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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Or: Learning Lessons From Our Psychotic Friends

Imagine you?re a psychiatrist and a very nice psychotic patient has come to you for treatment.

This person, now called Patient P, is convinced he?s being followed by the CIA and that the government is doing tests on his brain while he sleeps at night. He is very concerned (well, that?s a healthy sign, for sure!) because he thinks the night spies are going to steal part of his brain and he will lose part of his memory, including being unable to recall how to get to the therapy office!

So he asks ?what?s the point of continuing this therapy if I?m going to wake up one day and not even be able to come back here? ? once the experiments rob me of my brain.?

Okay I realize you?re not a psychiatrist and have no idea how to work with this poor fellow. But?I bet you realize one thing right off the bat. While your first instinct is to reassure him that this horror will NOT happen, you also realize that he is likely to come back next week with the same fear.

Hearing from you ?there is no experiment going on in your bedroom at night? isn?t going to make a lasting dent. He might want you to say it, and might find reassurance for a minute, but it?s not his larger problem.

When you try to get him to discuss his anxieties, he keeps saying ?WHO WOULDN?T BE ANXIOUS? They?re DOING EXPERIMENTS ON ME!? He believe that is his Problem.

However, you know better. You know his Problem(s) is being SYMBOLIZED in the delusion he keeps telling you about. You believe that he is totally sincere, but you also realize that his fears are based elsewhere, and that the scenario he has concocted for himself is a ?way of expressing terror? about having part of himself taken away.

The treatment is going to be long and arduous. But?.you (the reader here) even without a medical degree, fully realize that what he thinks his fears are about are not what they?re really about.

You realize you are going to have to, somehow, get him to turn some of his energies (that are all bound up in avoiding the CIA and trying to sleep in the daytime to fool the spies) into OTHER areas that might hold clues as to how his mind works.

Same thing with neurotic symptoms.

We spend all our energies on the details of what we?re afraid of, but no amount of reassurance that we are not 1) going insane; 2) dying; 3) never existed; etc etc etc are going to help because those fears are representing OTHER fears and thoughts that are not being addressed.

Just a little food for thought.

Discussion Starter · #4 ·
actually, no. The folks here on this Board, including myself, are focused on Self-annihilation fantasies (of disappearing, vanishing, Self Death), but those are of a certain "category" that belong to very specific narcissistic fears.

Most human fears center on (in no particular order) 1) fear of abandonment; 2) fear of loss of love; 3) fear of bodily pain/suffering.

Then subsequent fears (of failure, of making a mistake, of anger/confrontation, or of any phobic symbol - heights, flying, water, snakes, etc. etc.) spring from those three main fears.

We're 'odd' in that our minds easily access such a primitive and regressive terror - of self-annihilation - most people never give that sort of thing a single thought, and even if they TRY to think about it, it eludes their ability to concentrate on it.

· Registered
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Hi Janine,

Thanks again for putting things pretty much in a nutshell. It reminds me of having a huge pot of boiling, salted water...boiling it to death and ending up with some white residue on the bottom of your pot when all is said and done.

I have the three basic fears. I have the subsequent fears. I could also kick my own butt for not being like "other" people and not giving these things the immense power I do give them.

This is a short, but extremely important, awareness point to consider during the course of every day. By simply asking yourself if you are focasing on one of the three main fears and then addressing it in some positive fashion, it's bound to help move one forward.

Thanks, as always, for sharing your insight. It's like a little refresher in- between visits to the counselor. :)
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