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Hello,

I'm a newbee, so I apologise if I have posted this in the wrong section.

To begin with, I am unsure what my diagnosis would be, as I have never really been to therapy. I've pretty much done the whole thing on my own. I did see a counsellor for a while a few years ago but she said I was doing it all myself anyway :)

The basic pattern I have followed has been roughly:

- expressing any emotion that needs to be expressed regarding 'issue'. Either crying or screaming into a pillow with an emphasis on journalling.

- I read back my journal and observe my thoughts about said 'issue'.

- Look at thoughts/reactions/emotions around 'issue' and then apply logic and reason.

- Use positive self reinforcement and thought correction when 'issue' comes up next.

So far, this has worked pretty well. However, I'm noticing there are still situations that cause a kind of involuntary physical/emotional reaction, no matter how much logic I apply to the thoughts behind the reactions. Does that make any sense?

I can't work out why I'm still reacting this way (I was bullied and sexually abused, so I feel intimidated, fearful, anxious, panic etc) or what I can do about it.

Any suggestions would be most welcome :o

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I don't know whether you know what "perceptual set" is but perhaps you have come across the old lady and the young girl visual illusion test. (you could google this - it is an interesting experiment). Some will only see the old lady and some will only see the young woman, my point being that what you see will depend on your contextual perspective. Gestalt figure/ground theory states that the arbitrary change of perception of a figure emerging from the background has to do with our unconscious mind. It’s influenced by our experiences, values, beliefs; our complex internal world that is usually out of our awareness, but guides us in many ways. In much the same way our social and behavioural patterns repeat themselves (often called repetition compulsion) unconsciously and until we become conscious of them we will continue to make the same mistakes, etc, etc. Those

involuntary physical/emotional reactions
you refer to?

So no matter which way you choose to look at yourself or how you do it, the subjective perspective will still be dictated to by the above factors, much of which you will probably be unaware.

In a nutshell I think what I am trying to say is that sometimes we need objective outsider perspectives (perhaps a therapist or counsellor)to look at things from another angle and enable us to see the old lady where we were perhaps only seeing the young woman before.

X

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I don't know whether you know what "perceptual set" is but perhaps you have come across the old lady and the young girl visual illusion test. (you could google this - it is an interesting experiment). Some will only see the old lady and some will only see the young woman, my point being that what you see will depend on your contextual perspective. Gestalt figure/ground theory states that the arbitrary change of perception of a figure emerging from the background has to do with our unconscious mind. It’s influenced by our experiences, values, beliefs; our complex internal world that is usually out of our awareness, but guides us in many ways. In much the same way our social and behavioural patterns repeat themselves (often called repetition compulsion) unconsciously and until we become conscious of them we will continue to make the same mistakes, etc, etc. Those you refer to?

So no matter which way you choose to look at yourself or how you do it, the subjective perspective will still be dictated to by the above factors, much of which you will probably be unaware.

In a nutshell I think what I am trying to say is that sometimes we need objective outsider perspectives (perhaps a therapist or counsellor)to look at things from another angle and enable us to see the old lady where we were perhaps only seeing the young woman before.

X

Hi Chisolm,

Thanks for taking the time to answer :)

I hadn't heard of the phrase 'perceptual set' but I certainly understand what you are explaining. And just for the record, I'm a bit of a freak cause I always see both the old lady and young woman...but I do understand what you meant by that illustration :)

I guess I'm having a hard time, understanding why I was able to work through everything else and take myself from suicidal depression to a pretty good place but am unable to work through the unconscious stuff?

Why do we develop these unconscious reactions? Where are they coming from? What can we do about them?

In order for me to get myself from where I was to where I am now, I had to learn how to be objective about it all. No matter how painful the truth may be, I was always open to being honest with myself, as my desire to be well is much stronger than any demon I have hidden.

But this unconscious stuff is proving much harder to work through than even the darkest points of my depression.

*Sigh* I guess I'm just tired of being a prisoner to it all. I'm tired of being screwed up :)

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Why do we develop these unconscious reactions? Where are they coming from? What can we do about them?

To the extent that these unconscious reactions are debilitating then there is much to be gained in making the unconscious conscious. But I honestly think that this is something best done with a counsellor/therapist. Many of these unconscious reactions may relate to preverbal experiences (how old were you when the abuse occured?) which is why they are difficult to understand. You may therefore have to learn what the triggers are rather than completely understanding the reaction (Jung referred to unconscious 'complexes" being triggered), thereby learning to employ coping mechanisms and tools when this occurs.

The reason I am adamant about getting "outsider" assistance (another perspective) is that I have a tendency to over-analyse at the best of times (you may have noticed :D) and so often we get so caught up being the observer (we all have our own internal observers - some more hectic than others) or our own watchdog that we forget to live our lives - for want of a better word, we lose the capacity to JUST BE.

Sometimes the process needs to be more about acceptance than over-analysing. A therapist once said to me: "you need to learn to make friends with your shadow, learn to live with it, you will never wholly exorcise it". After all Jung also speaks about the "golden shadow" and there is much to be gained therein.

Anyway there I go over-analysing and waffling again. You sound like you have done a brilliant and very admirable job so far! In a nutshell, sometimes we need to accept that we can't do it all ourselves and help in the form of a counsellor/therapist simply offers another lens and gives you time off to be a human BEING .

X

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Guest ASchwartz

Hi Chisholm and everyone,

Chisholm, could you translate for me???

What you wrote seems to make sense but I am unclear. Perhaps its too early in the AM for me. :D

Confused Allan:confused:

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Hi Allan

Welcome back! Probably tying myself in a knot - over analysing is after all my downfall.

Shi-anne seems to be struggling to understand certain unconscious reactions that she has

involuntary physical/emotional reactions
. My suggestion is that perhaps it is not entirely possible to understand everything about the unconscious, but to the extent that it is necessary it might be helpful to have another perspective ie a therapist/counsellor - somebody with the necessary skills and tools who will be able to view things from a different angle (rather than go it alone as she has done so far). I suppose it's the woods vs the trees thing? Or to use another anology, it's like trying to study your glasses whilst looking through them - tricky?

I think Shi-anne sounds like she has done a brilliant job herself but that if she wants to go deeper she might need some assistance?

I don't want to speculate on these "unconscious emotional/physical reactions" she is struggling with. By preverbal trauma I meant memories that occur before the age of 3 or so, the only way to encode memory is what neuroscientists call "Implicit memory" and some call "body memories". Preverbal memories and implicit memories (the associated emotions and body sensations) that naturally occur in all childhood or adult trauma are stored in the limbic system and reptilian part of the brain. Traumatic memory encoded "implicitly" often manifests itself through visceral reactions, body movements, muscular tension or contraction, irregular or rapid breathing, and other reactions in the autonomic nervous system. In turn often leading to generalized anxiety, panic attacks, depression, mood swings, hypervigilance, dissociation etc, etc.

By complexes I meant a "node in the unconscious" - like a bundle of unconscious feelings and beliefs, detectable indirectly, through behavior that is puzzling or hard to account for but often triggered through certain events that might be useful to understand in the 'here and now' rather than rehashing the past?

Anyway there I go again. The way that I look at is, where it is not debilitating, one often just has to accept and learn to live with it (I shy away from trying to unerstanding these things in depth - wary of the psychoanalysis I went through!!!) and recognise the triggers when they come up. Alternatively where it is debilitating - CBT, EMDR, etc, etc

Edited by Chisholm
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To the extent that these unconscious reactions are debilitating then there is much to be gained in making the unconscious conscious. But I honestly think that this is something best done with a counsellor/therapist. Many of these unconscious reactions may relate to preverbal experiences (how old were you when the abuse occured?) which is why they are difficult to understand. You may therefore have to learn what the triggers are rather than completely understanding the reaction (Jung referred to unconscious 'complexes" being triggered), thereby learning to employ coping mechanisms and tools when this occurs.

That makes so much sense.

I was about 2 years old when I was sexually abused by my Grandfather. I do have memories of it but honestly do not want to spend time actively remembering (if that makes sense?)

I actually have very vivid memories from early childhood. My earliest memory is being a baby in my mothers arms and yet, I have huge chunks of memory missing as I got older.

The reason I am adamant about getting "outsider" assistance (another perspective) is that I have a tendency to over-analyse at the best of times (you may have noticed :() and so often we get so caught up being the observer (we all have our own internal observers - some more hectic than others) or our own watchdog that we forget to live our lives - for want of a better word, we lose the capacity to JUST BE.

Haha! I'm in good company, then. I too, over-analyse...almost everything. It was a great tool for overcoming the things I had to but I sometimes wish I could just switch it off.

Sometimes the process needs to be more about acceptance than over-analysing. A therapist once said to me: "you need to learn to make friends with your shadow, learn to live with it, you will never wholly exorcise it". After all Jung also speaks about the "golden shadow" and there is much to be gained therein.

I think you may be right. I have a dendancy to be a little hard on myself in my desire to be well. I expect too much, perhaps?

Anyway there I go over-analysing and waffling again. You sound like you have done a brilliant and very admirable job so far! In a nutshell, sometimes we need to accept that we can't do it all ourselves and help in the form of a counsellor/therapist simply offers another lens and gives you time off to be a human BEING .

X

No...what you said made a lot of sense.

Thank You. It's helped a great deal :D

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