Summary of Stress Management

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I am a strong supporter of psychology, psychiatry, and the any mental health profession that can provide insight and support into living a full and productive life.  However, I want you to think differently about mental health.  I want to you to think in terms of “neurological programming.”  If each of you looks carefully at your life, you will see that many of your attitudes and behaviors are a direct result of adopting or rebelling against your family’s patterns.

I was in clinic one day, dealing with a very uncooperative patient. She needed a back operation for a pinched nerve that was causing right leg pain. She had not followed up for her appointment. She was moody and sullen. I could not get her to engage in any of the stress management tools.

Finally I gave up. I said, “Look, I am going to cancel your surgery. I cannot engage with you if you don’t want to participate in learning the tools I am trying to give you to get better.  It is just the way I work.”  I also said, “We are all programmed by our past.  For example, if you were raised in family that were active in the Klu Klux Klan, what to you think your belief system would be?”  Her fiancé suddenly burst out laughing hysterically.  It did not seem that funny to me particularly since I was pretty frustrated with her unwillingness to engage.

She looked me in the eye and said, “My father and Grandfather were Grand Knights in the Klan.”

I did cancel the surgery.  She did engage in the DOCC protocol.  The surgery was done three months later and was successful in relieving her right leg pain. A lot of progress has been made in teaching her stress management skills, but she has come from a difficult place.

We are all “programmed” by our past. Think in terms of “programming” and not the traditional psychological way of looking at life and problems. Once that foundation is established, my patients work very well with the pain psychologist to apply these principles to their lives.

My psychiatrist told me ten years ago that there was a way to live my life that I could not comprehend because I had never experienced it.  It is difficult to learn more about something when you have no idea what it is.  I was able to open the door in 2003 and walked through it in 2006.  It is not about being happy or depressed.  It is no longer about constantly trying to “fix” myself.  It is about plugging the drain of anxiety and anger and having the energy to create my life on my own terms.  It is living with awareness and letting go.  It is a much more interesting life.