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Is understanding possible?

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posted on Jul, 24 2014 @ 10:48 PM
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So I have been on this kick lately wanting to learn as much as I can about life…and I have come to realize I don’t really understand much…and I mean that

So I wanted to ask phil/meta forum a question. I’ll try to begin briefly

This goes along with a thread I made a bit ago about “should non-soldiers have the right to voice their opinions on matters of war?”

Is understanding of an external system really possible? Likewise, at one point can someone be considered an expert in something? Can we accurately portray experience?

I work as a therapist and do crisis stabilization and talk therapy. I’ve made it my professional and academic goal to concentrate and specialize in anxiety and PTSD/ASD. I am very new still to the field so I in no way consider myself an expert…but here is what I wonder
Is there a point that someone ever becomes an expert in a field? Is there a point at which understanding of a field or person ever really becomes true? Is language enough to portray meaning?

You don’t need to be a therapist, psychologist, scholar or highly educated to ask people questions to increase your understanding of some situation. Say for example someone you knew was robbed at gunpoint. This is a powerless and scary situation. So in your attempt to understand how they feel, they use descriptions and words to tell you what it was like to be held up, robber and violated. But can one ever really understand a situation like this? Is there enough time in the universe or enough words in the language for someone to not only portray their situation to an outsider but get them to feel or understand the experience?

They talk in grad school about secondary trauma. The big example of course is the holocaust. (let’s ignore the conspiracies for a moment). The holocaust occurs and many die and some survive. It’s no stretch whatsoever to understand the survivors face a potential lifetime of trauma and recovery from trauma. What of the families of the survivors? Psychologists and experts have talked about secondary trauma but where does it come from and does it come honestly? Can someone ever experience by proxy another person’s world and situations?

If the above is untrue, can one accurately portray their experiences enough to bring about that same experience by proxy in another? Can a therapist ever really truly understand what occurred with a client when they were traumatized?

Or a simpler way to ask this question (though somewhat different) is by quoting a movie I love, “Almost Famous.” William in an exasperated attempt to get an interview with Russell busts out and asks


Do you have to be depressed to write a sad song? Do you have to be in love to write a love song? Is a song better when it really happened to you?


What say you? Can someone who does not experience, write accurately about said experience?

Sorry if I rambled a bit…I look forward to responses




posted on Jul, 24 2014 @ 11:03 PM
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a reply to: KyoZero

- that's why it's called a practise.

I think you maybe looking for an absolute in an ambigious world.

Enjoy the ride.

And yes, non-soldiers have valid opinios on war. War effects everyone. My Dad was a combat veteran of WWII (Silver and Bronze Stars) and Korea and Admin after that. He died young PTSD, stress, wounds, etc. But I think my mother suffered more being part of the occupations of both German and Japan. War - the effects of War, a so called Just War, nearly destroyed her. And in turn, my sister and I, were affected. And we were the lucky ones, the privledged ones. Consider the civilians in war zones - their families, friends. Just saying.....

I commend your choice of livihood. Look into Tapas Accupressure (www.tatlife.com...) and other 'energy psychology' methods to help PTSD. Tapas has done work at fort Benning. Different modalities allow you to find what works for any given person.

Best Wishes.



posted on Jul, 24 2014 @ 11:04 PM
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a reply to: KyoZero
Hey, you raise some amazing points. But I have to respond loud and clear to one: You ask if non- soldiers should speak on matters of war. My answer is that we must.

The military is not a democracy. To be a soldier is to focus your whole mind on accomplishing a mission. Thus if someone asks a good soldier if a mission is a good idea, the answer must be " HELL YES" because thats the attitude most effective in accomplishing whatever mission need be done. The military is not paid to be a debating society, they are paid to execute the mission at hand.


Thats why its essential that a well informed civilian populous takes it upon themselves to argue policies that would deploy our miltary, because the military will never do it themselves. They discipline their minds to give their lives for the mission they are given, so we civilians, when we see that dedication being abused by policymakers, must he prepared to speak out, and to advocate peace on their behalf.



posted on Jul, 24 2014 @ 11:07 PM
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a reply to: KyoZero

Yes, through empathy and those weird mirror nuerons which allow us to project ourselves into the situation. Not only that, but it is the people who have experiences they cannot understand which is what causes the trauma and/or questions. They do not understand how to cope with the grief the experience has given them because they do not understand the situation - and so they might come to you. If you think you cannot relate to others' experiences you might want to seek some other occupation because you are bound to give bad advice if you don't figure out how to experience their pain.

Try visualizing objects as you listen or read? Maybe that will help you.
edit on 7/24/2014 by Bleeeeep because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 24 2014 @ 11:31 PM
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originally posted by: Bleeeeep
a reply to: KyoZero



Yes, through empathy and those weird mirror nuerons which allow us to project ourselves into the situation. Not only that, but it is the people who have experiences they cannot understand which is what causes the trauma and/or questions. They do not understand how to cope with the grief the experience has given them and so they might come to you. If you think you cannot relate to others' experiences you might want to seek some other occupation because you are bound to give bad advice if you don't figure out how to experience their pain.


I'd like to point out that at no time did I mention I did not feel I could experience their pain. these questions posed were nothing more than a conversation started because I do admire the thoughts of people on this forum that I consider far more intelligent than I. I happen to believe I do quite well in working with trauma and I think I make a great therapist. This was a general question only...

To the rest, yes I do believe secondary trauma occurs. In fact, I have seen therapists leave their jobs over it...so I guess a better way to question this is how does secondary trauma really get in someone? I understand the textbook definition of it...but it's a world of thought that fascinates me greatly....knowing that someone could relive an experience that never physically lived it in the first place



posted on Jul, 24 2014 @ 11:49 PM
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a reply to: KyoZero

Then you just can't understand? My mistake, I assumed you couldn't understand because you couldn't empathize.

Well... the answer has to be mirror neurons and lack of understanding. Your brain, when visualizing, often doesn't know the recalled situation is not currently happening to itself and so your body will produce the same emotions it would if it were experiencing the situation, itself.

p.s. I would look this stuff up if I were you. Seriously man -- you worry me with these questions.



posted on Jul, 25 2014 @ 12:07 AM
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originally posted by: Bleeeeep
a reply to: KyoZero

Then you just can't understand? My mistake, I assumed you couldn't understand because you couldn't empathize.

Well... the answer has to be mirror neurons and lack of understanding. Your brain, when visualizing, often doesn't know the recalled situation is not currently happening to itself and so your body will produce the same emotions it would if it were experiencing the situation, itself.

p.s. I would look this stuff up if I were you. Seriously man -- you worry me with these questions.


and you worry me with your constant assumptions and responses...if I didn't make something clear I am sorry for that but don't play that card like you are now worried that I am harming others

trust me...I am fine, my clients are fine, we're all fine

I even said I get the textbook definition and clarified that I was amazed by the idea

it was some general questions...deal
edit on 25-7-2014 by KyoZero because: (no reason given)
edit on 25-7-2014 by KyoZero because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 25 2014 @ 12:11 AM
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originally posted by: FyreByrd
a reply to: KyoZero

- that's why it's called a practise.

I think you maybe looking for an absolute in an ambigious world.

Enjoy the ride.


I commend your choice of livihood. Look into Tapas Accupressure (www.tatlife.com...) and other 'energy psychology' methods to help PTSD. Tapas has done work at fort Benning. Different modalities allow you to find what works for any given person.

Best Wishes.


Thanks so much for the response...nice to see it was understood and you didn't need to make assumptions

That part I may agree with...I do tend to sometimes look into absolutes. Part of maturity and growing up is getting out of absolutes and I am working every day on that

I will most certainly look into your link...I love alternative therapies and think they don't get enough recognition and applause. It's so easy for me to fall back on 'the usual.' Which isn't to say that alternative therapies are 'unusual' by any means...just not as recognized

thanks for the response



posted on Jul, 25 2014 @ 12:40 AM
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a reply to: KyoZero

The general questions you should not only have the answers to but you should understand those answers.

And that card is people's lives. wtf?

Put simply, you should know the stuff you are asking. It is like a brain surgeon coming online post-op and asking where the frontal cortex is.



posted on Jul, 25 2014 @ 12:52 AM
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originally posted by: Bleeeeep
a reply to: KyoZero

The general questions you should not only have the answers to but you should understand those answers.

And that card is people's lives. wtf?

Put simply, you should know the stuff you are asking. It is like a brain surgeon coming online post-op and asking where the frontal cortex is.


enjoy your day



posted on Jul, 25 2014 @ 01:05 PM
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Your thread has been on my mind this morning.

One thing that popped up is that there are no answers only solutions some good and some not so good.

About understanding another person's experience as they do, all we can 'practise' is listening. Active listening where we suspend our thinking and listen without internal judgement and analysis. In other words, a listening from the heart not the head.

A couple of good books on the subject are "Non-Violent Communication" (www.amazon.com...) and "The Way of Council" (www.amazon.com...=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1406311411&sr=1-1&keywords=the+way+of+council+2nd+editi on).

Quiet your mind (of questions - LOL) and listen.



posted on Jul, 25 2014 @ 01:17 PM
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a reply to: KyoZero


If the above is untrue, can one accurately portray their experiences enough to bring about that same experience by proxy in another? Can a therapist ever really truly understand what occurred with a client when they were traumatized?

In my experience (as a former talk therapist), it helps to have lived a similar experience. I was not so "hush-hush" about my own experiences with trauma and all that stuff (though many clinicians are told to never self-disclose, this just never made sense to me).

I think it's important for the client to know that you actually DO get (at least) where they are "coming from".
Your experiences of course are your own, and your responses/reactions may be quite different from what theirs are/were, but no - you can't ever TRULY know the mind of another. Communication is the key. Like someone said above, active listening, and trying to put yourself in their shoes based on their OWN experiences, background, and emotions is critically important.

But you're right - it's akin to expecting a celibate (ahem) priest to counsel people on marriage and child-rearing (never having done EITHER of those things), or a man to counsel a woman about pregnancy and child-birth.

Nice to know there are others on here who realize just how hard it really is to truly understand someone else's pain.
Best wishes on your career. Hope you don't burn out quite as fast as I did....

I just could never "leave it at work." Building relationships is a real thing - and expecting empathetic therapists to just walk away 'after 6 sessions' or to not think about the client's problems while off-duty was for me, IMPOSSIBLE.

edit on 7/25/2014 by BuzzyWigs because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 25 2014 @ 02:28 PM
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If you speak, counsel or try to educate someone on a subject you have no direct experience with, all you will ever do is damage and all you will ever add is confusion. Best to only speak with what you know personally. Not what you read, heard or understand from someone else. It's really crucial for anyone occupying such a role to understand this.

You can't play the blues unless you know the blues.
edit on 25-7-2014 by Visitor2012 because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 25 2014 @ 06:21 PM
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originally posted by: Visitor2012
If you speak, counsel or try to educate someone on a subject you have no direct experience with, all you will ever do is damage and all you will ever add is confusion. Best to only speak with what you know personally. Not what you read, heard or understand from someone else. It's really crucial for anyone occupying such a role to understand this.

You can't play the blues unless you know the blues.


I don't believe the OP is talking about teaching a musical instrument. He is talking about understanding another's perceived experience. Two completely different things.

I can't teach someone to do the rumba, if I've never done it.

However, I can suggest learning the rumba, to someone, if I UNDERSTAND their needs, and believe such an activity would be helpful to their mental well-being.

Not the best analogy but the best I can do in a hurry.

The OP talks about intimately relating to another human being's experience of 'reality' if you will and teaching or training them in healthier ways of coping with difficult realities that's the OP has not experienced personally.



posted on Jul, 25 2014 @ 07:34 PM
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originally posted by: BuzzyWigs
a reply to: KyoZero


If the above is untrue, can one accurately portray their experiences enough to bring about that same experience by proxy in another? Can a therapist ever really truly understand what occurred with a client when they were traumatized?

In my experience (as a former talk therapist), it helps to have lived a similar experience. I was not so "hush-hush" about my own experiences with trauma and all that stuff (though many clinicians are told to never self-disclose, this just never made sense to me).

I think it's important for the client to know that you actually DO get (at least) where they are "coming from".
Your experiences of course are your own, and your responses/reactions may be quite different from what theirs are/were, but no - you can't ever TRULY know the mind of another. Communication is the key. Like someone said above, active listening, and trying to put yourself in their shoes based on their OWN experiences, background, and emotions is critically important.

But you're right - it's akin to expecting a celibate (ahem) priest to counsel people on marriage and child-rearing (never having done EITHER of those things), or a man to counsel a woman about pregnancy and child-birth.

Nice to know there are others on here who realize just how hard it really is to truly understand someone else's pain.
Best wishes on your career. Hope you don't burn out quite as fast as I did....

I just could never "leave it at work." Building relationships is a real thing - and expecting empathetic therapists to just walk away 'after 6 sessions' or to not think about the client's problems while off-duty was for me, IMPOSSIBLE.



thank you kindly for your response and getting where I was coming from. As an aside, at this point in my career I am fully capable of sleeping at night and not thinking about what I'd heard...though I fully admit it will probably not always be that way

Now to your main point...That is what I have mad my goal; to listen. I work my best to learn my clients (including those who have experienced no trauma). It's a wonderfully eye-opening experience but I am sometimes in awe of the idea that some people can 'feel' another person's experience if you will.

I also always wondered about the idea of self disclosure. I have had addicts ask me if I am also one, which I am (clean since 2010) but I have to wonder...if someone was never an addict, how do they relate to another?

But then again, the same could be said about something my coworkers hear a lot. I am 35 years old next month and by far the oldest of my office. One of the female therapists is 25 but looks about 18 and I know she gets frustrated hearing "are you old enough to know any of this?"

I love my job...I really do. And I work as much as I can with anxiety spectrum clients because I suffer GAD personally so I guess I can understand a bit where they are coming from.

So as someone more experienced than I, may I ask this in return?

How do you feel about the concept of over-empathizing? People who for example suffer PTSD counseling other PTSD survivors. I've heard it said that therapists can get too close to the situation and forget the personal experience of the client and forget that their own experience is not precisely the same...blinders if you will

thoughts?

thank you again for responding



posted on Jul, 25 2014 @ 07:59 PM
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a reply to: FyreByrd




I don't believe the OP is talking about teaching a musical instrument. He is talking about understanding another's perceived experience. Two completely different things. The OP talks about intimately relating to another human being's experience of 'reality' if you will and teaching or training them in healthier ways of coping with difficult realities that's the OP has not experienced personally.


There is no understanding of ANYTHING unless you've experienced it yourself. Most certainly no way to perceive it. No possible way to transmit the whole of an experience to anybody through words and emotion to the point where they can even remotely experience it or perceive it. A person may be able to perceive and identify emotional and psychological traits, but no experiencing and no perceiving anything which is outside one's personal experience.
edit on 25-7-2014 by Visitor2012 because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 25 2014 @ 10:16 PM
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a reply to: KyoZero

About self-disclosure in and out of the therpeudic context see "The Transparent Self"
(www.amazon.com...)

It seems to be out-of-print but Amazon has used copies.

It's informed a lot of my work in all contexts. But it's trickly - you don't want to over disclose, I've had things come back to bite me.



posted on Jul, 26 2014 @ 07:34 AM
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originally posted by: Visitor2012
a reply to: FyreByrd








I don't believe the OP is talking about teaching a musical instrument. He is talking about understanding another's perceived experience. Two completely different things. The OP talks about intimately relating to another human being's experience of 'reality' if you will and teaching or training them in healthier ways of coping with difficult realities that's the OP has not experienced personally.





There is no understanding of ANYTHING unless you've experienced it yourself. Most certainly no way to perceive it. No possible way to transmit the whole of an experience to anybody through words and emotion to the point where they can even remotely experience it or perceive it. A person may be able to perceive and identify emotional and psychological traits, but no experiencing and no perceiving anything which is outside one's personal experience.


Hi :-)

Thanks for your response and being respectful with the same. So I have read both of your posts and just getting back to you now (sorry about that)

So my question is this...and I mean this very fairly of course...

You say that there is no direct way to experience another's situation. Ok I get what you are saying. But then you say (first post) that if you try to counsel on ANYTHING that you have no direct experience of, you will only do harm and confuse

I am trying to make this not assumptive (is that a word?) at all...but it will probably come out that way...just know that I am not seeking to put any words in your mouth

What do you feel of the world of psychology/therapy/counseling/social work as a whole?

Many of these professionals don't have direct experience in what they treat (a lot do...but many don't)

Do you feel these people are all doing damage? I ask because therapy is generally seen as a powerful force...talking things out and counseling/guiding people who are hurting (say with PTSD, depression and so on)

look forward to your answer

respectfully,

Kyo



posted on Jul, 26 2014 @ 07:46 AM
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a reply to: KyoZero

Compete understanding of something is impossible without having experienced something yourself.
Or at least, that is my opinion.



posted on Jul, 26 2014 @ 08:03 AM
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Good Morning, Kyo.

I am perplexed at how members are coming on here telling you your job, while offering no credentials or personal experience of their own.

You haven't said what "school" of counseling you have achieved - I'm sure you know, however, because you could not have become a therapist without it - the differences between clinical social work (specifically client self-determination and empowerment through teaching alternative coping mechanisms) and psychology (many trained only with the "medical model" used by psychiatrists).

The LCSW always assumes the client is the expert on him or herself, and is capable of establishing goals, recognizing barriers (whether external or self-imposed), and weighing options in order to make decisions. A 'psychologist' will often present as "I am the expert, and you are sick. I will cure you."

That, as you know, is NOT Clinical Social Work's style. There are so many different approaches and therapies available that lay persons really have no idea unless they've endeavored to self-educate, or been in therapy where different methods are tried; or both. In my practice I used Family Systems quite a bit, as the initial discovery system. That alone can help a client "disengage" and learn to separate "self" from "system", as well as identifying how the social system in which they were reared has affected their own self-perceptions, boundaries (if any), and coping mechanisms.

Aside from all the different techniques (EMDR is particularly helpful with PTSD, for example) - then there are the Axes of diagnosis. Lay persons rarely understand how diagnosis works, and all the different aspects of the client's life that are assessed before determining the differential. Likewise, the DMS is not "a Bible" - it is a tool used for billing purposes and to help the practitioners continue to develop more and more understanding of what clusters of behaviors and SUBJECTIVE experience together with others indicates in terms of therapy to be applied.

If you are in a counseling position already - then YOU HAVE THAT INFORMATION. The rest of it is an art form, yes, and depends almost entirely on rapport building with the client. I have advised prospective clients to be careful in their selection of a therapist - to "interview" them before simply "signing up."

If the client does NOT feel comfortable, safe, trusting, or confident that the therapist can relate to them adequately, they should find another therapist.

Therapists also have "specialties" - mine was Children & Families, and then I went into Substance Abuse treating youths, youth groups, families, and children of addicts. (Having raised two children myself, after a rocky adolescence involving drug use). The PTSD that I came across in those situations was quite different from, say, a soldier returning from war-zone combat scenarios.

Besides that, PTSD is a "subjective" thing as well - what traumatizes me may not be anything that fazes you, or my neighbor. That's why we START WHERE THE CLIENT IS.
Which brings us to sensitivities, and knowing oneself.

I can understand why the 20-somethings feel frustration, and to be honest, I would not enter into therapy with a 25 year old as a counselor. No. To be honest, they often DON'T have adequate life experience to be really effective, except perhaps for young children or adolescents and young married couples.

But to expect a mother of seven whose children have been removed for cyclical abuse, drug abuse, neglect, or squalor to welcome a 25-year old single, childless, freshly licensed (or still interning) person - especially of another ethnicity/background - to help them is actually ridiculous.

What some others have said carries some weight - yes, one must be a GOOD LISTENER, and able to build a real relationship. In my opinion, being open about one's own similar experience can help - but is not always necessary. Any therapist worth their salt knows when a case is out of their league - and will refer the client to a colleague or other agency for more appropriate treatment.

Just as a podiatrist (foot specialist) will not treat a brain tumor, so do therapists have their 'niches.'

Secondary PTSD? Yes. Depends on how "close to home" the issues that the client presents are to one's own weaknesses.
My problem turned out to be boundaries. I felt TOO MUCH of what my clients felt. (Yes, I'm one of those who literally feel the pain of others). I would come home weeping, unable to attend to my own family, emotionally exhausted.

When I realized it was compromising my own life to stay in the practice, as well as the strictures on "severing ties" with people I'd spent years getting to know - I just couldn't do it. I damn near went to Mexico to collect an American child from a visit to her grandparents - at the request of her parents, who could not safely travel - I adored this child, and she was very fond of me. I would have done it in a heartbeat if my husband had not talked me out of it, explaining how much trouble I could get into trying to get through customs as a blonde Midwesterner with a beautiful Mexican child, even if I had legal guardianship (which I was offered to do, as well as being asked to be the child's guardian in case of the parents' loss). I MISS THAT FAMILY, and that child, still. I always will.

Anyway - sorry for writing a book here!! Best of strength and smooth sailing with your practice...
I have a feeling you'll do fine.

edit on 7/26/2014 by BuzzyWigs because: (no reason given)





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