Because I find psychoanalysis and the work of Sigmund Freud to be very interesting, I decided to make the attempt to, without any kind of training, psychoanalyze certain aspects of myself . Psychoanalysis is based on Freud's idea that the reason for human behavior and actions (and sometimes the reason behind somatic problems), is hidden deep within the mind of the individual. A place he liked to call: "The Unconscious." He developed a model for the structure of personality, in which it was presented that there were conflicts between our innermost desires for immediate gratification (the Id), and our perception of reality and what is morally and socially acceptable (the Ego and Superego, respectively). He also proposed a model that explained how an individual's personality develops.
Even though I cannot account what my feelings were while I was during the oral, anal and some time of the phallic stage. I do remember being one of those children who sneaked around after the lunch break was over in school, to explore with my "boyfriend," sometimes getting in trouble for it. According to Freud, this is me in the Phallic stage, since it happened when I was in Kindergarten. One thing I remember, though, is that my parents never gave a negative connotation to my behavior, they would just ask questions, and make sure I wasn't doing things because someone else (someone older) was telling me to. This I believe has a lot to do with the fact that I am not ashamed of my sexuality today. Even though my parents did stress all the values that come along with a catholic education, I never felt it was "wrong" to be sexual. I also remember as I got older, that I would be very anxious when trying to talk to my peers. I remember feeling like I did not belong with certain groups of friends. And even though I didn't feel comfortable, I would still be around them, because I felt the need to be social. I found my "click" with the boys. I would often be the only girl in a group of friends. This is according to Freud, the Latency Stage and is a time for socialization. After trying to analyze the reasons for my preference, I realized that maybe I was just trying to break away from or reacting to what I was experiencing at home. At home, my mother is always the one who is criticizes my every move (this is also true for my two younger brothers). She always has something to say about everything I do or say. This made me a bit afraid to socialize in the first place, because I never felt comfortable expressing my ideas. But on the other end of things, may father was very accepting and supportive. He always encouraged me to try things and has positive feedback. Whenever I did something "wrong," he would tell me so, but in a manner that was very different from my mother's. His way made me feel much more comfortable. I realized that this type of dynamics, made me feel more comfortable being myself around males. Even if you ask me today, I explain the fact that most of my friends are male, by saying that men are more accepting, they wouldn't talk behind my back like many women do, they have honest advice, they don't criticize me as much, etc. I know that these characteristics might not be true for most men (most of my friends at least), but this is how felt with my dad, and that's how I feel with men today. This can also have something to do with the Oedipus/Electra Complex. Maybe I resolved that stage and internalized my desire for a man with the qualities my father possesses. And this feeling starts to come out at this particular stage in my life.
Later on in my life, I became a more sexual being. Even though I started dating after high school, I invested a lot of my time in having "crushes" on my friends. After I started dating, then all of these feelings became accentuated. And it seems like "sexual energies" take up most of my time. This according to Freud is called the Genital Stage. And it is the stage where I am right now in my life.
One of the methods that Freud proposed in order to access the unconscious was analyzing dreams. Freud believed dreams were "the royal road to the unconscious" and he placed much emphasis in trying to figure out their meaning in order to explain what the unconscious mind hid. When thinking about this, I can't help but remember a "nightmare" I had when I was about 10. We had just moved to an apartment and it was a very scary situation for me. I was trying to make new friends, and I could tell our lives were about to change drastically. One night, while sleeping in my room (the first time I slept in a room by myself), I had a dream where robbers went into the apartment and tied me and my family down. Then they started to torture us, but they never robbed us. I was able to break free, and fought one of the men. Then I went to the street and started running, determined to get help. When suddenly I realized, I didn't have any shoes on, because I was sleeping when the men came into the apartment. As I am running, I notice broken glass starts to appear on the floor, and I start to bleed. But no matter what, I kept running, I needed to get help. After this, I woke up and I remember feeling very disturbed by that dream. At the time I just attributed this dream to my anxiety about being in a new place. But now, under the light of psychoanalysis, I see that I was just afraid that our family was going to fall apart. I remember that my parents started having problems around that time and my dad started traveling more than usual due to business. I saw how this affected my parent's marriage and felt like there was something that I needed to do. So I became the "ideal child." I would always strive to get good grades and act a certain way, because it made my parents happy and maybe they'll be so happy with my behavior that they wouldn't fight anymore. I felt responsible, as the oldest child, of doing something to keep our family together. This explanation makes sense now; at the time it happened it was just a nightmare. A lot of this holds true in my life today. I am a responsible person, trying to make things easier for everyone in the house, and just trying to minimize conflict around my parents and brothers. Basically, I try to please everyone around me.
I am not sure if there is more to be said about that dream, but I thought it was very interesting how my deepest fear, the fear of my family falling apart, could manifest itself in such a way in my dreams. This makes me believe that dreams truly are the road to our unconscious, since we have no way of controlling what happens when we dream. There are so many things that could be said about me in a psychoanalytical perspective, but I think this attempt to start looking deeper has been a successful one, and I will maybe continue to employ occasional self-analysis to see what other feelings arise from my unconscious.
††††††††††† One of the most important aspects of gestalt therapy theory that interests me the most is the fact that it doesnít focus on the past.† Although gestalt therapy doesnít try to minimize the importance of the past, it also realizes that our past can play such a role in our present life to the point where it can be detrimental to us and to our loved ones.† Gestalt therapy recognizes that the past is always with us, it will probably make regular appearances in our present life, simply because of some lack of completion of that past experience.† Gestalt therapy theory assumes a phenomenological approach because it focuses on the clientís perception of reality and existential and it is ground in the notion that people are always in the process of becoming, remaking and rediscovering themselves.† What the therapy theory most cares for is the present.† Perls, the founder of gestalt therapy asserts that how an individual behaves in the present moment is far more crucial to self-understanding than why they behave as they do.
††††††††††† Many of the bad decisions that I have made in my teen years are still haunting me.† They haunt me through my dreams, my fantasies and flashbacks.† When I was seventeen years old, I was in a rebellious state.† I disagreed with my parentsí views and beliefs.† Although I was an excellent student, that didnít keep me from making some horrible decisions which I still regret today.
I cohabited with a man who was the same age as my mother, and until today, I have nightmares of what was done to me.† I was abused mentally and psychologically.† Up until three years ago, my present was disturbed.† I couldnít focus on my present tense; the energy that I was supposed to invest on my present time was diminishing because I focused all of my energy on what was and what could have been if I never entered the relationship.† All the feelings that I was experienced in the relationship enabled me to be productive at my work, and with my loved ones.† According to Perls, I was in the now phase.† The now phase is the phase that is supposed to focus on the present tense.† However, the power of the present can be lost if we try to focus on our past mistakes or engage in endless resolution and plans for the future.† I was doing what I was not supposed to be doing.† I spent many hours of my day thinking about the mistakes that could have been prevented.† I felt that I was not in control with my environment because all of my energy was directed elsewhere.
††††††††††† Because my past has taken such part of my present life, I sometimes feel rage, hatred, pain and anxiety toward men.† In my mind I know not all men are the same, but I couldnít help but to have negative attitude toward men because of such pain this person put me through.† I became very judgmental, and, of course, impatient with men.†† According to Perls, I had unfinished business.† Since I am experiencing these feelings, it is best to confront them right now while they are arising.† According to Perls, because these feelings are not fully experienced in awareness, they linger in the background and are carried into the present life in ways that interfere contact with oneself and others.† Being around men, especially men of his appearance and of his age, I often felt like I was choking, and I often felt like my head was going to burst.† It is as if I wanted to say something, I wanted my anger to be shown, but I couldnít because I donít know these men.† I was really experiencing unfinished business because some of the effects of unfinished business often show up in some blockage within the body.
††††††††††† As my past was destroying my present life, I knew that I needed to do something about it very fast because if I didnít, I would be abandoned by my family who donít know the whole story, and by my boyfriend who doesnít want to deal with a person whom he thinks has psychological problems.† I also did not want to lose my job because I wasnít being productive enough.† This whole process made me become very stereotypical.† If a man was of the same race of my previous boyfriend, I often think that I would never date them because they are all the same.† I was in my phony layer stage.† It is the stage that consists of an individual reacting in stereotypical and inauthentic ways.† This level is where we play games and get lost in the role.† Fortunately, I realized that not everyoneís the same, and because someone of a certain race done something horrible, not everyone of the same race should be characterized under the same label.
††††††††††† I then entered a state of my life where I was denying everything.† I always thought of myself as a strong woman that can never be abused by any man, and I refused to accept the fact that it has happened to me.† I thought that if I forget that it ever happened maybe I would some day come to believe that it never happened.† Another reason of my denial is that the women in my family are feminists, and they could never accept a manís abuse and I thought if I told them the truth they would think that I was a coward for letting a man abuse me.† I did not want to believe that such thing happened to me.† According to Perls, I was in the phobic layer stage, which is the stage where we attempt to avoid emotional pain associated with seeing aspects that we would prefer to deny.
††††††††††† How could I let such thing happened to me I remember thinking.† I felt like I was nothing, he made me believe that I was nothing.† I came to believe that if I were something to him, he would never treat me the way he did.† These feelings were tearing me apart because if I had the notion that I was nothing then nobody would take me seriously.† I know these feelings were unhealthy for me because they were destroying my present state of mind.† According to Perls, I was stuck in my impasse stage, which is the stage where we are stuck in our own maturation.† I was destroyed so much by the experience, I was giving up.† In this stage, we often feel a sense of deadness and feel that we are nothing.† If we hope to feel alive again, it is essential that we pass through this stage as soon as possible.
††††††††††† I was running out of time, I needed to find new strategies to overcome the situation because I know that I did not want to let my past destroy this beautiful life that I now have.† My boyfriend told me that if I keep on running away from these thoughts, I would never solve them.† I must let myself explore these feelings and then, evaluate them.† I did just that.† I came to realize that I was not worthless and that I am somebody, after all, I have a boyfriend who cares deeply about me, so I must be somebody.† At this point, I was in my implosive level.† By getting in contact with this layer, we expose our defenses and begin to make contact with the genuine self.† For the last years, I was told that I was worthless and I came to believe it.† I was now breaking away from these feelings and begin to have a new self-perspective.† I now let go of all these horrible feelings and I now put all of my energy in the present in order to live a more productive life.† I no longer feel hatred toward any men, and I accept what happened to me.† I learned from the mistakes, and now I must let go and move on.† I was in my explosive layer.† This is the stage where we let go of all the phony roles and pretenses, and we release a tremendous amount of energy that we have been holding in by pretending to who we are not.† We now become alive and authentic.† These five phases are known as Personality as Peeling an Onion.
††††††††††† Fritz Perls and Laura Posner Perls theory on gestalt therapy seems real to me.† It focuses on the present instead of the past.† It focuses on unfinished business that we experienced in the past that might be a detriment to our present life.† Their theory on gestalt therapy can be used to describe my personality analysis because Iíve had many experiences in the past that were destroying my focus on the present.† Fortunately, I was able to solve these issues, however, I have many friends that arenít very productive in the present today simply because of a past experience that wasnít solved or that wasnít let go.† This therapy theory seems realistic to me because its initial goal is to help the client gain awareness of what he/she is experiencing or doing.
Because of the five-year span of irrational and emotionally charged behavior that I undertook at the beginning of my parents' divorce, I am going to use this time as my personal example of working through behavior therapy. Because the divorce led me to experience a wide variety of problems, I would like to begin by assessing my behaviors through the multi-modal Basic ID.
Drugs and Biological factors
After listing the conditions that I went through during that stage of my life (which took place from 13-18 years of age), the issue that concerns me the most is the distortion of family-oriented principles, which encompasses the negative self-image, the images of ending up alone and the inability to picture myself as succeeding. Those symptoms appear to me as primary, leading to the secondary physical symptoms such as smoking, drinking, loss of appetite, etc.
So, the first technique I would recommend for myself would be behavioral role play. I would try to get myself to talk about what was bothering me, instead of expressing my anxieties through drugs and meaningless friendships. I would try to imagine myself as each of my parents, trying to understand why they had to get divorced, and to reassure myself that it wasn't my fault. I would tell myself that my future does not have to end up like theirs, and I would convince myself that there is true love, even if my parents did not have it.
After relieving myself of the fear that I might be a part of the reason why things did not work out between them, I would recommend a self-management program, in order to set goals for myself. At that time I had no goals, not even to finish my homework. I literally achieved nothing for that span of time, when I could have been succeeding had I set goals for myself. Then it would not have taken me so long to come back from the dead and try to make something of myself. I could have gone away for school, graduated Valedictorian, been a renown scholarÖ.instead, because I did not have self-esteem enough to believe that I could set goals and achieve them, I wasted my high school years, did not get great SAT scores, did not apply to many colleges and did not build a portfolio for myself to become a graphic artist like I had once dreamed (before the divorce).
One thing I did do though was keep a very detailed diary, which truly helped me transfer the pain onto paper. On several occasions, I read things I had written in the past, which helped me to understand them slightly more objectively (because some time had passed), and ultimately, helped me write them off as no longer significant. Also, writing is very therapeutic. Often times, once the pain was out on paper, it left my mind and I no longer had to keep it built up inside. Writing was definitely the one therapy I did utilize and as a matter of fact, it successfully got me through! Because now, six years later, I am doing just fine!