There has been much talk of how Brexit has divided our country, and indeed, in my own extended family I have members on both sides of the debate.
In this blog I want to write a little bit about how we as humans are divided and how Psychotherapy can ease some of the conflict contained in that. This divide, or split, can happen when we think or do things that don’t accord with what we believe to be our own beliefs. Beliefs about ourselves as doers of good, thinkers of pure thoughts etc.
Freud describes how these splits can be repressed, by quoting Nietzsche’s phrase: –
“’I did that’ says my memory; ‘I cannot have done that’, says my pride and refuses to yield. Finally – memory gives way.’”
Splitting is not necessarily a bad thing, it is often a way to manage something that cannot be managed at the time, so, cleverly, the psyche represses it. However, this repression is never total so the thing that wasn’t able to be managed, perhaps due to it being too overwhelming at that time, seeks to come out in some other way.
The outpouring of grief at Princess Diana’s funeral, for instance, was not only about the sad and untimely death of Diana but also presented a triggering of an outpouring repressed and split off grief in so many people and perhaps goes to show how much grief so many of us carry around.
Another way splits can occur is when we have, as we almost always do, conflicting feelings of love and hate to those we are close to. This can sometimes create a terrible conflict, where the anger or disappointment or hurt, feels like it can’t be expressed for fear of hurting the one that is also loved and therefore potentially causing us to lose that person.
However, the feelings are still there, so find other ways to come out; – road rage, shouting at the TV, getting into arguments at work, etc. Most of us want to be good and can find these parts of ourselves distasteful and best not thought about. However, that has side effects, sometimes serious ones and that is when a person will sometimes seek psychotherapy.
The psychotherapist will work to facilitate the unearthing of these conflicts in a way that is sensitive, non-shaming and understanding, in order to allow their expression and lessen their negative effects on the client’s life.
To start with this can seem strange and almost feel like the therapist is only interested in their ‘bad bits’. However, it is not that the therapist wants to humiliate the client, but rather to do the opposite of colluding with the sometimes-long history and input of well-meaning friends and family who have tried to make them feel better by joining in the game of pretending to look the other way.
As Carl Jung said :-
“One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.”
Paul Salvage is Psychodynamic Psychotherapist trained to work with adolescents from 16-25 and adults across a wide range of specialisms including depression, anxiety, family issues, self awareness and relationship difficulties. He currently works with individuals in our private practice in Hove.