"Let He Who Is Without Sin, Cast The First Stone"
I'm not perfect, and neither are most of my patients. Hence, the above title. The following information is offered to help you begin to change your thoughts and actions to improve your psychological health and general well-being - not to seek perfection or cause guilt and shame.
Although my usual discussion is about diet, exercise, and smoking cessation, this piece is about the care of the mind and psychological healing. The use of the below can help you and I deal with what is blocking your progress toward health. These concepts are to be used, not just agreed with. This can be said more humorously, as "Use it or Lose it." The following ideas are focal points to healing.
- Consolation and comfort
- Talking and listening
- Personal relationship
- Interpretation and insight
- Purging and wrestling
- Social skills
- Conditioning and reward
- Fractured soul
- Humility and courage
We begin by using our imagination for the purpose of helpful suggestion and persuasion, two powerful treatment tools to change our thinking and behavior. Imagine the problems, yourself successful in dealing with these problems and build on this to persuade yourself to successful understanding and action. To this should be added consolation and comfort, which only follow when these paths are explored openly, honestly, fairly, equally, and responsibly. Be a friend to yourself and those who make or contribute to your problems and solutions. This requires uncomplaining courage coupled with humility (focusing outward and not on yourself with any negativity).
What is called "existential therapy" helps you learn to examine yourself in your present life and encourages you to focus on "self observations" - not criticism, complaint, or defense. Rerun the movie of your life over and over. Be kind, form honest, not judgmental relations/memories, be healing. This leads to a reasonable faith in healing, which is, in fact, natural. It is important for you to take advantage of your personal relationship with your physician and/or other counselor(s) to advance psychological healing. As your spiritual partner the physician/counselor helps you wrestle with your counter-productive drives. This tussle may very well be healing in and of itself.
The central elements of psychoanalysis are talking and listening which are more important than even interpretation and insight. You can talk and listen to yourself - be kind and non-judgmental. With calm review you can gain healing insight.
It is important to search for the common elements ("patterns") in the above in order to incorporate your own personal awareness ("mindfulness" is stress reducing), language, ritual, and explanation that can lead to your increased strength and endurance for what has otherwise been unbearable until now. In fact, perseverance is everything.
Purification or catharsis can help diseases of the soul. The power of tragedy can purge and clean the mind. This use of tragedy/purgation is like the old "primal scream" or beating a pillow for 15 minutes with a ball bat (now called "Tae Bo"). Such working/psychology/treatments can be therapeutic agents in dealing with human passions and hope, in order to relieve your human suffering. We are in fact using thought and imagination to heal thought and emotion.
Social skills and every day functioning, memory deficits, brain dysfunction and mental illness can all improve with the recognition, acceptance and the rich use of the above where physician and patient are joined together dealing with the counter-productive thoughts and behaviors that slow recovery and the progress to whole health. Discussion, reading, mutual healing encounters and journal work will assist such recovery to health.
And besides traditional psychological approaches, the physician can be or enlist an American Indian healer, The Shaman, as a counselor and guide to help people/patients retrieve their soul, which has been broken apart.
Souls that are fractured allow people to behave in fashions that are not in their own best interest - a fractured soul allows people to eat when and what they should not, to not follow the laws and rules they know they should. The Shaman's trip into the other world brings back the injured soul's fragments for re-integration in this world.
Health is obtained through the transformation from learning the laws of nature with an intact, reconnected, whole soul that allows us healthy purpose, passion and grace.
H. Robert Silverstein, MD