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Therapeutic nihilism

(7 Posts)
erinaceus Sun 16-Oct-16 08:30:20

I recently came across the notion of therapeutic nihilism.

This concept was referred to out-of-context, but resonated with me so strongly that I looked it up. I saw that it has its own entry on Wikipedia (so it must be true(!)).

For me, the experiences I have had, and working through the trauma, can leave me in such a state of despair as to feel really quite suicidal. The suicidal feelings come and go, but sometimes they are acute and I find that extremely frightening.

Before my most recent crisis, I had been some combination of unaware that what I experienced was anything other than normal, and in denial that it affected me in ways I see now that it must have done and continues to do so, decades later.

I have started to reach the point where I find some ideas from DBT to be helpful; however I am acutely aware that there is nothing that can undo what has been done to me nor how I used to react to it. In general I am keeping well from a psychiatric perspective, but the lingering existential despair has its basis in a very real reality.

I am not sure what I am asking for, because it is all very well to make a list of gratitudes and make plans for the future and go on walks and do my work and my hobbies and everything. Confronting my abusers seems to not go anywhere, and I think one of the hardest things to come to terms with is knowing that other people will never know what happened behind closed doors. I feel as if I will forever be aware that other people see me as the person with the problem, when, in the main, anything that might be described as abuse with me as the perpetrator - something that has been said to me by one of my abusers, their other route being to blame me - took one of two forms - abuse that was self-directed, not self-harm per se but similar, a form of withdrawing; or a dependent child acting in self-defense because there is no other option when one is being abused by the very people who are being relied on to be taking care of you and who have every form of power over you. My abusers minimise, ridicule or say that they do not remember my acting out from when I was a child, which I find quite confusing. They do not react calmly when I try to express how I feel now about their behaviour both in the past and at the moment. The conversations tend to escalate quite dramatically. That is something of an understated description of what happens.

I prefer that you do not advise me nor insist that I cut contact. This might be what has to happen in the future. Nonetheless, the situation is overwhelming complex, and, for now I have no plans to do that. I have my reasons.

AnxiousCarer Sun 16-Oct-16 11:20:12


Have you come accross NLP (neuro linguistic programing) its a type of therapy that doesn't involve talking about what happened in any detail, so might be useful if thats what you find triggering. Changed my life!

erinaceus Sun 16-Oct-16 15:22:11

I associate NLP with Paul McKenna, whom I find somewhat offputting. Do I have the wrong end of the stick?

DH is away this weekend and the awfulness is stuck in my head. Thank you for the flowers and the understanding post. They are much appreciated.

dangermouseisace Mon 17-Oct-16 13:59:29

flowers I can relate to some of your problems erin

I remember an ex boyfriend getting cross when he found out what had gone on at home- he couldn't understand how/why I still had anything to do with my family.

But I do, and it kind of works. I think it's important to bear in mind that 'they' obviously have their own issues. I never talk to to them about what happened in the past- after all, what good will it do? There is a sort of invisible wall between us…I keep my guard up and don't feel guilty when I say I can't see them/don't answer the phone as I feel I have to protect myself. In the past they failed in that respect so as Beyonce says "I rely on me" It gets complicated when I get unwell as they do offer practical support with the kids, but at the same time often how they act exacerbates the situation! But they've acted that way for many, many years, they aren't going to change now. I guess life is complicated. Families are complicated. Maybe it's easier in my family in that it is common for certain members to have had episodes of quite terrible behaviour or the occasional nasty character but there is never, ever NC. If someone ends up in trouble/ill, no matter how much of an arse they might have been family members will be there. Sound like the mafia…

AnxiousCarer Mon 17-Oct-16 16:19:17

Paul Macenna does nlp but its a very diverse subject, I trained as a practitioner through work but unfortunately it doesn't work great on yourself!

poppetiwasbackthen Mon 17-Oct-16 18:31:05

erinaceus, I totally understand what you are saying.
I too remain in contact. Not with my abuser -because he left the family home- but with my mother, who chooses to pretend I never told her what went on when I was a child, in her house, which she still lives in, where I visit every week. Stay strong. flowers

erinaceus Tue 18-Oct-16 07:56:31

Thank you dangermouseisace, AnxiousCarer and poppetiwasbackthen,

I feel better for hearing that some other posters understand where I am coming from. I wrote that post during a particularly low moment, lonely weekend with DH away.

poppet - I find the denial among some family members one of the hardest things to deal with, maybe because I am not a denial sort of person? I am definitely not a sweep-it-under-the-rug sort of person. I am a problem solving sort of person and it took me until recently to realise that I could not hold together nor fix my birth family. That did not stop them from blaming me nor expecting me to fix the family, apparently by stopping talking about the abuse hmm I have put some space between me and them for the time being, but danger's comment of there never, ever being NC resonates with me. I know that we are all still there, that we all still exist, that if they were able to do something they would do it, and so on.

AnxiousCarer Thanks for the extra info. Of all the things I have tried, NLP is not one of them. I am glad that you found something that helps you, though. Being more forward looking is one of the strategies I try to use, with a level of success that is really quite variable.

Thank you everybody flowers

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