Episode #006

Loss of a brother to mental illness: Trevor Griffiths



Trevor: I'm Trevor Griffiths. And I would like to share about the loss of my brother to mental illness, which had quite a profound effect in many ways.

Chris: Hello, this is The Silent Why and we're your hosts, Claire and Chris.

Claire: Thank you for joining us on our mission to highlight 101 different types of loss.

Chris: In this episode, we'll be meeting Trevor Griffiths, a man of science and faith, but we spoke to him about the loss of his brother to mental illness.

Trevor: It was surrounded by chaos at every level. I don't know that even if I'd found somebody to talk with, that one relationship at that time would have helped me to develop differently.

Claire: Trevor studied medicine at Oxford University and worked in the field for 25 years before leaving in 2004 to work on preventing illness rather than treating it.

Chris: Then he founded an international training charity called Emotional Logic.

Trevor: There is hope there is something really beautiful underneath the ugliness of life, underneath the trauma there is healing. And that's the great thing that my professional work has led me on to discover.

Claire: Trevor talks very honestly, about his traumatic childhood part of which involved living with a violent brother who suffered with severe mental health issues, later diagnosed as Schizophrenia

Chris: And just to add the family members Trevor refers to in this episode, are no longer alive.

Claire: We started by asking him to summarise his childhood, and growing up.

Trevor: It was a suburban household, two parents, I had two twin older brothers, and it was quite a tense household became increasingly tense because one of my older brothers had a physical disability and was having fits. And the other one, was extremely violent from an early age, he was very, very disruptive. And that simply got worse with time and my parents had to cope with all of that. So that was my sort of background, throughout my early life, as there was a lot of arguments, a lot of violence, and I wasn't particularly assaulted myself, but it was living in a very threatening environment that I found quite traumatised.

Chris: I'm the youngest of three boys as well, it sounds like you're the youngest of three boys. So, there's a great deal of, of play-fighting even to the point that I had blood tests, because the amounts of bruises on my legs. So just painting the picture for us as a young child, what is the violence that you refer to? What, what is that like for someone where you realise this isn't a play fight, it's not a joke and it is quite serious.

Trevor: I can't remember quite what age I'd have been, probably 8, 9, 10 or so, just as you know, some tricks that people play leaving a door partially open, put a book above the door, so when somebody goes through the book, sort of drops on them and so on. Well, my Schizophrenic brother, I'll call him that from the outset thought that what he likes to do is put a concrete block on top of the shed door. And he started trying to force me to help him to lift this concrete block up there. And I just refused and it led to a whole load of arguing and fighting goodness-knows-what and the other brother, he had one good arm and one good leg, and the two of them would simply spend ages repeatedly, one after the other, punching each other or kicking each other. It was a sadomasochistic relationship that they were having. And I think they sort of quite enjoyed it until one of them cried out, I think that was the game, just keep going until somebody sort of cried out. They didn't involve me in it, but I knew that I could be assaulted if I tried to intervene in any way. And just knowing what they were capable of I've just became hyper vigilant. That's one of the traumatisation sorts of features, so feeling quite isolated, I was going around checking doors and, you know, what's behind the door sort of thing.

And then, you know, my father had to sort of weigh in and there was sort of punches flying around there. And so, what, what happened for me, rather than me actually getting kicked, and I have got a few things, obviously, as you say, you know, everybody does and you just take those parts of it. But what I found myself more doing was, was beginning to look at the relationships between everybody. So, I became quite a thoughtful teenager, young man, and, you know, I had my intelligence, so trained in medicine and went on to a career in that. But I think the way that I coped with it was by developing a sense of humour. But what was going on was that I had this sort of outward persona of an apparent connection with people, but inside I was just completely screwed up. And you know, and very unconfident actually in, in building relationships. And by the age of 13, it had built up to such an extent that I didn't want to live anymore and I had become suicidal. And so that was where, like the major transition occurred for me in my life. Because I was actually thinking in, in the lounge at home about how I would do it and it would have been a bit messy. So not a good idea, looking back on it. But what happened was, as I was planning that out, I had a religious experience, a spiritual experience, and it just, everything around me, the whole room, everything in the room was glowing with the most amazing light. I know it sounds so corny to say it, but that's true. That's exactly what happened. I was bathed in this light and I just looked at everything in a totally new way. And suddenly it just made me think there is a reason to carry on, there is something worth living for. And it set me off on a whole lifetime trying to understand, what is this about that, you know, there is something so magnificent in what I saw, and yet everyday experience can be so terrible that I just didn't want to go on in it. And following that experience at that age, I thought, well, a friend of mine was going fairly regularly to church, so I thought I need to find out more about this, what's going on here. So, I started going along to the church with this guy, but found it, I'm sorry to say incredibly disappointing, the church rituals and routines, they just didn't seem to get anywhere close to what I just witnessed, what I'd experienced, as being a really transformational experience in life, a real sense of purpose and just the beauty of life, even though we're surrounded by horrors and terrors along the way. And I tried talking with people, and, you know, I think a lot of them were just suspicious of it, just wary they didn't know it, they couldn't understand it.

Chris: Can you remember at the age of 13, before you got to this point of thinking I don't want to be here anymore, what led to that sort of burden, that weight, of whatever it was?

Trevor: No, I remember the exact thing that happened, there'd been another bout of fighting and arguing and goodness knows what around the house, and I had to go out with my mother to do something, and she said; 'So you think there's something wrong do you? But if you look along this street here,' she said, 'Every third house, I reckon you'll find there's an argument going on.' And I just thought, if that really is what the world's like, I don't want to be in it. I've had enough.

Chris: And at the age of 13, that's obviously something you can't really process with adult experience and emotions, but it must've felt pretty overwhelming as a child?

Trevor: Yes, I, I just didn't really have anybody that I felt I could trust, because for me to talk to anybody, any adult, as I say, they, they could easily have got back to my parents and I didn't want to undermine them, difficult though it was, so yeah, so I just accepted, my sort of isolation in it. I would sort of tell myself I'm strong, I'm being strong, I'm looking after them. And yeah, to a certain level, it was a game, but it wasn't genuine. And then I was more and more alienated from myself inside. My parents, both fairly prominent people in the community, and I didn't feel I could go to anybody and talk about how distressed I was feeling. I didn't want to sort of undermine them in the way they were trying to cope. I mean, I really honour them in fact, I mean, they stuck together through it all, it really was quite terrible. And most families where there's a disability, the parents split. I think about 95% of families, parents split. Well, mine didn't, so they stuck with it, but they had their own issues, and so I couldn't go to them with the way I was feeling, I couldn't really talk outside the family. And my brother was deteriorating all the time. He was very intelligent, he went to Cambridge and studied architecture, and was a brilliant artist, but he developed a full-blown Schizophrenia. And he became a Paranoid Schizophrenic, a very violent, Paranoid Schizophrenic, and basically was moving around from institution to institution. Terrorising different wards, just as he terrorised the family, and other people really. So, my parents sort of looked to me as the sensible one to try and look after my brother and my physically disabled brother. And also trying to moderate what was going on with the other one. So, I was looked to as a young carer, but to be honest, I wasn't, I couldn't do it. I'm a survivor of something that was just very traumatising. So, the loss for me in the whole thing was really my adolescence from that time on, as my brother was deteriorating all the time, what had at one time possibly been quite a good relationship, crumbled and with lots of other things. My way, sadly, of coping as a teenager was to isolate and go on a spiritual path and I got badly damaged by it, very badly damaged.

Claire: Was it a constant sense of isolation and living in that sort of fear? Or were there happy times in between? Because I'd imagine if you've got happy times in between, that probably confuses it as well, because you're sort of very up and down or was it all one level?

Trevor: So, they were drinking a lot, right? So, me at a young age would be going out to pubs much younger than I, I really should have been, they got me smoking. There would be occasional good times, but, always, always in the background, there was a sense of danger. This could explode at any moment and no matter what was going on. And it did quite often, it did. they were always getting into fights and breaking things up. You know, there was a local park where we lived and we went to the putting green, quite young, and it ended up with the two of them jumping over the privet hedge, with one chasing the other, swinging his putter at the other one, if he'd hit, if it actually struck him, he'd have seriously, seriously hurt him. And I was just left there, you know, I just simply went back and handed my putter to the groundsman, and he looked at me in a very sorry way. That was my experience. I'm not trying to make it sound miserable, because ultimately out of this, something good comes, but yeah, it was very isolated sense of powerlessness, really. The only power I could have was within myself, which is a temporary solution when you're surrounded by chaos. What I didn't learn was how to make relationships. I could just banter with people. So, the good times that I had were like that, the other thing that I did at whatever age I was, always made sure I had a means of transport available. Whether it was a push bike, or later on my motorbike, I knew I could get away. I survived by escaping and it happened, you know, so we went to pubs in South London where we were and after one of them, they'd suggested I went in, in my brother's van and I said, no, I'll take the bike. And they crashed on the way back into a lamppost. And you know, so one of them was in hospital with a broken foot, it's that sort of sense of danger all the time; this is gonna go wrong. It's a loss of connection really, a loss of trust, and eventually it ended up at that moment with a loss of hope.

Claire: And how did that translate to you making friends at school and getting on with your peers? Cos I'd imagine that made it quite difficult to form friendships there as well.

Trevor: Yeah. I had a couple of people who I would, again, we'd banter with we'd lark around, but they weren't really sort of deep friendships. One guy was, was an artist, we had quite a fair understanding, but unfortunately, he went off down the drug route. So, this is another thing that happened too, I was able to try making some friendships and when I went to university as well, but I seem to sort of connect with people who had problems. The turmoil in me was registering with the turmoil in others. So, get to university, had two good people that I was meeting. One actually attempted suicide, the other one nearly did. And you know, that it's just that sense of a doomed life. So yes, as I say bantering, writing reviews, writing comedy, just making people laugh, it looked good, but no, it wasn't deep and not really sustainable.

Chris: You've referenced the loss of a brother to mental health. Was there a process of grieving that as a child? Is that even something you would have thought about as well as an adolescent into your sort of teenage years? Or was that something only later in life that you thought, yeah okay, I can now see how I grieved losing my brother to that sort of mental health?

Trevor: No. I definitely grieved that along the way, because, you know, as I say he was intelligent, he was very interesting, he was a brilliant artist, really was excellent, but had character flaws, which meant that he couldn't... He was offered to display in London and just wouldn't allow his pictures to be displayed in this gallery. Something was challenging him deep inside. And so, you know, I always wanted to become his agent, what can I do to help? What can I do to reinforce? And so on. The desire was there to try and overcome things, but barriers were there as well. And after a while he started talking nonsense and you know, I was left wondering what on earth was going on here. So, I was just watching him crumble and feeling totally powerless. So yes, I grieved, absolutely along the way.

Chris: And was there anyone, whether it was family, or experts, at that time that we're able to speak into that or guide you through it and help you do it healthily?

Trevor: I would say that was like the big failing at that time, was that I did not more actively seek out people, but at that time counselling wasn't widely available. The concept of being a young carer and young carer support wasn't around at that time, the only thing was a church-based youth club that I thought I might go to. But actually, by then, I was getting quite socially phobic quite anxious. So going into that thing or, you know, I wasn't able to relate as complete equal with the people there. I was feeling there was something distant about me, something wrong. And so, I couldn't even make contact with youth workers at that point, which was really all that was available.

Chris: Would you have been easy to unlock do you think? If there had been a youth worker that asked a particular question, could they have unlocked all of this emotion?

Trevor: I don't know. I really, I really, that's a... Yeah. I mean, that's what set me off on my career path. To recognise that there wasn't anybody, and what I wanted to do was build up the sorts of resources that could help others to prevent mental illness by looking at, relationships between people. I was aware of the problem at the level of relationships, I'd seen emotion flying around in the family like anything. And so, I always had this sort of family concept of where emotions sit. They're not just feelings inside you, there's stuff thrown across the room and punches swung and that's emotion, and it's a relational quality.

Chris: That does sort of lead us on to another question really. And to go into a bit more detail, what you mentioned about your teenage years, and you'd had this really unusual, fascinating, spiritual experience at the age of 13, one of the sort of lowest points of your young life, but then what did life look like for the next 10 years as you tried to even work out, where to go with life from that point onwards? What, what did that the adolescence look like?

Trevor: Sort of chaos, really. So basically, I had my motorbike, absolutely loved my bike, but I was what I called it an Easy Rider. I'm not sure you probably wouldn't know the film of the 1970s or 80s, but I was a great one for adventure, climbing mountains, and you know, in Norway I'd go climbing up a mountain on my own, but it was a solitary life. And I knew there was something wrong all the time, but I couldn't find a way through it. So, my exploration through prayer, not necessarily Christian prayer, but just feeling there is something out there. I'm not sure how to connect with it, but I was on this exploration. And so, it took me a long time to, to recognise that true spirituality comes in relationship. But what I was seeing around me and every path that I was exploring, didn't really seem to come to anything really fruitful or anything really creative. So, so I went on to, to medical school, you know, I was intelligent, I was good as exams, this cultivated in me a really deep interest in life and what's going on here. And, but then again, it was still, yeah, not, not quite connecting into deep friendship groups, but more through interactive events that I, that I was sort of bouncing around, is the way I'd describe it really.

Claire: I'm fascinated that through all that messiness in adolescence, and, you know, sort of finding your way, that you landed on medicine. How did that happen? Cause that feels like you must've been doing very well at school, despite all the trauma at home.

Trevor: Yes, well, I suppose my mother was a fairly senior nurse and I just developed an interest in the brain from an early age. I was just talking with somebody recently it's going to sound a little bit silly, but I actually did my first project on the brain in my final year of primary school., I was just so fascinated by it. And so, so that level of interest has been with me all through my life. And yeah, I just love study. I love research. You know, I feel like I'm a trained scientist and so I went to Oxford to study medicine and nearly diverted from it into population studies, doing trauma relief, disaster relief abroad, and got a place to do a PhD in cancer research because, you know, it was very theoretical again. But what I discovered when I started doing the cancer research, was it was very solitary again, and just suddenly something clicked in me. And I thought I've finished my preclinical training, but actually there's a whole world of medicine out there. Do I want to be in a lab for the rest of my life? And that was the turning point. I suddenly realised I want to practice medicine with people. I want to sort of, you know, I've seen families head for disaster, I've got something to offer here. You know, if I could harness my understanding of what's going on, maybe it can make a difference for somebody else. So, it was genuinely that sort of shift of thinking hang on, I'm fed up with being on my own, and so going on to the clinical studies, yes, things started to change progressively, but it was years, you know, it was developing in potential new relationships and so on, but all within the professional setting, of course, you see it provides the structure. You got a conversational level, but also medics at that time, you, you survive the pressure of the job, we're on one in two, and you're on for whole weekends at a time, you survive it by sense of humour. And so that I was well suited to, but it gradually from there as I began to look more closely at emotions and are very interested in the immune system as well, the brain and the immune system communicate with each other. And so, stress, emotional stress affects both your brain and your body chemistry and your immune system. So, diseases get worse when you're emotionally stressed. Now that really caught my interest. And that's where a lot of my work has gone from there, recognising the tie up between emotions and relationships, and the development of illness. So, so it was that level of turning from just plain studies on the way the body and brain worked, to thinking, hang on, this ought to be applied to people out there, that brought about the change.

Chris: And did you apply it to people in here as well, people in your family, yourself even, did you manage to apply that teaching to explain some of your own childhood and teenage experiences?

Trevor: Yeah, over the years, gradually, progressively, things happened with my parents, brother David. I mean, there's a whole world of stories that could be told about that. Actually, I don't, I wouldn't, I don't mind sharing this bit of a sort of personal story. So, my life had been quite messy in lots of different ways, and I came to the point, I realised that I had a prayer life. I was what I called a seeker after truth, because of having had the spiritual experiences. And I came to the point of saying, Oh Lord, just bring me a Christian woman, someone who can keep me on the straight and narrow. And I met another doctor and we went out for a drink, and she had this little chain around the neck and I thought, I wonder if there's a crucifix there? Maybe I can sort of start up a conversation? And she leaned forward and out came a little Indian bangle and I said; Oh God, you've sent me another hippie! [laughs] But she turned out to be exactly the right one. And my salvation has been in the marriage and, you know, it's a Christian marriage, we are held together by God, we're healed and restored all the way through, and it was through that relationship that my life started really, to be honest.


Chris: How did your spiritual journey lead through various paths ultimately to a Christian faith?

Trevor: So, I think I mentioned before that I was exploring in the Eastern Mysticism for a while, but I also very foolishly, started getting into The Doors of Perception. So, I explained about my interest in the brain, the nervous system, so Aldous Huxley taking Mescaline to explore consciousness, and so on. So, I started on my own sort of drug taking as an exploration of consciousness. And of course, what I've forgotten was that the drugs were stronger than me, and it absolutely blew me to bits. It's terrible. I learnt a lot in one sense from it, but I will never recommend that sort of approach to personal development or trying to resolve personal issues. I’m actually very anti psychoactive drugs, the alternative to psychoactive drugs is relationship building. But as I said, my life sort of was in quite a mess through all of that. Now there are other bits I'm afraid there is quite a spiritual backstory to this, and I can't really answer your question without telling you some of it.

So, my mother had come from Belgian where her grandmother was a witch, and there was a lot of family inheritance of spiritual problems through the family. And I was suffering a lot from these dreams and drives that I couldn't explain. So, through meeting my wife, she also had been a Christian, drifted away, when we got together, we decided we start exploring churches together. Suddenly it was at that point, on discovering a relationship and the Bible, that we started getting a real route into rather than just living in this prayer and inspirational life before. Now we then formed a group of other doctors and healthcare people who were exploring our spirituality in our professional setting. And it became clear to them that I had a problem and we ended up having a prayer time for deliverance ministry. Now that is amazing, but I'm probably about the age of 27 now, I should think, and this thing came out of me and sat itself up in the top of the room and my wife and somebody else saw it. And it was connected by this golden thread. And the prayer leader just prayed to cut the thread from it and it disappeared. The whole thing just disappeared. And I was flooded with most incredible sense of peace and beauty, and it was like liquid gold. And I can only say that it was like an equivalent experience to the one that I had when I was contemplating suicide. But that time it had been everything around me that was glowing, and on this occasion, it was from within me. And, and there was something coming out of connecting with the beauty of life. So much changed after that, it was beautiful. It was not, you know, one of these horrible sorts of exorcism type things. And I will say it, I am absolutely convinced that evil cannot remain in the presence of the love of God, utterly convinced of that. So, my life changed enormously after that, lots of very disturbing thoughts and drives and confusions disappeared overnight. I just have to say that I have become, I was going to use the word reborn, but I don't actually like talking like that, because it's a renewal, but it is a renewal of life, and it is because of an active relationship with other people who love God. And that actually can cut across all religions. I'm not exclusive in this approach. This is something, if you have the presence of loving kindness in you, you can meet people from any background across all diversities, all cultures, all religions. If people can connect with that level of personal identity, then life gets transformed. I've experienced it. And that's the sort of level now that I've been learning from about how to help people, who've been traumatised, who've been locked in effectively by their past history and their inability to communicate, how to help them to reach out and connect with others in a sensible, achievable, safe way. That's been the fruit of that time of going through chaos, encountering relationships that are truly supportive, encountering true love, and then discovering a release at a totally different level of life than I ever imagined would be the case. I mean, nobody in my medical training talked about that sort of experience and that sort of healing, but I now have to bring that alongside all the benefits of traditional, clinical medicine and say, and also there is a deeper level of humanity that can be touched by a true relationship of love, but how you make that real for people is yeah, that's the game.

Claire: When you had that experience, did it change how you viewed your family at that point and what you'd been through?

Trevor: I was able to go to my mother and talk to her about her grandmother, who I already knew a bit about, and it broke open a whole history of silence, and we were able to talk at a very much deeper level. And I would say, you know, over the next 15 years or so, there was a very real development of the relationship. I mean, I have to be a little bit honest, she was quite a difficult woman, but we were able to make a whole new level of relationship, you know, despite all of the difficulties. And that's the beauty of it, you know, you don't have to be perfect. Thank goodness. But there is a level of relationality that bridges that, bridges all divides and all hurts, it can be true.

Chris: Now knowing what you do know, if you could go back and speak to the 13-year-old you, or the 17-year-old, or even the 25-year-old you, what, what might be some of the things that you think you'd wished to speak into your life back then?

Trevor: Oh gosh, that's a difficult one. I think I'd just say; 'Hold on, matey!' [laughs]

Claire: How sweet.

Trevor: Yeah, I dunno. I was surrounded by chaos at every level. I don't know that even if I'd found somebody to talk with that one relationship at that time would have helped me to develop differently. There is hope. There is something really beautiful underneath the ugliness of life, underneath the trauma there is healing and that's the great thing that my professional work has led me on to discover. A lot of people now talking about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, it's getting very much generalised from where it started as a war conflict thing. But now increasingly people are recognising how people get traumatised in all sorts of different ways through, through their lives, not only in youth, but through childbirth, all sorts of things, but what's also started to emerge, and a lot of people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder feel like the victims of their circumstances, there's an increasingly growing literature on Post Traumatic Growth and that people through being traumatised can explore areas of life that they can develop, and that I'm really interested in, that is where the future is. Finding how to get people onto what we call a growth cycle when they've been traumatised, when they've experienced loss, and this is the great thing that I've discovered through the whole thing. So, so now rather than me going back and talking to the 13-year-old me, I'm simply able to accept where I was, accept all of that, I don't think anything could have changed my Schizophrenic brother from, from where he was, but life can be renewed. There is renewal of life and it comes through relationship. Just a willingness to be that little bit open. And therefore, what we need to do is to help people to be willing to be available to others who need that opportunity to grow. It's a good place to arrive, after a bit of a journey.

Claire: Just something I'm curious to ask people who have been through lots of different traumas and losses, did the question Why? ever come up in your mind, as to why you to have had that kind of childhood and upbringing, to have gone through all you've been through?

Trevor: It was one of the curious things about the religious experiences I was having, because you know, there were a number, and one of the things I was understanding through that, was it that there is a purpose, but I couldn't see what the purpose was. The only sort of inkling of understanding that I had through that, it was that it was, it's going to sound silly, but it was something to do with groups. Right? There was something to do with groups. That's all I had, but it was enough to give me a sense that all of this trouble, that I'm going to come through it. So, I didn't, in one sense, I had an answer to why, it was just something I had to go through.

Actually, I think I might share at this point what happened? Cause I did actually make a prayer of commitment, you know, after I'd been going through a lot. And I said; 'Look, okay, God, the only way I'm going to know if you're there, and I'm a scientist, right? Okay? I'm gonna do an experiment. I'm going to live for a year as if you're true, right? I'm going to see what difference it makes.' And within four or five days, my life was so different, it was just incredible what changed. But something, I don't know what it was, I just couldn't sustain it, and I slipped back into old ways of doing things and life got really quite troubled again. And then I, and then I suddenly realised, Hey, it's got bad again. So, I started up the prayer life and reading, and it got better again. Now as far as I'm concerned, that's how you diagnose a food allergy. Right. And so, in my life, I think my experiment there led me to diagnose there is a living God who communicates, that you can have a relationship with. And that was enough for me, and it led through a very complicated path to, to find Marion basically and build on from there. But yeah, they were little bits along the way that just gave sufficient hope to me. And if I could share any hope like that with others, I'd really like to do that, you know, that it doesn't have to be through formal religion, but it does have to be a very deep heart level commitment to knowing that the source of life is a loving source of life.

Chris: I think, Trevor, the year that we're in now, and the time that we're in, the age we're in, those in the younger generations are a lot more open to asking for help or exploring emotions, there's a lot more focus now on mental health and it's, it's quite okay to say, I'm not okay. Certainly, maybe some of us have experiences with parents who are older, who still sort of may regard support as mumbo-jumbo, or psychoanalysis, or whatever it may be. So, do you have any tips or any ways that we can try and encourage those that don't believe there's any good comes out to sharing this stuff? How we can encourage them to open up?

Trevor: Wow. That's a very interesting angle to take on it. So, the idea of bearing your soul to a counsellor or to a psychotherapist or to another therapist is something that just doesn't go down with the second world war generation. You had the Salvation Army, you had support from people in that way to get through grieving, people just sort of toughened up, or they didn't, sadly, they didn't. Now I'm fully in favour of the range of therapies that are available, the medication, I have no problem with that sort of approach to healing, but it is all reactive. It's all reactive. Once someone's got a problem, and I think this is where the older generation have problems with it, that you've got to present a problem for the therapist to work on it. Now I wanted to go down a totally different direction because of what I've seen going on in my family, about understanding emotions and capturing the emotional messages at an early stage before they explode or before they build up into mental illness or disruption of relationships. And so, the, the work that I've been doing on what we call Emotional Logic is preventive. It teaches people how that unpleasant emotions, they're unpleasant loss emotions, are there for good reasons, for useful purposes, and therefore they can stop criticising themselves and telling themselves off for having unpleasant emotions. They don't have to hide them, get rid of them, button them up, push them away. They can actually harness the information in them, because it points to their values. What's important to me. And so, we end up being able to equip people to have conversations about their values, not about their problems. Now that we found worked. So, in one church down here, there's a lovely lady who learned Emotional Logic, who ran an old people's club, and she learned Emotional Logic, and then she taught it to these people they're in their seventies and eighties. And it had an amazing impact. These people started talking about their wartime experiences saying things they'd never said to anybody before, sharing with each other, the horrors, but also the difficult decisions they'd had to take. And, and it led to tremendous coherence, and a resurgence of energy in that group. So they weren't, doddery old people. They said, what on earth are we going to do with this energy? So, they formed themselves into a choir and they came and stood at the front of the church and they'd sing to the church. And that's what I mean about the renewal of life. It's never too late. So, I think that's the issue, is that people of that generation, say you've just got to toughen up and get on with it, but if they can talk about values, if they've got a structure, so it prevents the accumulation of unpleasant situations, maybe they'd listen more to that.

Claire: Just tell us when you started Emotional Logic, and just in a nutshell, how you would describe it to somebody if you were trying to tell someone about it for the first time.

Trevor: So, it started when I was in general practice with an interest in mental health, the mental health services in our area went through a rather difficult time and became completely behaviourist in their approach, and so people weren't able to actually talk about their issues. So, I did a strange thing for a GP, I started talking to my patients and discovered that there was a sort of a common theme, underneath the distress that they are presenting as depression and anxiety states, of loss. And I'm not the first person to identify that. But what I did is I started getting people to name the losses and map them on a loss reaction worksheet and try and attach their emotions to it. And it was incredible the number of, what we call hidden, losses that appeared. So, I developed this idea that inside a situation people would say, well, tell me how you feel? Well, you know, when you map it out, there's, there's 30 different emotions going on over 20 different hidden losses that have accumulated. And so, the idea of the accumulation of small, multiple losses building up a chaotic, turbulent, emotional state, out of which people knee-jerk react from that whole state of tension or distress or confusion. And that knee-jerk reaction gets misinterpreted, it gets labelled by some, as an illness called depression, called anxiety and so on, but underneath it is healthy grieving. And so, I started teaching the British Hospice movement's model of Seven step Adjustment to Bereavement, and it had an amazing impact to open up people's lives and help them to respect themselves. And as self-respect grew, saying I'm not ill, I'm not mad, I'm not a bad character, I'm grieving. I like, yeah, this is the grieving you, join the human race. You only grieve if you loved, that makes you more of a human being, not less. So, people started to relax with themselves and then they realised that hang on, if my funny behaviour is due to grieving, then maybe that person's funny behaviour is due to them grieving. So, empathy increases and the capacity to make decisions and to build relationships around talking about our unpleasant emotions, as evidence of our values and the worry about loss of things that are important to us. So, you're not talking about mental illness diagnosis, you're not saying we've got an early diagnosis of depression here, no, I run a mile from that, no, we're mapping people's grieving, unrecognised grieving. Teaching that this is part of your humanity, is there for good reason, to help you to adjust, to help you to be more adaptable, and to move you onto a growth cycle. So, people can come through difficult times stronger. Most people know of people who are able to say that - it was a terrible time, I wouldn't wish that on anybody, but you know, I've come through stronger. And, and that's what we're aiming for, is to try and build that capacity into people, to support each other as they're going through that.

Chris: Just with The Silent Why podcast in mind that we're really keen to try and show just the wide range of losses. In your experience are you able just to give any examples that, that tap into that and examples that show, you know, it could be a job it could be a loved one, an identity, or a physical ability. Have you had any examples that just show how wide hidden losses can vary?

Trevor: Yeah, these loss reaction worksheets, if we're talking with somebody who suffered an abuse, history, you know, sexual or violent abuse, it's not just a dozen hidden losses, it's three A4 sheets of hidden losses come out. And we then map emotions onto the most incredibly complex patterns of emotion. But what I'd say in response to what you're saying is, people will present a problem, they'll say, you know, my marriage is in a mess and so on, but actually what you discover, we have what we call patchworks of relationships, networks of relationships. So, you've got a patchwork of relationships around your marriage and about your home, you've got another patchwork at work, you got another patch in the neighbourhood, or with a golf club, or whatever it is, and tensions arise in those that impact into other settings. So, people are often bringing work problems home, or home problems to work, and the solutions to the tension that they're presenting as the original problem can often come by looking at what they think is a totally different area of life, but it's about discovering your effectiveness. So, we're doing a lot of work in South Africa at the moment, and you can imagine a traumatised country like that, but people can find small areas to work on with their neighbours, with communities, that sort out terrible problems that they got at work or, or relationship problems at home. Every aspect of life that could be important to you as a person, whether it's getting on your motorbike and going for a drive, going for a walk, cooking, dieting, whether it's your neighbour, cat, your employer, all of that, get represented on the loss reaction worksheet, and it's that accumulation of multiple things that is the problem. So, we get people to focus on just one, in order to find an action plan through the whole thing. But we are doing a lot of work in schools as well. And just one testimony to give you, there's a school in South Devon, primary school, who introduced this generally to the whole school community. And they have given us a written testimony, given us permission to share it, saying that there was a very rapid, profound change in behaviour, concentration and studies, and wellbeing of the school generally, on introducing Emotional Logic language into the whole school community.

And, and it's this idea that there are others who understand that mean at any level of life, wherever your loss is, you know, whether it's because another tribe of the school has committed suicide or whether it's because someone's had their bike stolen, that the emotions are the same, the intensity is different. But if, if you've got the common language of understanding that these unpleasant emotions are there for good reasons, to help to build relationships, to talk about our values and support each other and cooperate, it helps to work at every level where there are losses.

Claire: If people wanted to find out more about how to do that personally, or for their school, or business, is that best to visit your website? Where would you start with that sort of process?

Trevor: Absolutely, it's gotta be the Emotional Logic Center, if you just type in 'emotional logic', you get one or two sort of slightly kooky things, but the Emotional Logic Centre will take you straight there. But my wife and I, she's a GP, we've written a book of case stories and it's very, very accessible explaining how Emotional Logic works through stories. And I've talked about some community settings where this has made a difference, and she's talked about a lot of medical conditions. So, it's called 'Emotional Logic, Harnessing Your Emotions into Inner Strength' and that's available from the website or other sources.

Claire: Fantastic. I think I saw that on Amazon and Waterstones.

Trevor: Waterstones! Really?

Claire: Yeah, I saw it on the Waterstones website.

Trevor: I didn't realise it was there.

Chris: Final thought, then to come back to your own personal story and experience, is there something that you've, you've fed into that you're able to share something healthy from your experience? In other words, what's your Herman?

Trevor: Yes, what's the Herman? What are we going to share with others? And I think it is the point that this loss reaction grief, as you're encountering the risk of losing something important to you, moves from shock, where you doubt your resources to handle it, in built into you is a growth cycle, and how you get to that growth cycle is the story that you've got to tell, is the path you've got to walk, but to know that people can come through stronger because the grief process is there to build a resource, to explore renewal of life. Life has potentially ever renewed, and that growth cycle is part of it, so to know that there is a path is what I'd like to share with you.

Claire: So much ground covered there and a valuable insight into the loss process from the perspective of not only a GP and a scientist, but also a man of faith.

Chris: We're really grateful for Trevor's time and sharing so much knowledge and wisdom on the topic of loss.

Claire: To find out more about Emotional Logic or Trevor, visit the links in our show notes.

Chris: Or visit www.emotionallogiccentre.org.uk where you'll find details of his latest book, 'Emotional Logic; Harnessing Your Emotions into Inner Strength'.

Claire: Thank you for listening to The Silent Why, find out more about us at www.thesilentwhy.com and don't forget, I also release a weekly My Way short on Fridays.

Chris: And if you'd like to help our podcast reach more people. Please leave us a star rating or review on Apple Podcasts.

Claire: We're going to finish with the words of Earl Grollman, an internationally recognised bereavement counsellor.

"Grief is not a disorder, a disease, or a sign of weakness. It is an emotional, physical, and spiritual necessity, the price you pay for love, the only cure for grief is to grieve."