Thursday, December 31, 2015

A generalization, or summary #2: Stress the paradox*

Do you think people are living on the plane of their true self in their adult lives?  I am certain they are not.  But this certainty comes from my belief that I am attuned to the defensive front and that adult psychological distress is akin to the Princess and the Pea**: Like the sensitive maiden who is discomforted by a pea buried beneath forty mattresses, we are exercised, restless in the present because of embedded injuries in the past.  They and their meaning are buried and we are not with them: We are dissociated from ourselves.
There is, then, this truer world, different from the one where we live, think and dream.  We come to therapy because we want our injuries healed.  But our injuries have become our life: our personality, pleasures, beliefs.  Our personality may be accommodating or driven or vigilant; our pleasures self-medicative; our beliefs a major part of our ego and compass in life.  Do we really want to change these or erase them from our self?
So we are not our real self in therapy, and we do not want to change our predominant self.  What is there left to do?  We must stress – put stress on – the paradox of healing, which is to reclaim more and more of our true self but never too much.  I am not afraid of reaching Primal*** depths, where a middle-aged person, now a child, cries for his mother.  What I am afraid of is one’s feeling-knowledge that he never became a living person because he faked a viable self from the beginning.  Who has this awful truth?  Let’s hope we never know.
Fortunately, the third dimension of this paradox is love, our intense presence with the client that leaves more than an imprint – an appendage in the person, or holding his shoulder or hand through the dark night, and for years to come.  A client recently said he felt it would be God’s terrible goof if we were the only life in the universe.  A humiliating loneliness.  Knowing there are others out there would be a critically necessary solace.  Similarly, knowing someone has joined us in our lone boat in the world, who is there for us, may be enough.
This is the three-sided therapy that, I believe, is the only kind that helps.

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* See also

** Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale.

*** The Primal Scream and other books by Arthur Janov, PhD.

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Comments are welcome, but I'd suggest you first read "Feeling-centered therapy" and "Ocean and boat" for a basic introduction to my kind of theory and therapy.