Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Who are you...a person or an illness?

Tomorrow I am going to a 10th birthday luncheon. It for the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society. The Chief Executive and founder is Ailsa Bosworth.

I was at school with Ailsa in London, until she left at 16. We didn't really have that much in common and led very different post school lives. There was no particular reason for our paths to cross again.  Life can be quirky though and twenty three years later, we were surprised to find ourselves as neighbours, in a small Buckinghamshire village.

By this time, Ailsa had a partner, Brian, a lovely young daughter, Anna, and was holding down a demanding job. She also had something else. Rheumatoid Arthritis. A disease probably inherited from her father, which started to show itself in her mid 20s.

Over the last twenty five years, I have watched in admiration, as Ailsa has experienced life to the full, including family tragedy and economic challenges. Always in pain. Always waiting for another operation. Very rarely complaining.

One of the aspects of RA which annoyed Ailsa, was that there was only one large charity for people with RA. But it was an organisation that included all types of arthritis, so tended to focus on the more elderly members of the population. "I don't want to look at a magazine full of stair lifts and commodes," I remember her saying. "Where's something for people like me? People who are younger, work, run a home and socialise?"

Ailsa was also experiencing the postcode lottery with her medication. Fortunately, she had supportive doctors and together over the years, they fought to get her the best medication they could. But what a fight it was. Ailsa is rarely thwarted. Due to the prescribing injustices she experienced, she began to lobby and fight the system. Not only for herself, but for all the others with RA, across the social and age spectrum.

Eventually, ten years ago, the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society charity was created. It is a growing and successful charity, helping thousands of people with RA and their families, all over the world.

As Chief Executive of NRAS, Ailsa travels, speaks and lobbies. She runs a home, socialises, enjoys holidays abroad and also works for Brian's video conferencing company. Ailsa is someone in whose company you can have a good time. She also has Rheumatoid Arthritis and there's always another operation just around the corner.

Another neighbour, who moved away, before Ailsa moved into the road, also sadly developed RA in her mid 20s.  Physically similar to Ailsa in many ways. But very different emotionally and how she has dealt with it.  Her attitude was the opposite to Ailsa's. She became RA. RA controlled her life, she did not control RA. Despite no financial problems, a beautiful home and a supportive family, she has not had a happy life. She blames RA.

My hairdresser has had Crohn's disease for decades.  She works full-time, rides a motorbike, has a great family and lively social life, in between visiting hospital for various procedures. A relative also has had Crohn's disease for decades. A talented and creative relative. She became Crohns disease. Crohns controls her life. She does not control Crohns. Her life has not been a happy one. She blames Crohns.

I am sure that we all know people who are their illness and perhaps have a struggle with life. We also know people who have a similar problem, but get on with their life. Which people enjoy a more fulfilling life? Given a choice, which people are we more drawn to spend time with?

Sometimes I inwardly wince, when I'm introduced to people who define themselves by their problem. I am...depressive/perfectionist/obsessive/victim/born worrier/sufferer/ pensioner/alcoholic/disabled...

I have been in a fortunate position to be able to help some people to see how they are so much more than their problem. It was a crucial part of our psychotherapy training - to separate the person from the problem. To help someone observe themselves as the individual they are, made up of many parts. Plus having a problem...or two...

This approach can also help people who have defined themselves by a label they were once given and still hangs like a yoke around their neck. "I am...a failure/no good/hopeless/useless/unlovable..." This can negatively include their star sign or the day of the week they were born.  A friend in her fifties once told me that she was anxious, because her sisters had told her that she was born full of woe on a Wednesday. Oh dear.

The person defining themselves by their problem or label, can be helped to remember who they really are: their name, a family member, a friend, a colleague, a member, a skill, a hobby and so on. They also have a problem or several problems.  Seeing the problem as part and not the whole, can make all the difference in the world. The problem can be managed in some way by the person. The problem stops controlling them. It gives them back control. We have a need to feel in control. (Control freaks are another matter.)

I am not denying that, at times, that a problem can seem overwhelming and totally intrusive. I, too, have spent hours curled up in a ball under the duvet, crying my eyes out. But, as one of my clients once said, " I realised I wasn't going to solve anything under the duvet." 

It is important that we don't see ourselves defined by the problem. It helps if we make the choice not to be treated as if we are our problem or encourage the problem to define all our activities. eg: some types of support groups* can be life saving short-term, but perhaps not for longer term. They may help prolong the agony.

*1. Where the reason for joining, is on a past event, which can keep it in the present. "If you pick it, it won't get better." 2. A person's recovery may lead to a feeling of alienation in the group.  

Ailsa talks to people about RA. It helps her in publicising NRAS to have RA. But she is so much more than RA. 

Happy Birthday NRAS. Keep on rockin' Ailsa.


Saturday, 25 June 2011

Keep taking the medicine...or perhaps not.

One of the things I like about writing this blog is that I don't know what I'm going to write about next. On Thursday, no particular subject had presented itself, then one conversation and two news stories later and I have my subject matter.

Before anyone thinks that it is going to be an anti medication rant, I will state now that I'm probably only still alive due to antibiotics. I also appreciate a cocktail of paracetamol and ibubrofen when my back goes into a spasm.

On the other hand, I could have killed myself in a car accident thirty years ago, when 'high' from some dodgy slimming pills I'd been prescribed. If I took everything that has been suggested by doctors, I would now be rattling on a daily basis and more unwell that I ever was in the first place. I could even be dead.

In conversation on Thursday, someone told me that two people in their workplace were unwell due to not taking their anti-depressants. Two people just 'gave up' taking their medication, have gone cold turkey and are now experiencing the unpleasant consequences.

From my experience, the majority of people take medication prescribed by their GPs and do not question what they are taking. "The doctors know what they are doing." "The doctor wouldn't give me anything that is harmful." "The doctor knows me, I trust him." "I'm not interested in what I'm taking."

I quote a GP. "We guesstimate"

Only last week someone said to me, "I need stronger painkillers. I shall go to the GP in the practice, who will give me anything I ask for." That is how I was prescribed the slimming pills with almost fatal consequenses.

In workshops, if the subject comes up, I suggest the following scenario:

1. Go to the GP, stating that you feel a bit 'down' or anxious.
2. Prescribed anti-depressants, although in the UK, the guidelines say that 'talking therapies' should be prescribed first.
3. After a time, feel better and decide to come off the medication, without doing it very slowly.
4. Experience symptoms than are like original ones, though they may even be worse.
5. Go back to the GP.
6. Prescribed a stronger dose or an additional medication.

There's always someone who can identify with that cycle.  The newer anti-depressants became popular because they were promoted as being non-addictive, unlike the previous generation of drugs. The manufacturers admit that their drugs have withdrawal symptoms, which are sometimes so unpleasant that the person stays on the drugs, rather than attempt to give them up. Apparently, this is not addiction according to Big Pharma. That's okay then.

It is very, very dangerous to go cold turkey on most types of anti depressants.  Someone I knew, sadly took his own life earlier this year. He was taking anti-depressants, but was experiencing sensations like electric shocks, trembling and was very depressed. It turned out that he was taking his medication randomly. It meant that he was going in and out of withdrawal. On top of his emotional problems, he thought he was going mad. No wonder he felt bad enough to hang himself. Probably an avoidable death. It's a scandal, but will the coroner say anything?

Talking to a paramedic I remarked that many people say, "I'm depressed, I'm on anti depressants." They fail to see the inconsistancy in that statement. The paramedic told me that every suicide or attempted suicide he had attended to, the person was taking anti-depressants. It's a scandal, but one that is unlikely to change. 

I recently heard a mother say, that she wouldn't check any labels on the back of food products because "shops wouldn't sell anything that was harmful to kids." I am presuming that she would also believe that GPs would only prescribe medication that was good for her and her family.

I experienced reflux and went to the pharmacy. The pharmacist told me to avoid mint. I looked at him quizzically and said, " But most anti-acids have mint in them." He raised his eyebows. "Ah, it could create a dependancy," I said.  He agreed.  He recommended a herbal tincture, which was most successful.

A couple of years ago I read that some cough medicine can also create dependancy and prolong the cough. Wow, that made so much sense to me, a person who generally has a nasty cough once a year. No more cough medicine for me. Paracetamol, fresh hot honey and lemon and a piece of quality dark chocolate helps just as well.

When did I first start to question doctors? About 30 year ago. I was experiencing gynaecological problems. I had an operation and the consultant said the problem would be solved.  It wasn't. In his consulting room he said to me, " if you don't pull your socks up young lady, you will lose your husband." Yes, absolutely true and with a nurse present too.

Fortunately I happened upon a book in the library that came up with the answer. I was experiencing pretty severe PMT. The book suggested Vitamin B6 and Evening Primrose Oil. I went to the health food shop. The GP told me I was "flakey," Six year later he was offering it to me on prescription and the hospital was recommending Evening Primrose Oil.

Roll on twenty years and I was peri-menopausal.  I was still naive in the ways of Big Pharma and knew nothing about trance states, when in the thrall of a good speaker.  I attended a luncheon for women interested in the menopause. A well known TV personality and doctor was promoting a book and HRT. She was evangelical and very good. Every woman over 50 should be on HRT forever. Sounded great to me. Then I slept on it.

In the morning I looked at the bigger picture. If every woman over 50 took HRT forever, who was the winner? Big Pharma. I googled the woman doctor.  Well, well, she sat on the board of a pharmacutical company.  On further investigation, the pharmacutical company had sponsored the excellent luncheon. I'm not taken for a mug any more.

"You are being negligent to your health and you're not to rubbish HRT", said my GP. I had told him that I was making an informed decision and not taking HRT.  Five years later he said, " I wouldn't advise HRT for you." "But, you told me I was being negligent", I spluttered. He lent across the desk, put his hand on my arm, and said, "things change my dear."

How did I deal with the menopause successfully? Through trial and error down the nutrition route.

You can imagine how interested I was to read this following story on low calorie diets and Diabetes 2 this week.

But too many people do not want to change their lifestyle, however ill they are. They want to carry on doing what they are doing, eating what they want and just take a pill. The shelves in any chemist stuffed with treatments for indigestion and hemmorrhoids are witness to that. 

As I said at the beginning, if I took everything I had been advised to take,  I would be rattling. There are no scientific studies on the consequences of taking a cocktail of over two drugs. In the past, I have had to question the medication both my parents were taking. This next story on the elderly and medication came as no surprise this week:

It's all a scandal, but nothing will be done, except Big Pharma will create another drug that they suggest will save the masses. But it will be at a high price for some people. They will also create drugs that do save people and I do not criticise them for that. I may be that person.

We need to take personal responsibility for everything we ingest and look after those more vulnerable in our families.

" 50 people die every year from being hit by falling coconuts.  Not to worry, drug makers are develping a vaccine."  ~ Jim Carrey


Wednesday, 22 June 2011

"I can't do it" - frightened of failure.

What is the connection between these three things?

1. Rory McIlroy from Northern Ireland winning his first major golf tournament at the age of 22.

2. A group of middle aged people not comfortable with technology.

3. My granddaughter, aged fifteen months, trying to walk.

The connection is learning to fail. Learning to try again. Learning that success only comes through failure.

1. Rory McIlroy's story will become the stuff of legend. A young man, who under two years of age, loved his plastic golf clubs. Encouraged...and that word is his parents, he played and practised for days, weeks, months and years. Two months ago he was leading the pack at the US Masters Tournament. There was every indication that he would win on the last day. Except that he didn't. The voice of doubt entered his consciousness and he lost the lead in a dramatic, if not humiliating fashion. He failed in front of millions of people all over the world.

Two months later, he found himself in a similar position in the US Open Championship. Leading the pack from day one and expected to win on the last day. This time the spectators and pundits had doubts. Did he fail again? No he didn't. It was a magnificent win.

To pick yourself up from a humiliating disaster and face the public again takes a high degree of emotional maturity. Rory doesn't throw tantrums on the course.

Another young man of 22, had an job interview at a place he desperately wanted to work. It went very badly and he didn't get the job. Six weeks later, he tried again. He got the job...and is still there, promoted many times, eighteen years later.

2. Last week I was with a group of middle aged to elderly people, all belonging to a voluntary organisation. People in the professions, people who are extremely competent, people able to think independently and get things done. Some of these people don't have to use computers in their daily lives.  They feel that social networking is too intrusive. They quietly grumble about the necessity for learning new stuff at their age. 

There is a divide beginning to show in voluntary organisations. There are people who are up to date with modern technology and want to carry on learning until the day they die. Then there are those people who are not. Whether people like it or not, for communication and marketing purposes, it is vital.

My favourite quote on embracing new technology comes from the Postmaster General in 1902: "The telephone is a wonderful invention. Every town should have one."

It's not that the non users can't learn, it's that many are not inclined to try. They are frightened of failing and feeling stupid. Just like they did a long time ago. The language doesn't help. When I was first introduced to computers twenty years ago, all I heard about them, was 'crashing' and stuff 'getting lost'. Not helpful for confidence building.

3. On my last visit to see my granddaughter and her big brother, it was a delight to see her walking...or rather falling over a great deal. Toddle, toddle, fall, get up again, toddle, toddle, fall, get up again. To be repeated hundreds of times in a day. We've nearly all done it. She's also learning to feed herself. The spoon goes into her mouth with food...sometimes. We've nearly all done that too.

We spend the first few months and years in our lives trying over and over again and never giving up if we fail. Then we stop trying. Why?  Much of the time it's because we are frightened of failing. Failing means that we're stupid. 

When does that mental switch happen? Why does it happen?

During the early 1980s I ran an unusual toddler group. It was only for two years olds and without their parents. The children came for ninety minutes and they and their parents loved it. I had two helpers and around twenty toddlers.  It is probably many people's idea of a nightmare, but it worked and worked well. The Social Services with their 1980s liberal ways, wanted to shut it down, but couldn't. The reasons why it worked will feature when I write about boundary setting.  I was immersed in two year old behaviour, which is why I became intrigued when I saw evidence of similar behaviour in adults with emotional health problems.

I have a great affection for two year olds. Their minds are like blotting paper and they practice motor, language and social skills every day.  There is usually masses of encouragement around, as they learn about eating, dressing, drawing, playing with toys, chatting, using a potty, drinking from a tumbler and so on. Every learnt skill means hundreds of failed attempts.

But the child may start to receive different messages. A failed attempt draws criticism, sometimes anger, sometimes withdrawal of attention and love. They can start to believe that failure is a bad thing. They receive the message that they are stupid.

The child goes to school. There are lessons. Some they like and are good at, some they don't like and find the concepts difficult. Natural talents begin to show, but not all are those that are fully understood in the classroom. The child learns to feel stupid. They are told they are stupid. They are punished because they are stupid. Inside they may well start to feel angry and confused, because they know that they are not as stupid as the evidence seems to suggest. 

With some children, the incidents can be traumatising, even ones that an adult would dismiss as being insignificant. The effects can last a lifetime. A life changing choice I made at 17, was solely based on experiences I had at 2 and 3 years of age.  

There is also a risk that a child who grows up believing that they aren't any good, can attract people who are bullies. Whether at work, socially or domestically.  Some children can develop perfectionist tendencies, which become self-limiting. Others can spend a lifetime chasing after the missing feelings of achievement from their childhood.

It doesn't have to be like that. They can learn to change their reactions from childish ones from the past, to adult ones in the present. The 22 year old man mentioned earlier, experienced a plenty of negative feedback through his schooldays, but it was the man who went for that second interview, not the boy.

"Emotional arousal makes you stupid." Words heard at my first seminar, when re-training as a psychotherapist. At 48 years old, I did not want to hear that I could be thought stupid. I felt quite cross. Then it was explained.  It changed my life.

Simply put, the brain has a logical part and an emotional part. The higher the emotion felt, the less ability to think logically. Great when absorbed watching a movie, listening to music or reading a book. Who needs to think logically then? Not so useful when late at the railway station or airport, angry and trying to make sense of the departure board. The information might as well be written in Chinese for the sense it makes. How many of us have made illogical decisions, when emotionally aroused and 'in love' or just 'in lust'? 

In fact, stations and airports make very good places to observe people under stress and their resulting behaviour.

I watched a middle-aged couple approach check-in in an airport. They were guided to the self-service machine. They looked at it, slightly bewildered. I could see that the woman was willing to work through the directions patiently, but not the man. He moved the woman aside and the stress levels became visible. He punched away randomly at various buttons. He then swore at the machine and finally kicked it. The woman looked around, she was embarrassed.

I believe that what the man was feeling is not disimilar to those people who feel unable to get to grips with computers. They feel very uncomfortable with failing to grasp something the first time they have to do it. That feeling will be attached to a memory or memories that go back to original learning experiences. They become frightened of failing and of feeling stupid. Of being yelled at, ridiculed and humiliated. So they don't try. It's such a shame, because not 'getting it' the first few times of doing something new is perfectly normal.

In the first workshop I gave in Australia I asked for questions at the end. A man in his fifties put his hand up. "You've just made sense of my life," he said. With some surprise, I asked how? He told the audience that when he was at primary school, there was one teacher who used to stand behind him and say, "Collins, you are slow, but sure. Slow to learn and sure to fail." The man told the audience that every time he had looked for a job that he thought he'd like to apply for, he would just hear the teacher's words and not bother. He went on to say, that he was going to change and not listen to that teacher anymore. I hope he did.

There are too many talented adults, stuck in their lives, because they allow their own inner voice of self belief to be drowned out by an old voice, belonging to someone else. A voice well well past its sell by date, telling them that they are stupid and a failure.

Yet, what can give us a huge, natural, punching the air, 'high'?  What about a sense of achievement that comes when we've tackled something difficult and succeeded? An easy task doesn't provide the same thrill at all.

A useful reminder of failure leading to competence is the mobile phone or a computer. We get a new phone/computer.  Our brains are 'hard wired' to the old machine. The new phone/computer feels awkward. The keys may be in a different place.  The menu choices are different. We want to use it, but can become extremely frustrated learning the new way. There may be a strong tendancy to want to throw the whole damn, stupid thing away in its box.  But we persevere and within a very short space of time, the new phone/computer is 'hard wired' in our brain. It doesn't take long for repeated movements to embed themselves and become habit.

Anyone who has hired a car knows the fundamentals well enough to drive it, but how many us put the wipers on instead of indicating? We may repeat that action a few times before our hands automatically make the correct choice. Repetitive action will secure the neurological connections. That includes negative actions too.

My inability to programme the dvd recorder frustrates my husband. But I hardly ever have to do it. So he shows me, I do it and then don't need to do it for weeks, by which time my brain has forgotten what to do. I'm not stupid, it's just that the actions weren't repeated over and over. Anyway, thank goodness for Iplayer. I don't need to bother with the recorder anymore.

Rory McIlroy has practiced for years and will go on practicing. He will have successes and failures. He will learn from the failures and succeed again.

Some people in voluntary organisations will leave rather than learn.

My granddaughter will carry on failing, as she achieves small and large successes through life.

Just like her grandmother.


Sunday, 19 June 2011

"Not my fault". The addict's excuse.

I would remind readers that the following is a personal view, based on practice and personal based evidence.

"I'm a functioning alcoholic", the person said. Except that it was all too obvious to all the other people in the room, that that they were anything but functioning.

How deluded can addiction make a person?

Addiction deludes, lies, deceives, makes false promises. Addiction lives in the past. Addiction is the addict's very best friend in the whole world and will never let them down. Not like real life friends do. Not like family does.

No, addiction will never let the addict down, but it will mean that the addict will let other people down - continually.

Not really the addict's fault though is it? There's always a good reason. There's always something or someone else to blame. "Not my fault guv! It my dad's fault, my mum, a teacher, the illness, my partner, my boss, the injury, the job, the loss..."The list is endless.

Or..."didn't you know I've got a disease?" Ah yes, a disease. Well, if the addict didn't start off with a disease, they certainly could end up with one.

An addict is in a trance state of high emotion. They are myopic. They can see nothing else and hear nothing else, other than their very best friend whispering in their ear, "It's okay, everything will be okay. As long as you keep me as your very best friend and don't do anything those other friends say."

Someone was about to have another glass of wine. They have a long term alcohol problem. As they lifted the glass, I asked what they were hoping to find at the bottom of it. "My mother's love." "Well you're not going to find it then are you? Not now, not in future." It wasn't the first time I had heard those particular words from someone with an alcohol problem either.

I believe that every addict is looking for a feeling that they either once experienced or a feeling that they wanted to experience, but didn't. I call it Chasing Rainbows behaviour.

I wrote a poem about it five years ago.

                                                    Chasing Rainbows

                                               Let us picture a rainbow.
It could be a memory of a real experience or a figment of the imagination. 
We become lost in wonder at the rainbow’s form and the spectrum of rich colours in a changing sky. 
We are momentarily entranced and we marvel at the rainbow’s natural beauty and its transient nature.
Our eyes wander to where the end of it disappears... 
The image fades. 
That was a moment of innocent wonder and curiosity. For a few precious seconds the intrusion of our everyday activities was excluded.
No harm was done.  In fact we may even feel uplifted.
Now, let us imagine another rainbow... 
Again,  we become entranced by it, but this time we concentrate on where the rainbow ends.
We remember the stories and myths we heard as children.  Is there really a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow?
A pot of gold that would provide a resolution to all our problems?
We want it and we want it now!  
Leaving common sense and reason behind, we chase the end of the rainbow.  Again and again.
We keep trying, but the end is just out of reach and always unobtainable.
We feel disappointed, frustrated and weary.  Will we ever reach it?
The pot of gold of resolution is the delusion in the illusion.  But we continue to reach for and chase the end of the rainbow,
In fact the more we try, the more we can become deluded.
We can become emotionally and physically unwell.


Thursday, 16 June 2011

"It's not fair." - a child's lament.

A mature woman stood in front of the TV camera. She held an important position in teaching. She was giving her opinion about the reasons behind a possible future teacher's strike in the UK. The particular grievance mentioned, was about pensions. The immortal words fell from her lips, "It's not fair." I groaned.
The teachers may well have a case. I don't know the exact details, so I can't comment on the points she raised. What I can comment on, are the words she used. "It's not fair." I couldn't see whether she was stamping her foot at the same time.
"It's not fair" is a cry that can be regularly heard coming from children's mouths, whether in a shout or a whine. I should imagine that we've all said it at some point in our lives.  We discover in time, that indeed, as the grown-up response goes, "Life isn't fair."  But we learn to deal with the unfairness, managing it in more mature ways than stamping feet, slamming doors, throwing things hitting people or misusing various substances.
We can choose to accept or challenge the unfairness in a more mature way. Using the passion that lies behind a sense of unfairness and injustice can be a wonderful motivator of self and people. I honestly believe that the majority of people with political ambitions do start with honourable intentions. " Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." Lord Acton.
As long as the passion is not used by putting energy into the act of revenge.  I would not have re-trained as a therapist, if I had not been motivated by what I saw as great injustices in the care of people with mental health problems or with dubious diagnostic labels. 
"The world is a dangerous place, not because of those that do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing." Albert Einstein
We can think about why we find something unfair and perhaps understand where the root of our discontent really lies. "It's not fair" belongs to a child. Name the emotion and find the child attached to it and you could experience a personal insight. It may be helpful in the future.
An older woman felt that her husband having an affair wasn't fair.  It probably wasn't, but the language she used to describe her situation was not one of an adult. The root of her feelings of unfairness lay with being the second daughter in the family and having to put up with her older sister's 'hand me downs', including having the smaller bedroom. Those feelings had lasted decades. Now she felt like one of her husband's cast-offs.
While I can bristle at the injustices in the world, I very rarely feel "It's not fair" these days. But on the last  couple of occasions, when those words were on the tip of my tongue, a quick bit of self analysis, showed me that the feelings belonged to an under 10 year old, who was attempting to hijack me. I cringe at the memory a door slamming episode in a workplace, though it was 25 years ago.  On closer self examination I was frustrated with a situation, but resorted to a childish action to get attention. There were more mature ways to manage the situation.  
I was more controlled when faced with a man attempting to bully me in front of a colleague. His reputation was well known and as the interview progressed, the 8 year old was screaming inside my head to resort to shouting "It's not fair"... and believe me, it really wasn't fair at all. I was being 'stitched up'. With tremendous effort, I stayed in control. Okay, so I burst into tears afterwards, when left on my own, but he did not win. The next day he said, "we were very impressed how you held it together." I bet he was, the nasty individual. As a therapist working in his department, I was picking up the pieces of people who were unable to hold it together.
Though of course, as a bully, he had unmet needs too. NB: Note to self. Try to understand his obnoxious behaviour.
Most people are aware of body language and the fact that we can pick up unspoken messages from other people we are with. If we have rapport, we can often 'mirror' movements too. Following through with that observation, it makes sense that an adult may unconsiously find themselves 'identifying' with their work/client group.
If the work/client group is made up of young people, I have observed that the adult can 'mirror' their behaviour, perhaps to the detriment of themselves.  Some of the many teachers that I have met through life,  do not always demonstrate emotional maturity. The petty petulance of the "It's not fair" or "They've got more than me" variety can often be on show and tedious to tolerate. 
As a result,  their personal problem solving isn't always as good as their skills with their students. My husband found tantrums thrown by grown men in university meetings impossible to understand.  I have heard that the behaviour observed in some staff rooms is bordering on infantile on occasion. IQ is no indicator of EQ.
I attended a seminar on how to deal with angry people.  A policeman (out of uniform) was speaking. A man and a woman in their 40s were sitting together. They whispered, they passed messages to each other, they giggled and slouched in their chairs. They showed a complete lack of respect to the speaker.  I later learnt that they ran a unit for teenagers with problems. It didn't surprise me.
Returning to pensions. The state of pensions in the UK appears to be complicated, in a state of change and causing millions of people justifiable concern. I certainly can understand that a woman in her 50s, who thought she was going to retire at 60 and now finding that she won't be eligible until possibly 68, is in for a bit of a shock. But then, they will be able to claim for years spent child rearing and I was not.
But haven't women got what they asked for? Equality. It's no good fighting for complete equality with men when you're in your 20s and 30s and then complain when it doesn't suit, in the 50s and 60s. Especially in the manner of a 8 year old.