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A Natural-Born Victim is Cured by Her Belief

A Natural-Born Victim is Cured by Her Belief

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Published by: Estelle Toby Goldstein, MD on Oct 21, 2009
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08/31/2010

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A Natural-Born Victim Is Cured By Her Belief 
She was 23; not just a sweet young thing, but also fashion-model type beautiful. Whenshe came to see me the first time, she was so dizzy that she could not stand. I believedher to be toxic on medication, and called 911 to take her directly to an emergency room.Curiously enough, they told her that she was indeed medication toxic, and cut back someof her medications. Despite my open begging, they never provided me with any copiesof either the results of her blood tests or exactly what prescriptions she had been written.When she finally came back to the office, it was not difficult to determine that she wasone of those patients who was exquisitely sensitive to prescription pharmaceuticals.Sometimes it felt to me as the mainstream pharmaceutical companies and the mainstream psychiatric practitioners had somehow made a decision to believe that patients such asshe simply did not exist, for they had nothing to offer. I have seen many patients whoclaimed that even a single dose of a prescription medication had changed their livesforever, and I always believed them. They had nothing to gain by lying to me. Peoplewho are "hysterical" often have some other agenda, something they are trying to prove.But she did not.She met the classical, psychiatric Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-IV -- thediagnostic bible of the mental health trade) criteria several times over.The story she told me was one of extreme punishment and privation.For no reason which we could possibly have established, a neighbor had kept her sometimes physically restrained and sometimes simply in great fear of how he would punish her as she left. He had subjugated her both physically and sexually. Perhaps atsome moments she had felt something affectionate towards him, something like theclassic "Stockholm" Syndrome, where a victim could become emotionally attached to a persecutor. But there was precious little of that as she told me her story of how this manhad dominated her life for a few years. It dwarfed the descriptions of abuse by astepfather and a schoolteacher.This was one of those victims who seemed to keep being a victim, in multiple unrelatedsituations. She was one of those people whom predators could recognize as a likely person to permit themselves to be victimized. Tests on habitual predators have proventhat they can spot likely victims even from still photos and video. There is just some kindof "vibe" that victims give off, to which predators are attuned.She wanted to get off all prescription drugs. I knew that was something I could help her with over time, and we agreed on that.I had to do something to make this session -- and her life -- better. So I asked her a
 
question I often ask patients:"What is the absolute best thing in your life?"She told me immediately, without any hesitation. "Jesus Christ. He is my lord andsavior."I told her it was great, really wonderful, how much Jesus meant to her. I told her I hadgreat respect for the teachings of Jesus, even though I was not a Christian myself. Then Iasked her the one crucial question that I believe determines how much I can help areligious patient.I told her I was perfectly willing to have Jesus work through me. The question I askedher was, "Do you believe that Jesus Christ could work through an older Jewish female psychiatrist, like me?" I reassured her again I wanted to do everything I knew how to doto help her heal.She laughed and said "yes." She told me she had been through lots of other psychiatristsand they had never let her even mention "Jesus." Now here I was telling her that I wasgoing to be His instrument for healing her, and she welcomed that so much she huggedme.Setting up a schedule for her to taper off prescription drugs and proceed onto naturalsubstances seemed a clear next step. But she had immediate anxieties because,amazingly enough, she still lived next door to the same neighbor. She got really anxiouswhen she saw him, even though it had been a few years since she had seen him.I asked if she could possibly forgive him. She said "yes," as she knew he had lived amiserable childhood and had lived through more than his share of punishment.I had only one more question. I asked her, "Can you say, and really believe, 'I can do allthings through Christ who strengthens me?'"She said she could, without any doubt, as she ascribed her very survival of the torture wewere discussing to Christ. Clinical improvement would be easy compared to what shehad been through before.We started tapping in what is known as the "basic recipe" of Emotional FreedomTechnique, (EFT). We started repeating some negative words describing her experiencesas we tapped various points on her face, upper body and hands.We utilized what EFT practitioners call "Tearless Trauma Technique." This is a way tominimize -- or eliminate -- traumatic emotional pain, even when the issues are severe.After following the routine of tapping the forehead, cheek, lip and chin points, we starteda second round of tapping and moved into repeating positive affirmations. As I had
 
 prepared her, we repeated a single affirmation over and over: "I can do all things throughChrist who strengthens me."I have seen this work before, and I was gratified to see her anxiety symptoms quicklyabated in the here and now. The first series of EFT brought a reduction of her symptoms,and we continued to work on the many and complex traumas individually for theremainder of her hour.With the sheer magnitude of this person's suffering, it was not possible to make all her symptoms disappear at once. The wonderful thing about EFT is that the patient learns todo the technique and continues to do it on herself. I also encouraged her to continueworking with the therapist who helped her congregation, something she had done in the past.Within a few weekly visits, she got a lot better -- so much so as to look at resuming bothschool and work.Psychiatrists tend to avoid religion, to put it mildly.Certainly statistics have shown that those in my field are more likely to be Jewish than physicians in other specialties -- althoughI get the feeling most are more likely to be atheist or agnostic. These are medically-trained men, scientists and scholars, and tend toward the rational and skeptical.Yet in the outside world, plenty of physicians have referral systems based on their faiths--and that of patients.To me, it is evident that belief is the strongest power in the world; far stronger than thechemicals we try to give patients. Although the specific mechanisms do not seem to beknown, let alone described, I am convinced that belief changes how human bodies usechemical substances.In 1991, when I held a university teaching position and hung on every word published bythe American Psychiatric Association, they said something about psychiatrists not tryingto change people's belief systems. I thought then that was a very good idea. I did notthink then, and do not think now, that I could do a very good job of changing anybody's belief system if I tried very hard.I once worked in a job where I replaced a psychiatrist who seemed to have had some,shall we say, drug problems. Most of his patients were on drugs that I could not logically justify by any pharmacology I knew about. Still, many of them who had believed in thedrugs they were on as well as the psychiatrist who had prescribed them did amazinglygood jobs at getting and staying better.During my psychiatric residency in the "Bible Belt" Midwest (I've actually done threeresidencies in different specialties), I had more than my share of patients who had

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