Thursday, September 17, 2015

Client: Know Thyself?

     Some theories look at the deep-seated issues in any specific person. We call these theories "depth" or "insight" psychotherapies. These theories attempt to crystallize, in some manner appropriate to that theory, what makes a person tick, where it came from, why it exists, and perhaps even how to change this for the future (this last point is one that I hope to remember to bring up at the end of this small essay). 
     The main issue I would like to understand in this writing is whether people are meant to know their deepest, darkest motivations, desires, and dramas. I think that both sides to the debate have credible viewpoints. Going along with this question are some important sub-questions that I hope to discuss more. They include these: Does fully knowing one's self open the door to over-reviewing the self and becoming neurotic? Are people simple creatures without the needed neurological tools to cope with such deep understanding? Are there certain groups of people out there who can and should explore the dark recesses of the mind and soul?
     Depth therapies require the client to enter into a type of contract with themselves. This contract states that he or she will be open and willing to plumb their own depths, no matter what they find there. To be willing to do this is a big deal because it shows that the client wants to get to know themselves better. So let's get down to it.
     Is it good or bad for a person to truly know themselves? Allow me to start by saying that we all hide things from ourselves. We hide negative reactions, unsavory opinions about people or ideals, and sometimes our own impulses in a given direction. The Freudian unconscious is a good method of illustrating this point, but one that comes much more naturally to me is that of a bubble bath or a dark barrel full of water. Our negative, and, to be honest, sometimes even positive attributes are pushed below the surface to a place that is invisible from where we normally operate. One must ask himself: Do we do this for a reason? Is the reason a good and adaptive one? I guess another good metaphor for the place we stash our deepest motivations could be an unlit and dank basement. Such a basement is frequently neglected, has some major disrepair, and smells awful. We can bring down a flashlight, but that flashlight only illuminates a small spot on a wall, a corner, a floor. A therapist can help by adding a second flashlight to the search. It is only with true self-analysis (for lack of a better phrase) that we can turn on a gas lamp or install an electrical system to see it all at once. 
     I like this last metaphor best, I think, because a basement has movement that can be heard, felt, and feared from the upper floors. Our lamps/flashlights can hit a corner and show, perhaps for a second, the movement of some small and skittering something before it crawls out of view to be swallowed by the darkness, which it finds more comfortable, assuredly. Sometimes, a therapist and his or her client can shine their lights on one of these creepy-crawlies and blind it long enough to examine it. Doing this can be (and is) uncomfortable for the client and the creature will scurry away in time. 
     I have definitely gotten off track, but I really like that metaphor and will continue to use it. The main point still stands and is amazingly difficult to answer. To some degree I think that it comes down to what a person has on their figurative/psychic tool belt that will allow them to cope with any shocks that they might incure in the process. It is pretty easy to understand how much the fundamental pillows on which a person has founded their meaning in life can be put at risk, damaged, or even toppled because they have dared to gaze into their own eyes. If this person has the education or natural grit that allows for quick positive reaction and repair, then they might come out of this encounter unscathed. Everyone will have scars showing their ordeal. 
     But can a person be driven insane because of their peek into themselves? Probably not. I think that someone can be shaken to their core, as described above, but, especially with the help of a qualified therapist to help them, they should be able to recover from any and all shocks and be a stronger person in the end. We must also take into consideration the fact that one doesn't only find negatives in their basements, but also bright spots including memories, unknown strengths, and other sources of positivity. I think that much of this is found when reacting to a negative critter, but some of it can be uncovered when free associating strictly or not. 

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