Share on Google Plus Share on Twitter Share on Facebook 3 Share on LinkedIn Share on PInterest Share on Fark! Share on Reddit Share on StumbleUpon Tell A Friend 5 (8 Shares)  
Printer Friendly Page Save As Favorite View Favorites View Stats   9 comments

Exclusive to OpEdNews:
Life Arts

Three Great Truths from Psychology

By (about the author)     Permalink       (Page 1 of 1 pages)
Related Topic(s): ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; (more...) ; ; ; , Add Tags  (less...) Add to My Group(s)

Well Said 4   Valuable 3   Must Read 2  
View Ratings | Rate It

opednews.com Headlined to H2 12/20/11

Become a Fan
  (19 fans)


Psychologists have not been illuminating the best knowledge concerning the psyche. by Michaelson/Bigstock.com

Psychologists are failing to identify and teach the essential truths of psychology, the basics that help us to minimize emotional suffering. Experts on the subject of the mind can't make up their minds about their profession's most important knowledge. They are too invested emotionally in their own pet theories as they battle one another on the field of competing ideas.

Of course, our mind can't be expected to produce or assimilate absolute truth about the human condition. We usually settle for practical truth, which is the best approximation of reality that our experience, intelligence, and soul-searching identify from among competing ideas. Ideally, learned experts would have produced by now a consensus of the best psychological knowledge. Yet consensus has not occurred in the field of psychology. Scholars, academics, and researchers are blinded by the radiance of their own ideas, while essential truths float by invisible to the people.

Three psychological discoveries by Sigmund Freud deserve to be identified as essential facts or practical truths. These discoveries revealed the existence in our psyche of the dynamics of transference, projection, and identification. In psychological circles, these dynamics or processes are identified only as psychoanalytic concepts. Yet millions of people suffer unnecessarily because they are ignorant of these inner processes. The knowledge needs to be well taught in our schools so it can begin to benefit individuals and society.

Let's start by explaining transference. It is most helpful to understand this process through the idea of negative transference because this is how the suffering is experienced. Negative transference occurs when one individual (Jim) senses or believes that another person (Jane) is directing negative emotions such as criticism, disapproval, disappointment, or rejection toward him, even when that impression does not correspond with her actual feelings or behavior. In other words, Jane could be quite neutral in her feelings and thoughts about Jim, yet he still "reads" a negative intention from her. Jim is transferring on to Jane some unresolved emotions from his own past concerning feelings of being criticized, rejected, and so on. Because these negative emotions are unresolved in Jim, he is interested unconsciously in recreating and recycling them. Hence, he transfers on to others the expectation that they are "transmitting" (or will transmit) these negative emotions toward him. Convinced that his "readings" of the situation are objective and accurate, Jim consequently regards others with less trust and openness. He also suffers unnecessarily because he is "taking on" negative impressions that are not justified by actual circumstances. This is the inner process behind the problem of being emotionally "thin-skinned."

As the saying goes, men "marry" their mothers, while women "marry" their fathers. This happens, in part, because of this unconscious propensity to repeat with our partners--through transference--the old unresolved emotions that we experienced with our parents, siblings, and caretakers.

While transference is about what we feel coming at us from others, the second process, projection, is about what we feel as we project our own impressions on to others. An individual (Larry) "sees" a defect or weakness in someone else (Judy) that upsets or annoys him. If Larry's negative feelings about Judy's alleged defect are intense enough, he might overlook her good qualities and be cold and distant toward her. Unconsciously, Larry is disapproving or critical of himself for having a similar weakness. (Frequently, this weakness involves a person's emotional entanglement in self-doubt and other variations of passivity.) Larry's defense could be saying, "I'm not the one who is passive--she is!" He is defending against his inner critic's or superego's disapproval of his inner weakness. As he deflects the inner criticism outwardly toward Judy, he can feel toward her a negative intensity that is the equivalent of the negative aggression coming at him from his inner critic. When he understands this dynamic, he can turn inward with the power of insight, learning to deflect his inner critic's unwarranted harassment and illegitimate authority. (See " The Tyrant that Rules Our Inner Life ".) Projection, which often leads to personality clashes, has many variations, and the Wikipedia article on the subject is enlightening.

The last process, identification, can be understood as the unconscious tendency or temptation to identify with what another person is feeling (or what we imagine the other person is feeling), regardless of whether that's a positive or negative feeling. Positive identification is usually harmless, yet consciousness of the process is still important because young people, as an example, can identify--in a way that feels positive to them--with unsavory influences or characters. Identification is usually most troublesome when it is negative. For instance, a father (Sam) identifies strongly with his son (Tom) when the boy plays badly on the golf course. Both Sam and Tom have unresolved issues with feelings of being seen in a negative light and being a disappointment. These unresolved issues sabotage Tom when he attempts to perform well, and his father unconsciously can't resist getting "hit up" with this negative feeling and resonating with it as he sees his son struggling. If Sam understands his identification with his son, he can refrain from getting triggered, and he can have a better chance of helping Tom son settle down emotionally and avoid self-sabotage.

When we are alert to these three dynamics, we can "take ownership" of the negativity they produce in us. We avoid the self-sabotage that these dynamics can produce. We understand that the negativity is coming from within us and that the other person is not causing this negativity, only triggering it. None of this is our fault. We just want to be able to observe the processes objectively, like a scientist looking through a microscope. Taking ownership of the negativity produced by these dynamics is a powerful act of consciousness. It's the method that eliminates the negativity.

 

http://www.WhyWeSuffer.com

Peter Michaelson is an author, blogger, and psychotherapist in Plymouth, MI. He believes that better understanding of depth psychology reduces the fear, passivity, and denial of citizens, making us more capable of maintaining and growing our (more...)
 

Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon

Go To Commenting
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Writers Guidelines

Contact Author Contact Editor View Authors' Articles

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Three Great Truths from Psychology

The Problem with Positive Psychology

A Hidden Reason for Suicidal Thoughts

Psychological Roots of National Disunity

The Hidden Cause of Clinical Depression

Rebutting 9/11 Conspiracy Beliefs

Comments

The time limit for entering new comments on this article has expired.

This limit can be removed. Our paid membership program is designed to give you many benefits, such as removing this time limit. To learn more, please click here.

Comments: Expand   Shrink   Hide  
8 people are discussing this page, with 9 comments
To view all comments:
Expand Comments
(Or you can set your preferences to show all comments, always)

We ought to be holding psychologists accountable f... by Peter Michaelson on Tuesday, Dec 20, 2011 at 10:08:20 AM
Fortunately, more and more psychologists, although... by Walter J Smith on Tuesday, Dec 20, 2011 at 12:52:11 PM
I just rated this article but after reading a c... by Thomas Brown on Wednesday, Dec 21, 2011 at 11:57:14 AM
I've never been a fan of Sigmund Freud or Psychoan... by Jack Flash on Wednesday, Dec 21, 2011 at 2:04:39 PM
picky, but could this sentence:     ... by j dial on Wednesday, Dec 21, 2011 at 5:29:04 PM
Interesting and easy to understand. Well done.... by Carol Davidek-Waller on Wednesday, Dec 21, 2011 at 7:11:37 PM
Let me say this to all armchair (and sofa) psychol... by Ned Lud on Thursday, Dec 22, 2011 at 8:45:30 AM
about 10 years a few decades ago, my understanding... by M. Wizard on Thursday, Dec 22, 2011 at 9:31:33 AM
Yogi speaks. :) Merry Christmas, M(r). Wizard. ... by Ned Lud on Thursday, Dec 22, 2011 at 10:56:56 AM