I heard a lecturer in psychology say that all depression was caused by a lack of authenticity: the client is cut off from the authentic self. I thought at the time that this was an oversimplification. However, as a general rule there’s a lot of truth in it and the more experience I get as a counselor, the more a can see how this applies to many of the issues that people come in with.
A few months ago I heard an interview with Rebecca Sharrock, a woman who lives in Brisbane who can remember everything she has experienced. The interview was fascinating but what particularly caught my attention was when she talked about her first memory of being put in a car and being photographed at 12 days old. The interviewer asked her how she could remember the details when she didn’t have language yet, and she replied that she learned much faster before she learned language. After she learned to talk she had to put her experiences into words which slowed her down. She said she has tried to get herself back into the state she was in before language but she can’t do it.
Now this is probably the opposite view to what is taught in most colleges and what most people believe. I’ve even seen questions on the lines of ‘How can animals think if they don’t have language?’. When we developed language and we learnt to express our ideas in a form that could be related to by others, we also set up expectations of those ideas, with concepts such as right – wrong, good – bad, correct – incorrect and so on. In the process we lost the ability to take notice of what our inner self told us. We compare ourselves to how we think other people would act.
Schools exacerbate this. ‘Good’ students do things in a certain way. Most schools indoctrinate rather than educate.
Very often the expectations that other people had of us as we grew up were unachievable, either because they were ridiculously high or because they were inconsistent. This produces a conflict with the authentic self. One solution is to cut off from the authentic self by using alcohol or other drugs. At its extreme it’s like someone getting drunk before they do something that their conscience tells them not to.
I see many clients using their intellect and thinking about things when they should be relating to their natural way of functioning. For instance, when we type on a keyboard we don’t usually think about where the keys are. We rely on muscle memory. If we attempted to think about where each key was before we pressed it we would be very slow typists. Could you imagine going to a typing school where they told you that before you pressed any key the lecturer needs to see your workings and how you decided to press that particular key? We do it with other aspects of our education system and in the process we cut people off from their inner guidance, their authenticity.
By Philip Braham on .