Wool-Gathering or How I Ended Analysis
Affect Regulation, Mentalization, and the Development of the Self
Try Astam Books in Stanmore if you wish to purchase these books as they are hard to get (Phone: 9550 3855)
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Later Childhood Resources
Rethinking ADHD: Integrated Approaches to Helping Children at Home and at School
h3> by Ruth Schmidt Neven, Vicki Anderson, and Tim Godber
Their approach homogenises a variety of thoughts we all have on this contentious issue, in many ways akin to the controversies in the autism spectrum, or perhaps any condition in childhood which presents somewhere between average behaviour and grossly unusual behaviour.
As the coming epidemic of mental illness threatens progress in the modern world, all of us in the West have come to question if the demands of modern capitalist life are not incompatible with wellness.
In 1995 and again in 1997, Christopher Green and Kit Chee wrote in their best-selling volume Understanding ADHD (London: Vermillion):
Certainly the “talking cures” have a place in managing the emotional problems of some parents, but not in treating ADHD. Formal family therapy is generally unhelpful, though clever psychiatrists use a less structured approach to help all members of a family work together to support their ADHD child…(p. 118)
A programme on which they appeared, on Granada television in the UK, logged over 7000 phone calls immediately. Such was the concern of parents then. But since then, as the Australian authors note, several truths have emerged:
The authors quote a leading Australian commentator who notes that the minute you see such variations like this in medicine and mental health, you are looking opinion-based, not evidence-based medical practice.
What the authors do in this book is try to move away from linear approaches such as the narrowly defined medical model, to a more cybernetic, second order system which would see the psycho or neuropathology as embedded within the interactions between child and social substrate, not within the skin of the child. Hence the blind application of a germ or disease-centred medical model, using curative medication or intervention, would fail, given the multifactorial picture they paint.
Instead, and in keeping with modern psychiatric philosophy, they advocate for a bio-psycho-social model in the Engel sense. This would answer the questions different, viz:
Not what a single causative agent makes this child ill? (what diagnosis?), but rather:
Why has this child produced these symptoms at this stage of his/her life?
However, the authors make it plain that we should not fall into the linear epistemological trap of assuming that the environment causes the child to become ill, or its genes cause it to become ill, or some milieu events cause it to become ill. This is again, linear, cause-effect relationship, anathematic to circular second order cybernetic feedback thinking.
In the interaction of the genes, the family, the school, the world, the thoughts, the endocrines, the stem cells, the cytokines, the chandelier cells, the loud words, absence, separation, working parents, lousy child care, grief, emigration, loud TV, and any one of the hundreds of causal chains and context markers, a pattern connects which represents how this child, at this time of its life, demonstrates the symptoms of ADHD, and communicates this in producing symptoms.
The medical or other linear models thus produce and represent punctuation points, or father focal points in a complex system, descriptions, not explanations, which result from a cross-sectional slice approach to diagnosis, rather than a developmental framework. The authors here are advocating a much more comprehensive series of interventions. The epistemology above certainly represents the thinking of Family Therapy, of a more global determinism than the biology, or social or psychological domains of development would represent. We must remember that in neuropsychology, a concatenation of symptoms does not represent a syndrome, nor does linear definition of test outcomes provide meaningful data.
This is not war on the medical model, but a call for intervention from multidisciplinary teams. If one cannot eliminate the complex chain of events ending with the phenotype of impairment represented by ADHD, then one must intervene within society, avoiding a disposal diagnosis, recognising that medication is not the cure, avoiding coalitions against the child, containing their anxiety, accepting psychodynamic principals that all, including bad, behaviour is meaningful, the need for appropriate authority and the knowledge of the important of containing and supporting boundaries, working as partners with parents and teachers, improving child care arrangements, bridging the gap between home and school, dealing with separation and divorce, making positive changes in the school environment, supporting boys in the face of the demands of modern and future societies, and most critical, working with prevention in the wider social and political context.
This is a most important work, and with a wide audience, readable by everyone, even the damned parents. It really is a crucial reading, given its evidence base, that psychiatrists, psychologists, teachers, general practitioners, magistrates, judges and politicians become aware of the problems facing those who rear and mind children in the 21st Century, not just for ADHD, but the whole wide and varied spectrum of mental disorders.
This book is really well done. The last chapters need a great deal more detail and planning if the advocacy of such an approach is to go ahead. The post-modern view is really overdue, and the deconstruction of the terms we use is now a demand of the biopsychosocial model, and of the consumer.
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