. In those cases, the therapist will encourage the patient to remain, so as to work through the discomfort and resolve those issues.
Many times, though, the client is willing to slog through the hard stuff, but feels this particular therapist is less than able. Such was the case last year for Laura, 41, who works in the travel industry in Orange County and sought counseling for marital problems.
“I was therapy illiterate,” she recalls. “I had no basis for comparison. But I never felt I was getting help. I would drive home and think, ‘Why did I just go there?’ I didn’t expect a magic cure, but I was just begging my therapist, ‘Give me some tools to help me.’
“All she said was, I had to divorce my husband, which I wasn’t ready to do. I felt her attitude was, ‘You won’t take my advice, so I don’t know what to tell you.’ ”
Laura–who is still married and on better terms with her husband–found another therapist to her liking. But she stuck with her first counselor longer than she preferred to because, she says, “The last thing I wanted was to look for someone new to spill my guts to, to start over again.”
Indeed, for some people, leaving the current therapist is the easy part; it’s finding a new one that poses problems. Says Studio City writer Catherine Johnson, author of the book “When to Say Goodbye to Your Therapist” (Simon and Schuster, 1988), “Finding a new therapist is not like finding a new dentist. It’s extremely difficult to find a match.
“It’s a bit like finding a lover, or best friend, or a parent. You don’t just go out and find a new best friend. You have to find a real emotional fit, on top of basic competence.”
Lisa Moore, 34, a West Los Angeles advertising account executive, discovered that last year when she left the marriage and family counselor she had been seeing for 15 months because she thought the therapist had crossed the professional line and was becoming too friendly. After six weeks with a new therapist recommended by her physician, she decided to return to her former counselor.
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When is it time to say
goodbye to a therapist?
Maybe you don’t like your therapist. Maybe you do, but you’ve resolved the
issues that drove you to seek counseling in the first place. Or maybe those
issues remain unresolved, with few signs of progress. Maybe your sessions feel
as if they’ve morphed into very expensive chats with a friend.
For myriad reasons, people come to a point when they wonder if they should
break up with their therapist. And “break up” is the right term for it, because
quitting therapy can spur emotions as painful and complicated as ending a
How do you know if you’re ready to stop therapy? And how should you go about
it? First, any therapy that is abusive or destructive should be stopped
immediately, said Dr. Kenneth Settel, clinical instructor in psychiatry at
Harvard Medical School. Examples of abusive therapists are those who are
disrespectful or insensitive to certain issues; those who violate boundaries;
those who reveal too much about their own problems; and those who insist on
focusing on areas the patient didn’t come in for.
But assuming you’re not dealing with that, patients should approach ending
therapy as a chance to grow, Settel said. Rather than cut and run or avoid the
topic altogether — tempting routes for the confrontation-avoidant — it’s
important that patients, well, talk to their therapist about it.
In therapy, the relationship between the patient and the therapist is a
vehicle for understanding the patient’s issues, Settel said. So the way you end
therapy can be a way of examining how you say goodbye to people, and the
feelings involved in leaving and loss.
Ask yourself why you want to move on. When did you start feeling that the
therapy was no longer helpful or productive? What happened that made it
different? Was there a change in you, in the topics being discussed, in the
therapist? Confronting that tension can be a turning point because it forces you
to work through obstacles, Settel said.
“Ending therapy can be very therapeutic,” Settel said.
Though the patient-therapist relationship can have a weird power dynamic —
you’re paying, but the therapist is the expert and knows your every demon —
patients should feel they have control of the process, said Lynn Bufka, a
psychologist and head of the department of practice, research and policy at the
American Psychological Association. Patients should feel empowered to ask
questions, steer the sessions to focus on particular issues and let the
therapist know what’s not working.
The tricky part is making sure you’re not leaving therapy just because it’s
unpleasant or difficult, which oftentimes it has to be, Bufka said. More than
make you feel better, therapy is supposed to help you understand yourself
On the flip side, therapy shouldn’t be some indefinite appointment you keep
as part of your routine. There should be regular discussions about what you’re
trying to accomplish and whether you’re meeting those goals.
“I hope that I’m going to work myself out of a job,” Bufka said.
There is such a thing as staying in therapy for too long. One warning sign is
if a patient has to run all decisions by his or her therapist, which can signal
dependency, Bufka said. Another concern is if the therapist relationship is
taking the place of building other relationships.
Another downside of staying in therapy for too long is that you don’t have
the opportunity to practice the skills you’re developing independently, Settel
said. If the therapy was aiming to help you build internal skills of
self-observation, stopping therapy can encourage growth because it forces you to
internalize the process.
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How to Figure Out When Therapy Is Over
If you think it’s hard to end a relationship with a lover or spouse, try breaking up with your psychotherapist.
A writer friend of mine recently tried and found it surprisingly difficult. Several months after landing a book contract, she realized she was in trouble.
“I was completely paralyzed and couldn’t write,” she said, as I recall. “I had to do something right away, so I decided to get myself into psychotherapy.”
What began with a simple case of writer’s block turned into seven years of intensive therapy.
Over all, she found the therapy very helpful. She finished a second novel and felt that her relationship with her husband was stronger. When she broached the topic of ending treatment, her therapist strongly resisted, which upset the patient. “Why do I need therapy,” she wanted to know, “if I’m feeling good?”
Millions of Americans are in psychotherapy, and my friend’s experience brings up two related, perplexing questions. How do you know when you are healthy enough to say goodbye to your therapist? And how should a therapist handle it?
With rare exceptions, the ultimate aim of all good psychotherapists is, well, to make themselves obsolete. After all, whatever drove you to therapy in the first place — depression, anxiety, relationship problems, you name it — the common goal of treatment is to feel and function better independent of your therapist.
To put it bluntly, good therapy is supposed to come to an end.
But when? And how is the patient to know? Is the criterion for termination “cure” or is it just feeling well enough to be able to call it a day and live with the inevitable limitations and problems we all have?
The term “cure,” I think, is illusory — even undesirable — because there will always be problems to repair. Having no problems is an unrealistic goal. It’s more important for patients to be able to deal with their problems and to handle adversity when it inevitably arises.
Still, even when patients feel that they have accomplished something important in therapy and feel “good enough,” it is not always easy to say goodbye to a therapist.
Not long ago, I evaluated a successful lawyer who had been in psychotherapy for nine years. He had entered therapy, he told me, because he lacked a sense of direction and had no intimate relationships. But for six or seven years, he had felt that he and his therapist were just wasting their time. Therapy had become a routine, like going to the gym.
“It’s not that anything bad has happened,” he said. “It’s that nothing is happening.”
This was no longer psychotherapy, but an expensive form of chatting. So why did he stay with it? In part, I think, because therapy is essentially an unequal relationship. Patients tend to be dependent on their therapists. Even if the therapy is problematic or unsatisfying, that might be preferable to giving it up altogether or starting all over again with an unknown therapist.
Beyond that, patients often become stuck in therapy for the very reason that they started it. For example, a dependent patient cannot leave his therapist; a masochistic patient suffers silently in treatment with a withholding therapist; a narcissistic patient eager to be liked fears challenging his therapist, and so on.
Of course, you may ask why therapists in such cases do not call a timeout and question whether the treatment is stalled or isn’t working. I can think of several reasons.
To start with, therapists are generally an enthusiastic bunch who can always identify new issues for you to work on. Then, of course, there is an unspoken motive: therapists have an inherent financial interest in keeping their patients in treatment.
And therapists have unmet emotional needs just like everyone else, which certain patients satisfy. Therapists may find some patients so interesting, exciting or fun that they have a hard time letting go of them.
So the best way to answer the question, “Am I done with therapy?” is to confront it head on. Periodically take stock of your progress and ask your therapist for direct feedback.
How close are you to reaching your goals? How much better do you feel? Are your relationships and work more satisfying? You can even ask close friends or your partner whether they see any change.
If you think you are better and are contemplating ending treatment but the therapist disagrees, it is time for an independent consultation. Indeed, after a consultation, my writer friend terminated her therapy and has no regrets about it.
The lawyer finally mustered the courage to tell his therapist that although he enjoyed talking with her, he really felt that the time had come to stop. To his surprise, she agreed.
If, unlike those two, you still cannot decide to stay or leave, consider an experiment. Take a break from therapy for a few months and see what life is like without it.
That way, you’ll have a chance to gauge the effects of therapy without actually being in it (and paying for it). Remember, you can always go back.
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Yet, some of the most overwhelming memories come from her first two years of freedom which she and her children have spent reunited with her mother.
“Wow. Now I can walk in the next room and see my mom. Wow. I can decide to jump in the car and go to the beach with the girls. Wow. It’s unbelievable. Truly,” Dugard said in an exclusive interview with ABC News’ Diane Sawyer.
Dugard was kidnapped by Phillip and Nancy Garrido when she was just 11 years old in 1991 and held captive in a backyard compound.
She was subjected to rape, manipulation and verbal abuse. She gave birth to two daughters fathered by her abductor in that backyard prison.
Dugard lived in virtual solitary confinement until her first daughter was born three years into captivity and wasn’t allowed to spend time outdoors until after her second daughter was born, more than six years after her abduction.
She writes that the closest thing to freedom she ever felt in the compound was when she was allowed to live in her own tent and plant a small garden.
Now, Dugard is telling all in a new memoir, “A Stolen Life,” and in her exclusive interview with Sawyer.
She’s taking an unflinching look at the horror she’s overcome and giving an unsparing account of the way a predator operates and how she survived.
“Why not look at it? You know, stare it down until it can’t scare you anymore,” she told Sawyer. “I didn’t want there to be any more secrets…I hadn’t done anything wrong. It wasn’t something I did that caused this to happen. And I feel that by putting it all out there, it’s very freeing,” Dugard said.
Dugard, 31, remembers the first night after she and her daughters were rescued in 2009.
They spent the night in a motel room just down the hall from Dugard’s mother, Terry Probyn.
Both Probyn and Dugard had held out hope throughout their nearly two decade separation that they’d find one another.
They had no idea that they’d been only 120 miles from one another the whole time.
“That night, I woke the girls [my daughters] up and I just said, “I’m so happy. I’m so happy!” Dugard said. “I ran down the hall…the girls are following me and knocking on the door…I walked in, ‘I’m so happy! I’m so happy!”
Simple firsts have brought healing to Dugard and her family: learning how to drive from the sister who was just a baby when Dugard was kidnapped, eating family dinners around a table instead of the fast food that Phillip Garrido fed her for 18 years, and even just saying her name which was forbidden by her captors.
Still, the sounds of her imprisonment haunt her.
“That lock. Hearing the lock…for some reason that and the bed squeal. It was a squeaky bed…I guess the noise, the sound. Weird what sticks in your head,” Dugard said.
Dugard remembers trying not to cry when she was first abducted because it was too hard to wipe tears away with her hands cuffed behind her back.
“I didn’t really want to, because then you can’t wipe them away, you know? Then you get all sticky and …then they get itchy,” Dugard said.
She says she had no choice but to endure.
“There’s a switch that I had to shut off,” she said. “I mean, I can’t imagine being beaten to death, you know? And you can’t imagine being kidnapped and raped, you know? So, it’s just, you just do what you have to do to survive.”
Two of the most challenging moments for Dugard were giving birth to her two daughters in 1994 and 1997.
“I knew there was no hospital,” she said. “I knew there was no leaving.”
At just 13 years old, Dugard noticed she was putting on weight but didn’t know why.
On a Sunday in 1994, the Garridos told her she was pregnant.
Before her abduction, the little girl who sold Girl Scout cookies and wrote stories, knew nothing about sex.
Dugard writes that giving birth was the most painful experience in her life.
“And then I saw her. She was beautiful. I felt like I wasn’t alone anymore. [I] had somebody else who was mine…and I know I could never let anything happen to her. I didn’t know how I was going to do that, but I did,” she said.
Dugard remembers the last time she left her family’s Tahoe, Calif., home to walk to her fifth grade classroom on June 10, 1991.
She’d packed her peanut butter and jelly lunch, worn her favorite kitty shirt and a butterfly ring given to her by her mother.
In all pink, she started on her walk.
“And [I] walked up the side of the hill…that was the safe way to go against traffic. And halfway up, my world changed in an instant,” Dugard said. “I heard a car behind me.”
Creeping behind Dugard were Phillip and Nancy Garrido. Phillip Garrido rolled down his car window.
“His hand shoots out and I just feel numb. My whole body is tingly…I fall back in the bushes,” Dugard said.
Garrido had shocked her with a stun gun. Panicked, Dugard scooted back towards the woods. She remembers grasping a sticky pinecone, the last thing she touched while free.
Now, she wears a pinecone charm around her neck to symbolize her freedom.
“It’s a symbol of hope and new beginnings and that there is life after something tragic.”
After shocking her, the Garridos stuffed her into their car, hid her under a blanket in the backseat.
Nancy Garrido sat on her while Phillip Garrido drove to the couple’s Antioch, Calif., home.
“It was so hot,” she said. “I remember my throat felt very dry and scratchy and like I had been screaming, but I don’t remember screaming,” she said.
Dugard remembers hearing Phillip Garrido laugh and say, “I can’t believe we got away with it.”
“It was like the most horrible moment of your life times ten,” she said.
When they arrived at their home, Dugard was stripped of her backpack, her pink clothes and her name. Garrido took her to the bathroom and told her she had to be quiet.
“I guess he wanted me to be clean…very scary. I was scared,” Dugard said.
Dugard was forced to wear nothing but a towel at first and was locked in a semi-soundproof room that had only one window.
Somehow, Phillip Garrido missed the pinky ring her mother had given her. She’d hold onto that ring throughout her captivity. She’d also hold onto the hope that she’d see her mom again.
Clinging to the Memory of Her Mother
“I wondered if she found out what had happened to me, if she was looking for me,” Dugard said.
Dugard worried that she’d forget what her mother looked like. She’d keep journals referring to her mother as just “her” because to write “mom” was just too painful.
Her mom, Terry Probyn, carried out a frantic search for her daughter, making tearful pleas on television.
She’d continue to hold vigils for her daughter when public interest in the family’s plight waned.
“I feel like I spent my lifetime looking for her and dreaming about her and talking to you and you were always there. You never left me,” Probyn told Dugard during the interview.
The two women, clinching hands and with their bodies turned toward one another, share a remarkable bond.
“Being a mom now, you know, I know that she never forgot about me because I could never forget about my kids. But…when you’re a kid and you think you’re easily forgettable and you’re not important. But she kept…her hope. I don’t know how she did that. You know? How did I keep my hope? How did she keep her hope,” Dugard said.
Dugard still fights feelings of anger towards her captors, but tries not to dwell on them.
“I don’t feel like I have this rage inside of me that’s building,” Dugard said. “I refuse to let him have that. He can’t have me.”
Dugard’s mother can’t forget what the Garridos stole from her daughter and her.
“I think I have enough hate in my heart for the both of us. I hate that he took her life away and that makes me sad…I hate that he stole her from me. He ripped out a piece of my heart and he stole my baby,” Probyn said.
The two women look at one another. Probyn tells her, “I’m sorry, baby.”
She goes on, “He stole your adolescence. He stole high school proms and had pictures and memories…”
Dugard smiles and tells her mom, “But he didn’t get all of me.”
The Garridos mercilessly manipulated Dugard.
When she was first kidnapped, Phillip Garrido kept a stun gun present whenever he raped her, a way to remind her of his power.
After abusing Dugard, sometimes for hours in drug fueled sex binges called “runs,” he would sob and apologize.
He’d tell her that he had a sex problem and she was saving him from hurting other little girls.
While Philip Garrido was her main tormentor, his wife Nancy was equally adept at playing with Dugard’s emotions. She would bring Dugard things like a purple bear, a Barbie, chocolate milk, a Nintendo.
But she never stopped her husband from abusing Dugard.
She’d even keep Dugard locked in the compound when Phillip Garrido was away serving time for a parole violation.
“In some way, she’s just as manipulative, because she would cry and say, ‘I can’t believe that he did this. I wish he would have got a headache that morning he took you,'” Dugard recalled.
“In some ways, she’s…just as evil as Phillip,” Dugard said.
The Garridos manipulated Dugard until the presence of a stun gun and the use of handcuffs were no longer needed to keep her from fleeing.
It was classic manipulation, Dugard’s therapist, Dr. Rebecca Bailey, said.
Bailey is a family unification therapist.
Phillip Garrido’s power over Dugard grew by being “responsible for everything from time to food to human companionship to your clothes to your identity,” Bailey said.
When Dugard had her daughters, she didn’t flee because Phillip Garrido had convinced her the world outside their compound was unsafe, ironically full of pedophiles and rapists.
Even now, it’s still hard for Dugard to fully understand why she didn’t leave.
“I’ve asked myself that question many times. I know there was no leaving. The mind manipulation plus the physical abuse I suffered in the beginning, there was no leaving…. I don’t know what it would have took. Maybe if one of the girls were being hurt,” Dugard said.
Coping With Captivity
Dugard coped with the manipulation by keeping journals, writing stories and dreams that allowed her to imagine herself in a life outside of the compound.
While the Garridos stripped her of her innocence, they could not strip her of her imagination.
She would come up with stories about the tree outside the window, she named the spider in her room, she wrote in her journals about falling in love one day, riding in a hot air balloon, being a veterinarian.
Throughout her captivity, she would take care of several cats and other animals.
When she became a mother, she turned a corner of the compound into a school for part of the day.
She remembered how she used to play school as a little girl, but now she was responsible for actually educating two little girls.
She made a regimen of classes during the day with worksheets and lessons she found online.
She mothered her girls even though the Garridos forbid the children from calling Dugard “mom.”
Nancy Garrido, jealous of Dugard, required that the children call her “mom.”
Even with access to the computer, Dugard said she never searched for her mother or for news accounts of her kidnapping.
She was scared to because of the Garridos’ manipulation.
The Rescue and the Future
Dugard and her daughters would be rescued in August 2009 after an increasingly paranoid and delusional Phillip Garrido alarmed two campus police officers, Ally Jacobs and Lisa Campbell.
He’d shown up on the University of California, Berkeley, campus with the two daughters he’d fathered with Dugard.
The campus officers, both moms, did something nobody else had done.
They saw a man haranguing and they talked to him, engaged him and then acted on their suspicion.
A background check revealed he was a convicted sex offender.
When they called his parole officer to ask about his two daughters, the parole officer didn’t even know that Phillip Garrido had children.
Over the 18 years Jaycee Dugard was in captivity, parole officers had visited the home at least 60 times and never reported anything amiss.
Phillip Garrido was called to a meeting with his parole officer on Aug. 26, 2009. He brought his wife, Dugard and the two girls.
At first, Dugard lied for Garrido, still under the spell. She eventually confessed who she was by writing her real name down.
In her memoir, she says that writing her name was like an extinguished flame reigniting.
“The light came back…it was very dark for so long…but that light finally came back on,” she said.
Dugard is savoring her freedom and planning for the future.
“I would like to study writing, you know? Really, because I love words and I love mythology…the way metaphors work and how [you] can see things differently with words,” she said. “It helped me get through a lot of days, my imagination.”
Dugard wants her book, her story to help people realize there is a way to triumph over tragedy and survive. And for her captors, both locked away in prison, she has a message.
“[You] can’t steal anything else,” she said.
- The Kidnapping Of Jaycee Lee Dugard – Before And After (letsfindthem.wordpress.com)
- Kidnapping Survivor Jaycee Dugard’s Lawyers Seek Sanctions Against Feds (losangeles.cbslocal.com)
Damaged by another’s game.
Desperate; she seeks to end the pain.
Cross-legged in the dust she sits
Staring at her bandaged wrists.
Tangled hair falls down her back,
Anguish bleeds her eyes to black.
Lying back in the dust,
Pride is dead and so is trust.
Cannot forget the guilt and shame;
No way out – no end to pain.
No one answered her screams for help,
A nation watched as her soul bled out.
every week I go through so much in my mind and want to let it out and talk about it but it seems when I get to therapy I just cant…sometimes i have a hard time even looking at my therapist…it is like she already knows too much about me and I am ashamed to be face to face with her…I wish I could just let it all out and not keep holding it inside…when I do let it out it is by writing but it doesn’t seem to go away…I write to my therapist more easily than I do talking to her and yes my writing is an outlet but yet i cant face talking bout the pain only writing…maybe I let her know too much and can’t face her after she knows who I really am…she don’t understand that even though I was 12 that i knew the difference between right and wrong because I had already gone through it once before when I was a child from 4-6 years old…so I knew what was happening should not have happened but yet I allowed it and became a whore instead…I went out searching for grown men to fuck me even though I didn’t know them and didn’t even know their names at times…I would be seductive as I was walking down the street or in the park just wanting someone to have sex with me…I was a 12 or 13-year-old whore who just looked for someone to love me…I never have found love…I was married and still am even though we have been separated for a year and I allowed him to treat me how he wanted most of the time…he did what he wanted even when I didn’t want to…most of the time I laid there and couldn’t even remember some of it as if I was somewhere else…I did this as a teenager also…my moms boyfriend constantly reminded me that I couldn’t say anything or he would get into trouble so I didn’t until 4 years of it had gone on…but even then there are only few memories of it…I remember the first time and the very last time but not much about in between those 4 years just brief memories here and there about it…i try to get my therapist to understand that i knew it was wrong and allowed it to go on for years so in a way i am at fault…yes he was a 40-year-old man and i was just 12 but i should have said no and not protected him all those years even though he protected me from my mothers physical and emotional abuse alot…i want her to understand how at fault;t i am for my daughters abuse…my daughter was an innocent child who my husband had no right to steal her innocence and i had no right to be blinded and not see her pain but instead I believe him and not my inner feelings that something was wrong and happening to her by him…everytime he did something that I caught and felt very uncomfortable about I flipped out on him and was told by him that I was over reacting and I was sick in my fucking head and that just because I was sexually abused as a child by family doesn’t mean that he was doing anything to our daughter…and this was drilled in my head several times over her short life that we had her…i ignored her cries for help i was too wrapped up in the other kids and their issues to see her pain…my mother was just too wrapped up in herself her jobs and her men to see my pain…but i was constantly on the run trying to care for the other 3 that had eating issues behavior issues physical issues back and forth to the doctor’s and shit with the other three that when she missed behaved i spent a little time with her by taking her shopping with me or something but she never trusted me I guess to let me know how he was hurting her I never allowed her to trust me as much as I talked with her and tried to show her I loved her and that she was beautiful and my world I really didn’t spend alot of time with her to allow her to trust me and see how much I loved her and what she meant to me…my therapist tries to get me to see that my child hood was so fucked up that all I knew was chaos and instability and this is why I couldn’t give my kids stability but no matter what I did to try to provide stability it was never enough and all I did was run from everything whenever there was a fear in me I could not bear…my therapist wants me to let her in and what happenings is I let her in just a bit and then put up 3 more walls to keep her out once I feel vulnerable and like she just likes to her about everyone’s misery and it really don’t matter to her who you are or what u have been through or how you became who you became she always just wants you to talk about shit and let her in only for her to leave you stranded with that pain once it is brought up…I feel like she wants me to just let it all out and get over it but there is no getting over losing my kids because of my inability to protect them…my therapist don’t see what a low life I really am she don’t understand that I allowed my kids to experience the abuse they endured…there were many times I watched my husband smash our son upside his head and all I did was scream yell and hit him but yet stayed…even when i did try to leave on a few occasions I allowed my fear and insecurities to rule me instead and came back…i feel guilty for my children’s pain I feel I caused it even if I didn’t physically hurt them I feel like I hurt them even worse than he ever could have…I want my therapist to see what a fucking inadequate mother I was and how I don’t deserve to be happy because I allowed so many lives to be destroyed…want her to understand that I deserve to be punished I don’t deserve to get anywhere in life I deserve to be tortured and killed…I want her to understand how much a bad terrible person I am I want her to look at all the bad shit I have done and do do instead of trying to look at and search for positive shit that really will never compare to the awful shit i have done in life…she will never understand how much I don’t deserve a life she don’t know the real me the me that has hurt so many people and allowed them to be repeatedly hurt and ignoring the feelings that boiled inside and protected the scum who did this..she dont know how much I am at fault for ruining lives and how much i am at fault for what has happened in my life even as a teenager she dont want to see that i am at fault for what has happened in my life…i just wish someone would hunt me down and torture and murder me…I deserve to be tortured and killed slowly a painful death
We find each other when we are ready to face some of the abuse that happened to us. We search for others in order not to feel so alone ourselves. We enjoy the camaraderie, the feeling of being understood and our common bonds. There is a unity, a common bond and an understanding that we don’t feel with everyone.
I felt different for so many years. I felt like I didn’t fit in, like I didn’t belong and I thought there was something wrong with me. I felt guilty for not being grateful, for not being happy and was ashamed of the depressions that I struggled with. I didn’t realize they were born out of the childhood abuse events that had not been taken care of properly.
I sought others who had suffered abuse worse than the abuse that I suffered so I could tell myself to stop complaining about what happened to me. This did not help me at all. I only talked about one abusive event in my life and I shrugged my shoulders when I even thought about some of the violence that I lived in, as if to say “ah, it was no big deal”. I had attempted to talk to a few professionals about my past, but I was often met with a neutral attitude, which really just affirmed to me that I was making too big a deal out of my story. I had always been told by my family that I was dramatic. One day when I was at the end of my rope, I decided to try one last mental health professional and something happened that became the beginning of my recovery.
Last week I published a blog post on the blog “Emerging from Broken” about the first session I had with that same therapist who eventually took me from shattered and broken, to wholeness and freedom. At the time of this writing there are 29 comments on that post. It really stirred up some feelings within my readers, and I thought I would share it with you here as well.
I called it “My Therapist Winced when I told him…..” I hope you stop by to read it and the comments that it generated from other survivors too.
Wishing you Freedom and Wholeness,
- Therapist Abuse Awareness: The Cause I Fight For | Mike Ricksecker (kimberlymcpherson.wordpress.com)
- The Aftermath of Childhood Sexual Abuse (everydayhealth.com)
- Recovering from child sexual abuse online (ask.metafilter.com)
- C-PTSD: – – Difficult Days need to be accepted not Judged!!!!!!! (ptsdawayout.com)
- “Only Pain Can Speak To Pain…” (risinghawk.wordpress.com)
- Fear and Movement with Triggers (ptsdawayout.com)
- 227 Days ’til 40: Growth from Trauma (400daystil40.wordpress.com)