We Have Done What We Have Done Do to Our Own Hurt that was U

We Have Done What We Have Done Do to Our Own Hurt that was U

Postby drlynch on Tue Dec 20, 2011 11:51 pm

We Have Done What We Have Done Do to Our Own Hurt that was Unmanageable

This topic comes up from time to time but has not come up for a long time and that is why therapist aren’t or why aren't espousers of the good or say particularly of this philosophy or psychology perfect beings? It used to come up on Don Nathanson's bulletin board several times about Tomkins when it came to light that Thomkins was by far a perfect human being and indeed he was not. There is no reason to go into detail about his foibles. Those serious students of the psychology and its history will, overtime, find out these matters on their own. That said his faults are not felonious or any such thing. People, over time, have taken me to task about my shortcomings. The only logical conclusion is that I should be perfect. Correct me if I am wrong, that is the only conclusion to which I come.

I always point out to patients that when I teach this material that I came to it when I was 47 years old. It is essential to understanding it is that it is “affect and script” psychology and scripts are equivalent more or less to habits or they are “habits”; they are the way we bring affect into the world; “feeling” into the world: That which motivates us to do anything. They are ready-made responses to stimuli. Stimuli affect us. We respond. We have all of these more or less programs built into us and we respond. It is central to understand we respond before we think. We respond before we think. I say again we respond before we think. I emphasize that we can now prove that in order to defend myself my hand has to be going towards your face before I am conscious of hitting you. Now explain that? It challenges “free will” to a large extent. It makes many very uncomfortable. But we can prove in the lab that the hand is moving before conscious awareness. We therefore have what would be equivalent to good and bad scripts. A good script would be getting up in the morning and having a toothbrush in our mouth before we think about it. Then to be graphic a bad script would be getting up in the morning and having a needle in our arm before we realize it. A less graphic and much more prevalent one would be that we have a cigarette in our hand before we knew what we were doing.

There are thousands if not if not tens of thousands of scripts you use every day. What they do is they free up consciousness so we can think about other things, hopefully productive and positive things they also help us save our lives. They help us keep ourselves from being murdered and raped and accosted they are our automatic responses in times of danger. For sure these danger signals get mixed up in social situations and we confuse one for the other. That is we really are not in danger and we respond as if we are in danger.

Nathanson said in some long ago post to me that “people are people”; a seemingly offhand response but it says, to me, at least, that in the end we can throw out “Affect Psychology” at the end of the day when the rubber hits the road. We have to deal with each other as fully fledged human beings living in the world and we are going to bump into each other. It is a messy world; we are a so-so fit in the world. We are on a very slow boat to China. One person learns to manage shame and withdraws, another person learns to blame themselves which is very much a form of withdraw, another person learns to avoid; avoidance in the form of being nice to everybody while another person learns to attack. Put these people all in a room and try to have a party and you might just end up with an explosion.

We have a thing we talk about, a thing called backed-up affect this is when we tolerate things for so long and anger, fear, distress et al build to a point where we can no longer tolerate the pressure, an easy concept to understand. We just can't hold it back anymore and it has to be discharged. Many people are extremely, extremely skilled at hiding their backed-up affect and at discharging it precisely in given places being otherwise near consummate gentleman and ladies in public and monsters in private.

Yet: By the above we came to accept ourselves as we are and to understand that when we have hurt ourselves or others we have done what we have done due to our own hurt that was unmanageable. Thus it is counterproductive and damaging to blame ourselves and others. (Step 7: Twelve Steps To Emotional Health)

But all this gets me away from this seemingly incomprehensible idea that anyone can and does hold anyone to a standard of perfection simply because they try and are trying to espouse a higher standard or achieve a higher standard themselves or teach a higher standard. No great leader that I know of and yes those that I have been close to have their darker side nor in the annals of biography have we not seen almost universal frailty at some level on the part of “the great.” I keep in mind that we are like big Pillsbury doughboys, I would dare say, all of us. Who might escape? That if you push here he pops out someplace else. If you think you can contain everything in a nice puffy forum you're wrong. If you walk around to the other side there is a big bulge coming out on the other side somewhere and if you push that bulge it's just going to pop out someplace else.

Yes I exaggerate but not by much. For example I quite understand when someone might give the sample of say Buddhist monks? Are they not an example? This is not a criticism just an observation. Well, what have they done? It seems to me that they have withdrawn from the world. Seems like a radical move. What if we all did that? Then simply you’re not living in “the world.” It is a form of “withdrawal.” And I am pretty sure there's plenty of intrigue and backstabbing within the world of Buddhist monks, just as there is plenty of intrigue in any monastery.

Those of you who know me and have been in sessions with me know that I practice a very open type of therapy that is simply I like to see it as a form of education and instruction and not much else. There is much personal disclosure that I have found very useful. And my charges tell me this is very helpful. That is people know a great deal about my personal life that I need not go into here. People know I am by far, far from perfect. I explain in detail off and on my experiences with friends, family and in the work environment; my situations where I am hurt and how I respond to that hurt the trouble I've gotten into it in those situations and how I processed it.

The later in life you learn these ideas the more ingrained your scripts are and the harder they are going to be to change the harder they are going to be to change especially if you have unproductive harmful scripts let's say it's like riding a bike. Example: can you unlearn riding a bike? Of course you can’t. I've never used this example before but it's a good insight. A great insight for me you can't unlearn riding a bike. Others have said that negative scripts are never really done away but their just more or less covered up. They aren't really replaced by new scripts. We just learn to manage them with newer scripts. With this new insight about bike riding I may have to agree with him we do our best and I believe we are all doing our best.

Now this brings me to compassion. I believe compassion, unfortunately, is a script therefore if we don't learn compassion well, how do we learn it later in life? This is a problem with human relations in general. I think many of us suffer in any kind recovery or again in any relationship and any moment where empathy is sought especially with those around who don’t have compassion or at least don’t seem to express it. Now this again be we in recovery or not. Just if we are hurt for any reason and we are in distress and maybe hurt by them.

We are not hurt on purpose but we express our hurt and distress and what do we get? Maybe we get just more of a kick in the teeth. “Surprise!” Who are these people who otherwise expose compassion? Mostly and often I think they realize that they hurt us and they cannot really bear that thought or fess up to it and they withdraw into their own shame and then attack you once you show your distress. Yes shame kills when it is not brought into the light, into consciousness. And so I answer for myself for the first time clearly how it is that friends, family and lovers and so easily betray one another at a moment’s notice: betrayal at the drop of a hat.

So we find ourselves being told that we are “too sensitive” or some such thing or that we should be masters of our emotions. I take pains to say that all of us fall into the “Compass of Shame” all the time and in fact every time we space out, watch a little bit too much TV, listen to a music a bit too much and maybe have an extra drink and get a bit too much irritated or say “Man that was stupid.” “I shouldn't of done that.” or maybe say something not so nice to the guy that cut us off. All those are examples of that what we call the “Compass of Shame.”

Yet: By the above we came to accept ourselves as we are and to understand that when we have hurt ourselves or others we have done what we have done due to our own hurt that was unmanageable. Thus it is counterproductive
and damaging to blame ourselves and others.

I have been asked what the practicality of this system is and how to put it in to practice. My testimonial to every patient has been that it saved my life and that I was 47 when I learned it. It is practice, practice, practice. I say that evolution baptized us with 9 innate feelings and 6 of them are punishing and therein lies the rub. Anger, fear, distress, shame, disgust and dissmell will always be with us along with some bad moments of surprise. That is a river of punishing emotion to constantly deal with. How does the system help? It brings it all “into consciousness.” And it categorizes the characteristic ways we habitually and generically respond to these punishing feeling especially shame. I will never be prefect but I am personally better than I was. Anyone that thinks that they will not fall into to “avoidance”, “attack” and “withdrawal” often and fervently is in a dear state of disavowal and denial.

As my friend Jim said we all need to “lower our standards” and by implications raise our level of compassion and lower our moralizing, criticism and mudslinging and thus stop our constant betraying of one another.

Brian Lynch, M.D. 12/11
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