Author: Dr Claudia M Elsig, Founder and Medical Director, Calda Clinic
20 Aug 2018
Working as a young assistant doctor, I quickly realised that treating superficial symptoms is never enough. In 90 percent of cases involving borderline personality or eating disorders, there is a past trauma that must also be explored. In fact, early childhood traumas are present in 60 to 70 percent of cases, and emotional neglect is also extremely common. Unfortunately, these traumas are often connected to sexual abuse in childhood or chronic mental violence.
The #MeToo campaign shone light on what many already knew: successful, narcissistic, power-hungry people exploit others’ vulnerabilities and dependencies for their own personal gain. What many don’t know, however, is these abusers cause lasting damage that often cannot be seen on the surface. Modern-day health services must do more to tackle the pain associated with these traumatic experiences if they are to improve the mental health of their patients.
Trauma is never far away in my profession. We find it in practically all phenomena relating to the field of mental health. When exploring the root causes of our patients’ conditions, we always find some kind of chronic stress. Importantly, the way we respond to stress is prenatally moulded and shaped by our genetic predisposition, our environment and experiences. We react with addiction, with fear, with melancholy or depression, with self-harm or with external aggression on corresponding stressors and painful life experiences.
Modern-day health services must do more to tackle the pain associated with traumatic experiences
It’s worth noting our body has self-healing tendencies, too. Together with a loving social network, it is often possible to overcome life crises without professional help. But if the load becomes too much, it is important to get the right support.
Unfortunately, the fields of psychiatry and psychotherapy are still stigmatised. Virtually all diagnoses, except perhaps specific phobias and burnout syndrome, are associated with shame and guilt. Thus, the individual concerned requires a great deal of determination just to open up and find the right treatment. This is where Calda Clinic comes in: we help clients remove the mask through a professional and personalised rehabilitation process. In other words, we allow them to open up by providing a trustworthy ear, a private atmosphere and the highest levels of discretion.
Keeping priorities in mind
Some 10 years ago, I codeveloped a holistic approach to mental health that combines psychiatry, psychotherapy and orthomolecular medicine. This approach also tries to find alternative, complementary medicines and, where possible, avoids psychotropic drugs. Despite the potential benefits, however, the concept is not currently supported by national health systems – this is due, in large part, to the programme’s cost. If healthcare providers looked to the long term, though, they would find we’re actually much cheaper than the alternatives, but this can be difficult to explain when short-term financial pressures arise.
The cost of treating mental health is increasing around the world every year. Industrialised countries are often characterised by chronic stress and a lack of compassion for various forms of psychological and physical violence. And with the quality of nationalised healthcare in steady decline, it seems the individual doesn’t count anymore; instead, the human being has become an interchangeable number. The respectful treatment of people in a safe, therapeutic setting is essential to mental recovery, but nobody has the time anymore – this has to change.
It should be noted that the idea of taking individual responsibility for our health is still in its infancy and, as such, is not often given the importance it deserves. Many of us spend more money on our car, on our vacation or on our home than on our health. It may take 10 or 20 years to see the benefits, but a change of thinking must take place. The first steps on this journey begin with creating a more humane, holistic and interdisciplinary future for the medical profession.