Sunday, 29 September 2013

Comments and Responses

1. When I started formulating my ideas in 2006, I ran into a sizable amount of opposition from colleagues. The arguments tended to focus on the suggestion that certain aspects of an adult’s verbal and non-verbal behaviour would sometimes morph into that of a child. While some of my colleagues reported that they did indeed see a variety of immature behaviours in their clients, other colleagues were totally dismissive. 

I was also told that I wasn’t saying anything new. For a time I allowed the dismissive comments to intimidate me and I stopped developing the subject. Adults showing immature behaviour carried on being reported in the media on a regular basis and eventually I got fed up and continued my book.

From The Introduction.

The recognition of childish behaviour in adults has been well documented and researched over many decades. Transactional Analysis’s ‘inner child’ uses these findings, as does Neuro-Linguistic Programming’s ‘timeline’ work. Hypnosis uses ‘the affect bridge’ and regression. The psychologists Oliver James and Dorothy Rowe are among many who have written a number of books about the adult– child dynamic in family situations. An American psychologist, Pauline Wallin, has written a book called Taming Your Inner Brat. Brandon Bays uses ‘The Journey’. There is Michael Bywater’s Big Babies book, the media use of the word ‘kidults’ and so on. A problem of emotional immaturity has been identified and the presence of a child in some form inhabiting an adult’s mind has been acknowledged.
However, I believe that there has been something missing in the understanding of why the child is sometimes present. I do not believe our child is a brat. I suggest that this child is sometimes a very frightened, even traumatised child. Fear is the baseline emotion (Chapter 11) .

2. “There’s nothing wrong with being childish sometimes.”
This is the most common criticism to the book’s full title.
From The Introduction

Childish, or childlike?
“There’s nothing wrong with being childish. It’s fun.” I have heard this many times from people disagreeing with my views, but they tend to be mixing up childish with childlike. The difference between childish and childlike is important and needs to be highlighted from the beginning, as the difference is not always appreciated.
Enjoying childlike moments of joy, fun, wonderment, innocent curiosity and simple pleasures is to be recommended and encouraged until the day we die. We can still behave as an adult and remain in control, and it is not boring. It can be delightful, uplifting, fun and enjoyable for all. I definitely recognise and enjoy childlike moments in my life. Some examples are:
  1. Visiting the seaside. 
  2. Receiving gifts. 
  3. Playing games with children. 
  4. Having harmless fun. 
What certainly is boring and a pain for everyone involved is childish behaviour. An immature child appears to hijack the emotions and takes control of thoughts and actions (‘hijack’ is a term coined by Daniel Goleman in his book Emotional Intelligence; see Further Reading). The results can be extremely damaging and long-lasting. For example: 
Sulking and tantrums. 
Being disruptive
Addictive behaviour. 
Manipulative behaviour. 
Being violently possessive. 

3. "It seems simplistic."
The book is not an academic text. It is for the layperson and in plain English.
Where has the belief come from that solutions to all emotional health problems have to be complex? 
Who benefits by encouraging lay people to believe that their emotional health problems are complex?
This is a work experience from Chapter 2
Moreover, these talents do not have to be creative ones. In 2011, I was in a branch of a leading supermarket. A floor manager opened a folder of papers in front of me, including a mathematical matrix for meal break entitlements: it looked a well-used piece of paper. I couldn’t help but mention that I had designed it, and told them the story of its inception. “Was it difficult to do?”, someone asked. “No,” I replied, “It just came to me in a meeting.”
I was considered so poor at maths at school that I was not allowed to sit any maths exams. Yet I designed the matrix in 1993, and as of 2011 the store manager told me, “It has not been improved by modern technology”. At the time I was given a £100 bonus for ‘a good idea’, but not before someone from head office had come to the shop to check that the design really was the work of the lowly checkout manger using her own innate talents: something that a department in head office had not been able to do.

4. "Thanks so much for the chapters, M is reading them too - I think its really pertinent reading - throwing up lots of discussions which is good, and eureka moments about a few people we know! " 
Comment from someone who read four chapters, relevant to a problem they had expressed in conversation.

This is exactly what I hope the book will do.

5. “Brilliant,  spot-on...valid” - a journalist reading one chapter about a behaviour, which I thought was relevant to them.
I will ignore the first word, but I was re-assured to read the next two.

6. “It's just hippy claptrap. Pop pathologisation”  From someone who read the Amazon blurb.

I think the words healing and rainbow may have suggested this to the reader.  Their view is as valid as anyone else’s. I hope they read the book and let me know whether they still think the same at the end.

Words have so many meanings and can mean so many things to different people. 

From The Introduction.

Our memory is like playing the card game ‘Snap’. Using the five senses of sound, taste, touch, sight and smell, our brain matches what it is experiencing in the present with memories from the past. If the brain is unable to provide an exact match, then it will find the nearest thing. Hence the use of the word ‘like’. It starts at birth.  A baby will seek out something to suck. If it is not a breast, it will be something ‘like’ a breast. I call this game of brain snap - memory matching.
From Chapter 15
The confused imagination
In playing ‘snap’ with memory-matches, the English language can cause a few problem of incorrect matching.
Sally was living with her son, Ben. I popped in for a cup of coffee and chat. The atmosphere was not good, there was a distinct chill between them. The young man had experienced a couple of years of mental health problems, but was getting better. After some difficult times, Ben had found an outdoor activity that he loved: being part of a local volunteer conservation group. On this particular day the group had been involved in some heavy work on the local moors. He arrived home after a hard day’s work, and saw his mother in the garden picking apples
“Hi Ben,” said Sally, “I’m stuck up this tree.”
“Hi mum,” said Ben, “I’m going to have a bath and go on the computer.”
As Ben told me later, “I thought she meant that she was ‘stuck’ up the tree – in the same way that I might have said, “I’ve been ‘stuck’ on the moors all day.”
Unfortunately, what Sally meant was that she indeed stuck in the apple tree: she could not get down and was beginning to panic. As a result, Sally had difficulty thinking straight as she had become emotionally aroused. She saw Ben go back in the house. Instead of shouting louder and explaining her predicament, she imagined that Ben had chosen to ignore her in his selfish, teenage way. A neighbour saw her, came round and helped her down. Sally was furious and would not listen to Ben’s more than reasonable explanation.

7. “There are already lots of books about this subject.”
Yes, there are. Hundreds. There are also hundreds of books about cooking, parenting, gardening and so on.
It doesn’t stop there being a place for a new perspective, written in a different way. 
When I opened the therapy practice, I was motivated to help all the ‘walking wounded’ in the city. The thought of people’s lives being destroyed by questionable treatments horrified me and still does. I soon realised I couldn’t help the masses. I had to help one person at a time. For my inspiration I used the bible story of the sower and the seed.
For all the people that buy the book, e-book or audio book, there will be those who may never read or listen to it. They may dip in and leave it.
Then there will be those interested and possibly motivated, but unable to put the ideas into practice.
Then there will be the few, perhaps very few, who take the ideas and change something in their life, for the better. They may tell other people.
It is for those people that this book is written.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Why Chasing Rainbows and where's your evidence?

Three weeks to go to publication date. This is both scary and exciting. I'm collecting comments, of all sorts, and will respond to those in another blog.

For this blog I'm doing a 'cut and paste' from the Introduction from 'Are you Chasing Rainbows? A personal and practical insight to emotional maturity and why adults sometimes behave like children.'  

Reading the news over the previous few days, the last paragraph seems especially timely. 

These are my answers to two common questions:

Why ‘chasing rainbows’?

Forty-four-year-old Neil was explaining some behaviour that wasn’t helping a domestic situation. There was something he had said that brought out the following response from me: “You might as well be chasing rainbows!” I explained that he was describing a situation where his goal was in fact an illusion, and he was becoming deluded and emotionally unwell in his attempts to reach it. He understood immediately. “I feel as if I’ve spent my life running backwards and forwards trying to fill a child’s half empty bucket, but it never gets filled.”

What’s my research, and where’s my evidence?

I have two children and four grandchildren. I have experienced some challenging times while growing up, being educated and throughout life – a normal life. I am also a trained nursery nurse with a variety of workplace experiences, including years on maternity units, in private homes, nurseries and playgroups. For most of my professional childcare years I was working with the under-fives.

I spent ten years in retail work and management, and then moved to another part of the country. Agency work as a nursery nurse led to work on an acute unit in a psychiatric hospital. I stayed as a nursing assistant, and after three years decided that there must be a more effective way of helping people and relieving them of their distress.

 I retrained as a psychotherapist, and in 2001 opened a private practice. I worked using a short-term, solution-focused therapy, using a variety of cognitive and behavioural therapeutic interventions. The focus was mainly on the client’s unmet emotional needs and their unused or misused resources (Chapter 1 and 2). I found it a most effective way to help many people experiencing emotional health problems, including depression, stress, addiction, anxiety disorders and trauma.

However, there were some clients where something else appeared to be going on other than just missing adult needs or misusing resources. Using my nursery nursing experience, I realised that I was seeing and hearing about childish behaviour hijacking adult behaviour – repeatedly. Verbally and non-verbally. Sometimes it would appear that the adult morphed into the child in front of me.

Why did they keep repeating such childish behaviour? What was trying to be achieved? The consequences rarely appeared satisfactory, so why did they continue? Did they realise what was going on? I asked my colleagues to look for these signs, and they too reported the same findings, although there has been healthy discussion on exactly what is happening in the mind and body. Even neuroscientists and psychologists don’t have all the answers, as new findings and theories are published frequently.

I have undertaken research using what I have observed, heard and read in the real world and real life. I have also used personal experiences over sixty years. Not a week goes by without a news report or magazine article containing an example of what I have described as ‘chasing rainbows’ behaviour. I have never met anyone who did not recognise exactly what I was talking about – although naturally there have been disagreements about why this is happening.

Family relationships can be fraught with difficulties if the child is not allowed to grow up into an adult. How many times do we hear from adults who are mature in years saying, ‘My parent still treats me like a child?’ I would suggest that we can allow ourselves to be treated like a child by not drawing boundaries of expected behaviour (Chapter 8).

From the feedback I have received when I tell people the subject of the book, it would appear that the workplace can be full of competing ‘mini-mes’. In August 2006, a City bank administrator, Helen Green, won £817,000 because she had been bullied at work – by other women. A group who constantly told her she smelled and blew raspberries at her. This is straight out of the playground. It is not so much juvenile as infantile, with results that can only lead to poorer productivity and increased sickness levels. Barely a month goes by without a political commentator writing that the House of Commons resembles a playground on occasions. The Palace of Westminster is stuffed with people who are intellectually bright – indeed, some are very intelligent – but emotionally mature? That’s another matter.


Friday, 13 September 2013

NEW book. NEW author. DIFFERENT perspective


Alison Russell first shoplifted at the age of nine years old. 

Alison Russell stopped shoplifting at the age of eighteen years old.

Alison knew what had made her stop shoplifting on that day, but always wondered, why then and there?

 Alison trained as a nursery nurse, married, had two children and worked in childcare. In 1985 she started working in a Waitrose supermarket near her home in Buckinghamshire. 

A move to Yorkshire for a second marriage in 1994 saw her return to childcare, which in turn led to working on an acute psychiatric unit. Alison retrained as a psychotherapist and in 2000 opened her own practice in York. 

By 2006, Alison understood about the shoplifting and much else that had happened in her life.  She decided to write a book. It was never completed.

In 2010, Alison and her husband moved home from York to North Yorkshire. She passed the practice on to colleagues and gained her fourth grandchild.

In September 2012, Alison returned home after a glorious time as a Games Maker at London12 Olympics and Paralympics. For once, her diary looked empty. There were no excuses left for not finishing the book.

Which leads to Monday, October 14th 2013 and the publication of:

Are you Chasing Rainbows? A personal and practical insight into emotional maturity and why adults sometimes behave like children

£1 a copy is being donated to ChildLine