It’s the hottest ticket in town, this film – with critics finding no fault and with film-goers emerging with smiles on their faces, two hours well-spent and at relatively low cost.
Based on cartoonist Posy Simmonds’ interpretation of Thomas Hardy’s Far From the Madding Crowd, this is modern life in all its, well, harsh reality – wrapped in cotton wool amidst idyllic countryside scenery. It’s easy to sink into escapist, uplifting comedic fiction – which is the point of Tamara Drewe.
There are times – fleetingly – when you see your own life in front of you, flashing an “oh, that was me” thought onto your mind’s private screen before you sink back into the moment. The teenage angst that comes from boredom and unfulfillable dreams; the struggle with self-esteem and under-achievement; the unspoken anxiety about missed opportunities; the mask of ego; the compromise too far in relationships; and the way we retreat from difficult emotions and truths or handle depression and bereavement.
Many people choose films for their idealistic joy and rightly so. They take us out of ourselves, put a spring into our step and bring new energy into our lives – for as long as we let them. It would be wrong, therefore, to over-emphasise the dose of reality that underlies this funny romp through middle-class Britishness. But, if it stirs things up for you, talking them through with a psychotherapist or counsellor could help you regain whatever it is that the film makes you think you’ve lost so that you, too, can aim for what its brilliant actors provide – a welcome, if momentary, happy ever after feeling.
Read The Guardian's sharply-written review of this richly observed version of art imitating life: http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2010/sep/09/tamara-drewe-review
17/09/2010 | Posted in Psychotherapy,
Two blogs ago I looked at the issue of medically unexplained symptoms. Linked to this is the issue of pain. Pain can, of course, be caused by structural damage (such as a broken bone). Often it has a psychological basis – there is no physical reason; it is driven by emotions. The jargon for this kind of pain is tension myoneural syndrome or TMS.
This raises two important issues for the person experiencing pain: the need to rule out a physical cause (so do consult your GP) and then to accept the diagnosis. For many, dealing with a diagnosis of TMS is extremely challenging – because it often strikes people who feel emotionally well and who, because of the way they feel, are convinced that the pain has a physiological cause. Furthermore, research shows that people with TMS focus so much on the physical pain that it stops them from focusing on the psychological pain. In effect, the pain is a way of drawing their attention away from their difficult emotions. It’s not that different from people who comfort-eat when angry – the eating distracts them from their anger, but a long-term solution is to work out the cause of the anger and how to manage it.
So, in answer to the question in the heading of this blog: no, pain caused by TMS is not all in the mind. The pain is real. Nor is its strength an indication of the severity of the emotional cause. We all respond differently and the real issue is the effect of the pain – whether intensely strong, stabbingly intermittent or nagging away in the background – on you.
If an inexplicable pain is affecting your life, psychotherapeutic treatment could well sweep it away by helping you understand and deal with its emotional cause.
15/09/2010 | Posted in Psychotherapy,
So, Tony Blair has published his memoirs and confessed that he fell into the habit of using alcohol to support him through the stresses of being prime minister. The revelation immediately generated a debate, among journalists and the public, about whether this was anything worth writing about – many of us think nothing of drinking a whisky or G&T followed by a couple of glasses (or half a bottle) of wine each evening.
As Mr Blair said, it was at the upper limit of what is considered appropriate but an interesting question is whether he underestimated his alcohol intake – just as many of us do when asked by our GP or in surveys.
The difficulty, in a nation where drinking is so much a part of our culture, is that it is very easy to kid ourselves that we can handle what we drink and that what we drink is not too much. I am not implying that Tony Blair was pulling the wool over our eyes or his own; he defined his alcohol intake as “not excessively excessive” and we have to take that at face value.
But what made his confession so interesting was that he recognised his drinking had become a prop. For many, this objectivity is not possible. We drink (or turn to drugs, eating, self-harm) to cover up, disguise or distract us from difficult emotions – without being aware that that is what we are doing.
The first stage on the road to recovery is to discover and unravel those feelings so we can learn how to manage and respond to them. And many of us need not a quick-fix prop but professional support to plan the best route for the journey through our complicated, 21st century lives.
03/09/2010 | Posted in Psychotherapy,
Recent studies have revealed that between one in six and one in three people in the UK consults their GP about what turns out to be medically unexplained symptoms – symptoms that are either not related to an illness or are unusually exaggerated for that illness. The majority of those symptoms has a psychological foundation, though the cause can often be missed.
Take, for example, the case of a woman (let’s call her Sarah) who comforted her aunt through her last days and was with her when she died. Several months later, Sarah began to feel out of sorts. She slept badly, largely because she repeatedly woke to find her left arm a leaden weight, cold and without feeling but causing pain including inside her chest. Worried, she imagined this was a sign of a heart problem and booked an appointment with her GP.
Tests showed no signs of a heart condition but a few questions revealed that Sarah had been unexpectedly affected by her aunt’s death – and she recalled that her aunt had died, from lung cancer, while lying on her left side with Sarah holding her left hand. The GP was reluctant to prescribe sleeping pills – sleeplessness was not the symptom that needed treatment. Instead, he referred Sarah to a psychotherapist where she talked through her aunt’s death and other stresses; the symptoms ceased.
Medically unexplained symptoms can affect all parts of the body and in various ways. About a third of them are musculoskeletal (including but not only back pain), roughly a fifth are abdominal (such as digestive problems), a smaller proportion has ear, nose or throat problems, others experience fatigue, dizziness or simply don’t feel right. Some symptoms can be extreme, such as paralysis or blindness; others are less severe.
Common experiences include people with depression who feel pain more intensely and people with asthma whose asthmatic attacks increase when they are under stress – but there are no hard and fast rules; symptoms and their severity vary from person to person.
We don’t know how the mind, brain or body turns the psychological into the physical; the fact is that it does – and we’ve known this for millennia. The solution is to consider whether the symptoms might be triggered by an underlying emotional cause and, if so, to seek psychological support. [Source: Therapy Today]
01/09/2010 | Posted in Psychotherapy,