Former patients write about their experiences with Lifetrack therapy



Anxiety, Panic Attack Linda@Fran
Irritabilty, Anger Jane Beth@Ann @
Psychosomatic Physical symptoms Beth@Ann Sophie
Depression Jane Terry@Ben@Rick@Beth@Ann Tim Ken
Borderline Personality Disorder Jane Linda@Rick@Beth@Cathy@Ann
Accompanied the Suffering Partner Tim Linda@Frank@Norman@Ray Mary
Marital (Couple) Discord Linda@Rick@Beth@Frank@Ann@Norman Mary Jane Tim

On the brink of divorce.

1. Linda

2. Rick

Married to the wrong person?

3. Frank

4. Beth

Depression resisted seven months of treatment on six medications.

5. Terry

The side effect of a prescribed medication for her husband was depression.

6. Mary

Seven years of depression treated by seven psychiatrists.

7. Ben

"I should not have gotten married."

8. Cathy

"We love each other but keep hurting each other."

9. Ann

10. Norman

When terror of panic attacks take over.

11. Sally

12. Ray

13. Fran

When body screams out for help.

14. Sophie

15. Jane

16. Tim

1. Linda has been married for seven years and nearly divorced her husband twice, Linda wrote the following, after Lifetrack therapy had transformed her marriage and her life.

Initially, I thought I was there only to assist in my husband's therapy. However, as it turned out, I was to learn the meaning of "being happy together" by participating in therapy as one of the three principals.

In the middle of crisis in my marriage of seven years, I was wondering what had gone wrong. My marriage used to be filled with so much joy and happiness. I was beginning to question the institution of marriage itself, which did not seem to meet dynamic human needs, bringing so much disappointment and pain. I was also convinced that "happiness" is something that each of us can and must shape according to our unique individual needs and preferences.

My "definition of happiness" then was; "I am always happy, and my happiness must not depend on anyone else." In other words, I had believed that "happiness in marriage" was up to each individual partner. I believed that my happiness did not depend on my husband, and happiness in marriage was possible only between two independent and already happy individuals."

At the beginning of therapy, I thought I must help my husband become happy, so that I can be with a "happy husband." This sense of superiority and officiousness was shattered when Dr. Ishizuka pointed out that my daily self-rating graphs clearly showed my self sphere to be above intimacy and achievement. This indicated a high level of defensiveness on my part -- an effort to keep myself unaffected by marriage and work, neither of which was doing well. I realized that I had my own problems.

My previous personality would respond to "It takes two to tango" with "Find something that I can do alone." I was trying to be happy alone in the world of tango! I have come to realize that intimacy cannot be built without an honest, caring and committed partner. I used to tell myself; "I must do to my partner what I would like him to do to me," as if it were some sort of solitary game. Therapy has given me experience of fully interdependent and reciprocal closeness with unconditional giving and receiving of love, which has led me to heightened joy and happiness in marriage that I did not know was possible.

Marriage used to be very complicated. I used to ask myself, Is marriage a life of two strangers bound by rules and restrictions imposed by social convention? How can I turn these restrictive obligations into something more enjoyable? Once I learned the meaning of intimacy, marriage turned into something very simple. Intimacy has had a strange effect on me. Now I feel like talking with my husband, just to hear his voice, even when I have nothing specific to tell him. This is possible only because my husband has changed and responds positively to my phone calls and emails to his office without pressing business.

My intimacy with him has brought an unexpected change in my attitude at work. I used to dread to go to work often wanting to quit only if I could afford to, while my husband always put pressure on me to remain independent and self-supporting. Now I think, "I am lucky to have a job." Most amazingly, I no longer get irritated over interpersonal minutiae at the office that used to make me to brood for days. I no longer involve a third party in my conflicts with my colleagues at work, a practice that usually only made the situation worse. However, it is not as if I don't care because I have a wonderful fiance, as I felt during our courtship. Now I naturally focus on key issues and deal with various situations more effectively with better perspective, thus avoiding unnecessary negative complications.

However, the most amazing change was my own personality transformation. I have come to realize that I used to express my hurt feelings through anger toward my husband. Instead of trying to change his behavior through angry threats and intimidation, I now tell him, "I am hurt if you do that," and he responds immediately. I no longer get angry with him. I am enjoying daily life without anger and full of peace and joy.

For a long time, I had secretly hoped that my husband would receive professional help ever since I discovered his dark side, which caused him to suffer form self-imposed problems. However, I had never thought that I myself could change so fundamentally by participating in his therapy. Now, I feel every day that it was right for me to have married him. I cannot thank Dr. Ishizuka enough for all this.

View Linda's Graphs and Dr. Ishizuka's Analyses

2. Rick is considered by his superiors as a star among his colleagues. Yet he has not been happy with his work and often thinks of quitting for something more challenging and rewarding. During seven years of marriage, he nearly left his wife twice. When he came to seem me, their divorce papers were ready to be signed in five days. As their day of signing approached, Rick appeared depressed. Concerned, Linda had encouraged him to see a physician, who referred him to me. Three months after their 12-month therapy ended, Rick wrote about the experience:

Weekly sessions at Dr. Ishizuka's had become so much a part of our routine that we felt strange after we stopped going 3 months ago. However, the essence of what we have learned through 12 months of therapy has become more clearly crystallized in our minds.

I have learned that we have the capacity to make important personal choices about our lives, and each action carries responsibilities and consequences. Blaming others and circumstances for our suffering and unhappiness does not solve any problems. We must use our intellect to make responsible decisions, rather than allowing our "emotions" to dictate them. The most important thing is to achieve happiness in life. And happiness results from the coexistence of strong self, intimacy and achievement spheres, which must be in balance.

Many of us overlook love within our reach, becoming desperate and disappointed for lack of love. To compensate for this lack of love in our personal lives, we seek satisfaction in our work. Many of us sacrifice our families or closeness with our partners in life, with the excuse of "work comes first." Those who can only reassure themselves by comparing their accomplishments and possessions with those of others fluctuate between an empty sense of superiority over others on one hand and disappointment and a sense of inferiority on the other, losing sight of our true sense of what we are.

Those who have become so used to judging themselves by relative and one-dimensional performance may end up judging themselves by professional and material success measured by results and profits, losing sight of what is truly important in life. Others, who become exhausted by disappointing personal relationships, withdraw into themselves after traumatic experiences of being betrayed by loved ones, or failing to make loved ones happy with them. I have come to realize through therapy that I have been a classic example of both these types of people.

I realize that counseling over one year cannot solve all the problems in life for me, and I must continue to make necessary changes in myself. However, my encounter with Dr. Ishizuka has been an important life-changing event that has given impetus and direction to my lifelong search for happiness, closeness and success.

I am sure I will encounter difficult challenges that bring pain and suffering in the future, but I feel I am now well equipped with a method to overcome each future challenge. When I face a challenge, I will remember what I have learned in therapy with Dr. Ishizuka to strengthen intimacy in the process of overcoming obstacles, and to make sure that I will not lose perspective over "what is truly important in life." I know that the end of counseling is not the end but the beginning of further growth in overcoming new and greater challenges in life.

I am comforted by the thought that I can always count on Dr. Ishizuka should I ever need timely advice in the future. We will continue Lifetrack daily self-rating as we did during therapy, and we will review and analyze our own graphs through www.mylifetrack.com to help each other maintain and build on what we have gained in therapy. If we ever need to consult with Dr. Ishizuka, we can call him from wherever we may be and review our up-to-date graphs over the Internet as we talk. However, our goal is to continue daily self-rating and analysis ourselves so that we will be able to keep growing, overcoming future challenges on our own without ever calling him. (Written for the benefit of future patients.)

View Rick's Graphs and Dr. Ishizuka's Analyses

3. Frank is married to a very unhappy woman, Beth, who had experienced frequent bouts of anxiety, rage, multiple physical symptoms, severe depression and frequent irrational violence against him. He wrote the following after a difficult but eventually successful course of therapy had ended. Beth's diagnosis was borderline personality disorder.

I received therapy from Dr. Ishizuka for a year-and-half, accompanying my wife who had suffered severe anxiety and depression over the years. Initially, I had trouble accepting the notion that I had to participate in every therapy session with my wife as if I were a patient, too. I had never thought that I had anything to do with my wife's illness. As therapy progressed, however, I came to realize that I was completely wrong. In fact, I had played a central role in her distress, and only I could make fundamental contributions to my wife's recovery. Through weekly sessions (later every two weeks), my wife improved dramatically. Thanks to therapy, my wife has overcome her long-standing and intense fear of being in crowded places and constant multiple physical symptoms that kept her sick most of the time. More than anything else, therapy has strengthened our closeness and taught us how to recognize stress symptoms and overcome them together by getting even closer. We could not have imagined how we could possibly become so close and strong when we started therapy. We cannot imagine what would have happened to us if we did not receive Dr. Ishizuka's therapy. The Lifetrack Web site is a welcome innovation that allows us to input our self-rating daily and immediately examine Lifetrack graphs. (He contributed this to a public Web site that lists doctors and includes posted assessments from former patients.)

View Frank's Graphs and Dr. Ishizuka's Analyses

4. Beth has suffered for a long time from anxiety attacks, irritability, multiple physical symptoms, bouts of depression and suicidal thoughts, and irrational behavior when upset. She clearly qualified as a borderline personality. After a year and a half of difficult and eventful therapy, she wrote her assessment of Lifetrack:

I saw Dr. Ishizuka when I suddenly became fearful of being in crowds, riding in trains and losing control of my body, spending days in bed twisting and turning and unable to sleep at night. I nearly gave up therapy before it started, because I had to take a train to the doctor's office. However, he somehow managed to convince me to take the train despite my fear and anxiety symptoms. I am grateful that I went. Now, I take airplanes with my husband on trips and experience happiness that I had never known before, without any symptoms. I never dreamed that I would change so much in just a few months. As an aside, I have gotten over my long-standing fear of large dogs thanks to Daisy (Dr. Ishizuka's golden retriever) who always welcomed us with such genuine enthusiasm and affection. This is a big change in me. (She contributed this to a public Web site that lists doctors and includes posted assessments from former patients.)

View Beth's Graphs and Dr. Ishizuka's Analyses

5. Terry, suffering from severe, nearly chronic depression, had been treated for seven months at a major medical center. There she received six different medications every day without any sign of improvement. Terry wrote the following after nearly a year of Lifetrack therapy.

"I started therapy with Dr. Ishizuka last year, when I was getting desperate, since my severe depression was not improving despite 7 months of treatment at a major medical center taking 6 medications daily. The entire therapy was conducted over the phone, through once weekly 2-hour sessions with Dr. Ishizuka whom I had never met. It was difficult at the beginning to spend 2 hours on the phone on every Saturday with my husband and the doctor. Doctor said during our first session that he expected my depression to lift in a month and a half. I was absolutely convinced that it would never happen and was fully expecting to spend another year in depression. However, incredibly, I found my depression improving during the New Year holidays. I was surprised and encouraged to find myself watching TV with interest and concentration, while I could not bring myself to watch it before. I also found myself eating Christmas dinner, while I had no appetite before. I then remembered the doctor's prediction and realized that it was about a month and a half since we had started therapy. These unmistakable signs of improvement gave me hope, and made me become enthusiastic about Lifetrack therapy, listening intently holding the phone as if it was a lifeline. I have had some ups and downs since, but that overwhelming sense of doom has left me. Currently, I am continuing once monthly session with Lifetrack self-rating program to make sure that depression will never return, although doctor Ishizuka had told us that we could stop therapy several months ago. I am finding more joy in life than ever before, with heightened appreciation of beauty, fun, people around, etc. Feeling of gratitude wells up in me for everything, but above all for the doctor and my husband. (She sent this to a public website which list doctors, who's former patients can post comments)

Terry -- three years later:

I contacted Terry three years after her therapy had ended to ask her to review the case example of her therapy for accuracy and to obtain her permission to publish it. She sent me the following comments:

Itfs been three years since my therapy over the phone ended.
The whole year of struggling with the nightmarish depression, barely living day by day, is something one would like to erase from memory.
But I treasure the memory of that year as a precious experience of my life. That year was the runway from which I was able to take off and soar.

At the beginning of therapy, Dr. Ishizuka told me, gCongratulations for becoming depressed. Thanks to your depression, you will be better than ever when you come out of it through therapy!h At that time, I simply thought he was trying to humor me. But it has turned out to be exactly as he had predicted. I have changed fundamentally through therapy. The change was not simply in my personality, or sociability, but in my understanding of the essence of life. I had long been familiar with the concept of love through religions. But a clear, logical, and analytical explanation from the perspective of a psychiatrist has crystallized my understanding of love into conviction.

My depression began when I started to think about my old age with my husband, who has always been strong and busy at work. I started feeling anxious about my own vulnerability for being so dependent on him. I thought that I must become psychologically self-reliant, becoming independent from my husband to prepare myself for life after his departure. I became increasingly anxious and depressed as if I were already facing the miserable solitude. I had been receiving treatment at a major medical center, faithfully taking daily medications for seven months without relief. Fortunately, I stumbled onto Dr. Ishizuka through my husbandfs contacts in New York.

Dr. Ishizuka advised me to do the exact opposite of what I had been trying to do - to get closer to my husband instead of becoming independent from him. I struggled during the first two months in therapy, trying to follow Doctorfs advice without fully understanding it. After two months of therapy, however, my depression started to disappear and the darkness that had dominated my mind miraculously lifted. Then I finally realized that Doctor was teaching me about gloveh from all angles - to get closer, depend, let depend, accept, and so on. I then realized that I had forgotten the fundamentals of love?to accept, stay close to, and depend on the most important person in my life?out of selfish preoccupations with my own narcissism.

Thanks to the therapy my husband and I received together, we have learned close interdependency of love and regained the balance of our minds. Happiness is to be loved; the loved person loves the other. I had lost sight of such obvious fundamentals, turning away from my husband, falling into a deep hole of depression instead of achieving independence.

I have been able to overcome depression, thanks to Dr. Ishizukafs unique guidance and the dedicated support from my husband. These last three years, I have been feeling like a person who has returned to life from death, experiencing fresh appreciation and gratitude even over daily routines. With closeness with my husband as the axle, my relationship with others has become balanced and strengthened. This in turn has strengthened my psychological balance, allowing me to live positively.

Thanks to the golf I started two years ago, my physical strength has improved, making me younger mentally and physically than I was three years ago. I have more shared hobbies with my husband. On weekends, we enjoy going to movies and cafes surrounded by much younger couples.

Terry's case is described in Breakthrough Intimacy - Sad to Happy through Closeness by Dr. Yukio Ishizuka

Terry's Graphs and Dr. Ishizuka's Analyses

6. Mary: is in her 40s. Her husband had become depressed after taking medication for a year, prescribed for his physical illness. She wrote the following several years later.

My husband's personality had completely changed due to strong medications he had received for his medical problem. After being on the medication for a year, he became depressed and suicidal. We were at the end of our rope when a friend advised us to see Dr. Ishizuka. Each couple session taught me the necessity of expressing true thoughts and feelings and getting closer to each other. Thanks to therapy, my husband has returned to his cheerful and happy self. We tend to think that you have to be "crazy" to see a psychiatrist, but in reality, little things often trigger depression. I sincerely recommend that you talk to Dr. Ishizuka when complaining to your friends does not help anymore. He will quickly analyze and clearly explain what is going on inside you and guide you to health and happiness. (She contributed this to a public Web site that lists doctors and includes posted assessments from former patients.)

7. Ben had chronic and treatment-resistant depression. He wrote the following two years after his Lifetrack therapy had been completed:

I had suffered from depression for seven long years, having been treated by seven psychiatrists, taking antidepressant and antianxiety medications faithfully. Despite various treatments over the years, symptoms of depression kept returning. Having read voluminous self-help books, I was resigned to accept depression as my lifelong companion, when I stumbled onto Dr. Ishizuka while my psychoanalyst was on vacation during one long summer. At the beginning, I was taken aback by Dr. Ishizuka's approach since it was so different from anything I had experienced in my years as a patient in search for a cure for my depression. However, as I listened to the doctor with warm personality and wide and deep knowledge, my perception of self seemed to undergo significant change. I was astonished to realize that I was doing fine, having forgotten about medications that I had so religiously taken for seven years. (He contributed this to a public Web site that lists doctors and includes posted assessments from former patients.)

Ben's case is described in depth in Breakthrough Intimacy - Sad to Happy through Closeness by Dr. Yukio Ishizuka

View Ben's Graphs and Dr. Ishizuka's Analyses

8. Cathy, married and with a new baby, was suffering from depression. She was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. She wrote the following after eight months of Lifetrack therapy:

Perfectionist and driven, I had been a master of deception, hiding my problems from everyone, including myself, pretending as if nothing was wrong. However, my old tricks stopped working when I moved to New York for my husband's new job with a child a year and a half old. Without a friend in the big city and with a crying baby, I was frustrated, irritated and becoming desperate when I found Dr. Ishizuka's phone number. The doctor's simple and logical counseling method exposed my long hidden depression, making it possible to confront it squarely. Through the unique three-person teamwork of Lifetrack therapy, we made a commitment to achieve happiness through closeness. My depression slowly lifted as my bond with my husband strengthened through therapy. I now feel that we can together overcome any future challenges in life. Full of humor and with a gentle smile, Dr. Ishizuka has my respect as one of the most gifted persons of our generation, and I am eternally grateful to him for having brought me into the sunshine of life. (She contributed this to a public Web site that lists doctors and includes posted assessments from former patients.)

Cathy's Graphs and Dr. Ishizuka's Analyses

9. Ann is a successful performing artist with a tempestuous history typical of borderline personality disorder. She had been attracted to men who were married, with a girlfriend or otherwise unavailable and/or inappropriate, while abusing and rejecting anyone who became devoted and committed to her. She sought therapy because she became depressed and volatile when she started living with a man who was devoted to her but whom she had tried everything to get rid of. After seven months of eventful therapy, she wrote the following:

I am at a loss as to how to start. I procrastinated for a long time before finally sitting down to write this. It is terribly difficult for me to remember and face days and years that I would rather forget. I have been through so many horrific experiences over the years that it is difficult to organize and order them. I suppose that the struggle with myself must go on into the future, but one thing I can say is that the last six months since we started therapy has been long and painful.

I was 19 when I recognized my "black box." I could not adjust to college, constantly escaping into a wild nightlife and overseas trips. I would often find myself sitting alone for hours in a cafe or bar. Emptiness dominated my life, which I tried to escape through alcohol and sex. On the surface, I was doing well. I had been at the top of my class, the center of attention socially and did not have a care in the world. The only problem was that I had frequent bouts of irrational rage and psychotic behavior. I gradually lost control of myself, living adrift and running away from myself. I was losing hope, dreams and even the ability to have fun when I had my first panic attack with sudden difficulty in breathing. I withdrew into my house for a year without being able to enjoy anything, spending days crying, sleepless and always frustrated, feeling like an empty shell. When I was beginning to feel better thanks to an antidepressant a doctor had given me, I suddenly decided to move to New York. My parents, doctor and friends -- everyone -- desperately tried to talk me out of coming to New York. Still, my inner voice was screaming, "You used to have a dream, go to New York, things will get better." I now wonder if my inner voice was telling me that in New York I would find a man I love and Dr. Ishizuka.

The last two years in New York had been the worst in my already tempestuous life. I hid my inner turmoil from others, telling myself that no one else could understand my inner battle against myself. I was feeling depressed inside when I met Norman and, for a while, allowed myself to be dependent on his tenderness and persistent devotion to me. However, as we began to spend more time together, I could not keep hiding my inner frustrations about unfulfilled dreams and my uncontrollable, explosive emotions. Norman soon became the outlet for my explosive emotions, which he tried hard to accept and live with. Extreme arguments and violent fights were followed by abnormally passionate lovemaking. I cannot remember how many times I tried to break up with him as I alternated between depression and psychosis. I sought Dr. Ishizuka in desperation. I did not expect much from the encounter -- just a quick diagnosis of depression and some medication, as usual.

The length of the first session -- two and a half hours -- astonished me. But more than anything else, Dr. Ishizuka's confident words floored me, making me say to myself; "Perhaps this doctor can save me from hell." I clearly remember my tears welling up with mixed emotions of great joy, peace, hope and, just as strong, anxiety. I then made a bet with myself: "If Norman agrees to participate in this therapy as the doctor proposes, I will remain with him for life -- yes, marry him."

The first two months of therapy were the worst. I lost myself even more because I tried to live as a part of Norman. I tried to forget about my dreams and independence, believing the doctor's words: "Keep getting closer, despite increased pain." Slowly, weekly therapy session became part of our routine, followed by predictable explosions and fights. To open ourselves to each other was veritable torture at times, but we managed to keep getting closer, overcoming many explosions and fights, as we were both determined to find happiness in life. I often run a high fever (near 40 degrees Celsius, or 104 degrees Fahrenheit) when under stress, but Norman learned through therapy to remain calm, offering me comforting support.

We have gained from Dr. Ishizuka lifelong treasure that money cannot buy. He has taught us that "self-confidence comes form successful dependency on the other." We live only once, so we should not hesitate to become as happy as we can. I used to hate happiness, seeking unhappiness with determination. I was afraid of happiness. The most important thing I have learned from Dr. Ishizuka is, "By accepting and loving the other, you learn to accept and love yourself."

Norman and I have just started our life together and are tempted to continue receiving help from the doctor, but we have decided to try on our own to overcome any future obstacles together.

I cannot express my gratitude with words. I am truly happy just being with Norman. That's right, we have just gotten married. We will make ourselves the happiest couple in the world. (Written for the benefit of future patients.)

View Ann's Graphs and Dr. Ishizuka's Analyses

10. Norman is a hard-working businessman who had largely overcome a tormented childhood after he turned 20, becoming a highly controlled and driven achiever. He fell in love with Ann and pursued her with devotion and tenacity sufficient to overcome the formidable resistance Ann had put up. At the end of Lifetrack therapy he wrote the following:

I am deeply indebted to Dr. Ishizuka. Having struggled in New York alone without depending on anyone during the last 11 years, I had turned into a man who was incapable of trusting and depending on anyone. A wall separated Ann and I, but thanks to the doctor's help, we have been able to "reprogram" our heads so that we can become close enough in a successful, interdependent relationship. The therapy led us to a deeper and stronger, relationship, and to marriage. I used to be alone though surrounded by many friends. Thanks to therapy, I have learned that a committed relationship with one person you love can stabilize you and give you self-confidence.

Ann and I had thought that marriage was not possible for us. We were so afraid to love too much and were expert at sabotaging happiness. Although we loved each other, we kept hurting each other, constantly fighting over nothing. We were baffled by our uncontrollable habit of hurting each other, despite our deep love for each other. Dr. Ishizuka intervened and sorted out our emotions for us, so that we could overcome a series of crises, getting closer each time than ever before. He taught us how to love and how to get closer. He showed us how closeness stabilizes the mind, giving us the most precious knowledge for living our lives.

Through three-person teamwork with the doctor, Ann and I, we have managed to "upgrade the software that run our heads" so that our old software -- our personalities -- have been transformed to allow us to lead happier and more satisfying lives. The key to this counseling method is that you are not alone as a patient. By opening up and getting closer to each other, we can face many obstacles, and through therapy, we can learn to overcome those obstacles, gaining the confidence and commitment we need to share life together. Beyond simple mutual attraction and love, we have learned about each other in depth and to take responsibility for making each other truly happy. I have discovered, for the first time in my life, the importance and joy of living with, and for, another person. Thanks to the therapy sessions, Ann and I have learned how to keep getting closer to each other for the rest of our lives. We are confident that we will be able to keep building a closer and happier life together. (Written for the benefit of future patients.)

View Norman's Graphs and Dr. Ishizuka's Analyses

11. Sally had always been healthy, active and responsible until her first panic attack. After that attack, she lived in fear of the next, confining herself to her house and unable to drive. After a year of therapy, she wrote the following:

I was 43 years old and had never been sick , considered to be an example of good health, until one night, alone at home, I suddenly collapsed, unable to breathe. I was taken to an emergency room by an ambulance. Tests did not reveal any treatable abnormalities. Every subsequent trip to the emergency room turned out to be inconclusive. I was becoming consumed and paralyzed by the growing fear that another attack might strike anytime. I could hardly leave the house out of intense fear, having lost control of my own body.

My fear was intensifying with every attack, and I felt hopeless, so I called Dr. Ishizuka. I had not met him, nor did I have any idea what kind of treatment he offered. I was grasping for straws. I remember at the first session feeling nervous about the humming sound of computers in the room, surrounded by the doctor, my husband, and Daisy (Dr. Ishizuka's golden retriever). The first session clarified many important but unnoticed, forgotten and unfulfilled things in my life. Tears kept flowing as if to wash away the blinder I had on, blocking a clear view of myself.

We were surprised when the doctor told us that we must get closer to each other, because we had always thought we had been happily married. However, as therapy progressed, I found myself feeling increasingly at peace and grateful for everything. Through this paralyzing illness, I learned that I could refuse to do things that might be too much for me. I gradually learned to forgive myself for my faults and limitations. The therapy sessions through four-person teamwork (including Daisy) became something I looked forward to. The sound of the computers no longer bothered me, and Daisy was always comforting to me, displaying her capacity to give and receive affection so naturally.

I must sincerely thank my husband, who accompanied me patiently and lovingly, as I struggled through therapy. Now I feel just as strong and healthy as I felt before the first attack, but I am much more aware of my limitations and am more patient than before. I am back driving on highways, taxiing my children, and enjoyed four hours at the opera the other day. I owe this to Dr. Ishizuka, who patiently guided us through therapy, which has become my treasured happy memory. Thank you. (Written for the benefit of future patients.)

View Sally's Graphs and Dr. Ishizuka's Analyses

12. Ray is a "no-nonsense" executive who began Lifetrack therapy with many doubts about its potential to help his wife, Sally. After therapy ended in 13 months, he wrote the following:

The sudden change in Sally's physical condition some three years ago was a great shock to her and for the rest of the family as well. She had always been an active wife and mother who had never been sick in bed. However, after the first attack, she suddenly lost all her confidence in her own health, becoming fearful, passive and tentative, barely functioning in day-to-day living. Repeated visits to emergency rooms did not find anything wrong with her. She was given an antidepressant, without a definitive diagnosis except for possible "early menopausal condition" and "imbalance of autonomic nervous system."

After another attack last year, Sally was despondent, so she called Dr. Ishizuka. I accompanied her to the first session without any idea what psychiatrists do. I was impressed by the doctor's analysis that her personality, shaped in childhood, had made her vulnerable to panic attacks occurring when her past experience and current capacity to cope are exceeded. However, I was taken aback by his advice to come to weekly sessions together as a couple. Frankly, I was both surprised and a bit annoyed. For 13 months, the doctor single-mindedly encouraged us to get closer, debunking traditional approaches, including medications. Months went by without much improvement, and I sometimes wondered if this closeness-oriented therapy was doing any good. However, I was slowly convinced by the doctor's power of persuasion.

Thanks to the therapy, Sally has returned to her normal life. I am satisfied that she is well again, but the doctor would certainly tell us that we must get even closer. We intend to continue our efforts to get "closer today than yesterday, and closer tomorrow than today" as the doctor would say. (Written for the benefit of future patients.)

View Ray's Graphs and Dr. Ishizuka's Analyses

13. Fran had a long history of panic attacks. She had to move closer to work so that she could walk to her office. One day, she read a story on the Internet of a panic-attack victim. The next day, she developed identical symptoms and could not walk to her office anymore. After six months of therapy, she wrote the following:

Six years ago, on a train on my way home from work, I suddenly became sick in the stomach and had to get off the train at the next station. Following that attack, I became fearful of trains and going away from home. I received some medication and counseling then. After I got married and moved to New York four years ago, I had to ride on a train for 30 minutes to work, but we had to move closer to my work so that I could walk to my office. One day, searching for the cure for my problem on the Internet, I read a story of a panic-attack victim. The next day, I developed exactly the same symptoms and could not even walk to my work. I finally found Dr. Ishizuka in the phone book.

However, it took great determination for me to go to the weekly sessions because his office was one hour away by car from home, and traffic jams were inevitable. At the beginning of therapy, I would have to go to the bathroom frequently before we left home because my tension caused diarrhea. I nearly gave up going several times, and my usually patient husband wanted to quit. I begged him to continue to drive me to the doctor until I wanted to quit, since this is the last chance I had.

It was painful to me that during each session, Dr. Ishizuka would remind and encourage me to "Get closer to your husband. Praise him 30 times a day." We had been married for four years without a child, so had a lot of time together to get close to each other. I was confident that we got along well. In fact, it was very difficult for me to find things to praise about my husband. In retrospect, maybe my pride or a hidden sense of superiority was making it so difficult.

During the first two months, there was no sign of improvement in my symptoms, and I was stressed out by the conscious effort I was making to get closer to my husband. Nothing was happening except for continuous stress.

However, my feelings toward my husband started to change at the end of the second month of therapy. I found myself enjoying being with him, preparing sandwiches for picnics on our way to the session.

Toward the end of the third month, I had a crisis. On our way home from a morning session, we had lunch and were driving home when I suddenly developed a stomachache. Remembering that we would hit heavy traffic on the way home at that hour, I begged my husband to turn around. However, he insisted we go on, since we were more than halfway home. Sure enough, we were caught in a traffic jam. I was in a panic, frantically thinking of ways to escape, when it dawned on me that "even a terrible jam such as this could not possibly last more than an hour." I sensed sudden lessening of tension within me, and my stomachache disappeared. This event was a turning point, when I became able to think positively even in the worst situation.

By the way, I had initially asked the doctor for medications, but he advised me not to use them to avoid potential risk to a fetus, since we were trying to have a baby. I was skeptical and worried about not using medications, but in the end, I managed without taking a single pill during the entire course of therapy.

During the fifth month of therapy, I experienced another turning point. The doctor said; "Have you consciously tried to become and stay happy?" I realized then that since we can live only once, I should make up my mind to spend my time being happy, rather than being anxious and depressed. Since that day, I have consciously thought of ways in which I can be happy

After six months of therapy, we "graduated," and I am happy to report that I experience happiness every day just by looking at my husband's face, welcoming each day with a fresh sense of anticipation. I cannot say that my symptoms are completely gone at this stage, but I am going to focus not on my symptoms but on increasing closeness and happiness with my husband -- "closer today than yesterday, and closer tomorrow than today."

Thank you Dr. Ishizuka for his kind and patient guidance and encouragement, and for occasionally pointing out bluntly what I must do better. My thanks also to Daisy, who has taught me how to express affection and love. (Written for the benefit of future patients.)

View Fran's Graphs and Dr. Ishizuka's Analyses

14. Sophie is married to a hard-working entrepreneur. Usually sociable and responsible, Sophie suddenly developed dramatic and severe physical symptoms during a period when her husband was exceptionally busy and under a lot of pressure. Before seeking help from Lifetrack, Sophie had seen several specialists who were unable to find the cause of her symptoms. She wrote the following at the end of her therapy that lasted 6 months.

I have been enjoying an active and happy life in New York for over 15 years until one day I suddenly developed excruciating pain all over my body. I became exhausted, forgetful, irritable and unable to concentrate on housework. Sharp and penetrating pain in my right flank spread all over my body, particularly over my head and back, becoming unbearable. Four specialists have examined me with ultrasound, CT scan and so on without reaching a definitive diagnosis.

The most disturbing was the sharp pain in my right eye as soon as I woke up in the morning, which made me unable to see clearly. For some time, the world looked foggy to me, and blue sky did not appear beautiful as it used to. I was fearful and could not enjoy driving, which I used to love with a passion. An ophthalmologist told me that I had developed an inflammation of the cornea from dryness caused by stress. I could not control my own body functions anymore. Lying awake in bed through many nights, I feared losing my mind. I can hardly describe how upset and overwhelmed I was.

I had always been sociable and convinced that I would never get depressed. And yet, I found myself avoiding people, withdrawing and staying home. I hated to have to speak with people and refused to pick up the phone. Finally, feeling hopeless, I called Dr. Ishizuka.

I had not known the simple fact that there is a limit to one's capacity to do things, until Dr. Ishizuka told me. I had always thought that I could do twice or even ten times more than others. I also thought that I always had to be number one and be admired by others. I was driven to achieve such admiration. I was never satisfied with my performance and kept myself busy to do more, starting a new activity before completing the first, endlessly rushing under pressure, cutting time for rest and recreation. I would fall into bed in the evening exhausted, hardly able to eat.

Since I have learned to take the four key steps -- recognition, perspective, decision, and action -- I find myself being much more effective. More than anything else, I experience a much greater sense of satisfaction from what I do, without getting tired, while genuinely enjoying what I do. Indeed, I have changed into a new person. At the beginning, I had to take time to remember, reciting the four key steps or writing them out on paper. However, after the first three months of therapy, the process became natural and spontaneous. This freedom from stress, with its accompanying sense of ease and comfort, must mean that I had been subjecting myself to high and chronic stress. I must have been one of those who were "burning out" from the stress of life.

I had assumed that my busy husband must understand me without verbal explanation, since we have been together for so many years. However, my health crisis has helped us understand each other much better than before and taught us to communicate our thoughts, feelings and actions in words. At first, I did not believe Dr. Ishizuka's analysis that my physical symptoms had been provoked by my "closeness problem" with my husband. However, as we followed his advice in therapy, we were astonished to find my physical symptoms rapidly disappearing and my psychological state becoming stable.

Therapy has dramatically changed my husband too. Once a driven workaholic, he has become a much healthier and balanced person with a sound perspective on life. Now we both want to spend every day caring for each other, cherishing our time together. We used to wrap our life completely around my husband's demanding and unending work. Now he takes time away from work so we can have fun and travel together.

Daily self-rating exercises have been very helpful. Lifetrack self-rating gives us the precious time we need to stop and reflect on the past day. I now enjoy a clear view of my surroundings. I feel my head is clear and the air lighter, and I am confident that I can cope with any future challenges using the four key steps. I find myself at ease, in sharp contrast to the way I used to feel; always harassed and hurried.

I cannot believe that I have recovered so quickly, and without any medications. I did not believe him when the doctor first said that we would change the "software" that runs my head. However, I have changed beyond belief. People ask me if I have recently gone to a heath and beauty spa, but I tell them that I have gone for a soul-health spa.

I have always enjoyed meeting Daisy, the doctor's golden retriever, who taught me much. Dogs like humans, can sense the mental status of people and avoid those who are irritable. Daisy taught me that I must be honest to myself and live with friendly smiles.

I cannot thank Dr. Ishizuka enough. My stubborn husband often says, "We must think incrementally." He used to save all the fun until the very last. Thanks to therapy, he has learned the importance of today. He now plans vacations early, enjoying both his work and hobbies. From therapy, we have learned what is the most important and how we can live fully with satisfaction. I hope to live the rest of my life relaxed, enjoying closeness with my partner in life, and enjoying what I love

View Sophie's Graphs and Dr. Ishizuka's Analyses


15. Jane, a student in her early 20s, had became tense and irritable, suffering from irregular menstrual periods, nausea, apathy, crying spells, and explosive rage against her boyfriend, Tim, with whom she had been living for a year.

Every day felt like living hell when I started therapy 6 months ago. During the first session, Dr. Ishizuka said, gThe only thing you must learn in therapy is to get close to Tim. Once you are sufficiently close to him, you will be well.h I honestly thought it was not true. I could not believe his words. However, I was so desperately in need of the doctorfs help, I had no choice but to do what he said. Still, as soon as therapy started, I was surprised to find myself getting even more depressed than I already had been. I felt like I was living in hell every day of those first two months, as my condition became progressively worse.

It hurts me even to think about those awful days. I was crying out of control every day, breaking things, and striking out at Tim. I was so afraid of meeting people that I withdrew to the apartment, convinced that I was the unhappiest soul on earth. I experienced rage pouring out of every pore of my body. The worst thing, however, was all the terrible things I told Tim to hurt him. Poor Tim. I wonder if I could have stayed with him had the tables been turned. I told him things like gYou have made me sick!h and gYou donft understand meh and even gI wish I had never met you!h I blamed him for everything, just to hurt him and provoke a fight. I donft know how all these terrible things kept coming out of me; a part of me was watching with embarrassment, hating myself for doing it.

I could not stop my rage once it got triggered, making me wonder if I was about to become crazy and die. Still, Tim stayed with me however irrationally I behaved -- even when I was exploding with rage. After I realized that he did not get angry despite my repeated provocations during the first 2 months, my irrational rage began to subside. We still had minor quarrels once a week for no apparent reason. However, during the weekly session, Dr. Ishizuka would analyze our daily self-tracking graphs, explaining that the real reason for our blowups was our advancing closeness with each other. We would be reassured by our weekly sessions and would get even closer -- and have more fights. But a clear difference from the past was our ability to overcome these fights on our own, since we understood why I became irrational. Since we knew the cause, we were no longer afraid of my loss of control. We could talk our way out of confrontations, knowing that we could get even closer after each fight.

By the end of fourth month, we became able to speak our minds calmly, instead of [responding to conflict with confrontations that led to irrational behavior and] uncontrollable tears on my part. As our relationship continued to improve, I became much more stable. I started going to my classes and meeting people again. That was when Tim became depressed, to my surprise. Dr. Ishizuka told us, gIt is natural for Tim to become depressed now. In fact, his depression is proof of Janefs breakthrough. You should celebrate his depression.h

Thanks to Timfs depression, which made him depend on me, I understood for the first time what extraordinary sacrifices he had made for me and what precious favors he had done for me when I was in distress. I realized for the first time how hard and frustrating it is to watch a loved one cry nonstop without being able to cheer him up. I thought that I had been the only one suffering when I was in distress. I realized that it was so painful to watch onefs partner suffer. Fortunately, Tim recovered from his depression in 2 weeks.

Timfs depression [enabled us to] build gtwo pipelines of closenessh -- one for giving and another for receiving. Lifetrack therapy has cleared the clogged pipelines of communication between us, enabling us to give and receive without restriction. After 6 months of therapy, either one of us can still become shaky at times. However, that does not bother us at all anymore. I know he loves me, and he knows I love him. We are ready to step in and help each other anytime.

The world around us appears to be truly shining. I now enjoy inviting my friends for parties at home, going out for fun, eating out, and so on. Every day is fulfilling and energizing. And each day I feel happier than I did the day before!

I am sure you wonft believe me, but this is my reality. I am deeply grateful to Tim and Dr. Ishizuka, who have transformed the terrible me of 6 months ago into the new me! Thank you! Truly, thank you! Thank you also to Daisy (a golden retriever, who welcomed me every time as if I was her best friend).

Lastly, if you are in therapy now, do not give up! Do not worry; you absolutely will get better, however difficult and hopeless you may feel now. I too often felt trapped in a tunnel without an exit. I was convinced that I would never get out of the darkness. Many times I thought of killing myself. Still, I persisted and eventually saw the light at the end of the long tunnel. Please do not give up until you too come out of the darkness!

Forget about your pride. Adopt the new perspective, and learn to accept your reality instead of despairing about it. Find meaning and satisfaction in small things. Smile when something good happens, decorate your room with flowers, and accept yourself for who you are.

We are born to be happy. It is our responsibility to become happy!

(Written for the benefit of future patients)

View Jane's Graphs and Dr. Ishizuka's Analyses


16. Tim,a student in his 20s, met Jane 2 years ago and started living with her a year ago. Several months after they started living together, Jane became tense, irritable, emotionally unstable, and volatile. He went through the typical struggle of living with a borderline personality. He wrote the following after they had completed 6 months of Lifetrack therapy.

Itfs been 6 months since we started therapy with Dr. Ishizuka. I was constantly tense and pressured, carefully choosing every word [so as] not to provoke Jane into rage. She would fly off the handle at the drop of a hat, often becoming violent in her rage against me. I would always apologize to her, all the while wondering why she would get so mad about everything I did. I found Dr. Ishizuka through a friend, when Janefs frequent bouts of rage escalated to the point that professional help was obviously needed.

During the first session, Dr. Ishizuka introduced us to the Lifetrack Total Adjustment Sheet and told us, gYou must try to think, feel, and act in such ways that will increase your closeness. You must get closer even when you are in distress, accepting Jane unconditionally, whatever she may say or do.h I thought to myself, gShe will soon get better, if I just persevere for a while.h

That was just the beginning of the unimaginable challenge I faced. As therapy started, instead of getting better, Jane clearly got worse day by day! She would strike me in rage, screaming profanities, throwing things at me, blaming everything on me, and even running away from home (five times!). She regularly refused to go to weekly therapy sessions. I even bought an airline ticket to send her home.

Dr. Ishizuka had warned me that her condition would first worsen, so I managed to control myself during the first 2 months. Still, I could not help resenting her for getting angry at me for nothing and for constantly crying, getting depressed, and often threatening suicide. During the third month, I could no longer control my emotions and we had a big fight, which I had tried so hard to avoid. It took 2 weeks to make up; in our sessions during these weeks, Dr. Ishizuka would sometimes smile, saying, gHer guerrilla has succeeded in provoking your defense.h Still, even during these difficult weeks, I felt genuinely happy on those rare days when [Jane] was well. I would wonder how happy I would be once Jane was really transformed, as the doctor had confidently predicted she would be.

Toward the end of the third month of therapy, at long last, she started getting better. In fact, she was clearly better than ever before. Instead of being happy with her progress, I was astonished to find myself becoming severely depressed. I lost interest in everything, cried for no reason, avoided people, and withdrew in our apartment for 2 weeks [because I felt] unable to go to school. However, Jane was extremely kind and supportive, trying to comfort me in my depression. I could not accept my dependence on her; I wanted to push her away and to be left alone.

Dr. Ishizuka had long predicted that I would get depressed when Jane made sufficient progress. He actually congratulated me for finally getting depressed, as it was a necessary step for us to go through in order to transform ourselves. Hard as it was for me, my depression helped me to understand Janefs pain and also to accept and depend on her. Through my own depression, we finally established a truly equal and interdependent relationship.

Thus, 6 months have passed -- a truly eventful 6 months! We still have small quarrels, maybe once a month, but we can calmly talk our way out of confrontations without escalating into all-out war as before. Most importantly, we can now give support to, and receive help from, each other when in distress.

In writing this, I could not help wondering how I have been able to persevere through such a difficult struggle in therapy for 6 long months. Then I remembered what I had said during one of the therapy sessions: gI knew and loved her before she got worse.h I suppose I wanted her to return to the way she was before so that we could share fun and happiness together again. However, I now realize that she is much better than she used to be, and I love her more than ever before.

I feel so profoundly happy now that I am convinced that the 6 months have been well spent. I wish to encourage those who are struggling in therapy with an abusive partner with borderline personality. Please persevere. Those terrible words and deeds are not what your partner really means. Try to put yourself in your suffering partnerfs shoes. Try to be close to him or her. Your partner will be mad and abuse you if you are close but will grow even angrier if you do not stay close while he or she is abusing you! If your partner is a woman, be patient, understanding, and caring instead of retaliating in anger. If your partner is a man, please ask the doctor [to recommend an approach].

I do understand how difficult it is to put up with such abuse; you feel like complaining, protesting, and crying in desperation. But that wonft work with the guerrilla in your partner. The only effective countermeasure against guerrilla attacks is to be tender and caring. If you persevere and stick to the tenderness offensive, the guerrilla in your partner will eventually be exhausted and disappear. You are conducting a war of attrition against a determined guerrilla. The duration of the struggle against the guerrilla may vary, but you must persevere and outlast the guerrilla in your partner. Please do not give up. I almost gave up many times. But if you give up, you destroy your partnerfs chance for happiness, and your own. Do not lose hope; be confident, your partner can and will change!

Finally, I sincerely thank Dr. Ishizuka. I wish his book will soon be finished. I am also grateful to Jane because she has made me a better man
(Written for the benefit of future patients.)

View Tim's Graphs and Dr. Ishizuka's Analyses


17. Ken, is a capable and ambitious executive in his 30's. He volunteered for a job dabbed 'mission impossible.' He had persuaded his 7 month pregnant wife with an infant barely one year old and transferred himself to New York. After two months of struggle on the 'impossible job', he became severely depressed and made several serious sucide attempts. He was so severely depressed and determined to kill himself that he was put under 24-hour suicide watch for 3 weeks in the hospital. He made a dramatic recovery through intensive daily therapy with his wife in the hospital, focused on bringing the couple far closer than ever before. In 2.5 month, he returned to the same 'impossible' job, directly from the hospital and did brilliantly as if he was a different person. After performing well for 3 subsequent years on the job, he was transfered to his head quarters. He appears as Mike in 'Breakthrough Intimacy - Sad to Happy through Closeness' and 'Breakthrough Intimacy - Conquering Depression.'

I was transferred from LA to my company's New York office in 1989, when Dianne was in her 8th month of pregnancy. I had volunteered for the job, dabbed 'mission impossible' which had caused two successive predecessors to resign. My job was to manage sales for the North East Region with staff of 60. As it had been rumored, I found the division in a state of total confusion, with no organized information system, and no way of knowing expenses accurately. Having volunteered to take on the challenge, I worked day and night to improve sales and management process. At home, Dianne was struggling to adjust in the new environment while getting ready for the childbirth, and taking care of a two-year-old son. I could hardly burden Dianne with my own problems at work (or, so I thought).

Shortly after the birth of our second child, and during the third months on the new job, I noticed the beginning signs of trouble. I lost appetite, I was sleepless worrying about my work, and I would wake up very early in the morning like clockwork. I went to work in the morning already exhausted, becoming increasingly unproductive, and frustrated. I could not concentrate, I would forget important things, and could not make decisions. I started having panic attacks on the job, and finally confided in my superior, who was no help having his own difficulty coping with his job.

One weekend, I could not resist the overwhelming impulse to escape the unbearable reality, and hung myself in my garage. However, I failed to complete the act. Dianne discovered my attempt, and I promised in tears never to kill myself. And yet during the following night, I was again overwhelmed by the desire to die, and took the pills that I had bought for the purpose and fell asleep. However, I was surprised and disappointed to have woken up the next morning, apparently having vomited during the night sufficient amount of pills to survive. Dianne called my superiors, and I was taken to Dr. Ishizuka's office and was immediately hospitalized for severe depression. That was the end of January 1990.

Once in the hospital, I started recovering, although I felt uncomfortable with my roommate and being in a mental hospital. Still, being away from work helped. I felt less anxious becoming able to sleep. Therapy started as soon as I could talk after admission in the hospital, with Dianne participating in daily two-hour sessions. After I was no longer restricted to the unit, all subsequent joint therapy session was conducted in his office outside of the hospital. Dr. Ishizuka made Dianne and me performed daily self-rating on 41 parameters encompassing three key spheres of personality -- self, intimacy, and achievement. Dianne drove daily 65 miles each way to participate in daily sessions. I cannot thank her enough for her superhuman effort during the two-and-a-half months.

Dr. Ishizuka's treatment was unique, with discussion ranging widely from business, marketing, organizational theory, marketing, relationship with superiors, religion, philosophy, art, and even to his own encounter with his wife. Dr. also gave me 'Tennis Therapy' taking me to his club to play tennis, when he learned that I had played tennis in college. When I had largely recovered, we were invited for lunch at his home.

The most important and consistent theme of his therapy approach however, is to encourage us 'to get closer to each other.' His encouragement went beyond discussions during the sessions, but extended to letting me go out on pass from the hospital to have lunch with Dianne in town (Rye), shopping, taking walks, and having fun. Although I was still an inpatient of a mental hospital, presumably depressed, I was enjoying wonderful quality time with Dianne, deepening our mutual affection, as if we were on vacation.

Towards the end of two and a half month in the hospital, I was allowed to visit and stay overnight at my home over the weekends. During the last three weeks in the hospital, I returned progressively to work, commuting from the hospital. Thus, by the time I was formerly discharged from the hospital, I had already been back on my job for three weeks.

Our company practice has been that once an executive has a 'nervous breakdown' on a job, he will be reassigned to a less stressful job when he recovers and returns to work. However, in my case, thanks to Dr. Ishizuka's strong recommendation, I was allowed to return to the same 'mission impossible.' To everyone's surprise, I was able to face the same organization, the same people, and the same chaos, with calmness and ease. Accurate recognition gained in therapy made priorities clear, and I was able to focus on the key issues. I was able to recognize what is possible and not possible at any given time, fully accepting my limitations. I was much more effective at work than before, and I made it a point to share my problems and successes at work with Dianne as I had learned in therapy. It was a big change, since I used to avoid talking about work with Dianne, not to burden her, and also to forget about my work once at home.

The therapy session continued for six months with diminishing frequency after I left the hospital, regularly reviewing what was going on at work and at home for doctor's advice.

Then, our company decided to move our division to a Southern state and reconstitute my division from the scratch. I was responsible for hiring and training 20 local staff, and opening a new branch office. During the last three years on this assignment, I have gained much confidence, having overcome many challenges that would certainly have overwhelmed me driving me into panic in the past. I am successfully completing three years on the current assignment, and being transferred back to corporate headquarters. I have been very happy during the last three years, enjoying happy family life, gaining friends, while growing professionally, building strong and positive relationships of trust and respect with local staff as well as with my headquarters. Despite my personal crises three years ago, our two children have grown healthy and well adjusted in their new environment.

I cannot thank Dr. Ishizuka enough for all this.

View Ken's Graphs and Dr. Ishizuka's Analyses



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