The below is a Facebook status update that grew into a longer post as I responded to some comments. I’m sharing it now. It’s basically a thread of thinking aloud. I’ll follow up with links to posts that further explore the general ideas put forth.
Once we’re adults we cannot expect another adult to fix the infantile parts of ourselves that were never appropriately nurtured by our parents. Healing is about becoming conscious of those parts and then learning to reparent those parts for ourselves. No one else will ever know what all the little hurt children within us need. We’re the only ones who can hear those parts and tend to them. This is the biggest reason the mental illness system fails. It pretends to be a parent and further infantilizes it’s adults clients. Until it understands how to support folks to trust themselves and thus empower themselves it will continue to cause further harm.
Little update to respond to some comments:
Psychotherapy at it’s best supports people in this sort of process. The fact is, however, that many therapists have not done this sort of work for themselves and nothing like this sort of thing ever starts to happen in any given “therapeutic” relationship. When it does it’s fantastic and the fact that it does happen is why there are many very enthusiastic adherents to the psychotherapeutic process. The fact is a relationship with a therapist can also be retraumatizing and that means folks who have been harmed in such relationships often find other ways of healing after such an encounter.
Also, to be clear, no one can do anything alone we do need others and we are all profoundly interconnected. Psychotherapy offers this sort of support when professionals actually know how to do it and how to reach folks. There are many other ways of doing the work as well and not everyone is destined to find their healing with the support of a psychotherapist. We all have different ways of finding support…sometimes it involves psychotherapy and sometimes it doesn’t. I think among those harmed in the system many find other just as profoundly healing ways. There are as many ways to wholeness as there are human beings.
Another clarification. Psychotherapy means a lot of different things to different people and the goals of different sorts of psychotherapy can be very different. Many sorts of practices don’t even pretend to do anything resembling what I’m talking about in this post, so it’s not realistic to expect any given psychotherapist to have a clue how to help do this sort of work. This is why in the end I go back to trusting yourself…as we become conscious our process will unfold and bring us to whom we need to interact (professionally or otherwise).
More for consideration: