Thursday, January 31, 2008

What is a "Therapist?"

There is no more common word in English than "therapist."

The public sometimes prefers “counselor,” and refers to therapy as "counseling." But having a serious conversation and receiving advice about your behavior is not therapy.

We are a frail species that does not survive early childhood physical and emotional damage easily. A few moments of violent or improper behavior to an infant produces lifetime, often debilitating symptoms. Unfortunately, abuse is usually continual and hidden. It does not matter what may be in the mind of the adult who does the damage, because the infant has no intellectual knowledge. But its little body knows.

There is a vast difference between physical abuse to someone over 6, that can be remembered and talked about, and abuse to an infant. I know women who were raped once in their teens, who twenty years and much therapy later cannot fully recover. But abuse to a child before 6 is much more dangerous and difficult to treat. Forgotten abuse before three is the most problematic, because recovery is only accomplished by physically and painfully reliving it. For that to happen one must courageously work with an equally courageous and properly trained therapist.

For over a century we have evolved the notion that someone we call a therapist can somehow intervene in the present -- go back into the infant psyche, still active in the suffering adult, and heal the wound. You may judge the efficacy of this notion by the state of the world. The planet is in peril. Insane wars abound. Genocide is common. We torture innocent children and animals. We cannot stay committed in marriage. We are greedy and selfish. We do not know how to love, and are angry and confused. Because of this therapy has become a huge growth industry. Anyone of reasonable intelligence can become a therapist -- and the pay is terrific.

“Backlight” was written because, in addition to entertaining, I want to increase understanding of a genuine, healing therapeutic process that works. The novel presents a perfected notion of an enlightened and ego free therapist. We remain tragically confused over how to recover from even the simplest and short-lived attack on the infant's body -- to say nothing of sustained and sadistic abuse.

Philip McGraw Ph.D., a hugely successful TV personality, is an example of public figures who have added to the confusion. The title Dr., attached to the soothing diminutive of his first name, proclaims that here is a healer, a caring physician, a sensitive therapist. He is none of these. The man is a brilliant speaker, with a charismatic personality and genuine insight into human behavior. These of themselves do not heal. The fault lies not only with Dr. McGraw, but with his backers, sponsors and television network. The greed of all concerned has led him away from what might have been a TV show about healing.

Reportedly, a complaint has been filed against McGraw with the California Board of Psychology, who is powerless to discipline him, since he has not been licensed by them. It accuses Dr. Phil of practicing without a license when he “visited” Britney Spears at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, after her breakdown earlier this month.

He apparently went to the hospital, under the guise that he wanted to help her solve the crisis that brought her there; talked his way onto a floor housing fragile patients, and waltzed uninvited into the 27 year old woman's room as she was leaving. It's amazing what sheer will and self-confidence can accomplish!

The Board may conduct an investigation, build a case for practicing without a license, and turn it over to a district attorney. These charges might result in a misdemeanor conviction which could result in jail time. Unlikely.

McGraw is also accused of violating the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. The complaint alleges Dr. Phil practiced clinical psychology without a license by talking to Ms. Spears (as, in effect, he does every day with relative strangers) and further violated doctor-patient privilege by discussing the pop star’s case with the media. That's his show!

These complaints will probably come to nothing, since McGraw is unlicensed and could not have had a “doctor-patient” relationship with anyone for many years. Of course he discussed her “case” with the media! It was clearly the purpose of his hospital visit. He was also planning a television circus “intervention” with her parents, who wisely withdrew. All of this he did sincerely and selflessly in the interest of preserving the mental health of a young woman.

On a recent Dr. Phil show I witnessed what seems to me a violation of laws against performing therapy without a license. It was also abuse of common sense and human compassion. It doesn't matter that the victim had no doubt signed a release holding the Dr. Phil Circus harmless. I saw a weeping, out-of-control, serial womanizer, who had injured his wife's feelings and destroyed his marriage – endure a screaming attack from Dr. Phil that bore no relation in its intensity, to the crime.

As Oprah did with James Frey, Dr. Phil pounced on the helpless guy, taking out far more anger than any legitimate therapist would do. He elicited that the man was currently in therapy. Then, most amazingly, McGraw gave instructions that were to be passed on to the man's therapist -- who, one presumed from the instructions, would not pass muster in the Dr. Phil pantheon. The poor fellow tearfully agreed. Brilliant Dr. Phil was collaborating in his guest's therapy!

If I were the man's therapist I would immediately report Dr. Phil and demand that the network remove him. McGraw then turned to the poor guy's wife and demanded that she confirm she would never have anything to do with her husband (or ex-husband) again. She nodded solemnly, agreeing to the obvious -- but I doubted she would follow instructions. The heart cannot be ordered around.

Dr. Phil did give good psychological advice (something he is not entitled to do under the law), since getting a handle on compulsive womanizing inside a marriage is extremely difficult, as Bill Clinton and millions of other men can attest. Womanizing is often resistant to talk therapy (or bullying) which deals with recent events: and in the opinion of some legitimate therapists, arises from pre-verbal abuse. It arises from the same place in this poor fellow as Dr. Phil's desire to browbeat his fellow man.

I wonder how well the TV "therapist/performer" would stand up under a similar angry cross examination about what might have been his predilections for young women in the past. I got the eerie feeling Dr. Phil was so out of control and angry, because some elements of the fellow he was ripping into reminded of himself. What would the 19-year-old girl who accused him of improperly touching her say if she were willing to appear on television? What could Dr. Phil's wife and children tell us about his personal behavior around women other than his wife?

Immediately after this "performance" a commercial appeared announcing that Oprah was going to appear on Dr. Phil shows the following week. Of course. She is an owner of this charade. How can this brilliant, charismatic woman associate herself with such inhuman and absolutely useless treatment. It cannot possibly do any good for anyone to have an overbearing, overweight, brilliantly verbal TV personality screaming at you about failings that obviously haunt you every day.

Of course there were many shots of women in the audience nodding approval, as the righteous Dr. gave this poor fool his comeuppance. More importantly, I never saw any examination of why this man's wife was drawn to somebody who must've displayed, before they were married, some signs of psychological damage.

The word "rehab,” which presumably involves treatment by "therapists," further compounds the injury to the public psyche -- since most rehab fails. Many therapists who work with rehab patients are not trained in dealing with post traumatic stress disorder resulting from early childhood abuse, and that (usually combined with a genetic predisposition) is inevitably what is behind substance-abuse.

A “psychotherapist” can be someone trained in Psychology. A simple master's degree in will do to get a license. In California that is a MFT (Marriage, Family Therapist). From state to state the rules differ, but usually additional training and supervised therapeutic experience is required to work with patients, as well as some hours of personal therapy.Tragically, in every state with which I am familiar, the amount of personal therapy required to treat any mental and emotional problem is so small as to be virtually useless. From my experience it matters not if the psychotherapist has a Ph.D. in psychology. I’d rather they spent the time in getting their own head straight.

Psychiatry is a branch of medicine that deals with the mind. One can receive an M.D. in Psychiatry, having (depending on the medical school) received very little psychotherapy. Being a psychiatrist brings with it the lucrative privilege of prescribing powerful psychotropic and other drugs. So psychiatrists don't just talk, they can take "action."

I was treated for many crucial years by a highly recommend M.D. Psychiatrist, who was an associate clinical professor at a well-known University. Not much good came of it. He was a repository of classic sexist information. He spoke inappropriately about another patient I had met in his waiting room. He did great harm by giving poor advice about how to live my life. A competent therapist is loath to give any advice -- something Dr. Phil knows nothing about.

Later, when I got to know my therapist, I discovered he lived alone in a tiny apartment with the windows painted opaque black and walked around on a floor covered 6 inches deep with crumpled paper. Unfortunately this was not the craziest therapist I have encountered.

Many psychiatrists are skillful physicians and could save your life in an emergency room or deliver your baby. That same physician can also receive a Masters or Ph.D. in psychology -- thereby receiving more education in what are supposed to be the workings of the mind. I cannot imagine anything more useless in the training of a good therapist than an expensive medical school. It numbs and judging by the personalities of many doctors, it may be a negative.

The “Psychoanalyst” is therapy’s King Kong. He may draw his lineage from Freud, Jung, Klein, or a dozen other brilliant thinkers and theoreticians on the workings of the mind. To become a psychoanalyst one has to have at least a Masters degree in psychology and attend one of the many Psychoanalytic Institutes (many featuring dramatically conflicting theories of the mind) scattered around the United States. Many Psychiatrists, after medical school, take additional training to also become psychoanalysts. It’s expensive, because in addition to years of training, becoming a psychoanalyst involves hours, weeks, perhaps years, of Psychoanalysis by a practitioner from the Institute.

By the end of such training even the freest spirit has been broken under the deluge of impenetrable theories and jargon. The Freudians feud with the Jungians, who feud with the Kleinians – a list of competing therapies would be longer than this blog. If you are interested in the process read, “How Analysis Heals,” by Heinz Kohut. Of course the acolyte has to repay what are almost always loans. Graduates are the folks who give you the $200 and up an hour, four days a week for 10 years, “talking cure.”

In my late forties and fifties, I benefited enormously from working with a brave, young psychoanalyst who unfortunately never realized how badly I had been abused. My guess is her unanalyzed shadow injuries prevented her. But, in the course of treatment, by chance and on my own, I was able to return to life-threatening psychic damage that occurred while I was nursing. I don't think my analyist understood the meaning of what happened, but as I evolved I realized that was the beginning of real healing. From that day on my stuttering began to end.

After having paid a huge sum for what I now see as minimal progress, toward the end of our treatment my psychoanalyst got me to invest over $100,000 in a screenplay and film project which she wrote with an associate of hers. It was a disaster. Even well-intentioned and well-trained therapists fall prey to the love of power and money.

Many other forms of therapy may be licensed. I briefly worked in couples therapy with an MFT licensed sex therapist. The additional sex therapy license came from what turned out to be one of the most corrupt institutions unimaginable. This woman broke every rule of psychotherapy by stridently siding with my troubled partner, who had been violently abused in her childhood by her war damaged father and a mother in denial. The therapist complained about her sex life and the incompetent man she was living with. She continually stroked an enormous pink quartz phallus on her desk that she reminded us had been carved by her son. It was a Robin Williams skit. The damage further drove us apart and we soon left. Complaints were unavailing, since the California Licensing Board doesn't care.

I have had excellent, healing experiences with is two RCST -- Registered Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapists. Training and a license are required for hypnotherapy, although most of these therapists are trained psychologists and are licensed in family therapy. I worked with a brilliant Hypnotherapist, a disciple of Milton Erickson, who against the background of my psychoanalysis created a dramatic breakthrough in which I remembered unspeakable events in my early childhood. Initially those were crushing, but after time became the foundation for healing what had happened in my infancy.

Some therapists specialize in child therapy and one may receive a Psychoanalytic degree for that. Not enough people, in response to the great need, specialize in adult and child therapy for recovery from emotional and sexual abuse. A new field is rising which promises to release stresses from pre-birth, birth, and childhood trauma.

Against this background it is astonishing that Oprah Winfrey, who knows the value of good therapy, brought us “Dr. Phil.” She apparently met him when he was hired as a consultant when Oprah was being sued by the Texas beef interests. His job was to help her spin the attack from a psychologically manipulative position -- play the mind game and win.

He had problems before which she must have known about. In the early 1970s Dr. McGraw reportedly left Topeka, Kansas ofter being accused of defrauding customers at his health spa business. In 2006 reportedly he paid 10.5 million dollars to dieters who claimed they had been bilked by weight loss products he fronted for. He was linked to a psychological treatment referral service that at least one therapist claimed was a blatant scam.

Dr. Phil has often said he was a "lousy therapist" because he lacked patience. His brilliant mind saw the problem and he wanted to "cut to the chase," without all that bothersome growth and self-awareness. Nothing to it. You just shout at the compulsively philandering husband and order him to quit. You deal with the obesity epidemic by ordering the compulsive overeater to cease stuffing their mouth. You insist your patient be reasonable and follow the righteous path. That apparently doesn't work on either Dr. Phil or Oprah. An attempt to see obesity as a result of early childhood abuse might be more helpful.

In Canada the code of conduct prohibits giving psychological advice on television. They recognize the lack of confidentiality and proper therapeutic relationship. Would it were so here.

Oprah must know Dr. Phil has never been licensed to practice in California, and is no longer licensed to practice psychology in his home state of Texas. She might have instructed that there be a posted disclaimer at the beginning of every show. “What you are going to see is not therapy as practiced by a trained and licensed therapist. ‘Dr. Phil’ is not a physician or therapist.” He is not licensed to practice any form of therapy anywhere -- except on television -- for a lot of money.

Reportedly, in the late 80s a nineteen year old former therapy client filed a complaint against Philip McGraw Ph.D., with the Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists, claiming he caused their relationship to become “inappropriate.” McGraw admitted giving the ex-patient a job but denied her claim that he “touched her.” Uncertain who to believe, the board imposed disciplinary sanctions on Dr. Phil for violating the basic therapist/patient relationship by employing her. He failed to follow the conditions imposed on his practice by their sanctions, which reportedly involved his undergoing therapy, and was officially reprimanded in 1989. Then he closed his private practice.

Oprah, who we count on for good taste and judgment, must have known all this, yet chose to allow the creation of a television circus around Dr. Phil which takes the form of "therapy." She appears to have a blind spot which prevented her from seeing through James Frey, the author who lied so dramatically in his best-selling novel about his drug history. Many in Los Angeles, and those I know who knew Frey personally, laughed at the illogical and unreasonable claims in his book. No one with any sense or experience with Fry or with drugs, believed the fantastic things he claimed.

Yet Oprah, a sophisticated media expert, with a large and diligent staff, took this fraud under her wing, and when there were more worthy novels, promoted him to the top of the best-seller list. She finally had the ecstatic experience (in an unnecessary confrontation) of lip trembling anger as she unraveled the poor fool in public. This obvious fraud duped her! I had the feeling during this incredible interview that it was some other man, some figure from her dim pre-verbal past that Oprah was righteously ripping to pieces. Frey, so greedy for publicity that he went on her show, was unable to defend his lies, and allowed himself to be destroyed. Any publicity works. His bogus book continued to sell.

The presence of Dr. Phil on television has done harm to the notion of "therapist." Many observe him bullying and posturing, demanding instant corrections for conditions resulting from ancient wounds, "throwing his weight around" -- and think they want nothing to do with therapy. He is an example of someone who is not what most people think of as a decent caring doctor, or a therapist. He is a carnival barker -- the lord of a moneymaking machine.

Those who appear on his show apparently sign a contract saying that "no doctor patient relationship exists," that what Dr. Phil does on the show does not constitute therapy -- they appear for "entertainment purposes only." Every show should open with an announcement to that fact. Announce that to an audience who may be led to believe that this is what competent therapy is like. His behavior would be considered unethical for a licensed professional. Do ethics matter when these folks are making millions?

Dr. Phil apparently received a Ph.D. in psychology from a university in North Texas. For that reason he is entitled to put doctor before his name. He is not a doctor as most people would understand that title. He cannot, without additional training, and a license, practice "psychotherapy." Most states have a requirement that before anyone can practice clinical psychotherapy they have to receive "therapy" themselves.

How much and what kind of therapy Dr. Phil might require, after comporting himself as he has in public, is something only his wife and children could tell us. Since much of his advice is to couples, one wonders how he could survive if his legal problems resulted in the failure of his highly publicized (and some say, troubled) marriage.

Training is not what makes a good therapist. It may not even matter, because the premise upon which most training available today is flawed to its core. Peter Levine’s “Somatic Experiencing” is closer to what works. That combined with elements of Psychoanalysis, Hypnotherapy, EMT and Craniosacral would be more like it. In a perfect world there should also be a greed filter and ethical imprints placed in all therapists. The therapy community needs to acknowledge that talk – even though it is the easiest on the therapist – will not connect with the injured pre-six year old who might need to be healed.

Real therapy is an entirely human matter: involving compassion, intuition, insight, self understanding (perhaps the hardest quality to find of all), emotional discipline, self-control and patience. It is also advisable to be free of ego and greed. Maybe therapists have to be non-human, since the qualities described above are so difficult to find any one person.

Perhaps, Dr. Phil, you would like to go back and relive where and when your arrogant bully was implanted and get some real help to heal that part of yourself. Once you figure that out you might pass it on to people like Bill O'Reilly. My guess is it resides in the same place in your psyche that is driving your weight up and down. Side effect – you will become once again forever thin. Multimillion dollars stakes for you, Opera and ABC prevent your show from being therapy, so for the sake of your karmic soul, stop calling it that or pretending that you help anyone in the long term.

Unfortunately, in my experience with therapists, I’ve encountered only a small percentage not driven primarily by money. The worst condition conceivable is to be a TV personality -- presumably trying to do good in the world -- but also responsible for making millions for yourself and your boss and your network. Within that framework common sense flies out of one's mind and one irresponsibly invades Britney Spears’ hospital room.

Dr. Phil has claimed he visited Britney at the request of "concerned family members." He said he planned to tape a show focusing on the serious issues surrounding her case. That's a surefire way to aid in her recovery. Later, he came to his senses, and decided to not create a public carnival on television around her problem.

Sources say that Britney's father, Jamie Spears, refused to be part of a public airing of what might possibly result in the emergence of more than he wants the world to know about his poor daughter's first three years. I believe you will not find a therapist who thinks that a man who is not a therapist and is not licensed to practice therapy, should interfere in the psychological life of a sick young woman. Dr. Phil must know, in some non-egotistical part of his body that he should not pretend that his interaction with the Spears family was for any reason other than publicity.

Ms. Spears will never regain custody of her children unless she heals herself. I see no sign that the people surrounding her are leading her on the arduous path to mental health. Where would be the fun in that? I have not read of any clinic she might attend that has any chance of accomplishing real healing. Those wishing to cover up blatant, early childhood abuse often call the tortured reaction of the damaged adult "severe bipolar disorder." An attempt to treat her with drugs, without getting at the underlying causes a dangerous and will result in failure.

Of course she's drinking and popping prescription meds. Of course her doctors are prescribing these because they don't know any better. I feel, from my own experience, the pain she is in. At some point she has to accept the pain, cease any efforts at alleviating the agony she is going through with substance abuse, and have the courage to go back into the nightmare it came from. I have already made a suggestion that will absolutely transform the course of her life. She will not listen because I am not a famous TV personality.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Outrageous Passion!

What is the proper tone for a blog?

My guess is that blog writers, if they are also novelists or newspaper reporters, don't write their ideas the same way they do for print publication. The typical blog writer has no boss. The Internet feels like a medium without restrictions. The addictive attraction of blog writing is its freedom. Blogs should be a place to look for new ideas, some of which are not empirically demonstrable.

I've been reading experts on blogs, trying to find the proper tone. They say the best blogs are intensely personal and filled with passionate dialogue. In my novel and on this website I am trying to share what I have learned in a lifetime of attempting to heal myself. I believe the future of our species will be determined by dealing with our mental health. We are frail, easily delusioned, superstitious and violent. Sam Harris' books brilliantly set forth the dangerous future religion is leading us into.

My approach is to look at every irrational act (by what one might assume to be self controlled and reasonable adults) as resulting from unresolved infantile impulses which began before we were born. It is the only way to explain the madness of those among us. It's the only way to explain monsters like Hitler and Stalin. It is the only way to explain the millions who continue to believe these madmen acted correctly.

In a hundred years we may not have a planet if we do not start looking at what happens to us physically and emotionally from the moment we are conceived to six years old.

Jacob Weisberg has just written "The Bush Tragedy," in which he describes a pathologically rigid, tragically incurious President. He observes, as many have, that once Bush’s mind is made up, it is closed to rational discourse. Closed. How can that be in the man who was running the most powerful nation in the free world? How could a free electorate choose such a damaged person?

Picking through evidence, reading books, trying to understand alternative policy paths is beneath our President. The man seems to be hollow, as if his inner substance was long ago been drained away, and all that remains is a kind of buddy boy charm and a frat boy smirk. It is alarming that the powers behind the Republican Party ruthlessly picked what they thought would be someone easy to manipulate. This is not a political blog, but we must look at one of the most tragic results of child abuse and how it has affected those who govern us.

There is no way, of course, we are going to learn about the private early childhoods of our President, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Libby and Rice. As with JFK and Bill Clinton, all we can do is examine irrational, self-destructive behavior mature, undamaged adults would not indulge in. This tells us everything.

Bush, pathologically, does not solicit feedback from those around him, evaluate results, or easily hold people accountable. In spite of his MBA training he does not remotely perform like a competent executive. He cannot bear the subtleties of inconclusive debate. He sees reconsidering decisions or changing course as evidence of weak leadership.

This lethal stubbornness appears to grow from Bush’s parents doubts about him from the first. His mother nagged unbearably and his father was disappointed in the kid. In spite of the best connections and education, in spite of Yale and "Skull and Bones," our President often failed and drank. Yet, as governor of Texas there was little national or world wide harm he could do,

We have carelessly chosen a man with the absolutely wrong personality to be the commander in chief or our mighty military, even though information about this was available long before he was elected. No wonder the world is concerned. Throughout Bush’s history as an executive, criticism has had the opposite of its intended effect.

He must be right and he will not surrender. Old currents of blind rebellion run deep. And we're not dealing with an intellectual giant. His facial expressions tell us we are dealing with an angry child.

Our leaders are two of a kind. Cheney displays his pathology for anyone who wants to see. That his associates in big business have not noticed, tells us everything about why we cannot allow big corporations to have the power they have accumulated. Cheney bears a seductive, loopy smile: masking rage. Occasionally photographs surface showing his true character.

Cheney's face tells us everything -- yet we, the electorate, do not notice. A superficial smiling face goes over well in a boardroom where the main concern is how much money have we made today. We are the same folks who pour money into churches that make us feel good.

It is no surprise that such a man, in the interest of vast sums of money, would lie with no regard to how many lives or how much torment the lie might cost. Unfortunately there are too many doctors and lawyers, sworn just as Cheney was sworn, who do the same thing. We are living in an epidemic of psychological immorality where even religious leaders are morally corrupt. My explanation lies in our upbringing.

I was a soldier and am familiar with firearms. There is absolutely no way Cheney could have shot his lawyer buddy, unless Cheney was completely unconscious. Deep, ancient anger will produce this. For moments he wasn't present. He didn't even see what he was aiming at. He might have been firing shotgun pellets at some old memory he wanted to exercise. I do not believe the reason his daughter is a lesbian can be solely accounted for by genetics. No doubt the man is also a child abuser.

We are familiar with the schoolyard bully. Aggression and rapid fire diatribes mask cowardice, creating the "Bill O'Reilly" syndrome. No doubt O'Reilly and Rumsfeld shared the same brutal childhood, which turned them into little terrors once they got power. Get even with the torturer the little child inside keeps screaming. These are deeply unhappy, severely damaged men. Their wives could tell you, if they would.

Bush's refusal to get rid of Tenet, Rumsfeld, Rove and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, when it was apparent they were incompetent, has cost many thousands of lives and ruined our economy. It was the act of an angry, frustrated two-year-old, who needed what all small children need, and received nothing. In its extreme this anger produces a suicide bomber.

This blog sees these failings as a result of unpublicized early childhood abuse that has produced a ruinous pathology, leading to lies and perjury. I was struck by a CNN report from Iraq where more than one soldier proudly told the reporter that he was there, risking his life in a hostile environment, to run down the perpetrators of 9/11 and save our country from them. To his discredit the reporter said nothing.

These failures stem directly from Bush's old family drama -- creating a personality diametrically in opposition to his father. The collapse of his reason for invading Iraq led our President not toward a re-examination of his decision, but toward greater and greater justification.

These personality flaws were already in place and dangerous before President Bush was three years old. An adult, drinking heavily to mask the pain of failure in his battle to surpass his father, he began making decisions based on whim. Then he encountered the "Word of God." Rather than do the hard intellectual work necessary to understand himself, he resorted to what Melanie Klein calls "magical thinking." He surrounded himself with yes-men (and one pathetic woman) and amazingly, with so much at stake, when it was obvious he was wrong, refused to change course. This is a Shakespearean tragedy.

We can only do something about such deep rooted personality flaws in our leaders if we are conscious that they are lethally dangerous. I spent Christmas recently with friends in France who claimed the French prided themselves on not giving a damn about the personality or private lives of who they elected. Observe the result. This is still the most important country in the world. The character, personality and private life of those who we give power to is paramount. That's why it matters if one candidate, or their mouthpieces, purposefully lies about another.

We must pay more attention. It matters that we elected an otherwise brilliant president who was so driven that he had sex with a Mafia prostitute, and apparently other unfortunately chosen women, in the White House. Apparently both he and his brother, another brilliant executive, spent a great deal of their energy on sex outside of their marriages.

These comments are not about morality. We should seek common sense and psychological health in our leaders. It is to my mind more appropriate to choose leaders who are not damaged beyond conventional oral therapy by their early childhoods. A man running for president believes the Constitution should be changed to fit the moral dictates of his religion, in which he speaks directly to god. When confronted he denies he would impose his beliefs on anyone else. Really?

I wonder how much of an element early damage and beatings are in the rise of Evangelical Christianity, which seems to seek to block thought and feeling and substitute for it -- superstition.

What could be psychologically wrong with Don Rumsfeld that allows him to sleep at night knowing that his arrogant, failed policies have resulted in the death of thousands? He could have reversed course when he learned how ill conceived his plans for the military in Iraq were. But that would have meant admitting his amateur errors to Generals who, thanks to our President, he was position to bully.

Two absolutely ruinous mistakes, leading inexorably to our present disaster, were made early in the occupation by Paul Bremmer. Bush, Cheney and or Rumsfeld could've gotten rid of this incompetent and reversed course -- just as our President could have quickly chosen someone to better handle the aftermath of Katrina.

Rumsfeld should have been fired after Abu Ghraib. But as he did in his childhood, President Bush created layers of insulation from the painful truth that he was not anywhere near as capable as his father. His mother's early role in this is inescapable. In a man destined for a minor role, as Bush seemed to be, such personal aberrations would not be serious.

It matters that our president was an alcoholic for many years and may still drink. It may not incapacitate him, but it indicates he must dull some intolerable ache in his unconscious. Pay attention voters. Our President’s daughters have had substance abuse problems, no doubt for good reasons.

By contrast, overcoming failings in their marriage, there is no way that Clinton's daughter could have such a glorious, healthy expression, unless she had been brought up by loving parents. Whatever your political bent, being a loving parent, with healthy children, is a fine credential for leadership.

I was pleased with my first three blogs and thought they had achieved the right passionate, irreverent and original tone. One should not read in my blogs material that could be commonly found elsewhere. These blogs have launched me toward my next two books and invigorated me. Then I received an e-mail from my best and one of my oldest friends, also the finest writer I know.

“The website is more extensive than I thought it would be. My first reaction was, “too much, why all the past performance?” But thinking it over, I realize that it’s a kind of curriculum vitae and background filler that is appropriate for this book. It was good to see your commercials again. They do lend you stature and credibility, but they date mainly from the 60’s and 70’s, and that may seem dangerously “ancient” in today’s world. But…who knows?”

I am the son of a man so pathologically narcissistic that when I was in my 20s he took all of my film directing credits and placed them under his name in the Directors Guild of America directory. My father never was a film director, but the Radio Directors Guild, of which he was a member, had long ago been folded into the DGA. At that time I had not bothered joining because I worked essentially alone. No less a director than Robert Downey Sr., who gave his unfortunate son marijuana to smoke in his early teens, gleefully informed me of the theft.

In this period I was successfully pursuing one of my 35mm commercial sample reels someone had lifted and was showing around New York as his work. I stuttered since birth and at that time had difficulty communicating and defending myself. I was in hiding -- allowing only what I made with my own hands to speak for me. All I had were my potential future DGA credits resulting from it. The freedom to post my work in a forum such as the Internet is the result of a lifelong quest for healing.

When I confronted my father in his fancy office he defended himself by saying that since I was his son, it was okay for him to say he directed my films. By some magic, for he was not there, he believed he actually did. It was he behind the camera. He coaxed the actors. Even though he had been a huge success in another medium -- he was the filmmaker in mine. There was no me. Get it kids? I was, as usual, speechless.

Then for the first time in my life I became openly angry at the man who had sucked up the air in every room, allowing no one else to breathe or speak. (When Orson Welles was in our home with Rita Hayworth I observed my father was silent and listened.) The subsequent issue of the DGA directory contained a virtually invisible list of my father's credits, minus mine.

“As for your blog, the first entry seems too strident. Too many opinions and too few facts lead people to question your objectivity—if not your sanity. Perhaps such a peroration might attract some other victims of abuse, but I think you also want to engage people who haven’t had the experience. Overstating your case with inflammatory rhetoric is likely to turn off those who aren’t intimately familiar with the problems.”

Here we have it! Abuse is a persistent menace – therefore in speaking out stridently, I am insane. Doesn’t this well meaning, intelligent man realize half the population of this country has been abused? Therefore half our adult parents are abusers. It's probably worse than that.

It’s the subject our film (for the time being called "The Backlight Chronicles") is going to address. We elected an abused president who has surrounded himself with other abused, pathological personalities. Are we are not intimately familiar with the problems?! They are destroying us. Who would not be strident?

The only people who don't have first-hand “experience” with abuse are those in denial. It's everywhere, pernicious and dangerous. I am already receiving letters from abuse victims and lining up the hundred or so people I will need to testify in our feature-length documentary. Their stories are absolutely amazing. One would not believe civilized adults could treat their children this way. It's going to be heartbreaking. But only by telling the truth and confronting it can we bring change.

A main thrust of the film: there needs to be a federal law removing the statute of limits on child abuse. It should be like murder, for it is the murder of a little soul. Victims must be able to sue a federally, because their civil rights have been violated. Many states are so backward that most of their legislature is made up of abusers. New York is an example that also excludes recovered memory. One cannot count on those fellows to change the law.

I believed that my friend, the writer of this note, and one of the most brilliant writers I know of, had read every book that matters. When I mentioned Alice Miller, Peter Levine, and other writers on child abuse and posttraumatic stress disorder he had read none of them. He had read no books on the modern history of psychoanalysis. No Melanie Klein, Jean Sanville, Heinz Kohut. And certainly no Wilhelm Reich. What an odd and selective failure to read.

“I believe that you must be careful not to attribute quite so much of the world’s evil to this one cause: when you have no way of proving the statements, you harm your credibility. Assuming that Britney, Mel and George are abuse victims, and doing it with such fervor and without any doubt, seems to me to smack of fanaticism.”

It seems that in certain areas only fanatics can bring on change. Perhaps only those obsessed will take the steps to confront injustice or inequality. Somehow in all our years of being intimate buddies, traveling and working together we had never discussed anything of a psychological nature. That speaks of my prior self. But also speaks to my unconscious denial and unwillingness to hear the kind of responses I would have gotten.

There is no question that the out-of-control celebrities we all know about are abuse victims. What else could explain their virulent lack of self regard and personal destructiveness? There have been numerous articles in the popular press about their bizarre backgrounds -- a dense smoke plume -- fire must lie beneath.

“Getting rid of some of the bloody red screeds would help, but first you ought to tone down the angry language. You know that a word can have very biased connotations and I think readers will trust and believe you more if you protest less. And I think you don’t want to preach just to the choir—you want the nonbelievers and the on-the-fencers, too. “

I agree. But it is hard to tone down the angry language when it is so obvious we're on a pernicious and dangerous path. I recently wrote an impassioned letter to a sophisticated female friend whose troubled teenage son had been talked into seeing the same therapist she saw. I was informed that the therapist assured the young man that nothing he said would be repeated to his mother. Please, Madame therapist, display some therapeutic wisdom, even though our idiotic laws render you invulnerable to lawsuit. A young man needs his own, private therapist.

Misinformation and lies, disseminated from the very top, have done enormous damage. An old friend, who should know better, has been convinced by the senior Bush's public statements that there is no global warming and that even if all the ice caps melt; the water level will not rise. And the earth is flat. What happened to high school physics?

“Saying that the letter was about Seung-Hui Cho, who killed people at Virginia Tech, would inform or remind people of what you’re referring to. I was confused. And I don’t recall that there was evidence of abuse in his background, either.”

It really doesn't matter what that insane fellow's name was. People know I am referring to someone so angry he pumped stranger’s bodies full of bullets, and made a video justifying his rage. Of course there is no public evidence of his early abuse. He was living in Korea where it is common to beat children. Alice Miller wrote a whole book about it. Beat children, torture them, sexually assault them, and you create a potential monster. The twisted face of Cho, grimacing for all to see, tells us everything.

“Your second entry represents to me more of the tone and style you should aim at: rational, more balanced, therefore more convincing.”

To me the style and tone of these pieces is the same. We must do something about our violent ways with children or we are doomed. If a superficially civilized country like the United States can’t take care of its kids, why are we so surprised that savagely violent Middle Eastern countries so easily produce suicide bombers. There is no political solution to this. It comes from a mother who is unable or unwilling to nurture her children in a safe environment.

“I’d like you and your book to be a success and want to see you portrayed as the rational man you usually are, and not some meshuga. And the fact is, this tone is not fair to your book, which is much more persuasive.”

A book is not a blog. I took care to make “Backlight” evenhanded and believable, even though it presents a surrealistic and idealistic take on the Los Angeles legal system. No one who knows me believes I am "meshug,” as my Shtetl raised grandmother would say. I need some feedback. Take a look at “Backlight” and tell me what you think.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Where have you gone Terri Hatcher?

Backlight is a novel about the murder trial of a young man who had been abused as a child.

He is brought back to life by therapies that have been shown to work with the post traumatic stress disorder early abuse creates. His idealized therapist is named Dr. Giorgio O'Reilly: an M.D. Psychiatrist, Psychoanalyst, Ph.D. in Psychology, Ericsonian Hypnotherapist and Craniosacral therapist. When asked in court why he has pursued so many demanding specialties, O'Reilly replies, "Why not?" as if everyone had spent half their lives in profound study.

I've always been interested in names that demonstrated wildly disparate cultures in the parents. I had a friend in high school named Pierre Epstein, who became a brilliant actor. One of Milton Erickson's intellectual heirs is Dr. Ernest Rossi. The central character in T. S. Eliot's "A Cocktail Party" is a godlike therapist named Sir Henry Harcourt Riley. Since I was old enough to understand this play, the ideas behind it have influenced my work. “Giorgio O'Reilly" is intended to bring all of these to mind.

In my early 30s I went with a friend in London to meet Elliot’s widow with the intention of getting the television rights. Ah, the arrogance of youth. Harcourt Riley had been played in London and New York by Alec Guinness. My notion was to have Zero Mostel, a longtime family friend, play him. Imagine! Had I been able to put this together it would've been quite a stretch for an inexperienced director.

In Backlight, Dr. O’Reilly is an improbable compendium of some therapists I have known. I joined the best in one person and dedicated the book to them. When, on page 124, you reach the chapters dealing with therapy, you might be led to consider the nature of your therapist, the work, and its success.

I am particularly fascinated by deeply wounded, but creative people. Some seem to not suffer from their wounds to any depth. They are productive and often times reasonably happy. Then, inexplicably the wounds fester and explode. To my mind there is no escape but genuine healing.

The lovely actress Terri Hatcher admits she is not happy with her love life. She wrote her life story, charmingly, yet left out that she had been abused. Shortly thereafter she made it public (for uniquely humane reasons), demonstrating how that one element of her childhood has overwhelmed her adult life. So it is for many others.

The element that struck me was that she NEVER told her parents. Whatever therapists she might have had did not have to dig deep for this. Ms. Hatcher remembered everything – but concealed from herself the pain of being alone with parents who could not be trusted.

I wrote her a letter excerpted below. She never replied.

"Thank you for again having the courage to present yourself in public as an abuse victim. My sister, Hilda Brown, and I are also abuse victims. We have known about it since childhood and over the years, as we became more aware have been working on healing. Luckily there were two of us -- witnesses.

I'm sure you know, one third to one half of adults have been abused as children. Sexual dysfunction is epidemic. Emotionally healthy men should not need Viagra. The secret sexual life of many, if not most women is unsatisfactory and unfulfilling.

Four years ago I began novelizing my experiences and the lifelong course I’ve embarked upon to heal myself. On the path of publishing “Backlight” I am creating a feature length documentary film about the lifelong, devastating effects of abuse. It will present on camera testimony of dozens, perhaps as many as a hundred abuse victims and will show the way to newly emerging therapies that can heal them.

I stuttered since I was born. A crippled, stuttering film director -- now healed! I am now be able to speak in my own films. So many have suffered and live partially realized lives. Successful artists have a special obligation to appear in public -- one that you are fulfilling in outstanding fashion.

Experience has shown me that talk therapy does little to heal pre-verbal injuries. This is one of the subjects of my novel. My observation is that many therapists are closeted abuse victims, so fail to recognize it in their patients, and have no emotional tools to help. Their training has failed them because the shadow of their own abuse prevents them from seeing and working with that of their clients.

Abuse, especially before three years of age, becomes built into our very cells. It is physically copied and repeated, retaining a lifetime pattern of damage that can only be dealt with by non-verbal methods. The resulting Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome is every bit as powerful and enervating as that combat troops suffer.

I have already interviewed some successful healers on video, including my sister. The determination of healing revolves around T. S. Eliot's lines in his great poem, "East Coker." "We are only undeceived of that which deceiving could no longer harm." When we are no longer attracted to the pain of the old injury – we are healed.

One wonders about the childhood environment, beginning pre-natally, which allowed your pathological uncle to abuse you – and simultaneously forbid you from seeking aid from those closest. Where were your mother and father? I hear this frequently.

The tragic conclusion I finally came to was that both my sister’s and my parents were intimately involved in what happened to us -- were aware of it from the very first moments – and were participants. We have each other to confirm this. Our mother passed without telling us the truth and our father is in denial.

Would you allow me to video your historical testimony? I am going to ask Marie Osmond, Tatum O'Neal, Angela Jolie and other abuse victims who have come out, if they will appear. From truth we will make a devastatingly powerful feature film which will reach and begin healing millions.”

Terri Hatcher has on her face that "caught in the headlights" terrified expression I associate with early abuse. In Backlight Dr. O’Reilly takes one look at his young patient and knows he is an abuse victim.

“O’Reilly immediately saw that his new patient’s reported memory loss was probably the result of “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.” He had seen it often, and within an hour, could usually discern the proximate cause. Healing PTSD was another matter. Humans damage their children in pathetically predictable ways. O’Reilly observed a vague look on David’s face that most take for normal—and perhaps it is, in a world as stressed and lacking in spirituality as ours. His process was to observe compassionately, make no judgments, hide nothing of what he felt or saw.”

Ms. Hatcher has spoken on television and in magazines about her difficulties with remaining in a relationship. No one, to my knowledge, has publicly connected it to physical and emotional injury in her early childhood. In an industry where almost no one remains in a relationship, she at least has the courage to complain about some process still active within her that prevents her from being happy with a partner. This, of course, adversely affects her daughter. I have no idea what kind of therapy she may be in, but perhaps as this is written her loneliness has been resolved.

Nowhere have I seen or heard discussed the difficulty many, if not most, entertainers and
celebrities have in sustaining relationships. Recent celebrity "marriages" have lasted only weeks. Inability to remain with one partner does not succumb to bullying or rational dialogue (any more than additions do) and has a tragic effect on the children produced. I am a film director with long experience with talented actors. My belief is that the history that drove them to become celebrities is identical to that which prevents them from experiencing intimacy with the same partner for an extended period. I know from work on myself. It is intimacy and the old unresolved, painful material arising around it that drives such couples apart.

There is one more layer to this puzzle. Forgive me for repeating. If the injury you
consciously remember, reconcile yourself with, forgive, and believe you have healed, does not remove the enervating symptoms: then all of the emotional cancer has not been excised. It's still there, as active today as it was when you were in your infancy; hidden beneath layers of what very likely has been superficial verbal therapy.

Abuse victims often use their mouth to self medicate for the terrible pain their body remembers that has been inaccessible to verbal therapy. They over eat the wrong foods. What was your mother going through when for the first time you used your mouth to feed? What emotions did she feel and thereby transmit to you? What were the feelings surrounding your first human contact? Mine were panic! When healed (I have experienced this) the desire to over-eat, which has nothing to do with physical hunger, disappears. It requires no medication and our normal body returns to us.

Does your weight go up and down uncontrollably? How much of America's obesity epidemic is caused by unhealed, early child abuse? It is likely that a substantial component in otherwise sensible people's inability to cease smoking is also caused by oral addiction from child abuse.

Have you been in therapy? Do you think you've gotten to the bottom of everything? Are you still ballooning up and down? Are you still running from one relationship to another? Are you still unable to be happy with a single, intimate partner? Are you alone and lonely in the midst of fellow workers and "friends." Perhaps you need to take another look at the therapy you have been participating in.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

What I Would Do To Help Britney

Now that Dr. Phil has publicly pitched in to save this unfortunate young woman, I can no longer remain on the sidelines. The doctor is highly educated, quick with words and apparently benignly despotic. He is a brilliant, physically charismatic and compelling public speaker. These stunning attributes do not mean he can heal anyone. Force of personality will do nothing for the hidden, unspeaking and unhearing child running Britney.

She is a useful public example of what we find in the world. Because she is a celebrity, when she is genuinely helped others will learn and benefit. The torturous journey back to her early days quite likely will be overwhelming. She will go into the shock her drug abuse and other destructive behavior has been long holding at bay.

So, I suggest a nonverbal interaction with a quiet healer, not at all interested in fame or money, presently living in Chang Mai, Thailand. A few weeks with this amazing western woman should calm Britney down to where she can begin to work with a US specialist in post traumatic stress disorder resulting from early childhood sexual molestation. All that is at risk is round trip airfare and the modest cost associated with this healing. It is as far from the useless rehabs in Beverly Hills and Malibu as one could imagine.

A recent article in US weekly speaks of "Britney's twisted childhood. Grandma’s suicide, family bankruptcy, sex at 14, dad's addiction: how the child star’s secret demons are destroying her.” Not mentioned anywhere is the big secret many of us carry. To heal Britney one must deal with what must have happened to her little body from the time she was born to approximately 6 years old. The circumstances of her childhood point to terrifying possibilities. Those who know her intimately, if they understand the inevitable symptoms of early childhood molestation, would agree. Until this material is dealt with her children will have no mother.

A victim can often deal with memories of sexual abuse in his or her teens. Somehow, out of nowhere an uncle, a neighbor, the janitor in the basement, the local handyman -- got a hold of an unfortunate young person – usually a woman, and sexually assaulted her. Women have reported to me rapes and abuse they had dealt with more or less successfully in therapy, but they were remembering things that happened while they could speak. Where were the parents before the abuse happened? What might have been done years earlier that made their child vulnerable?

At the very end of my second marriage, while in pointless family therapy with an empty headed therapist, my ex-wife suddenly demanded I shred the beautiful, brown, sweater jacket, I was wearing. I had known her over 15 years, and had worn that jacket many times. It now emerged that an uncle had worn a sweater like that when he abused her. In her smiley, do good family every real emotion was buried.

If the remembered abuse is the extent of what occurred, therapy should produce healing. Those who are pathologically sexually promiscuous should not find it difficult to cease. Those who are compulsive binge eaters, constantly going up and down in weight and struggling with this use of their mouth to satisfy an unspeakable urge, should be able to control it. Those creative beings who simply cannot reach inside to the core that creates original thought, should be able to. Those who are sexually numb should begin having pleasure. Those "un-curable" alcoholics and drug addicts who find themselves constantly back-sliding should be able to remain sober without struggle. Those of you struggling with abuse you cannot or will not remember, plug in your adult symptoms here. The answer, as it does for Britney, lies in your first three years -- perhaps beginning even in the womb.

Braver and wiser men and women than us have suffered from the same inability to face their nonverbal past. It is little known that Jung, Freud’s contemporary and sometime associate, was sexually abused as a child. In Jung's voluminous writings he refers to it, and also writes Freud:

“My veneration for you has something of the character of a "religious" crush. Though it does not really bother me, I still feel it is disgusting and ridiculous because of its undeniable erotic undertone. This abominable feeling comes from the fact that when I was a boy I was the victim of a sexual assault by a man I once worshiped. Even in Vienna, the [flirtatious remarks of women] sickened me, although the reason for it was not clear at the time. This feeling, which I still have not quite got rid of, hampers me considerably...” (Bollingen) 1974

Jung knew he had been abused, admitted that the experience had had a major psychological impact, yet never mentioned it again. Amazingly, he never considered his childhood sexual abuse as a significant factor in his ability to treat his client’s abuse. Like Freud, rather than face his history, Jung created a complex and often beautiful psychological theory -- based on a lie.

Quite likely, as many in their society were, both Freud and Jung were abused as infants. How many therapists today work in that shadow? I have experienced colossal therapeutic denial as a patient more than once, only learning the extent to which my therapist had been wounded (without recovery after therapy ended.

I never gave much credence to Jungian pretensions to wisdom. These vague discourses about myth and culture were far less attractive than the down to earth and practical work of Reich. Unfortunately Reich appears to have gone mad. One can see the shift within a few pages of some of his most powerful books.

There is a terrifying conclusion many of us have experienced in therapy -- the way to money, power and reputation today, is to lead patients away from working on their core issues, while stroking their egos. Therapists often ignore the flesh and blood woundings of clients and engage instead in self-righteous socio-cultural theorizing. They too often provide superficial verbal advice that cannot possibly be followed, because the part of the brain that is wounded can't hear the words or interact with them.

Getting people to face deep wounds as hard, and supporting them through the difficult process of real recovery is demanding. The caring therapist, working with terrifying material is often driven to exhaustion. It is much easier to talk about human potential and how spiritually involved we are. Many television "therapists" mistake the impact of their verbal brilliance and powerful personality for actual healing. You cannot simply talk a serial womanizing man out of it, unless you go to the original wound.

Even more terrifying, the abuse we remember and courageously deal with in therapy, may only be the superficial remembered trauma that is causing all the problems. T. S. Elliott, in his seminal poem, "East Coker" creates a simple mantra for us all. "We are only undeceived of that which deceiving could no longer harm."

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Madness in our streets

Photo © Suzanne Camejo - All Rights Reserved
Our media systematically ignores child abuse as a direct cause for what we see in the news. A compassionate response to irrational behavior should be to look for the fetus in the womb.

Poor Britney Spears -- completely out of control -- with no one to help, except by talking to her. Talk cannot reach the preverbal child suffering in her who was physically assaulted. You can't talk a man like Mel Gibson out of the murderous rage induced by what seem to have been years of systematic beating at the hands of his father. His irrational outbursts and sadistic films, reveal pain and suffering he must use alcohol to manage. Such a man -- untreated -- cannot stay sober.

Britney is in such obvious pain she must self medicate. Does anyone inquire into whose hands this infant girl was born? What was done to her small body before she was six years old? Do any of those in and out, hugely profitable, rehabs she and her fellow celebrities attend treat the early physical damage inflicted on every cell of her body? Where would they even find therapists trained to do that?

We must take into account the huge investment many have made in conventional psychological and psychoanalytic training -- which is mostly based on talk. The psychoanalytic community has a long history of bowing to societal pressure. One of Freud's earliest papers on female "hysteria" described his patients "neurosis" as the direct result of sexual abuse by her father. The outcry in Vienna so threatened his practice that he withdrew his diagnosis, thereby abandoning treatment of this unfortunate young girl. His re-diagnosis brilliantly invented a system based on what he called "Oedipal fantasies" -- satisfying the perverted, wealthy men who paid the bills and eventually made him a huge success.

Jung did the same -- abandoning ideas that were inconvenient to the powerful men who ran things, substituting safe theories based on psudo-spiritual mumbo jumbo. Apparently the only courageous psychoanalyst operating in Vienna at the time was Wilhelm Reich. And we know what happened to him. However his ideas live on.

Therapists are now receiving training in attempting to heal the physical results of early childhood abuse. I say attempting, because until there is massive restructuring in therapeutic understanding, every patient is subject to the hidden shadow of whatever childhood abuse might have driven their therapist to become one.

Hang around -- we are well into making a two-hour theatrical film on this subject. Since half of the Western world suffers from some form of post traumatic stress disorder I think we have an audience. Hundreds of thousands of vets wander the streets crippled by war and its echo with their own early abuse. Our wasteful and arrogant government -- run no doubt by abuse victims -- does nothing for these heroes. We are working with leading-edge healers. If you want real help that will work -- it is becoming available.

We welcome on camera testimony from anyone who wants to tell his story. We are aiming for a over a hundred faces and voices.

We blindly elected a president who's partially revealed history marks him as a classic abuse victim. His unfortunate symptoms are the butt of endless -- and useless humor. He was, and probably still is, so damaged that he nearly brought down the government because of an inane drive originating from his pre-verbal years. I have read nothing about any treatment for this (now we have some to offer) or any comment about what kind of woman, no matter how brilliant, would marry such an obviously emotionally crippled man.

A country that takes abuse for granted, that believes in beating children, that believes children are not affected by childhood trauma therefore it's okay to abuse them -- gets what it deserves. We have seen the results for the past eight years. There were good reasons our current president self medicated, and may still medicate, with alcohol.

In this first blog I include this letter I sent to the LA Times. The response I got from the eminent columnist was that my ideas seemed "interesting." Interesting! An understanding of this material would have made the difference of life or death to many people. We ignore the tortured among us, and their torturers, at our peril.

"I read your article in the April 22 issue of the Los Angeles Times with great interest. What you wrote is only part of the evolution of a madman. Nowhere in the recent media have I seen an understanding of what really creates man like this. A recent issue of Newsweek completely missed the point of what made Cho kill, so appallingly, that I was too disheartened to even bother writing them.

I just finished a novel, and am making a long form documentary about pre-verbal physical abuse. This brings on a form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that in susceptible personalities leads to insane, murderous behavior. A large body of literature, led by the works of Alice Miller and Peter A. Levine, explains how a man becomes a machine that murders other human beings.

Alice Miller describes the intensive “training” German children received from birth, which enabled hundreds of thousands of them to gas and incinerate millions of innocent people. German child-rearing books in the 1890s and early 1900s demanded that parents crush their children's individualism and personality, by repeated beatings. Adolph’s father often beat him half to death. Hundreds of thousands of German soldiers, tortured in childhood, slept peacefully at night, while by day they gassed and incinerated humans. They were simply getting even with the mirrored image of their torturers.

One wonders if the creation of a suicide bomber is only ideological. A society that degrades and tortures women is bound to evolve their children as equally degraded and tortured young men and women. A reading of the diaries of the 9/11 pilots reveals this.

We are not born with the capability of doing what Cho and others like him, did. He was physically tortured in his early life, probably before he could speak, (so were they all – all of the other high school killers) so that by the time you wrote about him, he and his victims were already doomed. It is said we find no one on death row not physically beaten and tortured as a child. If the truth could emerge, virtually everyone serving time for violent crimes would be discovered as an early life physical abuse victim.

These ideas are not better known to the general public because our psychology and therapeutic establishment is based upon "talk therapy." The Dr. Phil variety. One witnesses him attempting to heal people who have been pathologically damaged since birth, by verbally convincing them of his version of right behavior. Therapists have invested millions of dollars in a kind of training that is generally ineffective in the long term, if the damage happened before the patient could speak—and much of it does.

The obvious failure of much of “rehab” speaks to the ignorance in the therapeutic community. Celebrities publicly display insanely destructive behavior over and over again, even though they or their handlers spend fortunes on so called therapy.

Trauma that occurred before we were born, and during the first three to six years of life, cannot be healed with language we did not possess at the time of the injury. A reading of "Thou Shall Not Be Aware," or "Waking the Tiger," will convince anyone how a monster such as Cho is created. “Waking the Tiger” leads to one of many non-verbal therapy paths which could have helped Cho and prevented this tragedy.

Cho’s words say he is getting even with “them.” Who are “they?” His face twists in rage against a barely remembered torturer. He writes insane, but very explicit diatribes. He creates dramatic pieces about getting even, but does not appear take revenge upon anyone who might have injured him in his adult life. In fact many of the people surrounding him that I have read about seem to have treated him benignly, or even tried to help. Like the concentration camp guards, he kills those who are, to him, faceless.

It is clear someone once did something terrible to Cho, so terrible that they deserve not one, but as many as three hollow-point, 9 mm rounds. He projects his anger at those who inflicted life-threatening wounds on an innocent and inoffensive infant. No human is born with such sadistic impulses.

We are gradually becoming familiar with the dehumanizing aspects of warfare which throughout the past century returned millions of mentally crippled men to our society, wreaking havoc in their families. We will soon receive home over 100,000 traumatized young men, many of whom will pass the same horrific damage on to their children.

The post-traumatic stress of war, and the longtime damage it inflicts upon societies, is beyond this conversation. It is essential to understand the way such a murderer as Cho is created. It is not inborn. It is not genetic. It is not simply the result of sibling rivalry or wounds and slights, which may contribute to an already murderously pathological personality. By the time this young man was six years old he was already so damaged that his path was assured.

Thankfully not everyone tortured as a child becomes a murder. There are likely other factors involved. But it is my belief, and the belief of many more learned than I that physical torture to an infant is the one essential ingredient.

It is understandable that no one in Cho's family remembers anything about this. Torturers do not usually step forward and confess. I have read of no one claiming intimate knowledge of Cho’s first three years, in a country addicted to violence against children.

Better understanding of how such murderers are created, will help prevent their creation in the future. Physical violence towards a child is intensely dangerous. Spanking scars. Bring that up at your next church meeting, or social supper and see what kind of response you get. A society that condones or encourages violence towards children, as a form of training, is a dangerous one indeed. Just look at our countries recent acts in the world."