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Out of the Dark Paperback – 19 May 2016
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"Reads like a psychological detective story...Linda's passage back to health and sanity makes for compulsive reading" (Mail on Sunday)
"An absorbing story that would make a chlling movie" (Kirkus)
The powerful classic has been repackaged for new readers. Out of the Dark is a compelling psychological detective story to discover the dark heart of one woman's past.See all Product description
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So what do I do if I am damaged emotionally? Abused, traumatised, starved of a loving family? What’s the cure then? Is there an ointment, a bandage? Can I get an operation to cure it? Can I look forward to a recovery in a few days or weeks or months? If the wound is sufficiently deep, the answer will probably be no. Whilst the physicians have enjoyed huge leaps forward over the past 150 years, the psychiatrists seem to be barely out of the starting blocks. For a disturbed patient we seem to be left with two choices.
The first is to medicate the patient into virtual oblivion, so that they cannot be of harm to themselves or others. But a drug that dulls down your ability to do bad things will prevent your ability to do good things. This is the most common route for treating the mentally ill. There is another alternative. Psychotherapy. In order to receive this, a large investment of time and emotional energy (and therefore money, either public or private) is needed. It is therefore only really available to a privileged few.
Psychotherapy, for Linda Caine, turned out to be highly hazardous. Over a period of several years, as a regular patient at Ticehurst, she was able to unearth a range of incidents from her past, each of which may have contributed to her original suicidal tendencies. Every new revelation brought about a re-enactment of the trauma she originally experienced. She would often retreat deep into herself, ‘blanking out’ for hours or days at a time so that at times her Psychotherapist doubted whether she would interact again with the human race. At other times she fled from her lodgings and hid away, she cut herself, she overdosed on pills. Medical staff fought frequently to keep her from suicide as she progressively came face to face with her traumatic past.
A period of relative stability would typically follow, allowing her to return to her family and something like normality. But her husband and children (as well as me, the reader) had serious doubts over whether she would ever truly recover.
I found the book a compulsive read. Linda had frequent nightmares. Over the months, shadowy, unknown figures in her dreams became recognisable until we had managed to piece together the complex jigsaw which was her past life. We finish up with a race against time, as Linda’s entitlements to this treatment slowly diminish. There’s even a whodunit mystery as we try to work out the identity of a mystery character in her past.
I know little about Psychiatry, but I am left disturbed by the effects of the treatment Linda received. It reminds me of what early, primitive attempts at surgery must have looked like in the days when the surgery itself sometimes killed the patient before the healing began to work. I don’t blame Dr Royston and the dedicated staff who worked with Linda for this. They all come across as wonderful, compassionate, patient and dedicated people. And it is openly admitted by the Doctor that we still know very little about the human mind. In his explanation about how psychotherapy works, he retells the children’s story of Rumpelstiltskin. The wicked elf in the story is only compelled to release the baby princess one his name has been identified. The ability to name the enemy who is holding one captive is the key to mastering it and disarming it of its power.
It is interesting to explore the territory that Linda is in. She initially goes for help from a couple of leaders at her church who bring comfort and strength but not healing. The then receives secular help from the medical staff at Ticehurst Hospital. Finally, she receives spiritual help from a Christian counsellor who is backed up by a prayer team, uses anointing oil, scriptures from the Bible and the prayer of faith. We are left in no doubt which is more effective.
I am left wondering who is responsible for healing Linda of her depression. Having had some contact with Christian counselling, I am not surprised that she received healing through an experienced prayer counsellor. With the right approach, it works! This account took up about 3% of the book. And I am also not surprised that the help she got from church was comforting, but not decisive. On the whole, churches are helpful, but don’t know how to deal with people who have deep needs. This was explored in about 5% of the book. The remaining 92% focused on the work of Dr Royston and Ticehurst Hospital. Like being on a roller-coaster, it certainly made for an exciting read.
As a Christian who is interested in counselling, I was left with lots of questions. Did the medical staff do most of the key groundwork in preparing Linda for her final push for healing? Or did they put Linda at greater risk of suicide by coaxing her to bring her painful memories to the surface? For me, whilst the study of psychology gives us some helpful insights, the fact remains that as spiritual beings, we have spiritual needs. Some of the Old Testament prophets, such as Micah, Isaiah and Jeremiah speak of the dilemma of mental illness today when they proclaim, ‘Your wound is incurable’. Most of what we term mental illness is profoundly spiritual at its root. That is why, as a Christian, I believe that it is only by being reconciled with our Creator and receiving healing from Him, that we experience true healing.
That is also why I am amused by some of the reviewers of this book who say in effect, it’s a great book, but why does she have to bring God into it?
It is unusual to find a clear Christian testimony in a book of this type. For those who are interested in exploring how Christian counselling for those who have suffered severe abuse, and would like further reading, I would recommend the bookSarah by Sarah Shaw. It may get overlooked by many because it comes under the Christian Book genre. The book shows how a lady with a husband, children and a good job, not unlike Linda, becomes suicidal, her problems rooted in past trauma, probably even worse than those experienced by Linda Caine. It is also forwarded by her psychiatrist, and it also shows how Sarah’s buried past memories have to resurface in order for her to be released.
His honesty threads through the pages, alongside Linda Cain's brave account of the impact of traumatic childhood experiences.
One thing I do know for sure is that if I had been experiencing trauma in my life he is the person I would have sought help from. This book is well written and thought provoking. I highly recommend it.
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