Thursday, February 16, 2012

Depression + Rapid Resolution Therapy

Rapid Resolution Therapy takes a rather unique view of Depression. Unique, I think, because it actually leads the therapist into unique and innovative ways of seeing the effect we want to have and using language to help our clients up and out of the bogs they get in.

Jon Connelly teaches that emotion is really effort. Nature has arranged it so that any negative emotion is the primitive brainʼs tool to get the animal to take an action to get something in the world to stop. Think of a mother bear defending her young or a rabbit fleeing from a wolf. Mind is using emotion to activate their whole system to take an action to affect a situation, in rabbitʼs case to run and in mother bearʼs case, to attack. This is a radically different way to see it than attributing the cause of emotion to the external thing. Mind is not pushing big negative buttons just out of boredom or to put the animal in a bad mood. Pushing the button always has a practical and survival- oriented purpose--to make the animal act to change a situation because thatʼs good for its bloodline.

But with humans, this older part of the brain has to constantly cope with a data flow about stuff that isnʼt in existence. Past things that are no longer happening and future things that we can forecast or imagine. So with us a threatening picture can come up on the screen and the older part of our brain doesnʼt take into account it really isnʼt in existence. Mind pushes negative emotion button in a rather indiscriminate and inaccurate way. Our negative emotions in these cases are all about effort to change that situation, no matter how off-target to what is actually going on.

But hereʼs where it gets interesting. When you put effort into something that doesnʼt respond to your effort, you have done what is ideal to prepare the ground for depression. Jon explains this in terms of the old isometric exercises that TV workout shows used to feature. Nobody does these anymore. Why? Because they are depressing! Imagine going to a gym five days a week and trying to heave a bar bolted to the floor. The intellectual part of our mind wouldnʼt keep this up more than a minute or two. But the older part of the brain, with itʼs eternal now orientation, keeps trying and trying. Pouring effort into something that wonʼt respond to your effort breeds the sense of powerlessness and hopelessness that is the perfect witchesʼ brew for a depression. If someone really puts their all into this, their whole heart, telling themselves it is now a need like air and food and that their lifeʼs happiness rides on producing an outcome, even though itʼs patently impossible, you have amplified the possibility of creating a real whopper of a depression at least tenfold. Think about people you know whoʼve spent a substantial part of their lives trying to get someone or something else to change, despite ample evidence to the contrary. They are not brimming over with vim and verve. Iʼll tell you itʼs not the intellectual part of the brain thatʼs at the wheel, but the older part, attempting to pour effort and then more effort into something or someone who doesnʼt respond.

Some of Connellyʼs newest thinking on this incorporates rage. Suppose someone got violated and her brain is flashing the threat signal to do something to take an action about a situation thatʼs no longer in existence. Her mind is using negative emotion to get her to stop a situation. Could be anger, could be fear. So far you have the first part of the problem. Now add to that the human propensity to react with anger when something is perceived as wrong. Then secondarily something else happens-- anger kicks in because it shouldnʼt have happened in the first place. The moment humans tell themselves something “shouldnʼt have” happened, anger flashes as if to an actual threat happening here and now. Her mind is screaming at her to get it to stop, only she canʼt do anything about it, it happened 15 years ago. She gets the feedback signal that she hasnʼt yet got it stopped so she tries harder. Both vectors are working on her. Or to say it differently, with emotion added to the scene about shouldnʼt have, we have a second vector of threat. Anger in nature means threat, so the secondary anger from “shouldnʼt have” piggybacks on and feeds the original threat. As she gets angrier she gets more threatened which gets her angrier, which begets more threat, and so on and so on. This loop has her pouring in emotional effort from deep reserves to get something to stop or turn out differently and itʼs impossibility always leads her back to the same place. This is a desperate place to be and the only word for it is rage.

What happens next is profound. All that rage is hot, like steam in a pipe. Think about a pipe with superheated steam running through it, so hot the pipe itself is glowing red. Now the participant has to be shielded from an element of her own system. Itʼs just too hot to be tolerated. She canʼt get her hands on it to do anything with it and she cannot stay in close contact with it for very long. So her mind wraps the pipe in a thick asbestos batting. That batting is depression. Thicker and deeper than usual to keep it all under wraps. From outside, the anger can now appear quite cool, disguised, hidden far below the surface. But from inside, the batting is poisoning her with the accumulating crud of threat-- a muffled protest, an abiding bitterness, hatred, jadedness, giving way to a detachment or numbness that spiders out through more and more of the personality. There can be a near total withdrawal from life and things that might bump or wake up all the rage. Weʼve all known people wrapped tight like this.

Just putting these concepts out there is part of Connellyʼs genius. His seemingly limitless fund of metaphors and perspectives gives us more and more ways to language things. We see more clearly what to clear and how to work with people to have the effect we intend for them. I am now thinking and seeing in terms of annihilating lifeʼs should or shouldnʼt haveʼs or any other distorted meaning that has her trapped. Thereʼs plenty in life we could think of as “wrong” but how much rage do we want to swallow? Iʼm thinking lifeʼs knocks are tough enough without all the distortion. I want to blow away rage by shifting mind into done and finished with that. Iʼm seeing her free from her thick casing, graceful, content, at peace, totally in touch with what is beneficial and possible for her now.

Mark A. Chidley, LMHC, Certified Rapid Resolution Therapist, CAP, a fully licensed mental health counselor and certified addictions professional, offers counseling services at his office Kelly San Carlos Executive Center in Fort Myers, Florida.He has been in private practice since 1997. He holds certifications in Rapid Trauma Resolution (2010), Imago Relationship therapy (2001), and now specializes in the treatment of couples as well as individual trauma recovery and anxiety issues. He brings rich experience from a combined 26 years of hospital work and mental health counseling.

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