Black Dog Days

This time last year I was preparing to take my advanced licence exam at the RSGB Convention (which I passed) and I vowed to attend this years convention proper.

 photo 28940_m.gif

Unfortunately I have a had a bit of a wobble emotionally and despite having booked day tickets I have decided at the last minute not to attend.

The past few weeks have had plenty of euphoric moments, with the successful flight of my the high altitude balloon at the recent hamfest and my first satellite QSO however following these highs I have suddenly found myself in a bit of a low, this is due to a number of factors.

This isn’t the first time I have been in one of these dark moods. Sadly apart from my hobby, which has become a crutch I realise I am again stuck in a rut and I know I have to make a number of major decisions to put things back on track.

 

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Isn’t The Answer

The Daily Mail has an interesting article today about the pro and cons of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

CBT is a short-term psychological treatment based on the idea that negative thinking and behaviour can trigger problems such as depression or panic attacks.

During treatment, the therapist helps you identify these negative thoughts – and encourages you to work out a way of looking at things more positively. CBT is used to help with a wide range of mental health and physical conditions, including phobias, anger, relationship problems, sleep problems and eating disorders.

The process was developed by the American psychiatrist Aaron Beck in the Sixties. He believed that our emotions and moods were influenced by our patterns of thinking.

But rather than focusing on past events in your life such as your childhood – as most of the older psychotherapies do – CBT focuses on the here and now.

Fearing the growing recession will cause a depression epidemic, the Government recently announced funding for hundreds more therapists trained in CBT. This is on top of the 10,000 new therapists promised two years ago.

The Mail article features psychologist Oliver James who argues that this is a waste of money as CBT doesn’t work, while psychotherapist Derek Draper argues that it really does transform lives.

James argues that CBT is nothing but personal spin, so it is slightly ironic that the case for the defence is the ex-labour spin doctor Draper.

In the past I have had treatment for depression brought on my death of my father due to cancer and intolerable pressure at work. As well as being prescribed anti-depressants I also had sessions with a therapist, these sessions were in my opinion a waste of our time as she insisted on dwelling on my negative thoughts, poor self esteem and personal relationships rather than the real reason I was depressed which was crippling grief and an unsympathetic employer. The pills and being signed off work were what helped me recover and not the ridiculous hand-wringing navel gazing weeping sessions.

I now know the therapist was using CBT, It was a short course of sessions and involved filling in before and after questionnaires and I agree with James assertions.

If given no treatment, most people with depression drift in and out of it. After 18 months, those given CBT have no better mental health than ones who have been untreated.

Yet the claims that the Government has made for this method have been dishonest. CBT’s inefficacy becomes explicable once you understand just how shallow a form of psychiatric spin-doctoring it is.

The patient is taught a story to tell themselves, a relentlessly positive one. If the therapist is skilled, the patient persuades themselves and others that they are feeling good.

When tested, they often regurgitate the positive story, literally placing ticks in the right boxes of the questionnaires used by researchers to evaluate their mental state.

CBT does have some short-term effect: while undergoing it, people admit to fewer and less intense symptoms. But a few months after the therapy, their negativity forces itself to the surface and they cease telling the positive story.

Re-tested, they no longer tick the right boxes. The initial gains measured in CBT patients are often a simple parroting of what they have been taught, rather than expressing their real state.

Interestingly James backs up his arguments with scientific studies and reports, while Draper who is a proponent of CBT just argues that it works for some people. James acknowledges that fact but his argument is that it doesn’t work for sufficient numbers to warrant the investment and the money should be made on different treatments with a higher success rate even suggesting Cognitive Analytic Therapy, or the Hoffman Process.

Whilst driving home last week I caught the back end of an discussion about CBT on the BBC Radio4 PM program, where Oliver James was being interviewed. He made a coherent and strong argument and I found myself agreeing completely with everything he said.

Unfortunately it is now unavailable online but there are plenty of comment on the PM and iPM Blogs.

Just a note, Don’t do a Google image search for CBT without a the safe filter on, will make your eyes water!

From The Dark Side Of My Mind

Without the permission of Pink Floyd

Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day
You fritter and waste the hours in an off hand way
Kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town
Waiting for someone or something to show you the way

Tired of lying in the sunshine staying home to watch the rain
You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today
And then one day you find ten years have got behind you
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun

And you run and you run to catch up with the sun, but its sinking
And racing around to come up behind you again
The sun is the same in the relative way, but youre older
Shorter of breath and one day closer to death

Every year is getting shorter, never seem to find the time
Plans that either come to naught or half a page of scribbled lines
Hanging on in quiet desperation is the english way
The time is gone, the song is over, thought Id something more to say

Home, home again
I like to be here when I can
And when I come home cold and tired
Its good to warm my bones beside the fire
Far away across the field
The tolling of the iron bell
Calls the faithful to their knees
To hear the softly spoken magic spells.

As imagined by the haunting voice of Mary Fahl