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I am a psychotherapist, Ask Me Anything ! 03/09/16

Below is the transcript of an AMA kindly offered by Manon during the Hacking With Care Sessions at @ c-base, on the 03/09/2016. For more information about the event, see: HWC Sessions 1st edition at c-base

Links to additional related resources were added after.


Please note: The AMAs by caregivers (psychotherapy, physiotherapy…) are not to be mistaken for individual therapy sessions/consultations, nor should they be considered definitive truth on a given subject. Their primary aims is to break ice on important topics such as physical and mental health, help people get some orientation so as to facilitate one’s pathway/access to care, help identify individual and collective needs in terms of care, meet with caregivers and understand better what they do, further everyone’s knowledge, ignite curiosity…

Are there trainings for first aid/ first response in mental health?

I never heard of any. I can get why it’s appealing and could be relieving in some cases. Thing is: there is always a danger in thinking you’re super trained. Difficulty to sum it up in little knowledge chunks Situations vary so much (from suicidal thoughts to psychotic breaks, burn outs, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder etc.) In events like Burning man or CCCongress, you can often see crews walking by pair, their basic mission is to defuse critical situations. You can learn about it in the HWC doc. First of all, whatever the situation and your desire to help: Mind the position from where you stand (is this affecting you, how do you feel when listening…), don’t endanger yourself, mostly listen and validate while staying genuine. Also, getting to know yourself - including your own limits! - is the best first thing you can do for others, so you minimize the risk of overstepping for example.

Additional resources :

What are the mental health equivalents to: emt, trauma surgeon, epidemiologist?

You have different types of psychology fields: social, cognitive, clinical. Among the clinical field I belong, there are many different types of therapy: psychoanalytic therapy, behavioral therapy, hypnosis, psychotechnics (tests)… And as in any field, there are people working “on the ground” and others doing research.

Is there any psychopathological indication where alcohol is helpful?

As long as there are bridges between the sober moments and the under-influence moments, it can help discovering oneself, and to say there is no pleasure in it would be false. The uninhibitating effect of course, is what makes it so attractive and what makes it dangerous as well. It is known to be used to build and maintain a bubble of sufficient self-confidence at parties or while going out. It can obviously trigger some mental issues or make some gloom re-emerge. We can never really trust ourself with this because one of the effect is the twisting of our self image. It is better to rely upon others for this evaluation (i.e “do you think my consumption changed since last year?”, “would you say I’m different when I drink?”) , and to be available to them as well.

See also:

Would you say one could use pick-up artistry/NLP for a good cause?

The hacker point of view would be that a tool is a tool, and only the use of it counts, even though it can be scary to imagine these areas of expertise used for something like manipulating or denying one’s consent. If you think of the CIA and other agencies, we know some psychologists work with them, including to cook very dirty tricks(Psychologists role in CIA's Torture, Slate article)

See also : All the President's psychologists

I’m sure someone could use it combined with other skills (a weak SuperEgo and a general lack of empathy would help as well). I’m certain one shouldn’t.

Someone asks if we can sometimes trick people into getting help, “the ultimate greater good”. Unless you’re a team of very ethically-grounded professionals, anything you want to build will have to begin with consent. Someone mentions: Black hats: Botnets for the good cause, but still exploit vulnerabilities instead of fixing/exposing them.

How do you make people to reach out when they feel they don't need help?

Talk about it in groups, generally, creating atmosphere where they can take a break. To realize together it can be unhealthy for people around nearly as much as for the person suffering from it. Support can bear too much weight on someone’s shoulders. It is important to “treat yourself” before you “treat” anyone. Most of the time you can only try to validate their feelings, what you genuinely share, and occasionally express your concern. Try to talk more about how you feel about this situation than how you analyze or interpret it. The person has probably been thinking about it more than it shows, and it belongs to this person to draw conclusions from her/his situation, with the according timing: theirs.

Topic of Toxic persons emerges

Toxic for whom? Who needs help in this situation? Let’s not merge too rapidly “Toxic people” and toxic dynamic in a group.

→ Someone recommends a zine called The Broken Teapot

→ No need to say “your behavior is bad”, to interpret it, just state facts, “This is happening for me, I feel like that”.

→ Groups need to distance themselves from some conflict-less fantasy of itself, of the functioning of the group. I know it is hard, but it’s also very healthy and rewarding: all the energy we put in avoiding conflicts and slow-cooking them, we could invest a part in navigating among our frustrations and disagreements, like a muscle, learning how to live with it, and realizing how beautiful it is to see when the group survives to it, because most of the time it will. It is thinking it will be destroyed at any verbalization of a different voice that is going to effectively erase it.

→ Maybe the more effective with those tricky situations is to deflect energy from the diagnosis or the exclusion of someone to the actual care of people suffering around that “toxic person” (unless of course some abusive behavior has emerged and has been validated by the majority of the group, but that’s a different issue)

How to make people realize that it's ok to take a break, to rest, when they feel like the world would stop spinning if they do?

→ This idea of world on their shoulders, where does it come from, what is it supporting in their psyche? “It’s ok, I’ll collapse tomorrow”

People who got better can reach out, describe the signs that paved their way into burn out (elders in symptoms, not in age).

→Why breaks can be scary:

You saw people crippled by depression in family for example You have to face your own shit Lots are at stake, but you forgot to put your own health in the balance

Defusing delicately the emphasized idea of the self, with a lot of positive reinforcement and no complaisance with the symptoms.

Additional Resources :

How do "perverse narcissists" behave in multiple relationships, and what type of help do they need?

Precisions about the term, we’re not sure they exist as much as “assholes” do, for example, which is not a psychiatric category :) What do they trigger in us? How to work on what effect they have on us instead of working on their manifest issues, need for control, lack of general empathy etc.

Truth is they don’t really often reach for help, and don’t really feel its need. You don’t see a lot of actual perverses in therapy, except in rare depressive episodes. As to multiple relationships in particular, it is neither an exclusive trait nor something they all present. Manipulating other people can also be something found in people with affective insecurity in general, think about affective immaturity for example.

Someone mentions Towards transformative justice by generation five Transformative Justice Documents

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