Tag Archive | "Depression"

The Tragic Life, Depression and Suicide of Mindy McCready – Post-mortem analysis

On February 17, 2013, the U.S. media reported the suicide of country singer, Mindy McCready. She was once known to be a Nashville superstar, but reportedly addiction, arrest, and her boyfriend’s death culminated in her suicide at age 37. She suffered from long-standing problems, according to recent newspaper and magazine articles, and had a poor relationship with her mother. She had been in abusive relationships and was arrested in 2005 with charges of drunk driving.  In September of the same year, she was treated for her second suicide attempt, and six months later gave birth to her first son. In 2007, she was arrested for brawling with her mother while intoxicated. She was sentenced to a year in jail and two more years of probation and community service and served five months of this sentence. In 2008, when she was hospitalized for a suicide attempt, her mother gained custody of her son. More recently, in 2013, she entered a court-ordered rehabilitation center, checked herself out one day later and shortly  thereafter, she shot herself in the mouth, on the porch of her home, where her boyfriend, Wilson, had committed suicide.  Journalists reported that the suicide marked a brutal end for a singer who had once been among Nashville’s brightest stars before a toxic spiral of reckless relationships, arrests, addictions, and family fights began nearly a decade ago. People magazine quoted her former fiancé: “This is a woman who had so much talent and just self-destructed.” People reported, “A once vivacious beauty whose big voice matched her outsized confidence, McCready had fallen so far into the abyss that when local law enforcement arrived at her house on February 17th, after neighbors heard gunshots, they encountered a harrowing scene. ‘Food was out, it smelled really bad, the dog had pooped everywhere on the floor,’ says a police source. McCready was filthy. The TV was on, everything was a mess. The bed wasn’t made–it was just a bare mattress. The kitchen counter, nightstand, and bathroom were full of prescription pills.”

A short biography printed in People magazine stated the following:

“A native of Fort Myers Florida she tousled from an early age with her parents, who split when she was nine. She moved to Nashville at seventeen, and helped care for her younger brothers, Tim and Joeseph. ‘It’s a miracle that all of us survived,’ she told People magazine in 2010. ‘By the grace of God we all made it.’ But at age 18, she met veteran Nashville producer, David Malloy, and her life changed forever. The former head of RCA Nashville had said, ‘She was charming, she was drop-dead gorgeous, she was sweet, she could connect and people went nuts, and she was a great singer.’ ‘But cracks in the wall soon began to surface,’ says Morses (her music manager). ‘I think she had some emotional scars from her childhood, and she had a tumultuous relationship with her mother.  She didn’t know honesty could come with love.’  Her romance with Chan, now 46, fizzled in 1998 after a year. The former Lois and Clark star remembers her as ‘Poisonous. She was never abusive or addictive with me, but red flags were everywhere. I saw all the bad signs and told her to get out. She would start arguments, start drama. Things weren’t allowed to be good.’”
Mindy McCready: People Magazine Cover Page

People also reports that Galanti dropped her from the label after her third album. Starting with an arrest in 2004 for faking prescriptions, she spent the next four years in and out of court, particularly as her volatile relationship with aspiring singer Billy McKnight turned ugly. (She also waged a long-running custody battles over their son, Zander, who was placed in her mother’s care during McCready’s rehab and jail stint). “I lost myself in that relationship,” she told People in 2010. Everybody turned their back on me because they couldn’t stand to watch me. I was killing myself.” In between arrests, suicide attempts, and rehab stays, she would resolve to start over. “I’ve done things that are completely stupid and wrong,” she said in 2010. “But I wasn’t crazy. I was doing crazy things. I was just really empty and searching for anything to latch onto.”

There are thousands of McCreadys with similar, tragic lives, in and out of rehab and psychiatric hospitals, who eventually end their lives by suicide or self-destructive behavior.  One of my patients,  molested as a child with deep emotional wounds from childhood, had later begun abusing street drugs and was in and out of psychiatric hospitals for depression and suicidal behavior.  Few years into treatment, he stated, “Doctor, three of my friends who were doing drugs with me are dead now; it’s a miracle that I’m not dead or in prison by now.”

Sadly, we will never hear these words from Mindy Mcready.  After several psychiatric hospitalizations along with hospitalizations in rehab and detox centers, McCready’s condition continued to decline, ultimately leading her to suicide. This history is not unique to McCready; millions of lost lives throughout the world reflect the failure of the medical and psychiatric professions. We attribute this shortcoming partly to the profession’s departure from Freud’s—and by extension—Reich’s discoveries.

Among the range of medical and psychological treatment approaches, only psychiatric orgone therapy and psychoanalysis or analytical psychology can understand and penetrate a patient’s unconscious mind and explore deep emotional wounds buried in the unconscious. Other treatment modalities, although comforting and helpful to the patient,  are incapable of impacting the unconscious mind, let alone healing the wounds buried within it.

Psychoanalytically, it is not difficult to trace back McCready’s problems to her early relationship with her parents as evidenced in her later life conflicts with her parents, particularly her mother. Of course, psychoanalytic theory and technique dictate that “interpersonal” conflicts such as the one between McCready and her mother may not necessarily reflect the unconscious intra-psychic conflict within the patient. Likewise, a superficially harmonious relationship with a parent may still, in the process of psychoanalysis, reveal a deep intra-psychic unconscious conflict. Nevertheless, more likely than not, the chronicity of the conflict reflects a deeper intra-psychic conflict. In classical Freudian psychoanalysis, parental conflicts can be traced back to the early ages of three or four years old when, according to classical psychoanalytic theory, the child must experience and resolve the conflict when tensions with the same-sex parent heighten.   An unresolved conflict—referred to by Freud as the Oedipus complex—impacts the individual’s later life.  In psychoanalytic treatment, resolution of this conflict is of central importance. A psychoanalytic technique dictates that the patient lie on a couch. He or she is encouraged to “free associate”—to say whatever comes to his or her mind without censoring thoughts. Through free association and interpretation of dreams, symbols and thoughts, unconscious memories, fear, anger, and sadness associated with this period of life become conscious and by resolving these feelings of the early conflict, the patient is expected to improve.  According to Reich, the goal of psychiatric orgone therapy is the same as in psychoanalysis: to revive the earliest childhood memories.  However, the approach and technique differ enough that the approach can no longer be described as psychoanalysis.

In The Function of Orgasm, Reich states,

“The goal of my work is the same today as it was twenty years ago: the reawakening of the earliest childhood experiences. However, the method of achieving this has changed considerably, so much so in fact that it can no longer be called psychoanalysis.”

In psychiatric orgone therapy, psychiatrists place greater emphasis on a patient’s physical appearance, demeanor, speech and behavior than on the information that the patient discloses. In other words, psychiatric orgone therapist attributes less importance to what the patient says than to how he or she says it. Even the most subtle physical cues are significant and reflect a patient’s character.

For example, in The Function of Orgasm, Reich stated,

“It never ceases to be surprising how the loosening of a muscular spasm not only releases the vegetative energy, but, over and above this, reproduces a memory of that situation in infancy in which the repression of the instinct occurred. It can be said that every muscular rigidity contains the history and the meaning of its origin. It is not as if we had to derive from dreams or associations how the muscular armor developed; the armor is the form in which the infantile experience is preserved as an impairment of functioning. For example, the neurosis is not solely the expression of a disturbance of psychic equilibrium; it is, rather, in a far more justified and deeper sense, the expression of a chronic disturbance of the vegetative equilibrium and of natural motility.”

In psychiatric orgone therapy, the psychiatrist traces the pathologic changes in the patient starting far earlier than the ages of 3 or 4 years when the Oedipus complex begins. In contrast, the orgonomic psychiatrist believes that traumatic events can begin at—or just prior to—birth; nevertheless, he or she acknowledges that events in later life can—and do—exacerbate  earlier trauma.

In Reich Speaks of Freud, Reich states,

“You break the will of the infant, of the child. Not when it is in the Oedipus phase. That’s a consequence. That’s later. No, before it’s born and soon after, in the first two weeks of life. And, then, the child withdraws. It resigns with a big “NO.” It doesn’t say, “No.” It doesn’t scream, “No.” But there is an expression of “No.” It’s a giving up. You can see it in the hospitals. There’s no doubt about it. The damage is being done right there, in the very beginning –right before and after birth. There is the disposition for all the rest of it.”

Freud also discovered pre-genital developmental stages in children such as oral and anal stages that occur prior to the development of the Oedipal phase. In fact, he described issues of conflicts and fixations from those earlier stages that leave their sequelae in the later life of the child. However, psychoanalysis relies on words, and words are incapable of penetrating the stages before language development; therefore, even in successful cases, psychoanalysis is unable to penetrate beyond language development, which doesn’t begin until approximately two years old.

In a taped recording, Freud stated that he hoped his discovery of the unconscious would be a decisive help in treating neurosis. However, considering the lengthy process of the psychoanalytic technique in unearthing unconscious material, numerous obstacles and difficulties in that process and its dubious results have disappointed mental health professionals, and Freud’s techniques are no longer widely used for psychiatric treatment. In previous articles, I sited the 1993 article, “Is Freud Dead?” from Time magazine. After extensive research, the author of the article concluded that perhaps psychoanalysis is no better than many other approaches that provide false solace.

In the November 29th, 1993 Time Magazine, there was an article titled, “Is Freud Dead”? By the end of the article, the author concludes that “psychoanalysis and all of its off shoots, may in final analysis, turn out to be no more reliable than countless other pseudosciences that once offered unsubstantiated answers or false solace.”

This failure of psychoanalysis can partly be attributed to the fact that psychoanalysis relies on words, which are usually incapable of penetrating the physical or somatic domain—the tissues and fibers of the body where conflicts are anchored. Psychoanalysis and analytical psychology are unable to dislodge these conflicts from this anchor and thus become stuck, eventually stagnating while the therapeutic process falls apart. Thus, a different understanding and technique are necessary. Psychiatric orgone therapy provides this theory and technique.

As orgonomic psychiatrists, we work on a patient’s character and its counterpart, the physical and somatic domains that are reflected in a patient’s character.  We try to uncover and unmask the patient’s superficial, deceptive behavior that hides the genuine, underlying feelings and acts as a defensive structure. Like Mindy McCready, patients with superficial, vivacious personalities or those with other charming behaviors no longer deceive us. We see those behaviors as armor behind which patients hide their deeper conflicts and emotions.

In treating patients, we often face the defensive surface behavior and attitude that psychological improvement cannot be achieved, except by chance, if this defensive structure is not dealt with. The patients resist and frustrate the therapist’s efforts if the surface behavior, the armor, is not resolved.

In The Function of Orgasm, Reich states,

“I found that people reacted with deep hatred to every disturbance of the neurotic balance of their armor . . . .  The patient would complain about the emptiness of his experiences. But when I pointed out the same emptiness in the nature of his communications, in his coolness, in his grandiloquent or hypocritical nature, he became angry. He was aware of the symptoms, headache or a tic, as something alien but his character was the person himself. He was disturbed when it was pointed out to him. What was it that prevented a person from perceiving his own personality? After all it is what he is! Gradually I came to understand that it is the entire being that constitutes the compact, tenacious mass which obstructs all analytic efforts. The patient’s whole personality, his character, his individuality resisted analysis. But why? The only explanation is that it fulfills a secret function of defense and protection.”

With reasonable certainty, we can attribute Mindy McCready’s signing out from the hospital after one day—against medical advice—and her suicide a day later, to this resistance of accepting her own emptiness and her own inner conflict and refusal to face it. In other words, her unresolved armored structure prevented her from seeking genuine psychological help.

Mindy McCready and Dr. Drew

When a defensive surface layer is unveiled, repressed emotions are stirred up and moved.  A patient recognizes this movement in their organism and when there is movement, there is hope.  As painful and saddening as it may be, the release of the hidden emotions in the patient brings relief. It brings hope to the patient, making her or him feel that change is possible, that there is a movement toward healing. This changes the hopelessness that could plunge a patient to suicide. In fact, Reich stated, “However the fact speaks for itself that, as extensive and protean as my practice has been, I have not had a single case of suicide. It was not until much later that I came to understand the cases of suicide that happened during treatment. Patients committed suicide when their sexual energy had been stirred up but was prevented from attaining adequate discharge.” Of course, as therapists, we modulate the resolution of armor and the release of a patient’s repressed feelings incrementally, to ensure that he or she is capable of assimilating the feelings.

In spite of many years of conventional treatment, Mindy McCready and thousands of others like her suffered from severe depression and ultimately committed suicide, a clear indication that conventional psychiatry fails in many cases. Most physicians choose the profession with the intention to help and to heal. They feel the pain of the patients and want to alleviate it. It is painful to see the pain, suffering, and sadness that eventually destroy the person and his or her potential. It is painful for physicians to see that the patient does not improve in spite of their efforts—that the patient’s life ends tragically. Hence, it is prudent to include psychiatric orgone therapy as an extension of psychoanalysis. We believe that such an inclusion will save many lives, strengthen the profession and, of course, bring great satisfaction to psychiatrists and therapists.

Mindy McCready



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