Thursday, January 10, 2013

Perception, PhD's & other MisConceptions?

Non-PhDs need not apply? A Mark of the knowledge economy?
Does higher education outweigh real-life experience, in Mental Health?
Knowledge Economy?
Is PhD research into mental health about the livelihood of researchers, more so, than the mental health of other people? 

In a hiearchically structured society, which group of people does the knowledge economy serve?
Like the money markets of the worlds stock exchanges, can knowledge be the basis of a real economy?

"We're in a knowledge economy and it is about being able to demonstrate that the most capable staff are on the books to give the best possible experience to students,"

Professor Marshall added. But such capabilities could equally come from expertise gained outside the research degree track, she said. "I would argue it is about what's fit for purpose.

Different discipline areas will require different skill sets to deliver the best outcomes for students." New universities are just as likely as those in the Russell Group of large research-intensive institutions to require academic staff to have PhDs or the equivalent relevant experience.

UK universities are increasingly pushing for academic staff to hold PhDs, an investigation has revealed. Almost 30 per cent of the 113 universities that responded to a Freedom of Information request by Times Higher Education say they have aims or commitments to increase their proportion of academics with doctorates, whether by hiring new staff or by providing training for existing employees. See: Doctoral-level thinking: non-PhDs need not apply By Elizabeth Gibney.

Does higher education provide more perceptive insights than real-life wisdom?  Especially in Mental Health where PhD's always cry, "we need more research?"
Please consider this important message of hope in Mental Illness Recovery;

"A Message of Hope in Mental Health Care: There IS an Alternative
By Sophie Faught, MindFreedom International Communications Coordinator.

In the previous MindFreedom blog, we presented some data from our Hope in Mental Health Care Survey (download the full survey summary here). This data showed that extremely negative prognoses and messages of hopelessness abound in mental health care. Often, these messages come directly from mental health providers. And very often, these messages turn out to be untrue.

Across the board for every diagnosis, a majority of respondents to part two of the survey who had received a psychiatric diagnosis and were told by a mental health provider that recovery was impossible described themselves as “recovered” or “fully recovered” (equivalent to a ranking of 8, 9, or 10 on a 10-point recovery scale).

Furthermore, many individuals who were told by a mental health provider that they would need to be on medications “for the rest of their lives” are currently not taking psychiatric medications. A significant number of them have been off psychiatric medications for at least one year.

We ask again: why send messages of hopelessness when they are so often untrue?

There is an alternative to the hopeless prognoses and messages frequently sent by the mental health system to individuals dealing with mental or emotional distress. Recovery is possible, and respondents shared information about the strategies that helped them maintain and achieve recovery:

Alternatives to the mental health system — including emotional healing, classes/learning, family and friends, exercise, and activism — figured prominently in the responses, and many of these alternatives were more frequently ranked as “helpful” than prescribed psychiatric medications." Read more here:

Are there really messages of hopelessness coming from our system of higher education, via the academics involved in mental health care? Consider the previous mindfreedom post;

Where Do Messages of Hopelessness in Mental Health Care Come From?

As part of its I GOT BETTER campaign to challenge hopelessness in mental health care, MindFreedom International conducted a two-part Hope in Mental Health Care Survey from June to October of this year. The survey was designed to gather answers to these three questions:

1. How prevalent are messages of hopelessness in mental health care?
2. What are the sources and contents of these messages?
3. What is the veracity of these messages? In other words, do hopeless prognoses and statements about recovery, medication use, etc. generally prove true or false?

Well over 1000 individuals participated in the survey, contributing their experience, wisdom, and opinions to a growing body of knowledge about recovery from mental and emotional distress. In this and forthcoming blogs, we’ll be sharing the major findings that emerged from our analysis of the survey data.

The mental health system itself is the most common source of messages of hopelessness.

Respondents to part two of the survey who had received a psychiatric diagnosis (n=390) overwhelmingly pointed towards the mental health system as the source of messages of hopelessness:" Read more here:

Is the real economy about Self-Preservation - Survival?
Are there uncivil Conflicts of Interest in our hierarchies of Status & Rank, Civil Society?

"Why would my psychiatrist be interested in curing my mental illness, when I and others like me maintain his lifestyle?" A close friend once asked me, in a very perceptive and equally subtle moment.

"I'm an identified patient too," I replied, "It begin in my family and I collude with the good doctor, hoping he will be the good parent of my missing childhood experience. Hoping he can assist in my emotional development."

"Your not going to waffle on about the parental nature of society again, are you!" He replied.

Is the Knowledge Economy deeply conflicted, in the daily reality of Self-Preservation?
Do we really need "experts" to teach us how to heal ourselves?

Please consider another excerpt from MindFreedom's message of HOPE

“During one of my many hospitalizations during a dark and confused period a fellow patient whom I’d never seen before looked over at me, saw my distress and said to me “It all flows back to peace” and he shook his head emphasizing “yes it does”.

Find the people who have got better and learn from them. We are living in a time when the road to recovery has been walked and marked and there are people living wanting to illuminate this for others.”

A important comment followed:

"This survey is not inconsistent with the Smith & Glass meta-analysis of 36 years ago (Smith, M. L., & Glass, G. V. (1977). Meta-analysis of psychotherapy outcome studies. American Psychologist,32,752-760). An individual’s expectations when coming in for help and the characteristics of the person(s) in the position of helping are far more important than counseling theory/technique. The great news, well at least from one point of view, is that years and years of formal training are not necessary to be an effective helper to someone experiencing distress/problems of life.

When I look at the survey, I don’t see too many services/interventions requiring an MD, PhD, or Master’s Degree with independent licensure. We all have the capacity to be an effective support/help to someone else. We always have had. It has taken a truckload of money and messaging to convince so many that that is not the case anymore. _David Ross, M.Ed., LPCC. See here:

Is there a MisConception about the true nature of Mental Illness & Civil Society?
Do we all collude in this Perception of Civilization? We don't have instincts and there is no predator/prey axis in human relationships? Well, maybe in "them?"
The bad things in life are about others, not "I?"

Consider the thoughts of a now famous PhD, Ram Dass;
"In 1969, the beginning of March, I was at perhaps the highest point of my academic career. I had just returned from being a visiting professor at the University of California at Berkeley: I had been assured of a post that was being held for me at Harvard, if I got my publications in order. I held appointments in four departments at Harvard--the Social Relations Department, the Psychology department, the Graduate School of Education, and the Health Service (where I was a therapist); I had research contracts with Yale and Stanford. In a worldly sense, I was making great income and I was a collector of possessions.
I had an apartment in Cambridge that was filled with antiques and I gave very charming dinner parties. I had a Mercedes-Benz sedan and a Triumph 500CC motorcycle and a Cessna 172 airplane and an MG sports car and a sailboat and a bicycle. I vacationed in the Caribbean where I did scuba-diving. I was living the way a successful bachelor professor is supposed to live in the American world of “he who makes it.”

I wasn’t a genuine scholar, but I had gone through the whole academic trip. I had gotten my Ph.D.; I was writing books. I had research contracts. I taught courses in Human Motivation, Freudian Theory, Child Development. But what all this boils down to is that I was really a very good game player.
My lecture notes were the ideas of other men, subtly presented, and my research was all within the Zeitgeist--all that which one was supposed to research about.

In 1955 I had started doing therapy and my first therapy patient had turned me onto pot. I had not smoked regularly after that, but only sporadically, and I was quiet a heavy drinker. But this first patient had friends and they had friends and all of them became my patients. I became a “hip” therapist, for the hip community at Stanford. When I’d go to the parties, they’d all say “here comes the shrink” and I would sit in the corner looking superior. In addition, I had spent five years in psychoanalysis at a cool investment of something like $26,000.

Before March 6th, which was the day I took Psylocybin, one of the psychedelics, I felt that the theories I was teaching in psychology didn’t make it, that the psychologists didn’t really have a grasp of the human condition, and that the theories I was teaching , which were theories of achievement and anxiety and defense mechanisms and so on, weren’t getting to the crux of the matter."
Excerpt from "Remember, Be Here Now" by Ram Dass.

* * *

For those interested in "identified patients," the family and the parental nature of society;

"Societal problems from an emotional systems view:

All of the people who were, or are members of families replicate the same emotional patterns in society. Family and societal emotional forces function in a reciprocal equilibrium to each other, each influencing the other and being influenced by the other. These observations are based on the same criteria used to estimate family functioning, which is the amount of principle determined “self” in comparison to the “feeling-orientation” which strives for an immediate short term feeling solution to the anxiety of the moment.

The triangling process in a large family will help illustrate the process in society. It may begin with conflict between a parent and child. When another takes sides emotionally, he is potentially triangled. When he talks (to influence others) or he takes action based on feelings, he is actively triangled. Each person who becomes involved can involve others until a fair percentage of the group is actively taking sides. The controversy is defined on “right” and “wrong” issues, and often as victimizer and victim. In societal conflict, those who side with the “victim” are more likely to demonstrate and take activist postures. Those who “feel more responsible” for the total group will side with the parental side. They are more likely to stay silent or take action in letters to the editor, or to actively counteract the activists.

One interesting group of activists is made up of members of professional and scientific organizations who attempt to use knowledge and social status to further entangle the triangular emotional system. To summarize the process, it begins with emotional tension in a bipolar situation, it spreads by involving emotionally vulnerable others, it is fed by emotional reactiveness and response to denial and accusation and it becomes quiescent when emotional energy is exhausted.

There are several ways it can be started, intensified, deintensified, or stopped. It can be started by one person who, intentionally or unintentionally, touches an emotional trigger in the second. The triggered person characteristically defends or counterattacks which adds emotional fuel. It can be deintensified or stopped by a calm person who stays in “low key” contact without defending self or counterattacking.

The words used in triangular emotional exchange, based on rational thinking, are usually not heard by the other except to defend or prepare a rebuttal. The words can be heard only after the emotion is reduced. The triangle emotional system is most intense when anxiety is high. It disappears when the system is calm.

There is fair evidence that man functions at his best under adversity or when he is challenged. Until the mid 1960’s, I considered society’s slump to be functional, and perhaps a cyclical phenomena related to the depression of the 1930’s or to World War II, and that after World War II man became lazy and greedy as he luxuriated in the greatest period of material plenty and freedom from want in his existence. I was guessing he would meet another challenge and rise to the occasion. After the mid 1960’s there was more evidence of an even lower level of societal functioning. There was more feeling-oriented action and less long-term principle planning, more “rights” thinking than “responsibility” thinking. The overall pattern was closer to that of a family with a problem child, giving into emotional demands, hoping the problem would go away.

Society appears to be much more similar to a family with an intense “undifferentiated family ego mass,” than the less emotional fusion of previous periods. The members of society are fused into each other and are more emotionally dependant on each other, with less operating autonomy in the individual. Emotional events are more similar to those “within an ego fusion” than to events between relatively autonomous people.

A relatively differentiated self can live a more orderly life whether alone, or in the middle of the human pile. A poorly differentiated person is not productive alone. Powerful emotional “togetherness” forces draw him into the discomfort of fusion, with the impingement of self on self and the counter mechanisms to deal with too much closeness.  Society has been gravitating into the human piles in large urban centers where the individual may become more alienated from his fellow man than before.

Group activity, including encounter groups, and promiscuous sexuality become panicky pretenses to overcome the alienation of too much fusion proximity to others. In the past, man has used physical distance to relieve the tension of emotional fusion. Physical distance is harder to arrange with an exploding population.

The main idea presented here is that society appears to be functioning on a less differentiated emotional level than in the past, that this may be related to the disappearance of land frontiers. Man has long used physical distance as a way of getting away from inner emotional pressures. It was important for him to know there was new land for him, even if he never went to it. The end of World War II was an important nodal point in a process in which the world became functionally smaller at a more rapid rate.

The concept of differentiation of self is important. At the more differentiated end of the scale is the person who can “know” with his intellect, and who can also know, or be aware of, or feel the situation with his emotional system. He has reasonable ability to keep an operational differentiation between intellect and emotions and take action on the fact of intellectual reasoning, that opposes his feelings and the truth of subjectivity.  Only a small percentage of the population has this level of differentiation.

A person can have a well functioning intellect but intellect is intimately fused with his emotional system, and a relatively small part of his intellect is operationally differentiated from his emotional system. He can accurately “know” facts that are personally removed, such as mathematics and the physical sciences, but most of his intellect is under the operational control of the emotional system, and much of his total knowledge would be more accurately classified as an intellectual emotional awareness, without much differentiation between intellect and feelings.

The person at this level of differentiation does not commonly have a clearly formed notion of fact, or differences between truth and fact, or fact and feeling, or theory and philosophy, or rights and responsibility, or other critical differentiations between intellectual and emotional functioning. Personal and social philosophy are based on the truth of subjectivity and life decisions are based more on feelings and maintaining the subjective harmony.

The societal projection process: The family projection process is as vigorous in society as it is in the family. The essential ingredients are anxiety and three people. Two people get together and enhance their functioning at the expense of a third, the “scapegoated” one. Social scientists use the word scapegoat , I prefer the term “projection process,” to indicate a reciprocal process in which the twosome can force the third into submission, or the process is more mutual, or the third can force the other two to treat him as inferior.

The biggest group of societal scapegoats are the hundreds of thousands of mental patients in institutions. People can be held there against their wishes, or stay voluntarily, or they can force society to keep them there as objects of pity. All society gains something from the benevolent posture to this segment of people. A fair percentage of people are too impaired to ever exist outside the institution where they will remain for life as permanently impaired objects of the projection process.

The conventional steps in the examination, diagnosis, hospitalization, and treatment of “mental patients” are so fixed as a part of medicine, psychiatry, and all interlocking medical, legal, and social systems that change is difficult. There are other projection processes. Society is creating more ‘patients” of people with dysfunctions whose dysfunctions are a product of the projection process. Alcoholism is a good example. At the very time alcoholism was being understood as the product of family relationships, the concept of ‘alcoholism as a disease” finally came into general acceptance.

There might be some advantage to treating it as a disease rather than a social offense, but labeling with a diagnosis invokes the ills of the societal projection process, it helps fix the problem in the patient, and it absolves the family and society of their contribution. Other categories of functional dysfunctions are in the process of being called sickness. The total trend is seen as the product of a lower level of self in society. If, and when, society pulls up to a higher level of functioning such issues will be automatically modified to fit the new level of differentation. To debate such a specific issue in society, with the amount of intense emotion in the issue, would result in non-productive polarization and further fixation of current policy and procedures.

The most vulnerable new groups for objects of the projection process are probably welfare recipients and the poor. These groups fit the best criteria for long term, anxiety relieving projection. They are vulnerable to become the pitiful objects of the benevolent, over sympathetic segment of society that improves its functioning at the expense of the pitiful. Just as the least adequate child in a family can become more impaired when he becomes an object of pity and over sympathetic help from the family, so can the lowest segment of society be chronically impaired by the very attention designed to help. No matter how good the principle behind such programs, it is essentially impossible to implement them without the built-in complications of the projection process. _Murray Bowen.

You read more of Bowen Theory at the Bowen Center.Org which states;

"Bowen family systems theory is a theory of human behavior that views the family as an emotional unit and uses systems thinking to describe the complex interactions in the unit. It is the nature of a family that its members are intensely connected emotionally. Often people feel distant or disconnected from their families, but this is more feeling than fact. Family members so profoundly affect each other's thoughts, feelings, and actions that it often seems as if people are living under the same "emotional skin." People solicit each other's attention, approval, and support and react to each other's needs, expectations, and distress. The connectedness and reactivity make the functioning of family members interdependent. A change in one person's functioning is predictably followed by reciprocal changes in the functioning of others. Families differ somewhat in the degree of interdependence, but it is always present to some degree.

The emotional interdependence presumably evolved to promote the cohesiveness and cooperation families require to protect, shelter, and feed their members. Heightened tension, however, can intensify these processes that promote unity and teamwork, and this can lead to problems. When family members get anxious, the anxiety can escalate by spreading infectiously among them. As anxiety goes up, the emotional connectedness of family members becomes more stressful than comforting. Eventually, one or more members feel overwhelmed, isolated, or out of control.

These are the people who accommodate the most to reduce tension in others. It is a reciprocal interaction. For example, a person takes too much responsibility for the distress of others in relationship to their unrealistic expectations of him. The one accommodating the most literally "absorbs" anxiety and thus is the family member most vulnerable to problems such as depression, alcoholism, affairs, or physical illness.
Dr. Murray Bowen, a psychiatrist, originated this theory and its eight interlocking concepts. He formulated the theory by using systems thinking to integrate knowledge of the human species as a product of evolution and knowledge from family research. A core assumption is that an emotional system that evolved over several billion years governs human relationship systems. 

People have a "thinking brain," language, a complex psychology and culture, but people still do all the ordinary things other forms of life do. The emotional system affects most human activity and is the principal driving force in the development of clinical problems. Knowledge of how the emotional system operates in one's family, work, and social systems reveals new and more effective options for solving problems in each of these areas." The Bowen Center.Org