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 adult clients. Until it understands how to support folks to trust themselves and thus empower themselves it will continue to cause further harm.
See: working with subpersonalities and parts
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.
See: Message to those with psych diagnosis
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 many 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).
The video posted below inspired this post. Ultimately, for better or worse, the video speaks to the truth (not particularly eloquently nor with grammatical precision either, but it’s short and sweet). We can’t rely on anyone in the end and we do need to learn how to count on ourselves. This doesn’t mean we don’t need support and that we are not also deeply interdependent. I am a big supporter of social justice of all kinds, for example, and don’t feel this is in conflict with that. Still it’s good to understand certain basic facts and work towards accepting them and learning to be strong in a very difficult world while we strive to make it better for everyone too. I wouldn’t say it exactly as they do but I still appreciated the basic sentiment.
The world can sometimes be a brutal and cold place. Although we think it’s also a matter of perspective, thing can seem pretty rough in your life at times. We understand. But when things aren’t going exactly the way we planned them, do we prefer a sugar-coated lie or the brutal truth? Which one of these will make us better people and which one will help us learn and continue to grow and expand? You got that right: ironically, it’s the brutal truth that will make us get up and go on. The more open we are to seeing things for what they really are, the faster we’ll mature and the better human beings will become. (from the youtube page)
More for consideration:
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Good article, as always, Monica. But I also think some of these “ugly truths” have been very well known and felt by many, psych meds or not. Some of us have learned them at a very early age, which may be a case of a little bit of “too much, too soon”. But maybe it’s a matter of perspective, though, and it could be something that people can relate to better after they have managed to regain some normalcy in their lives again. If someone is crawling on all fours during the especially difficult medication washout, those ugly truths can be extremely hope extinguishing. Being in a position when our experience is so ugly to be heard that even a helpline counselor is trying to find a way to get us not to call more than once a day is where that ugliness reaches cosmic proportions. At this point, not only have we been abandoned by all the superficial friends and quasi-acquaintances, but even the crisis counselors try to avoid us, because our narrative is not something they want to hear. This is probably the lowest of the lows someone can feel like while being an outpatient in a chemical straight-jacket. At least some of us should be grateful that we have not gone inpatient, or at least not yet.
The world is an odd place. Sometimes people do not realize how little help may be needed to lift someone up and get them moving again. Wouldn’t in be nice to be able to call a help-line, and instead of the clinical “how can I help you?” to hear something along the lines of “Hey, how are you doing? What’s your name”. It is amazing how such small difference in tone and approach can mean the world to a suffering person.