Sandra L. Brown, M.A. is a psychotherapist in North Carolina. She runs the Institute for Relational Harm Reduction and the Public Psychopathy Education Magazine. The website is here.
I wonder how different my life would be if I’d gone there instead of a treatment facility for sexual addiction. At the very least I would have had a lot more proof of what happened, which would have come in handy when it came to paying for everything.
My initial interview with the doctor when I showed up at treatment was absolutely awful. In hindsight, I can understand that he was seeing me as a perpetrator who had brought down a good therapist, after all that’s how I presented myself. I was a bad, evil woman who precipitated the downfall of a decent therapist. That must have hit a few buttons for him. It would have been nice if someone had bothered to check my story, since my I’d precipitated exactly nothing. My former therapist was still going merrily along seeing patients and pocketing the money he was supposedly turning over to his order. Oh well. Nobody checked and I was treated like the sexual predator I’d confessed I was.
The interview left me absolutely prostrate. Well, duh. I was a battered woman, not a sexual predator. And I needed safety and reassurance, not help in seeing how destructive I was. You see, with addicts, sometimes they need help understanding that what they’ve done has caused harm to others because they’re in denial. They minimize. That doctor was treating me like an addict, not like someone who’d barely survived an abusive relationship with a therapist. He didn’t know, but it still hurt. A lot.
It’s confusing. The entire time I was there, I was treated as an addict. Well, duh! That’s what you get treated like when you go to rehab. I got diagnosed with all sorts of stuff – practically the whole DSM IV tossed salad of personality disorders. Labels are defining. So when I failed to engage in the therapeutic process, it was due to my personality disorders and my addiction. Not because I’d just come from an abusive therapeutic relationship of 3 years.
I’m guessing that this other place would have picked up on that. Not necessarily because they’re so much better, but because by going there, I’d have claimed a different label.
Would I still have problems with sex? Probably. Would I still be a sex addict? I don’t know. I don’t think so. After all, it was the abusive therapist who diagnosed me as a sex addict. So I think I’d still be me, but maybe I’d probably label myself differently.
If you have the time to browse through Sandra’s website, I think you’ll find it’s time well spent. It’s always interesting to see how things look under a different label.
But here’s an important point, and the one I want to really focus on: I got better. No matter what my label is, I am better.
Think about that! It’s pretty fantastic! Even though there were a lot of things wrong with my diagnosis and my treatment, even though I probably got the wrong label and the wrong treatment, I got better. We have an amazing capacity for healing. I was in a safe place with people who truly wished me well and tried hard to help me get better.
Whatever your label is, you can get better too.