Archive for May, 2011

Resilient vs. Repression
If you want to make me cringe quicker then the sound of a puppy getting its shot, say the phrase “Kids are resilient” to me. If you are a mental health expert and say that, I will become near nauseous status. The definition of “Resilient is – Marked by the ability to recover readily, as from misfortune.” This simplifies the complex nature of the human mind. Namely how it deals with pain. To simply “recover” or return to its original shape is not accurate when applied to human behavior. The more accurate statement would be “children easily repress”. But repression doesn’t mean recovered or unaffected. In fact it means quite the opposite.

First, a little about “repression”. It is the minds primary defense mechanism. It is what all other defense mechanism is made up of. The “stages of grief” is the road to repression. The way a crime victim forgets the face of a perpetrator. The way a young child is abused and grows into an adult with no recollection of it. These are all forms of repression. “Psychological repression, also psychic repression or simply repression, is the psychological attempt by an individual to repel its own desires and impulses towards pleasurable instincts… The repression is caused when an external force puts itself in contrast with the desire, threatening to cause suffering if the desire is satisfied, thereby posing a conflict for the individual; the repressive response to the threat is to exclude the desire from one’s consciousness and hold or subdue it in the unconscious.”

How Repression Heals
So in the case of a lost loved one, your desire to hold, share space, and communicate with them is the desire. The “external force” is death. Depending on how profound the relationship was to the griever’s 3 basic needs, the more difficult it is to repress the feeling and desire to connect with them. As the body and mind goes through the desire, then the realization, and the feeling of insecurity cycles, the lesson is learned. (Like teaching a dog not to pee on the carpet with a spray bottle. Action followed by discomfort slowly changes the desire to repeat the action.) The stronger the desire, the more times it has to be repeated. Even when fully repressed doesn’t mean “influential”. It certainly doesn’t mean forgotten.

This is an important tool for progression. Could you imagine a life if you remembered the pain of the loss of a loved with the same intensity as the day it first happened. A woman would never have another kid if she remembered the pain of labor as vividly as when it was happening. It allows you to learn a lesson with out having to learn it again every time, but not feel the discomfort in a like situation. With it our personalities evolve.

The Inherient Flaw or Repression
Repression can also be a “Pandora’s Box” of pain and dysfunction. The problem with this system is that the “user” has no access to the logic driving their behaviors. That which is in the “subconscious” is obviously not conscious. Since you are the only one both physically present and aware of your perception every moment of your life, only you have the key to your subconscious. But the reason why you repressed these memories is because they were not pleasurable to remember. Since were are a species wired to seek the “most pleasurable option” always, recalling painful memories is a catch 22. Often they are only released in a way that is irrational and only relieves mental pressure. Extreme cases of this become known as OCD. Where a sufferer must perform an action no matter how irrational and for no conscious reason they can reiterate. This is kind of like “close source code” to a computer program.

We can all agree that the actions of someone who harms or kills them self is irrational. Likewise, a mother drowning her children or a serial killer are equally unfathomable. These are all psychosis caused by a subconscious trying to vent. This is a “feedback loop” or“stuck” program logic. Two opposing perception of what would be pleasurable lead to unexplainable behavior. In its basic form “I want to flee” is in opposition with “fleeing will make things worse”.

What causes this?
Well that is a good question. The subconscious is filled with guilt, fear, and self loathing. That bridge that connects the subconscious and the conscious it the “trigger”. The trigger is related to the event that caused the lesson to begin with. To streamline the thought process, the mind just needs these triggers to issue a response in the form of a behavior. For example. Let say you burnt yourself on an open flame for the first time. Later, an open flame will cause alertness. Putting your hand over it will force a reaction to withdraw. This is a good example, since most of us never burn our hand on an open flame (or at least that isn’t our first exposure) but is conditioned by our parents. Time we have learned to both use and fear an open flame. Take your hand and slowly move it towards the flame and feel the anxiety well up in your chest. Eventually you will reach a point where you can not push yourself any further or hold it there any longer. Imagine a spouse who had an affair. The trigger becomes the person they cheated on. Seeing that person reminds them of their guilt. This situation makes recovering from an affair hard. Now imagine if that anxiety and guilt is caused by self image. This is the case of anorexia type disease.

Not a Chemical Imbalance
One thing that people who suffer from this do NOT have chemical imbalances and are not physically dysfunctional. There is nothing a pill can do to solve this dilemma. In fact they are just as normal as anybody else. Their sensitivity is off. All pills do is suppress the thought process so one side of the debate can win. They do it however with out any concern to which sided of the debate wins. So if the debate is “I don’t want to go to work but if I don’t I will get fired.” Drugs could suppress the anxiety about getting fired.

How repression kills?
Realizing that we are attempting to “rationalize the irrational” here, this is a little loose and hard to grasp. Guilt and fear will drive people to irrational conclusions. A complex set of internal rules and counter rules stemming from defining events that make up their behavioral maps exposed to loops. For example, studies show that a woman who looses or aborts a child has a greatly increased chance of feeling inadequate when they do have a child. The child becomes the source (trigger) of discomfort. Some try to over compensate by over nurturing the child while others turn on the child as the blame for all their bad feelings. When this isn’t significant to quell these subconscious feelings of guilt, even more extreme and irrational options are considered. One might be, “I am an awful mom, I should stop being a mom.” The only way to do that is to get rid of the kid. “I will be saving the child because they won’t have to grow up with such and awful mother.” So what you have in this case is a woman who looks to the outside world like a great and caring mom who dotes on her child/ children. However, inside is a subconscious time bomb brewing.

Our behaviors are driven by all of our life’s experiences. Even the ones we have minimized or completely pushed from our conscious still dictate how we react to stimulus. Your little “hand ups”, “pet peeves”, or irrational concerns have roots in your subconscious.