Drug testing

Hearing Our Seriously Distressed Children

How do we deal with our seriously distressed children and adolescents?

Adolescents are in a period of seeking autonomy and self-determination. These qualities can aid them in becoming agents of active transformation in their own lives. For one to recover from distress they are in need of being able to regain hope and to have an effective exercise of their free will. (Breggin, 1996). Adolescents based on their experiences formulate thoughts and feelings and begin to create values and meanings for themselves.

Those adolescents who are suffering from serious emotional distress have become lost on this path to finding meaning in their lives. Once this occurs, they begin to develop anguish and self-defeating responses to life. This creates in them anxiety and despair leading towards what some would call 'madness' (Breggin, 1991). These adolescents must learn to feel empowered once again, and not to feel labeled as an 'it', not to be viewed through the lens of their particular diagnosis and categorization they have been ascribed. These adolescents need coaches and individuals who will aid them compassionately and empathetically in navigating and negotiating through life's stresses.

The therapist and others must look upon the distressed adolescent with dignity. To look upon the adolescent through 'scientific' or 'objective' means leads us to the tendency to diagnosis and control the person, to impose our own abstract and potentially oppressive category upon them and to manipulate the outcome.

Physical interventions, such as psychotropic drugs, restraints, and enforced confinement to mental hospitals or residential treatment facilities are a part of this desire to control rather than truly aid and come to an understanding of the distress the adolescent is experiencing (Breggin and Breggin, 1993, a&b). Psychotropic medications with these seriously distressed individuals only deal with symptoms, they blunt certain functions to make the person more tolerable and amenable to societal expectations. Psychotherapy, on the other hand, focuses on the subjective changes in patient's feelings and on actual changes in lifestyle or conduct of life (Fisher & Greenberg, 1989).

Based on the viewpoints of biopsychiatry, adolescents who are medicated and placed in mental hospitals are labeled as improved when they conform to hospital demands or receive discharge. However, what is not examined is, how do the patients themselves actually feel? An estimated 180,000 to 300,000 young people a year are placed in private psychiatric facilities. These children and adolescents often feel powerless in these placements. But as mentioned above, it is the need for feelings of empowerment and hope that will lead to a genuine recovery from distress. Psychologist D.L. Rosenhan lead a study where 'pseudopatients' had themselves admitted to psychiatric hospitals to experience them first hand and report on this experience. Rosenhan reported in an article appearing in the January 19, 1973 issue of Science, "Powerlessness was evident everywhere?He is shorn of credibility by virtue of his psychiatric label.

His freedom of movement is restricted. He cannot initiate contact with staff, but may only respond to overtures as they make. Personal privacy is minimal?" With children and adolescents it is easier to rationalize away their rights and control becomes more arbitrary and complete (Breggin, 1991). Psychiatrist Peter Breggin states that in such an environment 'it is hard for a child to resist feeling spiritually crushed, abandoned, and worthless under such conditions. With a less formed sense of self than an adult has, a child is less able to resist the shame attached to being diagnosed and labeled a 'mental patient'. Children may also find it much harder to conform to institutional life.

They are naturally energetic, rambunctious, at times strident, often noisy, and resistant to control. If a boy doesn't conform, he is considered 'ill' and can be subjected to physical restraints, solitary confinement, and toxic drugs. (Breggin, 1991). It should be mentioned that the drugs commonly used for severely distressed adolescents are the same as those used for adults, most frequently the neuroleptics. These medications are reported to cause lack of energy, painful emotions, motor impairment, cognitive dysfunction and tend to 'blunt; the personality of the treated patients as well as having a risk for the development of tardive dyskinesia, a permanent and debilitating neurological problem (Gualteri and Barnhill, 1988).

These drugs subdue the adolescent into conformity by blunting the brain, but never do they teach the child how to develop meaning, how to cope, nor do they allow the adolescent to express his pain and emotional distress that is within. The adolescent is merely sedated to make his behaviors more manageable to adults. The adolescent learns nothing. The adolescents who are suffering from severe emotional distress are in conflict. They have internalized feelings of guilt, shame, anger, anxiety, and numbing. These adolescents instead of coercive and intrusive 'treatments' need the ability to find a safe place where coercive power is replaced by reason, love, and mutual attempts to satisfy their basic needs. These adolescents because of their distress have broken away from the accepted realities, they have sought to recreate their existence, for some a more primitive existence (Schilder, 1952). The feelings of anxiety that an adolescent may experience are linked to a fear of being and belonging (Stern, 1996, pg. 12) Depression, mania, and anxiety are all linked together and are indicative of trauma.

The adolescent being a shattered person seeks an escape by altered perception. We must begin to realize that all behaviors and experiences have meaning, even those things that may appear the most 'odd' to us. The symptoms labeled to be schizophrenic exhibited by certain adolescents in distress 'may be understood as manifestations of chronic terror or defense against the terror (Karon, 1996). This is often expressed as anger, loneliness, and humiliation. The therapist and others must convey to the adolescent that he wants to understand, that the client is helpable, but it will take hard work (Karon, 1996). The therapist must forge an alliance with the adolescent, aiding them to understand the real dangers and to be able to develop appropriate coping mechanisms. These adolescents are often viewed as dangerous themselves but the majority are not. They need to be hard, and forging this alliance will give them the needed voice leading to their recovery.

Hallucinations that are experienced by the seriously distressed adolescent are actually repressed thoughts and feelings coming outward, the unconscious into the conscious. Delusions are the adolescent transferring experiences from their past without having the awareness that it is past (Karon, 1996, pg. 36). The therapist can guide in interpreting the meaning of these hallucinations and delusions and once the adolescent is gently approached with their underlying meaning, these events can dissipate. Delusions are also connected with an attempt to find a systematic explanation of our world, to find meaning. A person who has experienced severe distress has lost this meaning and thus develops unusual ways of seeking to make sense of their experiences and the world around them (Karon, 1996, pg. 38).

The therapist can gently call the adolescent's attention to inconsistencies but at the same time respect their vision. The results of a psychosocial approach to those with severe emotional distress has been proven to be more effective than the current biopsychiatric methods as evidenced by a study by Loren Mosher, MD where he took schizophrenic adults who were on either very low doses or no medication, and offered them a 'safe place' with non professional staff residing with them and sharing in their daily experiences.

A 2 year follow up of these patients noted higher levels of success and progress than their counterparts who were subjected to neuroleptics and psychiatric hospitalization (Mosher, 1996, pg. 53) The model known as the Soteria project was based on principles of growth, development, and learning. All facets of the distressed person's experience were treated by the staff as 'real' (Mosher, 1996, pg. 49)

Limits were set and mutual agreements made with the patients if they presented as a danger to themselves or others. Such a model could be adapted to use with adolescents, offering them the need for compassion, empathy, and finding that 'safe' place, restoring within themselves a feeling of worth and dignity, that will lead to their ability to address the issues of their distress and traverse towards recovery.

Dan L. Edmunds is a graduate of the University of Florida. he completed his graduate studies at the University of Scranton. He is currently pursuing Doctoral level studies at Argosy University with concentration in Pastoral Community Counseling. Dan is employed as a Behavioral Specialist Consultant and Mobile Therapist for a private agency in Northeastern Pennsylvania and is President of the Rose Garden Children's Foundation, a non profit 501 (c)(3) organization.

In The News:

Brazil's Araguaian river dolphins may not be as big of a loner as researchers previously thought.
Salvagers looking for steel shipping containers at the bottom of the North Sea have discovered a 500-year-old Dutch shipwreck holding a cargo of tons of copper.
A middle school girl found a megalodon shark tooth while she was spending her spring break on the beach in North Carolina.
As President Trump continues to push America's space exploration program forward and have astronauts return to the Moon by 2024, NASA is attempting to do its part – it wants to send astronauts to the Moon's South Pole, a mysterious region that has never been explored by man.
This time, it's personal.
Following the successful landing of its Chang'e 4 spacecraft on the far side of the Moon, China is looking to expand its space program by exploring an asteroid and a comet within the next three years.
There's a bright magnetar photobombing the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way, frustrating astronomers' efforts to study the black hole — called Sagittarius A* — using X-ray telescopes.
Workers installing a new sewer on an Indiana farm made a mammoth discovery this week — 13,000-year-old mastodon bones.
During the first century, people across Rome were obsessed with chariot races, which frequently produced horrific crashes.
America’s first female astronaut candidate, pilot Jerrie Cobb, who pushed for equality in space but never reached its heights, has died.

5 Ways To Tell If A Preschooler Is Living In Your House

1. You reheated the same cup of coffee three times... Read More

Being A Mum - It?s About Them And Not About You!

So you want to be a mum? Every time you... Read More

Managing Sibling Rivalry

It is human nature to feel competitive and envious toward... Read More

From Childrens Stories to Study Skills: Help Your Children Succeed in School

IntroductionAs a parent who wants the best for your children,... Read More

Mom vs. Dad: Navigating Parenting Differences With All Good Intentions

Let's face it: raising children can be quite the adventure.... Read More

Why Mother?s Day is Important For Children

Mother's Day is important for children.This Mother's Day take note... Read More

Raising a Self-Sufficient Teen

Teens don't learn responsibility overnight. If you haven't been working... Read More

The Benefits of Music Education

Despite serious reductions in funding for arts programs in... Read More

Teenagers and Trouble - How Parents Can Keep their Teens Out of Trouble

Teenagers are a work-in-progress, and parenting teenagers can be tricky... Read More

Childrens Allowance

When we consider that the word allowance means, "allowing for,"... Read More

Playground Pettiness

Recently I took my two children to a popular new... Read More

Top Ten Ways to Teach Values to Your Kids

In a consumer-driven society that broadcasts values you don't approve... Read More

What To Do With A 6 Year Old Smart Mouth Know It All

Just the other day, I was talking to some other... Read More

How Children Learn

Nurture and TeachThe single most important thing caregivers can do... Read More

How Public Schools Assault Parents Values

Is there anything wrong with lying, cheating, stealing, shop-lifting, taking... Read More

Top Ten Ways to Raise Emotionally Intelligent Kids

Having a high level of emotional intelligence in your children... Read More

Eco-Parenting

Arabella Greatorex, owner of The Natural Nursery, reports on the... Read More

Helping Your Child Develop

Here are some things that you can do to help... Read More

Motivation - The Key to Your Childs Educational Success

For the first year or two of life outside the... Read More

14 Romantic Time-Outs for Parents

Here are fourteen spontaneous time-outs, specially designed to help you... Read More

God Dont Like Rich People

I will never forget the day that my daughter's sixth... Read More

Gifted Children - Getting the Balance Right

One of the challenges for parents with a gifted child... Read More

Raising a Tobacco-Free Kid

We begin forming healthy habits at a young age. With... Read More

Parenting Styles - Overcoming Your Differences

If you spend any time in the parenting section of... Read More

Math Facts - Try Some Fun Ways to Learn Them

Memorizing math facts is a necessary part of elementary school.... Read More

street light discounted street lights manufacturers Pete's produce ..