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Elaine's Journal Archive 5

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Welcome

 
This journal discusses the issues that arise in therapy: anything concerning the human condition. I write when I have something to say, normally about two or three times a week, so drop by for new entries. It is not a substitute for therapy. I do not mention my clients as their personal information is confidential. I hope you find my journal interesting. The views expressed in my journal are my own and not those of Richard Snowdon Counselling Psychotherapy & Psychoanalysis.
 
09|03|2007 - no journal today

Doubt

15:25 - 08|03|2007
 
I was thinking today about doubt. If we doubt something it can be seen as being discerning, it is wise to doubt and not to take everything at face value. The person who doubts, ask questions and learns.
 
However what is it to doubt oneself?
 
If a person doubts themselves, then they will find they are more challenged by doubt, they will become unable to act, and doubts will grow.
 
Of course if doubts are challenged with action then the person may grow. I think I read somewhere that doubt and action are incompatible.
 
If a person finds themselves overwhelmed with doubt the process of counselling and therapy can help them understand their self doubt and challenge it. Counselling and therapy can lead to action.
 
07|03|2007 - no journal today
 

A statement

22:16 - 06|03|2007
 
I was thinking again about the conversation I had with the art teacher last week and his statement about the ideas we have of ourselves.
 
An idea can be formed because the mind comes to believe a statement it repeats to itself over and over again. The statement is not examined, there is no longer a question of whether it is true our false, it has become an attitude which dominates ones mind.
 
If that statement is negative and becomes a truth for someone then the challenge is to change attitude, because our attitude toward our lives shapes life's attitude toward us.
 
Part of the process of therapy and analysis is to investigate where repetitive statements come from. What is it the origin of the repetitive statement.
 
To understand means we have the ability to harness the power of attitude and take control.
 
05|03|2007 - no journal today
 

An investigation

11:42 - 02|03|2007
 
I happened to say in conversation last night, that I can't draw. This was picked up on by a man who teaches art in secondary school. He said he hears that statement so often from his pupils, but it was not the case that they could not draw, everyone can draw. It's all about the ideas we have in our heads about what it is to draw. He felt that art is an investigation and when you are attempting to draw something you are investigating something. He felt it was also to do with the amount of effort you wanted to put into that investigation. If he saw a piece of finely polished work he was not as impressed as when he saw a piece of work that was smudged with rubbing out and corrections, for in that piece of work the creative process had been in play, that artist had been investigating.
 
He said to me that I can draw, I just needed to change my idea about drawing. I realised that the idea 'I can't' does stop the investigation, that the idea 'I can't' stops all effort. It is that idea of 'I can't' that needs to be investigated and changed.
 
01|02|2007 - no journal today
 

Illuminated

14:02 28|02|2007
 
I watched the film 'Everything is illuminated' last night. I particularly liked the way the director played on the difference of language between the American character and the Ukrainian character. At one point the American character, who is trying to avoid an emotional question from the Ukraine, tells him that his shirt is inside out, this has no meaning to the Ukrainian and he just replies 'What?' The American then explains that his inside is on the outside where as the outside should be on the inside, and as he is explaining this the American character gets a sense of the nonsense he is talking.
 
However at the end of the film, when the story has been unraveled the Ukrainian character writes to the American and states that the past has illuminated the future, the past travels alongside each of them, but it is like the shirt, the inside is on the outside and the outside is on the inside.
 
The film deals with re-visiting the past and how each character responds to that confrontation. It is the story all of us are living with, the fact that the past travels alongside us.
 
For the person suffering from depression the past can walk heavily alongside the individual. Yet there is the idea that even though the past seems heavy you can learn from it and be illuminated. I can see that this is a part of the process of counselling and therapy, the re-visiting of the past and understanding it. It is often the case that when we come to an understanding we feel illuminated.
 
27|02|2007 - no journal today
26|02|2007 - no journal today
23|02|2007 - no journal today
 

To become conscious

11:13 - 22|02|2007
 
I read this unsourced quote of Carl Jung's: "There is no coming to consciousness without pain".
 
When I read that it made sense of the admiration I have for people who come into therapy and stay in therapy. It is a brave thing to do, to step through the door to that therapy room and sit and face your pain.
 
21|02|2007 - no journal today
 

The sound of a seagull

22:01 - 20|02|2007
 
The window of our office is open today because the heating has gone slightly wrong and we are all baking. No doubt we are all feeling the effects and wishing to be out in the fresh air.
 
Perhaps that is why the sound of a seagull had such an effect on our group sat by the window.
 
I heard it and thought of the sea, my colleague opposite me let out a long sigh and said he was reminded of St Ives and another colleague reminisced on her last trip to the sea.
 
I guess it was unintentional on the part of the seagull but the sound evoked such a melancholy in us.
 
Yet the sound also reminded us that the sea is there and we know that 5 o'clock will come, so in a way melancholy can remind us of past times and the time yet to come.
 
It's hard work today but the sea is still there.
 

The same?

23:11 - 19|02|2007
 
I was thinking about the emotion some people can experience when developing a relationship and forming attachments to another. I guess that is part of the formula for a relationship, the need to feel attached.
 
It can often be the case that one person may say to the other that they feel that they are alike, a person may say 'you are so like me' or 'we are so alike'. Hence the feeling of attachment.
 
I can understand this is a very strong need we all have, a desire to find someone just like us. Perhaps this is why the poets say love is blind, because we do not see the other person fully as we are projecting ourselves and our desires on to them. This is perhaps the heady feeling people experience in the very beginnings of a relationship.
 
What can be difficult of course is the relationship that does not progress as one person does not retain the feeling, or it does not grow. If the other person is still feeling attached they will be left feeling bereft as they cannot understand, because they still have the feeling that they are alike, so how can the other leave? Or it can be the case that the other person never felt that they were the 'same' and can become confused by the other's insistence that they are meant to be because 'we are the same'.
 
This kind of attachment, or need for the other to be the same is often caused by a lack of attachment, perhaps there was neglect at an early age, and so the individual searches for a someone like them, someone who just wants to be loved. Again it can be that the person who is looking to be loved may say to the other, 'I will take care of you'. And yet the other person may find they are the ones in charge and taking care of things, as that was the real desire of the other, to be loved and taken care of.
 
Our need to be attached can therefore be based in the lack. It would seem then that healthy relationships based on two people being separate from each other and yet having a commonality could be formed by recognising that ironically they both lack something.
 
16|02|2007 - no journal entry today
 

Routine changes

12:51 - 15|02|2007
 
I was thinking about that often used quote "a change is as good as a rest". These quotes enter into our language because they resonate with other people's experiences. So in general, when people experienced changes in their routines, they felt rested. Also it meant that the person was doing something different and it is often the case that when you do something different, you are able to see your everyday routine in another light.
 
For example, even if you took a different route to work, or to the shops, you see different things, which will stimulate the brain, and you will think differently.
 
Change does just that, it breaks routine thinking and so can break the spell of monotony and hence the feeling of rest.
 
Sometimes we can be so caught up in our routines and endless thinking about the tasks of the day that perhaps we do not even realise how tired or stressed we are. It becomes apparent when we are put in a different situation and there is no routine to follow, our mind and body feels different. It can be therapeutic in these situations to just be able to look back and review, so when you step back into your routine you can hold onto the experience of difference and bring that back with you, so even though you have to return to routine, you can have a different attitude to it. You can bring change.
 

Passing through

22:01 - 14|02|2007
 
Can you be a tourist in your own life?
 
A tourist is always just visiting, passing through. A tourist visits the sites and goes on tours and samples the life and culture of the place they are visiting. They have the luxury of not having to get involved, because they are separated by the fact that they are just passing through.
 
A tourist can sometimes feel lonely because they are on the outside and so they long for home and familiarity. But when the tourist is back home can he or she still be traveling? Traveling around their own life as if it were foreign to them?
 

Emotional storage

17:37 - 23|01|2007
 
A friend was discussing a programme she'd half been listening to. It was all about people who had become emotionally attached to their belongings and couldn't throw them away so they put them in storage. She described how these people would go and visit their belongings and sit with them. My friend said it sounded as if these storage places had become like churches or sanctuaries for these people. As I listened I thought about the idea of emotional storage, a vast sanctuary of emotion stored in a big space.
 
I wonder how many of us have that within us, a storage of emotion that we just go and visit and show to no one else.
 

Projected

15:30 - 22|01|2007
 
I was thinking about the word projection and how it's used in the language of therapy, the idea being that individuals can project their emotions onto others. Then I had the image of the movie projectionist, of the beaming of that light onto the silver screen and the audience absorbing the story.
 
There is often a wishful desire in people to be like the movie stars projected on the big screen, a wish for their lives to be like a movie. Is it not the case then that we can create an ideal of whom we would like to be, and on one level project that image on to people we meet and socialise with them. I feel we all do this to an extent, but there can be cases were the ideal created is too far removed from the actual person's personality.
 
It is like the parody that the comedian Catherine Tate created in the character who states that she can salsa, or she can play the drums and when she is in the situation she of course cannot salsa or play the drums.
 
The movie screen and the T.V screen projects ideals onto us on a daily basis, and depression can follow if we feel inadequate because we cannot live up to the ideal, or if we cannot live up to our own projections, because a projection is not real.
 
The struggle for identity is based in individuality and having a confidence in oneself, a belief that what you are, your character, your diversity, your quirks, may not fit the ideal but they make you who you are, an individual, and that is more than ideal.
 
19|01|2007 - no journal entry today

Entertaining bullies

12:27 - 18|01|2007
 
I was thinking about the effects of bullying today as I cannot escape the media attention surrounding 'Big Brother' at the moment.
 
When someone becomes the victim of bullies it can take time before the effects really start to weigh them down, and this is precisely because it also takes time on the part of the bullies to bring the victim down. It would seem that bullies out of their own insecurities and ignorance feel the need to rob another person, (who they deem to be a threat), of their self belief and confidence.
 
What always seems to happen to the bullied is that they begin to question themselves, they question what they have done to offend, they question if their is something wrong with them. It is this doubt that can often fuel the bullies and they grow in confidence and increase the bullying.
 
If an individual is strong and secure they will see what is going on and eventually confront their own doubts and recognise that they are being bullied and therefore confront the bullies. However, if an individual is insecure they will not have the strength to confront their own doubts and will begin to believe what the bullies say, and become more vulnerable and eventually extremely depressed. As the bullying continue it can lead to thoughts and feelings of suicide.
 
Bullying is a terrible thing to do and it occurs daily: in the school yard; in the home; in the work place; and now for our entertainment it seems to be occurring on national television. I wonder what this says about societie's attitude towards bullying? Do we in fact take it as a serious issue? Or do we still see it as some sort of acceptable right of passage and a person just has to get on with it?
 
17|01|2007 - no journal entry today

Looking

23:01 - 16|01|2007
 
I just came across this quote by Aristotle, which has got me thinking. ''I count him braver who overcomes his desire than him who conquers his enemies: for the hardest victory is over self''.
 
I guess in thinking about the meaning of the quote I imagine that when Aristotle talks of desire that he is looking at being driven by negative desires. It can often feel like an immense battle when we are trying to overcome them.
 
We can sometimes go through life feeling as if external elements are to blame and sometimes it can be one of the hardest things to do, to look at ourselves and our faults.
 
Perhaps this is what Aristotle is pertaining to, that in order to conquer, we first need to overcome that part of ourselves that refuses to look internally and see what drives the desire.
 

The gain

23:01 - 15|01|2007
 
I was in a large group on Saturday and was involved in a conversation about people who make changes in their life. One person was talking about someone they knew who, at fifty, had turned their life around. Yet there was a person in the group who commented on how sad it was for that person, who, even though they had turned their life around, could never regain or recapture all those lost years of youth. A few people disagreed with this idea and felt that even though there were lost years, there were still many years of possibility and adventure ahead for this person. Once again this one person disagreed and felt the attitude of the others to be patronising and insisted that it was very sad and the person could never be really happy because of the lost years.
 
I once wrote in my journal how I am not tainted by cynicism because of the work that I do and the clients that I encounter (Cynicism 16/05/06). Which is why I could not agree with the idea that if you don't turn your life around around by a certain age you will be forever condemned to sadness as you are too busy lamenting the loss rather than feeling the gain.
 
In my work I am always educated by the experiences of others and one of the major parts of my education has been the insight into the ability people have in overcoming very harsh life experiences, the ability to hold on to hope, and when they break through and make changes, the ability to not lament.
 
There is a process of working through the loss and feeling the pain and also acknowledging that they carry that battle wound with them forever. Counselling and therapy is hard work and when a person puts themselves through that and is able to reclaim their life and live it in the moment, well the happiness is just all about what they can now do with all those moments.
 
The past is not forgotten, the sadness is not forgotten, but it is let go of. Happiness is there to be gained.
 

Thesaurus

15:13 - 12|01|2007
 
I was looking through Rogets Thesaurus, and on the opening page there is a description of existence, followed by a description on non-existence. Of course the descriptions for existence were all positive, words like being; absoluteness; giveness; a being; life; potentiality. Non-existence contained the opposite words, neverness; absence; blank; vacuum; nothing; insubstantial thing.
 
Being the Thesaurus it continued on with numerous definitions for both states, and suddenly I saw that there were two definitions that were practically the same. For existence there was the definition: become, come to be. For non-existence there was the definition: uncreated, yet to come.
 
There is that potential in life, when we feel like we are nothing, when we feel blank, there is always that possibility that we are yet to come, that there is something we can create. From nothing can come something.
 

Order into chaos

14:03 - 11|01|2007
 
I have been thinking again today about how we use language. I began to think about the person who is experiencing mental health problems, the language they use, and the impact that has on others around them.
 
When a person starts talking and using words that do not make sense or they talk about situations that other people know are not occurring, obviously that will elicit a strong emotion - people can become afraid when they hear this language, or they can become angry.
 
These emotions are somewhat based in the flight and fight response. If a person feels threatened, they react by fleeing or fighting. A person can feel threatened by the language of the person who has a mental health problem because to them it is chaotic, it makes no sense, and there are no connections to sentences.
 
Language grounds us in stability: we have named objects and given them significance within language. We brought some order into chaos when we developed language.
 
When a person with a severe mental health problem speaks, they confront us with that chaos, and it is that that makes us nervous, afraid, and then angry. Perhaps this is partly why people with mental health problems were locked away in padded cells with padded jackets, or shocked by ECT, or tranquillised.
 
The language people with some severe mental problems health use can remind us of the chaos that exists in our universe, and as people we tend to not want to be reminded of that. There is a need for language to be ordered, so that we may believe we are always in control of chaos.
 

A different language

15:09 - 10|01|2007
 
At lunch this afternoon, I couldn't help but over hear the conversation next to me, and I assume a business lunch was in progress. This was due to the fact that the two gentleman in conversation were speaking a 'business' language. The sentence I overheard was one man saying to the other: 'Define delivery.' A very short and sweet request.
 
My mind of course started to define the word 'delivery'. I associated packages being delivered, food being served, babies being born, all that stuff. Yet the reply to the gentleman's request from the other gentleman left me baffled and I still can't work out what he said, or in fact remember the words he use.
 
Obviously delivery meant something to these two men, and their business, which had nothing to do with the actual definition of the word. The fact that they were talking thus made me realise how easy it is for us to misunderstand each other.
 
My definition of a word and what it represents to me, and the sequence of emotional memories that are triggered by said word are of course completely different to the way the person next to me hears, associates and responds to the word.
 
So even if we speak the same, there are so many different forms to our language, that as we move from one social group to another, we can suddenly find ourselves in a situation where we just cannot understand what the person or persons are talking about.
 
We do react differently to accents as well, and we make assumptions about a people from their accents and also from their use of words. In fact, each different social group is under a pressure to maintain the language they have developed. For example, with teenagers there is a most definite code of speaking and a constant invention of new words and slang words, which separate them from the 'boring' adults.
 
It is this use of language that can stereotypically drive parents mad, or the opposite is the teenager being immensely embarrassed by the parent trying to mimic the language. We can find ourselves laughing at adverts or politicians who try to utilize this 'young' language to demonstrate they identify with that group.
 
So language and words are a way for individuals to define themselves within their group. Hence the business men talking a language which I could not understand, simply because I didn't belong to that group.
 
09|01|2007 - no journal entry today

The definition

15:24 - 08|01|2007
 
The word January originates from Roman mythology. The month was named after the God Janus, the God of the doorway, and January was defined as the door to the year.
 
Today I heard another statistic about January on the lunchtime news. The report said that statistically more people get divorced in this month, because of the January blues.
 
It now seems to me that January has been re-defined as a depressing month, when really it's just like any other month in the year. But perhaps because we are constantly being told by statistics and media reports that we will be more depressed in January and we are more likely to get divorced, we can begin to believe that come January we are going to get depressed.
 
January is indeed different form the other months of the year, because it represents the new. As I have said before, we can feel challenged at this time of the year because we are both reviewing the past and planning the future. But does this necessarily have to mean that January has to be defined as the month of depression?
 
There seems to be an need within our culture, or within the media to define it as thus. I do recall on a programme about Jan 2nd and it being the most depressing day of the year. They had an American woman on talking about motivation and how to think positively. The presenter then turned around and said that the problem was we British like to feel miserable.
 
So the reports imply that January is the designated month for us all to feel miserable, and they back that up with statistics. January has become a symbol for us then, but the reality is that January is just another month in the year. It is us as a culture that has designated it's meaning.
 
05|01|2007 - no journal entry today
04|01|2007 - no journal entry today

Summer thoughts

20:12 - 03|01|2007
 
I was thinking about frustration today. It's a state we get into when we are stopped from getting what we need. So we can be frustrated by others but we can also frustrate ourselves.
 
This frustration with ourselves could be felt more keenly at this time of the year as we deal with the beginning of 2007 and we no doubt review our pasts with a lot more intense scrutiny.
 
The frustration we can feel with ourselves at this time of the year could be because we are challenged by our New Year's resolutions. It could be a wish to change jobs, habitat, fashion, relationships, in other words to completely overhaul oneself. But the desire for change is also dependent on the other person too. The other may also be in the process of desiring an overhaul.
 
So perhaps there's a unconscious mass of frustration being felt at this time of the year. Until perhaps we enter into February and we once again fall into routines and start thinking about Valentines, and then Easter and Bank holiday weekends and the clocks going forward and summer time again.
 

Resolve

20:12 - 02|01|2007
 
I heard on breakfast time telly this morning that January 2nd is the most depressing day of the year. I guess it's because people have to return to their routines and that once the celebrations are over the reality of the beginning of another year starts to descend on people's collective consciousness.
 
At new year we make resolutions to make changes, to get rid of bad old habits and start anew. The end of the year signifies resolve and the beginning of the year signifies carrying through those resolutions. So perhaps we wake up on the 2nd of January wondering whether we will have the resolve to carry out those resolutions.
 
Part of the attraction of holidays is a break from routine and perhaps a part of making resolutions is to change some routines that we have become negatively fixed in over the past year, or years. So as we wake on January the 2nd and reluctantly drag ourselves back into the reality of our daily routines, perhaps we just feel the heaviness of it all, the return to routine and the desire to change the routine.
 
01|01|2007 - no journal entry today - New Year's Day
29|12|2006 - no journal entry today

Celebrations

11:13 - 28|12|2006
 
Slowly now a sense of returning to routine occurs in these days after the Christmas holiday, and yet coming up next is of course is New Year and another Bank Holiday.
 
These days in between can often have a sense of limbo about them. That in between state means we are out of our routines, which can bring on different thoughts and feelings. Depending on your circumstances the break from a routine can sometimes be disconcerting, because maybe you don't particularly want to think.
 
This time of year we tend to contemplate as we ring out the old and ring in the new. The ending of the year can bring a sense of melancholy and perhaps that's why we have the need to celebrate the striking of the midnight hour, to shake off the melancholy, to let go of the old and in that moment that the clock chimes, enthusiastically embrace the new.
 
I think that celebrations are there to allow us to break from routine in order that we do give ourselves a time to think, to contemplate. It represents the drive we have towards progression and growth through change.
 
27|12|2006 - no journal entry today
26|12|2006 - no journal entry today - Boxing Day
25|12|2006 - no journal entry today - Christmas Day

In October

19:43 - 22|12|2006
 
Well it's Friday and I imagine I hear a huge collective sigh of relief as the week draws to an end. Christmas is almost here, so finally there can be an end to the rushing and organising.
 
It is quite amazing what we put ourselves through at this time of the year. I don't know if there is just some huge evolutionary need for us all to produce mass amounts of adrenalin on a collective level and that's why we need rituals like Christmas, to get us all to do precisely that.
 
I guess the reward at the end is to relax and survey your hard work, the battles you fought to get that certain toy, or that personalised gift. Just like it is at the end of any battle, when it is done you can savior the spoils. Then promise yourself that next year you'll do all of your shopping in October.
 
 
21|12|2006 - no journal entry today
20|12|2006 - no journal entry today
 

Flowing

21:09 - 19|12|2006
 
There are often quotes about joy and sorrow being inseparable, about light not being able to exist without the dark. So I thought about the anxiety of the depressed person who believes they will never experience the light again and I think about the happy person who fears feeling the dark.
 
And yet according to the thoughts behind those numerous quotes, there exists the simple fact that you cannot experience unhappiness without experiencing happiness and vice versa.
 
Perhaps we imagine that if we are happy and something comes along to make us unhappy, that somehow happiness would never return. The person who is in the midst of depression also feels that happiness will never return.
 
But it flows both ways, it is a continuous river that winds its way through our lives, it is both happy and sad, both states cannot be avoided.
 
It is like a description I once heard from someone, how they felt they were thrown into the big ocean of life and found it scary, yet there were these little logs that they could swim to and hold onto. Those logs represented people and events that had occurred to the person and had brought them to feelings of safety and joy, even though life sometimes overwhelmed.
 
It flows.
 

A good face

14:50 - 18|12|2006
 
The processing of grief is difficult. I have a friend who is going through this process. She was telling me how everyday for the last two weeks she has just felt angry, which in a way has stopped her from feeling overwhelmingly sad.
 
My friend is now feeling the pressure of Christmas and finds that she feels little joy in the coming day and just wants it over with. She has gone out and brought gifts, but felt no joy. She plans the meal she will cook for her family and friends and feels only the burden of having to look like she is happy and joyful because it is Christmas.
 
This time of the year is often very difficult for people who are going through depression, as it can of course intensify the feeling. As I have written before, people who suffer from depression often feel as if they are judged because they are not feeling happy, and their unhappiness makes those around them uncomfortable.
 
At Christmas time we are generally happy because it is a time for family and getting together, a holiday full of socialising and a break from routine. For those on the outside of that, those who are depressed, I know it becomes difficult.
 
To my friend I guess if there is a gift I can give her this time of the year it is that she can be angry, she can be sad, she can tell me how much she hates Christmas right now, and I'm not going to judge her and I'm not going to catch her depression, I am not going to lose my joy.
 
Depression is not a contagious disease and perhaps that is another aspect of it: people worry they will become depressed by the depressed. So no wonder my friend feels like she cannot express the depth of her feelings because she doesn't want to ruin Christmas.
 
She is trying to make Christmas happy for her family and friends by not feeling sad, so anger is an energy to fuel her through, and anger is more acceptable than the sadness. She can excuse her behaviour by saying it's just the stress of Christmas and getting everything ready. So yes, in a way my friend has found a way of getting through, but after Christmas I hope she can give herself the time and space to be able to put her grief to rest, by finally feeling the sadness and working it through without anymore guilt about upsetting other people's feelings.
 

The bear

22:01 - 15|12|2006
 
I watched a very interesting documentary called 'Grizzly Man'. It was made by Werner Herzog. The film was about a man called Timothy Treadwell. Treadwell dedicated his life to studying and living with grizzly bears, until tragically he was killed by one of the bears he sought to protect. With him on that last expedition was his girlfriend and she too was killed by the bear.
 
Werner Herzog made a moving film and he poignantly comments on how Timothy Treadwell's film footage of the documentary he himself was making uncovers as much about human nature as it does the bears that Treadwell had spent 13 years studying.
 
This is the aspect of the film that resonates, the desire of Treadwell to be with those bears and how driven he became towards that desire, so much so that he loses sight of the bear as a dangerous wild animal. Treadwell in his own narration wished he himself could become a bear, he felt at one with the bears and even though he acknowledges how dangerous they are, he feels that they will not hurt him because he knows the bears so well, he is one of the bears.
 
When watching the film it becomes apparent that it was inevitable that Treadwell would be killed by a bear. Yet he was driven to keep going to them and living with them.
 
I began to think this morning about the bear and I thought about how we can all have that drive within us sometimes to step out of our safe boundaries so to speak, and push ourselves to the limit to reach what we think we desire. The danger of course is that one day you could be faced with the wild bear.
 

Addiction attitude

16:09 - 14|12|2006
 
In biology there is a description for our responses to attack. It is the flight or fight response. It is experienced physically and mentally.
This can be reflected in society's attitudes in that if certain individuals behave in a way that is seen as threatening to society, there will be a process of feeling fright at the threat, which will be followed by either flight or fight.
 
Take for example the attitude society has to drug addiction. Addicts are marginalised, they are seen as a threat because of their desperate need for drugs. Addicts will do anything they can to get their drugs. It is this desperation that frightens society.
 
There is then a flight from thinking rationally or pragmatically because people are mentally fleeing, or mentally fighting. The attitude to anyone who acts outside of the conceived way of behaving normally will be met with aggression and ignorance.
 
Our way of thinking about and dealing with addicts who turn to desperate acts to get their fixes still seems to me to be based in a backward thinking. We demonise addicts and seek to punish or exile them.
 
There is a great reluctance for society to think about what has gone on before these people became addicted.
 
Society does not want to come to terms with the fact that right now a child is being terrible abused, and that child could be right next door to you. But the horror of that thought makes people turn away in fright. Yet when the child becomes an adult and cannot behave in the way society dictates, they are further punished for being abused as children as they become hated and exiled by a society that does not want to think.
 
 
13|12|2006 - No journal today
 

Toxic

20:08 - 12|12|2006
 
I was thinking about adults who have difficulties in forming relationships because of what happened in their childhoods.
 
Firstly, as children, it takes time before they realise that their is something wrong with the way they are being parented. Even when the parenting is so fundamentally wrong, how do the children know that? All they know is the families they have been born into. They do not see other people's lives until they begin to grow up and start socialising and hearing friends talk about their own families. When they hear that difference it does not mean that they can suddenly rationalise and deal with their families: it just becomes more complex for them to realise that their parents are wrong.
 
In adulthood, it is difficult for them to establish relationships because on one level, relationships, for them, have been toxic. So the thinking behind that could be that all relationships will be toxic for people who have had difficult childhoods.
 
It will be difficult to learnt to trust another, to really have faith that another person could care. They would also have to deal with the other person wanting to be close to them and also separate from them. Closeness could cause anxiety, a feeling of suffocation, and likewise distance could cause anxiety and aloneness. So not only do these adults deal with their own internal worlds, but in establishing relationships they have to deal with other people's internal worlds.
 
In not having a good example of relationships it becomes problematic. Even in the counselling/therapy relationship it is difficult for the client who has had a toxic relationship, because as the client develops a relationship within the counselling/therapy room, he or she can experience it as toxic.
 
A part of the process of the counselling/therapy relationship is to be able to work through this anxiety with the client in order that he or she is better able to manage the anxiety and tension.
 
It is not an easy process, and the client can experience uncomfortable emotions, but hope is held in the counsellor for the client. The hope always is that the client can bear the emotion and work it through.
 

The tension

18:06 - 11|12|2006
 
I was at a seminar on Sunday and both speakers were very interesting. They spoke about the way we as human beings relate to each other, and they talked about a dynamic that exists within us all, which is the need to relate to another individual, and the need to be separate.
 
Falling in love is the perfect example of this. The desire is to be with the person you are in love with, to be a part of them, that attraction is very strong, and yet there is still the need to be separate from them, to feel as if you can move away from them and carry on existing.
 
We live with this tension all of our lives, this need to belong, and to be separate.
 
Our lives are then about how we manage this tension, and what was clear yesterday in the seminar was that children who are brought up in a stable loving environment learn from very young how to manage that dynamic. In the relationship the young infant has with the parent, there is an absolute need for the parent, and yet the infant must learn to be on it's own. So a child that has a stable environment is better able to deal with the tension brought on by these two states. Which of course means that they grow into adults who are better able to deal with the tension and conflicts of living.
 

The treadmill

22:01 - 08|12|2006
 
I just had a really good laugh with a friend of mine, she was telling me about her experience in the gym.
 
My friend had decided it was time to get fit and so joined a gym yesterday. She had not been near a gym in about ten years. So she did the induction and was shown all the equipment and then was let loose.
 
The first thing she did was to go on the treadmill, and as soon as she stepped on it she suddenly became very self conscious and wondered if everyone was stealing glances at her. It seemed to my friend that all the other people using the equipment were super fit and had the effort level set to the highest.
 
With all this imagining going on in her head she proceeded to set her treadmill to a high level so as not to look like someone who had not been in a gym for ten years or so.
 
After about only three minutes my dear friend found herself to be slightly exhausted already. She now began to worry about getting off the treadmill too quickly and once again imagined everyone would be watching her. She ever so subtly started to press the button that would bring down the effort level. But now she was still stuck with the idea that she had to stay on for a certain time, and the time she gave herself was 10 minutes. She said that by the time it had got to 8 minutes she was exhausted, but still imagining that people were watching her every move, she stayed on the treadmill until the 10 minutes was up. When she finally got off her legs had turned to jelly and she still had to face another half an hour on the weights.
 
As she sat with me at lunch recalling all this, she suddenly realised how foolish she'd been, and that of course nobody could see what effort level she was on, or how long she'd been on the machine. In fact, they were all too busy concentrating on their own levels or watching the T.V. screens in front of them.
 
It was just one of those aspect of our natures, that when we come to do something new and we enter into a room full of people we do not know, that we can become self conscious and our imaginations can sometimes run away with us on the treadmill.
 

The relinquishing of responsibility

23:27 - 07|12|2006
 
Responsibility is a word that sits on our shoulders. It can become heavy laden and therefore as individuals I think we would all rather not bear the word. So there can be times when a person can try and throw responsibility away from themselves.
 
The only means we have of relinquishing responsibility would be to give it someone else. This can be played out in various ways, for example, in the army a person would give up their responsibility to the battalion they had chosen to serve in and when the battle is done and they are asked: "why did you do that?", they are free from guilt and can reply: "I was only obeying orders".
 
Religion can also allow the individual to relinquish responsibility. A person who does not want to take on responsibility can say "I give it up to God". They can do no wrong if it is in the hands of the gods.
 
There is therefore an expectation from the person who gives up their responsibility that the body they surrender it to will of course look after them, and will be responsible for them.
 
The taking of responsibility of course implies that someone wants to have it, and there will be individuals who like to take on the role of having the other person dependent on them. We all are capable of this dynamic, however, I do not feel that we can ever truly relinquish our responsibility for our own lives.
 
The individual cannot hide in the mass of the army and excuse behaviour, a person cannot hide their responsibility to this earth by giving it up to God, and an individual cannot blame a partner, friend, parent, or child, for not fulfilling the role, that in all honesty is impossible to play.
 
We will always be responsible for ourselves.
 
 
06|12|2006 - No journal entry
 

'Because I can'

12:16 - 05|12|2006
 
I have been thinking about the freedom to choose, and how in this century in the west we have an abundance of choices. It seems whatever it is we want to 'feel' we can get something to elicit that feeling.
 
If you were to ask someone 'why do you choose that?' in this century they could simply reply: 'Because I can'. This was a part of a conversation I had over the weekend with a friend about relationships and choice. We spoke specifically about the choice regarding sexual relationships.
 
What became apparent was the fact that because there is so much choice, people can get what ever they want, but can end up feeling unhappy, or dissatisfied. For example, those people who chased the sexual thrill but found what they really wanted eluded them.
 
They wanted to love, to settle down, to have children. But somehow the abundance of choice and the desire for sexual adventures seem to keep them from falling in love with one person. They reach the point where they feel they can never be satisfied. The relationship in the beginning would start out full of promise and love, but sooner or later they would become bored or the other person would become bored, and when that happened, well of course they could take a lover. Because of this they began to feel there were no perfect relationships and so they would never really fall in love.
 
So you can get whatever you want in abundance but just because you can doesn't mean you'll always get what it is you wanted.
 

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