Showing posts from April, 2014

Shyness Is Not a Cute, Insignificant Thing

I’ve heard many people refer to themselves or others as shy – both in the context of their current life and their childhood. “I am a shy person.” My child is very shy.” “Oh, she’s just shy.” Basically, “shy” is a more socially acceptable and less direct way of saying that one is scared of, or anxious about, people. It’s a euphemism, if you will. In the dictionary the word “shy” is described as “nervous or timid in the company of other people.” However, when you say, “shy,” people usually don’t feel uncomfortable. “What’s going on with her?” “Nothing. She’s just shy.” “Oh, OK.” But when you say it how it really is, it makes some people uncomfortable. (Or it may be an uncomfortable thing to say about yourself.) “He looks kind of meek and avoidant. What’s up with him?” “He’s scared of people and social situations.” Well, this raises questions and makes a lot of people uncomfortable. “Why is he scared of people…? Why does he have low self-esteem…? I wonder, what happened in h

The Burden of Being Over-Controlled as a Child

If you as a child have had an over-controlling parent or other authority figure, the chances are you have developed some personality traits and psychological patterns that make your life more or less difficult. Over-controlling parents watch a child’s every move, tell them what to do, seek domination, constantly criticize them, teach unhealthy boundaries, have unrealistic or impossible standards and expectations for them, and use active or passive abuse to manipulate them and make them comply. It’s hard to breathe around such a parent – both mentally and sometimes even physically. A child who grows up in such an environment often becomes a neurotic adult. Because they were under a magnifying glass for so many years, they have learned to adapt and monitor themselves. What was external, at some point got internalized, and such a person learned to treat themselves as their caregivers treated them. Hence now, as adults, they feel the “need” for constant vigilance and self-monitoring. T

Alice Miller on Trauma, Repression, Masochism, Repetition Compulsion, and Therapeutic Work

The following text is from Alice Miller's book "Banished Knowledge." As time went on it became clear to me that the idea of children inventing traumas is absurd. Anyone is free to check on the natural law that human beings will avoid pain rather than seek it. They seek pleasure, joy, reassurance. Masochism is no exception to this rule: It is a compulsion to inflict new suffering on oneself to keep former suffering repressed. The masochist who at great expense has himself whipped by a prostitute and insists on sitting on a chamber pot during the procedure is obeying a compulsion to reproduce the trauma of his toilet training and to keep the memory repressed at all costs. Another law of life is that the idealization of the parents with the aid of fantasy and repression helps the child to survive; thus to attribute bad things to one's nearest and dearest would run counter to natural defenses and the law of life. It follows that a child will never invent traumas . On