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Psychotherapy: from survival to life
“Every desire, even the one of speaking, is a desire to live.”
Hubert Aquin (1929-1977)
Psychotherapy is, in my opinion, the only method that has the power to drastically modify a person destiny.
When I speak of destiny, I refer more implicitly to the flaws, shortcomings, but also strengths, resources that we have acquired or not in our childhood and which later, will forge our choices, our decisions until even choosing our soul mate! It is for me the only form of destiny in which, I do believe.
In psychology, we understand that a very small part of our life is due to chance. Personality is started to emerge within the first months of life by interacting with our most primal objects, our parents.
To illustrate this point, it is evident that a child brought up by parents who have lived in a context of war, and therefore of death and constantly on alert, will unconsciously transmit this angst to their children. The same children will wonder why they might develop further in their lives, feelings of hypervigilance, mistrust, constantly watching for the slightest danger. It is therefore probable that those children will develop in their adult life a form of generalized anxiety coming from a family inheritance.
In addition, a child rose by a mother or father who is not caring or has addiction problems, for example, due to a difficult childhood, will later have problems in his love life.
He might then choose partners who are not loving and caring. This will of course create a kind of chain of dissatisfaction and unhappiness as he grew up, with the idea that he cannot be loved. Or this unloving partner will evoke something familiar and the person will become very attached to him, as it will symbolize the only kind of love that he has known in his life.
The human being is the sum of all these interactions that took place before he was born, it’s a mix of his ancestors psyche, compiled stories, dramas, wars, unspoken, secrets, etc. But fortunately also love, tenderness, resource, constituting the healthy part of the personality, part on which the person can count on during the therapeutic process.
As a psychodynamic psychotherapist, I strongly believe in my school of thought, I also studied other models but it is only this one that really spoke to me. I am convinced that no one can understand anxiety, depression, phobia or any other symptomatic construction by ignoring the historicity of the symptom. The symptom is telling us a story, and it’s in the very essence of this story, in its roots that we are able to find our way through recovery. The symptom is telling us what didn’t go right in the individual life but it’s most of the time encrypted in the patient unconscious, as it was too painful.
It is the patient, who knows, because he is the only one who knows his history, the therapist is a guide who will help him at each stage of the journey to rebuild his fragmented history. An then only, the healing process can begin…
I think that every school of thought, which is guided by the pain of the century in “the right away and right now,” cannot really be part of a process of intellectual honesty.
A symptom takes time to build and therefore also to be understood and therefore destroyed.
I strongly do not believe that any kind of medication or brief therapy that promises that in three sessions a long-term problem will be solved will come to an end, however seductive it might appear.
The mind, the psyche takes time to reappropriate their own history. By growing up, we have forgotten most of our childhood memories, trying to live the moment, but have they really forgotten us?
And do we not sometimes need a difficult transition time, a change, a loss, mourning for them to come back in a disguised form, to our memory? It is precisely this disguise form that makes us so afraid, “who is that other part of me, is it really me”?
This disguise form can take several expressions: sadness, depression, anxiety, mania, phobia, etc. It still symbolizes a part of our history that could not have been integrated in the past by our psyche. Either we were too small and too immature to be able to welcome it, or simply it was too painful and spared us momentarily, while amputating our psyche from parts of our history.
The human being naturally tends to spare any painful affect. This is how our system of defence is built, in relation to an external reality which has to stay acceptable. If it’s perceived as too difficult, disappointing or traumatic, everything will plunges into oblivion and will one day re-emerge in the form of one or more symptoms more or less painful.
It is when the symptoms become too painful or tends to come back and come back, altering grandly our quality of life that the help of a psychotherapist can take his full sense.
It’s important to choose carefully his therapist, and with his help, by small pieces, the past will emerge and the symptom will start to slowly delivers its encrypted secrets in the form of returning memories, dreams in the secure place offered by the therapy and the therapist vigilance.
The pandora’s box is finally opened and will slowly empty itself of its precious contents, buried in the depths of the seas for millennia…! With all these stories buried in the family unconscious since the dawn of time!
Without going so far, I would say that if you have the courage to put your life in perspective again, pushing the door of the therapist could be the beginning of an extraordinary journey, your journey…