Once, I had a television location shooting with GMA 7 for the beginning episode of a new mental health-related TV program. The crew brought me to a 60-year-old woman who suffers from chronic nail biting (onychophagia).
Lola Telia (not her real name) has been biting the nails of her hands and feet for around 50 years already. When I met her on camera, she smiled and showed me the severely distorting marks left by her nail biting on her hands and feet. When asked about it, Lola Telia responded, “I know it’s not something I should do, but I can’t control my self.”
Here, an awareness of the reality of our “two natures” could help us understand Lola Telia’s predicament as well as ours and others. It’s important to understand that both “good” and “bad” are co-existing and inherent within each of us. It’s human nature in its fleshly essence. As long as we live, these “two natures” inside of us will always be in conflict with each other.
So, in therapy and personal recovery, the real battle is not in people or life’s circumstances but in how we respond to them from within ourselves. That’s exactly where our “two natures,” our “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” as author Robert Stevenson put it, come into the picture. In order to heal and be whole, one must take sides with the “good” nature against the principle of dysfunction or “evil” which belongs to the unhealthy “bad” nature.
Now each one of us is called to make this real in personal life and experience. Psychologist and therapist Dr. Carl Jung calls it “shadow” work. If we totally depend on our self-will (often “disabled” by trauma or unresolved issues) to defeat this “bad” shadow when it asserts itself and puts us in bondage, we won’t survive.
This is a proven limitation of purely medical, secular, or humanistic psychiatry or psychology which “begins in man and ends in man” in treating psychological and emotional disorders. The key to real, complete psychological and emotional healing is simply beyond these fields or “establishments.”