Speaking As a Psychotherapist

Speaking as a psychotherapist, it isn’t our grownup loved ones who sometimes drive us crazy-as we like to pretend. Grownup lovers never hurt each other very deeply, meaning the kind of hurt that won’t go away, that haunts and torments us, that makes us alcoholics, or motivates our sexual affairs to have what we can’t get at home, to which we feel entitled. And yet we blame adult loving for all of these painful emotional experiences. The movies and printed romances are full of this pretense. Adults may trigger each other’s original traumas, but they don’t cause them.

When the real, indeed the only source of our deep suffering is always the same-our family of origin, and for one simple reason: it’s only as children that we’re vulnerable to being so deeply hurt by how we’re loved. The absence of love, even acts of thoughtlessness can tortures us as children. If it’s bad enough, we don’t even develop emotionally and intellectually https://emilybrydon.com/. Severe neglect can turn a brilliant child into a grossly underachieving dunce that thinks of herself as a worm. That kind of dreadful experience cannot happen to an adult unless the volume of torture is turned up so high-companionship, stimulus and food deprivation with constant beating-that a child would quickly die from even a few hours of it.

We’ve been massively brainwashed not to see this universal truth that Freud told us over 100 years ago. No amount of psychotherapy changes the fact that the deepest layers of human suffering come only from childhood. Therapy works-changes character removing symptoms permanently-only if it takes a while and goes very deep, touching upon what terrifies the vulnerable parts of us even to acknowledge, let alone change. We will do almost anything not to see what really happened. That’s why we can’t fix our lives worst problems by ourselves.

This doesn’t mean that parents are bad. Thankfully we gave up on that very harmful idea a ways back. It means instead that what happens to children is not well understood. They can’t tell us, so we never know if we understand them accurately. It’s mostly a guessing game. And we know how inaccurate that can be when we compare it to the precise accuracy of science. The extent of children’s vulnerability, and how we understand and respond to it, is what we can’t see very well. It’s not that we’re incompetent or bad. Instead the problem is that we adults water at the same trough that our children do-the family.

If one get their needs met in the same place, it’s very difficult to see what harm that may or may not be doing to others. Misunderstanding and argument happen frequently between adults competing for different things, running into each other’s needs. Children live in very magical, pretend make-believe places, not the real ones we adults occupy. Living with very small children can feel like living with a Martian in the sense of knowing what each other needs, wants and what they’re willing to do about it, immensely complicated the understanding of what’s going on in other’s heart and mind.

Even as we care about and for others, we are also very intent upon satisfying our own needs, naturally. And yet, though we dare not admit it, that fact makes us competitors with our children. The problem here isn’t that we shouldn’t have needs. Instead our need’s urgency may often blinds us to what satisfying them does to our children. Like constantly rescuing them from fear before they have a chance to form their own judgment about it-making fear utterly intimidating and impossible to handle without someone else to pick you up and taking care of it.

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