Dr. Know


In our last article we talked about how the past intrudes on the present.  In other words, in terms of behavior, what happened in the past may influence how one reacts in the future.  People attuned to the whys and wherefores of psychology accept this as an axiom, but are less inclined than popular opinion would have you believe to let it overly influence how they react in vital situations.
Dr. J. Leff
Printing 070505-06

Compelling experiences, whether of pleasant or detrimental nature, occur early in our psychic development and have a marked emotional and intellectual effect on our adult sensitivities. Important as it is to realize that even as children we are not passive recipients of what happens around us, we should not allow that realization to be unduly worrisome. It can be said that we interact with outstanding remembered experiences and give them interpretations very much of our own making. Thus siblings, as is well documented, can be affected and react differently to the same experiences. The result, in analytic work, is that we not only strive to bring to light the meaning of powerful past experiences and effects, but our own reconstructions of them as well.

Case history exercise. A lovely intelligent articulate and dramatic couple, both born in a Mediterranean country, come for help for a severe marital conflict.

She is ten years his senior in age, articulate and attractive. He is emotional, a poet at heart, but he had been communicating in a chat room with a much younger woman, a family friend and was beginning to articulate poetic loves and simpatico experiences. The wife experienced panic episodes and terminated this friendship. The man was furious at her interference in his "Friendship", her "Control" and expressed anger at her sense of victimization.

What emerged from exploration of the impasse they found themselves in, is that his parents had experienced severe marital distress. His mother, the more articulate and dramatic of the two, felt victimized by the father's so called affairs. The father failed in business, suffered depression and withdrew. The mother never forgave the father and, by way of emotional substitution, demanded attention from her sons. When his wife berates him for what he did, feels victimized, acts as if he put a noose around her neck while, as it were, punishing him with the other end of the rope, he goes ballistic.

 

But, hold on, let's not be so fast to condemn her comportment without taking a look at the other side of the coin. Consider the wife's sad baggage from her family's checkered past. Her mother always felt she married too soon, had an affair, threatened to leave the father and her younger brother. The woman then made herself a bridge to keep the parents together and the family intact.

She could be characterized as the petrified child. Her deep yearning is to be loved and to be secured, to feel protected and not need to be the wise one; but she is not likely to yield the authority.

Imagine the scene in the First Act, the characters emerge, we see the various forces at play, the resistance to change, the lines drawn in the sand. Now, imagine the third act... I bet you're getting the hang of it. It might be fun to read the scene at the finale as you envision it. Send us a brief email with your take on the likely outcome. Practice of this sort can be a key to understanding.

Email your thoughts to: dickson@twinsprings.net

We might share one or two of the most intriguing solutions in our next column.

by Dr. J. Leff

You can E-Mail at: Dickson@twinsprings.net

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