Saturday, June 26, 2010

"It is not about you."

"It is not about you."

Time and again I go over a simple thought for myself and others:  Do not take things so personally and do not think you are special in a relationship especially in terms of negative attributes.

If you see someone that is your friend or you think is your friend doing things to people that you do not like do not make the mistake and say to yourself, “Oh, I am special Tom won’t do that to me.”

We all have been and are abused. We all make the above mistake. We all “disavow” the truth. The truth is right under our nose but we would rather not see it.

The more we take off the blinders the more we might be able to keep those friends as much as possible and help them and ourselves and reduce our trauma as we will less and less be blindsided and stop saying why me, why me?

We will be able to stop saying it because you will have the great insight that it is so much not about you. It is about them. You see if you really observe their behavior they are doing these things that bother you to everyone in the same fashion. This is what we call, say, a script. It is like a computer program. Yes, sorry to say humans in many ways are like this. If we where not we could get nothing done. Scripts are “good” and “bad.” I get up and start brushing my teeth and don’t even realize it and while brushing I am in the process of composing this essay. That is the usefulness of a script. It “frees up thinking.”

Unfortunately, humans can get “scripted” in all kinds of ways. Due to early experiences we generalize certain dislikes, subtlety unconscious or even conscious we have about people. These are the root of great pain and fear that people harbor their entire lives unless they get help. A very common fear is one of abandonment because the person was abandoned at a vulnerable time and they now project that on every relationship. They might have some sort of “disgust” for people in general that they really have no understanding of but it is there always interfering with things. They need to get to the root of it. So we think it is about us. Why don’t they like me! What is wrong with me!

Often people with severe problems have overcompensated in other parts of their personality. They are, that is, for example very seductive. They conquer us. They have the same need for attachment as all of us but let’s say they have this un- understood lingering disgust. They would be at war with themselves would they not? So they seduce and even fall into a kind of love but then it has to end. So it is that we often blame ourselves.

What I have noticed in my own life and what has been so convincing and so remarkable to me  with several people in several types of relationships be it family, dating or friendships  the  person has been greatly abused  but now when the person is in safer saner environment not only due to me but to various other factors it seems to make such little difference. Again the point is it is not about you or even the environment but about them, at least at first and often for a very long time. Unfortunately, this can be a setup to blame and shame the person for not “taking advantage” of a good situation or “not wanting” to or being “lazy.” Or “wanting everything handed to them on a platter.” It can all be very frustrating. But all that is a different story.

This all has to do with causality of why they are as they are. The causality of their state; is yes their abuse. But once free of that abuse and often multiple abusive partners little changes. I don’t want to change horses  the middle of the stream. I am emphasizing here the role of the “other.”  It is to emphasize that it took me a while not to get caught in the trap that I had something to do with it or that it “was about me” or that I should take it “personally.”  

But boy you should take it personally!

But then what am I saying? The overall point is all and all that people have scripts and often a lot of bad ones. When they have lots of problems and are in a deep hole they are going to treat everyone the same way. Why? Because that is the prism through which they see the world. They have not the time or the energy to see people as true individuals. That is why you will feel like “hey what am I chopped liver here?” so much of the time. I felt like and often feel like the “Man you wasn’t or isn’t there.” 

This does not make them “selfish.” It makes “selfish” a useless word. Here we are after understanding human motivation. I hope this helps.

Brian Lynch

Brian Lynch
Shame and Humiliation

http://www.squidoo.com/thinking-feeling-doing (Summary of Principles used in these posts.)

http://www.brianlynchmd.com

Tomkins, Silvan S.: Affect Imagery Consciousness NY: SPringer Publishing Company, 1963.

Shame and Pride : Affect, Sex, and the Birth of the Self by Donald L. Nathanson Paperback (March 1994)

Nothing that is Human is foreign

Nothing that is Human is foreign

This is an old therapist saw.

 Terence was on the money.

The therapeutic community is on the money for claiming it.

Now a number of years ago it came up in a discussion with a colleague and he pointed out how unfortunate it was that so many in the community only give it  lip service.

I can certainly say that is so often true in my experience in general medicine

I often say that I am quite sure that I would not be alive today without the understanding of the material I came across 13 years ago and that is the material called Affect Psychology which gives me a clear understanding of why even healers give only lip service to Terence's saying; To go to the extreme why one of Osama Bin Laden’s lieutenant’s can be a physician.  Or why even a colleague of mine, that supposedly understands affect mater,  can refer to young girls that are caught humiliating a classmate on video as less than human.  To be clear about what Terence is saying it is this, the therapist should not be surprised by any human act, and I take it to be, should treat all comers. Jeffery Dahmer is a human being, he is not, not human, no matter how greatly he “disgusts” us. He is not “foreign.” Of course Terence knew nothing of “therapists” having lived c. 3 BC to 65 AD and it is therefore all the more remarkable the statement.

The answer as to why we give lip service to it is simple,  if one of the conclusions of Affect Psychology is correct and that is that human beings know squat about their emotions. Hey, no big deal really. We are humans living in what Westerns humans call the twentieth century at the end of only a few hundred years of what we dane to call a scientific method that has been looking at our own species. Then add to that  the man that seems to have seen us by our own criteria, seen us as we are, only lived 150 year ago. That man was Charles Darwin. Darwin knew a lot and knew a lot about emotion but not many others did then or now, we are still arguing about evolution! 

We had to wait a while to advance. It was not until the 1950’s and 1960’s until Silvan Tomkins picked up where Darwin left off and started to  tell us about ourselves. It was then people could really start to understand why humans talked so clearly out of both sides of their mouth; could talk of accepting of all comers but in practice always discriminate.

Tomkins taught us about how our emotions where seated in our body and biology. How we felt things. How we tingled with excitement, shuddered with shame and where seized with fear. Stuff we all knew anyway but seemingly needed to be told.

But we did not really know about shame being so ever present in our lives and how it could be commingled with fear to terrorize us into being seized with guilt. Nor did we have nor do we have much understanding of how our sense of taste and smell can be bastardized as children, to again, enslave us socially and sexually so that we are forever handicapped to exclude people, places or things from our lives for no articulate reason other than “I don’t like that.” “That disgust me.” “That is contemptible.” “I never liked that.” “I feel uncomfortable around those types of people.” “I wouldn't see those people in my practice.”  “I'm not one of your junkie patients.” 

Our emotions simply are not much talked about. We grow up knowing something about Joy(happiness), anger, fear (being scared and a sissy), being sad, and that is about it. Somewhere along the line we learn to say oh that is “disgusting.”

We are just all ignorant of where it all starts. Where the cultural norms came from? Why do they eat dog in the Orient and no where else?  So it is with thousands of likes and dislikes and the basis for cultural norms and laws and canons all coming from the deep human recesses of stored memories linked with unpleasant feeling or if you will “affect”(the bodily potential to feel just like we have the apparatus to have the potential to feel our heart race or have “goose bumps.”) that we have never had the occasion of being introduce to. Properly: precisely, disgust, dissmell and shame. 
From "Shame and Pride," Nathanson pp.123 and 126 with permission.
We can chant Terence's wonderful ode to humanity until hell freezes over but unless we have had a pretty special and liberal childhood an upbringing that has taught us to be open to the world and its people despite our ignorance of our innate emotions we are going to have a hard time  making it trough without developing strong dislikes, even hatreds of others through no fault of our own.  This is going to cause much confusion in our lives especially as professionals as we are going to find ourselves rejecting people and feeling terrible about it, disavowing it and “acting out” about it. This even despite strong “liberalizing” experiences in later years that might end in many torturing private moments that end reinforcing our ‘beliefs.”  We may be tortured as we simply feel we are indeed “all wrong” but as we still simply do not understand the confusion we feel we must persist. We may become even more saltwort in our actions. The most persistent place I see this is in the treatment of the  “drug” addict Across medical specialties there persists great personal dissmell and disgust for the “drug addict.” Now despite emergency medicine being a “specialty” for more than twenty years they are poorly trained to deal with the phenomena. Or let us say individual doctors are poorly trained and this is the point of the essay in part, individual emotion is brought to the  table, is not brought to consciousness and is carried through and into practice despite exposure to dramatic experience and training. Their own dissmell and disgust and shame sabotages. It is still not uncommon to hear reported “get out of my fucking ER, you fucking drug addict.” Yes, that is a direct quote of course, by the physician.  Of course, number one, addiction is a medical problem with treatment options and the patient has many reasons to be there and again they are all legitimate including their drug seeking lying and manipulation. They are all legitimate as they are all part and parcel of being human and therefore are not foreign to the experience.  Everyone that walks into the emergency room, pretty much short of firing a nine millimeter at you, which happens, is your patient.  That it is your job to develop the interest you can in them. It is the doctors own dissmell  and disgust and shame that she or he has no knowledge of. Nor do we in our daily lives when we reject another human out of hand. So if we are lucky we might stumble across some knowledge of what deeply motivates us. But we should go easy on ourselves, always, as we could not have known about these deep complex emotions and their intertwining until now.

And unfortunately simply learning about them and becoming aware does not suddenly make things easy. It seems not to be the whole picture or answer. It can, at times, take years of digging to unravel the tapestry life has woven. Many hours of thinking and practice to undo the program; it is very much like rewriting the code to software. “At the time ‘x’ conditions occur ‘y’ will take place and not ‘z.’” We have to truly “get ahead of the curve.” But that means understanding that I  Brian Lynch truly think and believe that it is worthwhile and beneficial for me to understand that what I call my “disgust” in and  my “hatred” of all members of the religion of  &amp:orduex and what I find  dissmelling in their practice of sucking each others little fingers is precisely because I feel something based in unpleasant feelings that are based in my past that I am projecting forward on them and  not in on some “pure” preordained “logic.”

So, we begin to understand that, for the most part, there is a “logic” but only a logic of deep seeded culture and of individual and group likes and dislikes. 


Brian Lynch

Shame and Humiliation
http://www.squidoo.com/thinking-feeling-doing (Summary of Principles used in these posts.)
http://www.brianlynchmd.com
Tomkins, Silvan S.: Affect Imagery Consciousness NY: SPringer Publishing Company, 1963.
Shame and Pride : Affect, Sex, and the Birth of the Self by Donald L. Nathanson Paperback (March 1994)