At the ALTERNATIVE American Psychiatric Association, we have identified unsuspected infant separation traumas that correlate with the later development of serious mental and emotional disorders. We have proven that while biological change is present, it is the result and not the cause of the disease process. In two consecutive studies of patients with serious disorders – who also had one sibling less than three years younger – the 13 with psychosis had a sibling less than 24 months younger, and the 14 with non-psychotic depression had the sibling between 24 and 34 months younger (Arab Journal of Psychiatry, November 2012). This is like tossing a coin 27 times and calling it correctly each time, or one over two to the 27th power, which is one chance in 134,217,728 by chance alone, that the findings are wrong. Further calculations revealed in estimate of one chance in 50 that another trauma would be involved.
Delayed Posttraumatic stress disorders from infancy begin with what the infant experiences as a terrifying threat of separation from mother, which is more overwhelming to a baby than war trauma to a soldier, because, for as long as mammals populated the earth, separation from mother has meant death! Then instead of a loud noise precipitating the flashback, it is separation from some other “most important person” which precipitates the initial step-back-in-time, and instead of combat reality and behavior it is infant reality and behavior that we see. Onset usually occurs in adolescence, when a first intense romance fails. This precipitates the flashback to the precise moment in time of the original separation-from-mother trauma. It is a partial return to the entire earlier gestalt, the earlier mind/brain/reality/feelings/behavior/chemistry/physiology/body movements/level of affective expression and anatomic sites in the brain that were active and developing at the precise time of the initial separation-from-mother trauma.
Usually the early trauma is not even recognized. Often it is the birth of a sibling, or travel to another country, or the working mother and daycare. It can be almost anything. The baby is very sensitive to what it experiences as a threat of separation because for as long as mammals populated the earth, separation from mother has meant death.
Note: while birth of a sibling is only one of many separation traumas, it is one for which the date is known and recorded. Once age of origin of symptoms was correctly identified, we could identify the other infant separation traumas because we only had to search that one month to learn what happened.
For example, a family brought a young man to me who was convinced he never would be able to walk again because his feet hurt. That was more real to him than the reality that he had just walked into my office. I told the family something happened to him when he was just 12 months old. “Nothing happened,” they replied. I insisted it did, and they insisted it didn’t. Finally, I exclaimed: “Something happened to cause his mother to be extremely upset when he was just 12 months old!” “Oh,” one replied, “his older brother died then.” Obviously, with the death of her older son, the mother would have been devastated and emotionally separated from the baby for a period of time.
The mechanism is the same for all the disorders, from schizophrenia to non-psychotic depression. Only the age of origin differs, and the symptoms match the age-of-origin.
Nearly everyone has been misled by one egregious scientific error. While no true scientist would equate correlation with causation without testing it first, hundreds of billions of dollars have been funneled into the search for biological change, presuming it was cause. This was largely funded by the pharmaceutical companies developing and promoting their products. The other focus has been on genetic cause, perhaps because psychotherapy cannot change genes, but genetics cannot explain the sharp age-of-origin-boundaries that we have identified.
Schizophrenia has its origin in the first 18 months of life, schizoaffective disorder between 19 and 21 months, with more paranoia at 19 months and more depression at 21 months. Bipolar peaks at 22 months, and the remainder of depression with psychotic features extends up to 24 months.
Biological change is caused by the shift to infant mind and brain. Earlier developmental brain structures become more active and later developmental structures less active, resulting in change in neurotransmitter production, along with disuse atrophy in later developmental brain structures.
Once we understand origin and mechanism, precipitating, and perpetuating factors, then prevention and treatment are greatly simplified. The video of my lecture, presented at the 8th Annual Conference of the International Society of Psychosis and Schizophrenia, 2006, shows 12 precise parallels between schizophrenia and delayed Posttraumatic Stress Disorder – to the extent that schizophrenia meets full DSM criteria for PTSD, and can be called delayed PTSD from infancy. This greatly reduces stigma, because fear is mostly fear of the unknown, and most people now have some awareness and understanding of PTSD. All other attempts to destigmatize the name have failed.
Addictions, including Alcoholism
Alcoholism is just another addiction, where alcohol is the drug of choice. It is similar to other addictions in terms of cause, behavior, and treatment. Addictions are another form of delayed Posttraumatic Stress Disorders from infancy. When stress in the present becomes excessive, some return to an earlier time when, as a baby, they were stressed, but eventually were held, comforted and fed by the mother until their belly was full and they passed out. These disorders are a replication of that earlier means of attaining relief. While the addict might not recognize this, many refer to the drug pusher on the corner as Mother! The needs of the infant are infinite, and they keep seeking more and more, regardless of consequences and harm to themselves and the ones they love. The infant simply seeks comfort and relief, and infant needs are so great that the adult with reactivated needs is very difficult to satiate.
Acute Posttraumatic Stress Disorders from Infancy
Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, and Symbiosis are acute Posttraumatic Stress Disorders from infancy, which have their onset at the time of the trauma, whereas the delayed type have onset when the next important separation trauma or insurmountable stress occurs.
Both the acute and the delayed Posttraumatic stress disorders mentioned above have a similar origin and mechanism. All are a form of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder from infancy, and each is unique to the particular stage of development of the infant when the original separation-from-mother trauma occurred. This is simple to understand once revealed. The main difference is that the acute PTSD from infancy keeps the earlier developmental regions of brain active and developing. Consequently, some have very unique abilities as a result of enhancing earlier developmental regions of brain. Mathematics and artistic abilities can be remarkable.
Treatment Protocol for Psychotic Addictive Disorders (Delayed PTSD from infancy)
Treating these disorders and preventing a recurrence can be difficult because it requires something that seems counter intuitive, unnatural, and even unwise. Yet, without this approach, complete recovery or even a partial stabilization of the mental disorder might not be possible.
The problem is that after a shift to infant mind/brain/reality, any interaction with original, nuclear family is in a parent-to-infant relationship and keeps the person locked into the infant mind. But, with total separation – for a period of time – the whole process can simply disappear
- Separate because it works.
- Allow time for the person to become independent and self-sufficient.
- Educate patient and family about what to do and not do, and how to relate to each other.
- Allow a five minute phone conversation with family members, followed by careful monitoring of patient over the next 72 hours. If no regression, then continued gradual reintegration with careful monitoring of progress, but the patient must never return to live with original nuclear family.
This method usually eliminates the need for medication, as long as the patient remains totally separate from family for a long enough period of time. Reintegration requires careful monitoring by a skilled therapist. After the first five minute telephone conversation, it requires careful evaluation for three full days to see if there is any regression, and if there is, it might require another six months or even a year or two of separation. Initially, any criticism or even helpful suggestions will come across as disapproval or rejection, which precipitates a shift back into infant feelings/reality/behavior. With total separation, the patient can come out of psychosis and never requires medication again. The disorder can disappear relatively quickly, but sometimes takes months or even years of separation to prevent relapse.
We also find the wisdom of this approach in the Bible. In Matthew 10:34-39, Jesus points out the importance of separation from family for everyone: “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law— a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household. Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.
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on each of the following challenges:
Psychotic disorders: Delayed PTSD from infancy through 24 months age of origin
- Addictions: Alcohol, Prescribed and Street Drugs, Addictive Behavior
- Acute PTSD from Infancy
– Asperger’s Syndrome