Psychological “False Self”

Psychology speaks of the existence of the “false self.” This part of the self hides secrets, which leads to an accommodating exterior or mask.

All work on psychotherapy involves this concept of “false self.” This often-hidden part of self lives a life of not following the truest and deepest inclinations of one’s core being.

The “false self” is basically dependent or non-autonomous. It’s unable to disengage from social, cultural, and instinctual conditioning. It can not make choices that reflect one’s true self, identity, and personal mission.

Nora is a 50 year old patient who sought therapy for her low self esteem. In our sessions, she continually anguished over her health, the approval of her husband and children, and what people say about her physical appearance.

She suffered from depression, anxiety attacks, and exaggerated concern of other people’s opinions. Hypersensitive, she bordered a lot toward hypochondria and eating disorders. As a result, she caused her self unnecessary trouble and wounding in her relationships.

Upon deeper probing, I found out how much Nora was hurt and traumatized during the normal formation of her self since childhood. Her mother treated her as if she’s one of the house maids when she was a little girl onwards.

She received verbal, physical, and emotional abuse from her mother for so many years. Her mother definitely failed to respond to her basic needs. To survive, Nora’s only choice was to hide who she is and use defensive, rigid adaptation defenses.

Nora is not alone. Countless individuals develop a pathological “false self” due to ancient false efforts for adaptation caused by parental mistakes or abuse. So disturbed in a primary relationship by numerous frustrations and hurts, a child learns to build a protective defense wall.

Instead of presenting a healthy persona, the wounded child tries to ward off the outside world which is experienced as hostile and rejecting. Far from being conscious, the unhealthy adaptation only leads to deeper alienation of the true self.

Cure for Pain

Pain is a place for the mind and soul. It’s an inevitable part of life. We’re often unable to fully understand the substance of our self. But our willingness to go deeper and experience the pains of life can make us find this true substance …. and wellness in spite of them.

Pain is not just physical. Mother Teresa was once quoted saying that the worst disease in the world is not leprosy or tuberculosis but the feeling of being unwanted, unloved, and abandoned by every one. Life’s pain also includes the non-physical, the emotional, relational, and spiritual pain. It’s so because the self is of many components, one but of many parts.

In psychotherapy, there is mostly this type of pain. A lot of psychopathology and socially unacceptable behavior is really a heart cry to be loved and accepted. Few people ever come out directly declaring this aspect of pain in their lives. But the behaviors and feelings manifested say it loud and clear.

How then do you find wellness … in spite of your pain?

Evelyn, a patient with severe heart disease and few friends or family to help her, shared her hints that we can all learn from: “I just accept and bear it and every moment be present in the Presence.” Anxiety is known to stimulate pain. Evelyn learned to conquer that through solitude and prayers. She learned to experience wellness amidst her varied pains, even at times eliminate the pain, by changing her attitudes, perceptions, and behaviors.

An anonymous writer once wrote about a secret formula: “Suffering is not a question that demands an answer; it’s not a problem that demands a solution; it’s a mystery which demands a Presence.”

Yes, you can experience wellness … in spite of your pain or suffering. Apply the secret.

Hope To A Better Future

“How do I emotionally survive the ‘merry’ holidays?,” consciously or unconsciously you ask your self.

Perhaps you’re going through separation, wounds from infidelity, divorce, failure, severe trauma or tension. You fear the fact that you might not enjoy the holidays. And you dread the looks, the questions, the wonder of those around about YOU.

Obviously, you’re feeling pain. You feel sad, depressed, and broken. Tears, rage, fear, catastrophic thoughts, hurt feelings are pounding your heart and gut. You’re struggling hard to cope with the same points of pain revolving around your being.

How I wish there’s an instant pill for relief! But there’s none. How do you eat an elephant? Only one answer – one bite at a time. You can only do your best to take one step at a time, one day at a time towards recovery. It’s a process. It’s helpful that you spend the holidays for deeper self-examination. Pray and reflect. Once you know your self better, it gives you, amazingly enough, some level of control over your pain as it ebbs and flows.

Push your self too into the hope of your future. Better times are coming. That happens only when you give your self challenges to pursue. Have you thought of starting a new business? Running? Writing a a book? Painting or sculpting? Re-channeling your energies to a huge project? Challenge your self to things that will utilize your gifts and strengths.

There it is. Among others, these, I believe, could help you emotionally hope towards a better future.

The Rise of the “iDisorder”

The smartphone is wonderful. With it, we can check our email, monitor our social network, write in blogs, keep in touch with loved ones and the rest of the world. It’s an immensely used digital machine nowadays. In fact, anywhere we go, this tech piece appears to answer the “needs” of countless people around the world.

Yet I notice among us, most people I observe, that the smartphone is always immediately checked, used, or looked at. In the streets. Inside the movie house. While eating in restaurants. In the car, even while driving. Excusing one’s self to go to the restroom to check the iPhone. Isolating, withdrawing from social interaction or party, to engage in the virtual place of games or fantasy. Don’t you think something is going on here underneath the surface we see?

Dr. Larry Rosen, a well-recognized international expert on the psychology of technology, says there is a rising trend of a type of mental disorder he calls “iDisorder.” According to him, iDisorder refers to “changes to your brain´s ability to process information and your ability to relate to the world due to your daily use of media and technology resulting in signs and symptoms of psychological disorders – such as stress, sleeplessness, and a compulsive need to check in with all of your technology.”

Well, talking about iDisorder, it’s not just smartphone overuse or “addiction.” There is, of course, Facebook. Twitter. Instagram. YouTube. Plus … a lot of other social networks and posting sites. They all look good and can enhance our social or mental life. But with iDisorder, digital technologies and social networks can be places where we may unwittingly harm our minds. Truly, there can be deeper roots of psychological problems related to overuse of technology.

iDisorder is a futurist psychopathology. It’s possible, like in other good things, to let too much of a good thing become a bad thing in our lives. In a technology-centric world, we all need to regain control and keep our minds safe and sane.

How about a “tech break” to find out whether we’re still normal or already disordered?

Meet Simone

In the last world Olympics in Rio, Brazil, my attention was caught by one now being touted as the “best athlete in the world” – 19-year-old Simone Biles. She has become the most decorated gold medalist in World Olympics gymnastics history.

Getty NBC Olympics describes her in varied ways: “Best ever.” “The perfect 10.” “The best gymnast in history.” “Unbeatable.” “Stunning.” “Breathtaking.” “A legend in the making.”

It usually takes a lot of foundational support and resources since childhood to produce one like Simone. In my mind, this little girl may have come from a well-privileged and affluent family, which provides all that’s needed to develop a champion athlete. A set of loving father and mother who love, guide, and encourage her. The best the world has to offer in terms of mentors, trainings, and logistics.

I was inaccurate.

Simone and her siblings were born into a fatherless, drug-abusing family. Her father abandoned her mother and was never present in Simone’s life as well as that of her siblings. In her childhood, Simone and her 3 siblings were shuffled back and forth between their addict-mother’s house and a foster home.

Until she was adopted by a loving Christian family in Texas USA. That made the difference. Simone was saved in time by positive role models and surrogate parents who raised her. It’s encouraging to note that there is always new hope for children of broken homes. It’s a myth that one becomes a “permanent loser” when originated from a broken family.

In my exploration of Simone’s life from adoption onwards, I wondered about her starting point of becoming an achiever rather than a clone of her biological parents. I found out that she remains forgiving, humble, and forward-looking. She has learned to separate out her mother and father’s problems from hers. She has become determined never to repeat what she saw her parents do to themselves.

Depressed Over Sex

I surmise that countless people experience sadness after sex. Psychologists call this psychological phenomenon “postcoital tristresse.” It’s a feeling of unfulfillment in the sexual act, especially when something deeper or permanent is desired or hungered for in the physical expression of love.

It’s a familiar scene.

A woman in her 40s, Georgina tries to experience love by giving herself away sexually to men. She goes to one sexual relationship after another, yet never feeling satisfied.

Lito is a gay law student. He lives in with a boyfriend, with whom he has frequent sex. Most of the time, he admits feelings of emptiness in his life despite the relationship. One day, his boyfriend abandoned him, leaving him suicidally depressed.

A married family man, Pedro, goes to the condo of his girlfriend with lots of passionate kissing. Compared to his bad mouthed wife, his girlfriend takes care of him, cooks for him, and laughs with him. Still, something constantly disturbs him within.

Tito goes from one massage parlor and spa to another, paying women for extra service. These women, with fake names to declog him of stress, seem to give him a temporary feeling of being loved or embraced as he is. He keeps coming back for he’s never full.

Here is one horny senior citizen, Cesar, at age 68. He looks for girls who are 18 to feed his lust. The more he gets what he wants, the more he feels lonely and unconnected. He eventually sees a psychotherapist who helps him sort out his long time unresolved pains.

Such is the loneliness and emptiness of a sexual seeker who continues to search for satisfaction in a series of static encounters. Here is what’s common: in the addicted, fixed sexual pattern of behavior, what always comes out is the feeling of “futility of going nowhere.” At times, it’s conscience that bothers.

What’s wrong with the picture?

Ultimately, it’s intimacy that we long for in our relationships. Deeper waters, getting close emotionally to someone other than sex. To be able to experience genuine connection – a feeling of being unconditionally loved as you are, as a whole being. As psychotherapist and writer, Dr. Rolls May put it, “In remembering our sexual experiences, it’s the intimacy that is remembered, not the orgasm.”

But, even as best as it can be, human connection remains limited. No human intimacy can give you 100% satisfaction. We’re all created to need more than what is human – psychologically, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

Posted by Dr. Angelo Subida at 8:42 PM

Dealing with an Addict’s Defensiveness

The psychological defenses that addicts use to avoid dealing with their addiction are typically deep and complicated. Most people, faced with someone who’s talking and behaving irrationally, the first inclination is to confront and even rage.

Unfortunately, I’ve observed so often that directly confronting an addict almost never works. I say this because an addict is not even consciously aware that he is using psychological defense mechanisms to avoid dealing with his problem. Such defenses make the addict unlikely to believe anything you tell him.

There are varied types of psychological defense mechanisms. Addicts in general tend to use more frequently the following more than the others: denial, rationalization, externalization, all-or-nothing thinking, acting out, passivity, conflict avoidance, comparison, claim into health, among others. When an addict uses his defenses, it enables him to put the best possible face on a terrible situation. At the same time, he crusades and asks his family and friends to go along with his delusion.

How then do you start geting the addict in your life to agree to enter into treatment? Start learning how to successfully deal with and manage his psychological defense mechanisms. It’s hard work. But if you follow a definite plan and strategy, it can spell a great difference in healing the addict in your life.