Monday, April 23, 2007

Exercises in Futility

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, EMDR, is a relatively new form of therapy that is used to treat post-traumatic stress disorder, in addition to many other psychological issues. I am not going to attempt to sum up this form of therapy, because I am sure I will not do it justice. Well, that and the fact that I find depression has killed my ability to form coherent sentences and thoughts. I highly recommend this therapy for processing difficult events, emotions, or problems in your life. It's a powerful and relatively simple technique, that when used correctly in conjunction with a therapist trained in EMDR, can help you move past trauma and its fallout.

Last Friday, my therapist had me use EMDR to help me work through my miscarriage and my anxiety about returning to school. Sometimes, EMDR will help me make connections that I would not have otherwise made. During this brief session, I progressed further than I thought I would. While focusing on the moment where I saw the pregnant student in a lecture hall and the feelings that went with that event, I watched my therapist's hand move from left to right, repeatedly. My mind kept jumping back to an article I had read in The New Yorker a few weeks ago.

The article was about a tribe of people in the Amazon who are strikingly different than modern culture in their thoughts and language. Thus, they are the subject of a lot of study in linguistics. The prominent theory of language seems to be challenged by the existence of this tribe. Researchers who have gone to their village are continuously confounded in their experiments. Each time they go to their settlement, they attempt to put the tribe members through a series of tests. These tests are designed according to the theory, and are pre-tested on undergrads. Every test is a monumental failure. Why? Well, because all of their tests are designed according to our cultural norms, instead of theirs. Just to give you a sense of how different they are, check this out. They have no words for numbers except for one, two, and many. They do not have a story of creation because it is just a story, and they don't relate to anything they haven't experienced themselves. They do not have names for colors, but instead refer to a particular color by what other things have that color. For instance, if you asked them to describe the color of a green object, they would say that it looks like a leaf. Ask about a brown object, and they will refer to bark or the color of their own skin. They do not value the abstract, and thus time is irrelevant as far as they are concerned. They live in the moment more than any other society I have ever studied by far.

What's interesting is that the researchers feel exceedingly discouraged and frustrated by their utter failure to make this society conform to their theory of language. And instead of coming up with a new theory or challenging their theory, they call this society primitive, ignorant, and useless. Indeed their experiments and their forced theory application are really just exercises in futility.

To some degree, that's where I am at. I am perpetually engaging in futility. My anger, sadness, and frustration at seeing another pregnant woman is really just an exercise in futility. I apply my expectations, my experience, and my approach to others and expect them to conform. They never will. Comparing myself to others, in the same way that comparing American theory to this Amazonian tribe, is the ultimate exercise in futility.

20 comments:

Christina said...

that sounds interesting. hmmmm sorry you've hit another rough patch. this will get easier, it will. warm thoughts sent your way; )

Sara said...

Do does this realization make you feel more alone, less alone, or neither? Does it give you comfort or not? I think I've finally realized, today actually, that trying to explain to people who don't understand is futile, but that there are quite a few of us out there who want to try, and that is good.

Jason and Samantha said...

That's very interesting.. ((hugs)) Thanks for sharing that, it's how i feel.

Aurelia said...

Keep going, keep thinking, processing...I just came back from an EMDR session myself, and I'm a little stunned right now trying to put it into words.

But it's good.

I'm cheering you on, through rough and smooth and holes and mountains to climb & all the bits in between.

ultimatejourney said...

I think my problem is that I can't stop myself from doing things, even once I realize they're futile. I hope you're better able to do something useful with your realizations.

Not so little sister said...

As usual, I have nothing particularly helpful to say. I just want you to know I'm here for you.

megan said...

i've a friend who swears that she owes her life to EMDR. i hope it continues to help you as you grieve your loss. thinking of you.

thirdtimelucky said...

That does sound interesting. I sometimes wonder whether I should have talked to someone after my miscarriages instead of just trying to get on with stuff.

Renee said...

I find it interesting that yet another doctor (or doctors) decide to blaim their inability to figure something out on someone other than theirselves. "We can't figure them out because they are too primiative." I'm betting that if they could figure out how to do an IQ test on these folks they would test much higher than "civilized" humans.

You know...I almost appologized because you are still mourning. and I don't think it is at all wrong for this pain to still be hurting you. Everyone is different and there is no set time for someone to get over a loss. A lady told my MIL (re my FIL's death) that "It never gets better. It gets easier, but it's never better." At first these words hurt MIL very much, but after the first year she realized that it was true. She still misses FIL very much all the time and she will never love again like that...instead she spends her time with her family & friends.

Dream Writer said...

It is amazing how many types of therapy is out there...

Hope all is well with you...Thinking about you:)

Emilija said...

I had a good experience with EMDR. It really helped me to get over a lot of my childhood experiences. You have to have a really good therapist, however. When they do studies with people who don't have a lot of training, they don't get results.

My Reality said...

I find EMDR fascinating. I hope you continue to make connections.

Barbara said...

Keep going Nicole.

Adrienne said...

So, are you coming up with a new theory, then? I'd love to hear where you end up on this. Sending a virtual hug to you as you work your way through to the other side of grief.

Bumble said...

Mmmn, I'd never heard of that before. It sounds very interesting. I hope that whatever you do will help you to find peace my friend. x

Sarah said...

oh, very interesting. and totally coherent, by the way.

occasionalconfusion said...

I agree with sarah. Hope you are feeling better today :-)

niobe said...

I'm encouraged to hear that several people had such good experiences with EMDR. I tried it several years ago, and found that it didn't help me at all, since my mind just seemed to wander to irrelevant thoughts.

But, reading the linked description makes me wonder if the therapist understood how to do it correctly.

The Road Less Travelled said...

Sometimes pregant women will annoy me and sometimes they won't. Most days I don't want to engange in baby, pregancy talk because I can't fake interest, or at this ponit dis-interest. It's okay to have these feelings, and it's okay to feel sad you're still hurting. I had to watch my co-worker expand and grow for months after my mc, and it sucked. Most days I'd be okay but there were others days when I just wanted to hide. It's normal, we're normal, pain sucks and it lasts a long time, and damn I hate that. We're here for you regardless ((hugs))

MICKY said...

About 3 years ago I dropped into a black hole – four months of absolute terror. I wanted to end my life, but somehow [Holy Spirit], I reached out to a friend who took me to hospital. I had three visits [hospital] in four months – I actually thought I was in hell. I imagine I was going through some sort of metamorphosis [mental, physical & spiritual]. I had been seeing a therapist [1994] on a regular basis [and had just finished a year of EMDR], up until this point in time. I actually thought I would be locked away – but the hospital staff was very supportive [I had no control over my process]. I was released from hospital 16th September 2004 but my fear, pain & shame had only subsided a little. I remember this particular morning waking up [home] & my process would start up again [fear, pain, & shame]. No one could help me, not even my therapist [I was terrified]. I asked Jesus Christ to have mercy on me & forgive me my sins. Slowly, all my fear has dissipated & I believe Jesus delivered me from my “psychological prison.” I am a practicing Catholic & the Holy Spirit is my friend & strength; every day since then has been a joy & blessing. I deserve to go to hell for the life I have led, but Jesus through His sacrifice on the cross, delivered me from my inequities. John 3: 8, John 15: 26, are verses I can relate to, organically. He’s a real person who is with me all the time. I have so much joy & peace in my life, today, after a childhood spent in orphanages. God LOVES me so much. Fear, pain, & shame, are no longer my constant companions. I just wanted to share my experience with you [Luke 8: 16 – 17]. EMDR was the icing on the cake, for me. The only way for me to RECOVER, was to go back to the CHAMBER OF HORRORS [My Childhood] I wanted to live and was prepared to do anything to RECOVER that "Little Boy", who was lost for all those desperate, and lonely years. God helps those who help themselves. Thank you, Jesus for being with me in my LONG DARK NIGHT OF THE SOUL!! What I experienced was nothing compared with what you did for mankind - YOU died on a cross for our sins. I love you so much Jesus, because you LOVED me first. I was lost, but was found.
PEACE BE WITH YOU
MICKY