Why are you telling me this?
It is cruel information and not something I need to know.
Why are you undermining me with comments upon my character?
Have you examined yourself in the psychic mirror recently?
Why do you feel YOU have the right to tell ME how to live my life?
Yours is a melange of denial and untendered emotional weeds.
These imaginary dialogues represent a truth and a shift in my response to the world. With the plethora of psycho-spiritual movements (not, in itself, a bad thing) undulating across the Collective Consciousness, too many of us think that we have the absolute right to apply them wholesale to our friends and family, often without asking ourselves whether we have passed the basic ‘Exam’ necessary for such an endeavour: A’ level Know Thyself.
It is frighteningly easy to subdue and control another by these means. If we know someone intimately – and I do not mean by this a bond that needs to include sex – we will be very aware of the Points of Entry (as I call them): The undefended, vulnerable, wounded holes which let in psychic spears and swords. If we tell ourselves that attacking these cracks in the soul is an act of kindness, we may well be lying to ourselves: We may be mistaking our own intolerance and impatience (and hair-trigger temper when faced with the flaws of others) for genuine psychological awareness and impartial therapeutic intervention. If, to put it bluntly, another’s weaknesses stir rage, we are not the people to be donning the mask, and drawing up the metaphorical couch, of the psycho-therapist.
Justifying such behaviour on the grounds of the wounded one’s good is, in my view, a highly dubious, self-serving response. It means, more often than not, that we have bought into certain psycho-therapeutic trends which, used by a professional may well release psychic pus, but used by amateurs can do more harm than good.
Our interventions will, on the whole, be dominated by our own unacknowledged baggage; our motivation for such a step is, thus, highly suspect.
I am thinking here particularly of the perennially-popular Shock/Hurt You For Your Own Good school of psycho-analysis!
Because I firmly believe that such shocks stem as much from intolerance as they do from genuine love and a desire to help: That there is a very thin line, in the untrained, between, ‘I’m doing this for your good!’ and, ‘I’m doing this because I can’t tolerate your flaws and want you to snap out of them.’ Is it a genuine desire to help the other grow – or a vent through frustration in order to get it out of your own system?
I have been subject to untrained intervention of this type on many an occasion – and have, because of low self-esteem and fear, tended to agree with my ersatz counsellor and to take on board (but often not down to the hold) this form of criticism wrapped up in therapeutic jargon. But I have been in therapy enough times myself to know the difference between genuine counselling and meanness/spite/envy/impatience given blanket acceptance value through the medium of ‘Your Own Good’…
No counsellor I have been to has ever used verbal electric wires applied to my skin in this way. They have not needed to: Calm and probing questions have released my inner knowledge without such drama being necessary.
We can, in the final analysis (all puns intended!), only ever work on, and know in this way, ourselves. I do not think that ‘Know Thyself’ means ‘Bully others into knowing themselves first’. I do not think it works like that – because, every time we apply the electric shock to another, we are burning something sensitive and private within that person and are failing to inquire within why the hell this hostile act was so important.
‘You NEED shocking out of yourself,’ has been said, or implied, to me on countless occasions – and I have said, ‘You are SO right!’ and held out my arms and bared my chest for the wires to be attached.
Now I am beginning to get my spirit, my balls, my mojo back – and I would say this:
‘YOU need to look at the thin line between shocking others in this way and outright bullying, and decide what good excising a part of another’s person’s psyche in this brutal way really does!’
We use such techniques, if you think about it, upon people we consider to be weaker, more flawed, more easily tamed than us: We use them, that is to say, on inferiors, and not those we suspect will turn on us and fight back. But turning our friends and family into clients in this way is dangerous because we have not, usually, corralled the wild horses of our own stampeding egos before going to work upon another’s character – and, all too often, our therapy is driven by rage we will not admit to and a sense of superiority we would rather not face.
Offering someone the tools they need to work on themselves is, in my view, a genuine and very supportive act of love – and I thank those who have done this from the bottom of my heart.
But emotional Electro-convulsive therapy is, like its physical counterpart, both dangerous and potentially highly destructive. The thing you want to drive out may well be, and often is, driven ever-further inwards. You client’s outward compliance and failure to mention said subject again does not necessarily indicate that it has been resolved or banished.
If we are setting out to deal with others from an assumed position of psycho-therapeutic wisdom/superiority, I think it behoves us to ask, rigorously, whether we actually have the tools, the training and the self-knowledge for the job.