How to Think Creatively

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“I urge you: don’t cut short these thought-trains of yours. Follow them through to their end. Your thoughts and your feelings. Follow them through and you will grow with them.” 

J.M. Coetzee, Slow Man

What does it mean to ‘think creatively’? To  fully define this,  or to attempt to do so, would involve an exploration across the disciplines, across philosophy, psychology, sociology, art and so on. All would have different- and creative- ways of seeing the concept. 

Therefore this post can merely offer a glimpse of such a wide subject. It is, however, worth the endeavour, as it so enriching an area to begin to explore.

What words and phrases are commonly used to describe creativity across the different disciplines in the literature?

Let’s start with:  divergent, innovative, risk-taking, free, original, sensitive, productive, versatile, exploratory, adventurous, different, uninhibited, uncertain, independent, unconventional, individual, unusual, intuitive, playful, expressive, change-producing, imaginative, open. 

These all express aspects of this original way of thinking and they appear to have in common a sense of being outside the tramlines of everyday traditional, conventional thought.

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It appears that a necessary condition for the emergence of creativity involves allowing oneself the space and time to think, without rushing into a false sense of certainty.

A desire for certainty, as we have seen in a previous post, reflects the trend towards theoretical dogma and the wish for an absolute and totalitarian truth.  Being adaptable requires us to develop an ability to challenge learnt and subsequently internalised principles and rules, once thought important by influential others in early life.

Developing awareness of internal strictures is certainly a crucial initial step in moving towards mindfulness and inner freedom.

The writer Salman Rushdie confronts such ways of thinking:

The moment you say that any idea system is sacred, whether it’s a religious belief system or a secular ideology, the moment you declare a set of ideas to be immune from criticism, satire, derision, or contempt, freedom of thought becomes impossible.

– Salman Rushdie

There is involved in a creativity a definite sense of being individual, not following the crowd, resisting the dogma of others. Those who are creative tend to be people who think independently.

Often, choosing the counterintuitive over the accepted ways of thinking can be creative; all this may provide an an antidote to the cursory solution-finding culture in which we find ourselves.

“Living creatively is really important to maintain throughout your life. And living creatively doesn’t mean only artistic creativity, although that’s part of it. It means being yourself, not just complying with the wishes of other people.” Matt Groening

What qualities contribute to creative thinking?

Below is a list summarising  15 attributes.

(Perhaps you can think of more? If so please do include in the comments section below)

  1. Self-discipline and organisation
  2. Ability to thinking independently. Pushing accepted boundaries
  3. Willingness to work hard
  4. Self-confidence
  5. An exploratory attitude
  6. Seizing the day: making the most of opportunity
  7. A vivid imagination
  8. Willingness to take risks.
  9. Not always working in isolation- balancing alone time, when one might escape into one’s head and think, with times for sharing ideas with others. Valuing others’ approach is vital, as is their support.
  10. Adaptability
  11. Courage
  12. Motivation and Determination
  13. The right surroundings/environment
  14. Energy
  15. A well developed ‘child’ aspect to the personality. (Gardner.)

“Creativity is intelligence having fun.’ Einstein.

“I had a very happy childhood, but I wasn’t that happy a child. I liked being alone and creating characters and voices. I think that’s when your creativity is developed, when you’re young. I liked the world of the imagination because it was an easy place to go to.” David Walliams

Psychotherapy, group therapy, real conversation with others, research and reading widely can all help in terms of developing clear, free and constructive ways of thinking.

“Creative individuals are remarkable for their ability to adapt to almost any situation and to make do with whatever is at hand to reach their goals.”

“… a genuinely creative accomplishment is almost never the result of a sudden insight, a lightbulb flashing on in the dark, but comes after years of hard work.”

Csikszentmihalyi

It is inspiring and interesting to read about famous creative people and how they led their lives. Gardner’s book ‘Creating Minds’ examines the life and times of people such as Freud, Einstein and Picasso from the point of view of their creativity. He shows how many and varied ways there are of being creative.

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Van Gogh had many valuable views on creativity. To end this post, I quote a few of his statements about this subject, all of which inspire us to move forward and take creative risks. Along with these nuggets of wisdom, I include some of the wonderful paintings that reveal Van Gogh’s prodigious and marvellous creative output.

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Two Cut Sunflowers

“I dream of painting and then I paint my dream.” Vincent Van Gogh

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Almond Blossom

“If you hear a voice within you say you cannot paint, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.”
― Vincent Van Gogh

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Paul Gauguin. Vincent Van Gogh Painting Sunflowers

“What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?”
― Vincent Van Gogh

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Starry Night 

“Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together.”
Vincent Van Gogh

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Olive Trees with Yellow Sky and Sun.

“I feel such a creative force in me: I am convinced that there will be a time when, let us say, I will make something good every day , on a regular basis….I am doing my very best to make every effort because I am longing so much to make beautiful things. But beautiful things mean painstaking work, disappointment, and perseverance.”
Vincent Van Gogh

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The Garden of St. Paul’s Hospital

“Sometimes, dear brother, I know so well what I want. I am quite able to do without God, both in my life and in my painting, but what I cannot do without, unwell as I am, is something greater than myself, which is my life, the power to create.”
Vincent Van Gogh

7 Ways Silence Can Improve Your Health

“He who does not understand your silence will probably not understand your words.”

– Elbert Hubbard

Our world is full of noise. All around us are ringing mobiles, loud, blaring music, the incessant roar of traffic. How can we combat the effects on us of this deafening cacophony ?

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The antidote to all this intrusive sound is is to allow ourselves to have some silence. Silence that will enable us to just ‘be.’

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So here are 10 ways that the power of silence can help us, both mentally and physically:

  1. It relieves stress and tension
  2. Scientists have also discovered that silence increases brain activity.
  3. It aids memory and learning:                                                                                                                    

    A 2013 study on mice published in the journal Brain, Structure and Function used differed types of noise and silence and monitored the effect the sound and silence had on the brains of the mice. The silence was intended to be the control in the study but what they found was surprising. The scientists discovered that when the mice were exposed to two hours of silence per day they developed new cells in the hippocampus. The hippocampus is a region of the brain associated with memory, emotion and learning

4.   Research indicates that silence can help combat insomnia and other ills:

“Noise has been linked to high blood pressure, heart disease, tinnitus and loss of sleep. We’ve all experienced the detrimental effects of noise pollution. Excessive noise can be a major affront to the physical senses and today, more and more people are identifying as highly sensitive and unable to function in chaotic and noisy environments. But now science has the proof not only that noise hurts, but also that silence heals.”

Azriel Reshel.

5. It can help creativity. Atmosphere and environment are very important if we are to be creative; so many writers, artists, poets, etc. speak of the importance of inspirational surroundings.

Many people need silence in order to produce good work; other need a lack of distraction from their chosen pursuit. So, the familiar hum of cafe conversation may be an aid to creativity for some; this provides a kind of anonymous, distraction- free peacefulness. What is needed is a place where the mind can freely wander and be imaginative.

    “Silence is an empty space. Space is the home of the awakened mind.”

     – Buddha

“Everything that’s created comes out of silence. Thoughts emerge from the nothingness of silence. Words come out of the void. Your very essence emerged from emptiness. All creativity requires some stillness.”

– Wayne Dyer

6. Silence increases our self-awareness and our sensitivity to the environment around us. we become more contemplative, more reflective.

7. It helps us to feel connected to the world and humankind. In a previous post, I refer to Anthony Storr‘s discussion of the ‘oceanic feeling,’ a sense of one-ness with the world that can arise out of walking in the countryside in solitude. Being in silence can produce or contribute to this effect.

If we focus, become centred, really listen peacefully to the silence, we will hear minute sounds we might normally miss. We will get to know the silence more profoundly. For most often, silence contains noise that we cannot at first hear.

What will we discover in that silence? Perhaps, if we are outside, it will be the murmur of a brook, the snap of a twig, the whispering leaves, the music of birdsong, the embrace of a soft breeze, a distant dog barking, the sudden flapping of a rising bird. These are the sounds of silence.

Meditatively, we may allow ourselves to feel relaxed and surrender to the world around us and to feel more in touch with our inner selves:

“Penetrate deep into the word “Ohm”. Gradually the word will disappear and only the silence will remain. The world is a support. The meaning is within you. Om brings out that meaning which is hidden in your soul.”

Amit Ray.

There are many different kinds of silence and as many reasons for it. Sometimes people are silent though anger, shyness, blame, guilt, fear:

“Silence, too, can be torture.

Justina Chen Headley

Being in a silent space alone can also feel threatening. Maybe because we are then forced to face ourselves, without external distraction?

However, if we are able to bear it, silence can also be enlightening:

“I’ve begun to realise that you can listen to silence and learn from it. It has a quality and a dimension all its own…… It has a strange, beautiful texture.”

Chaim Potok.

Sitting silently with someone else may feel awkward, but if that person is a good and comfortable friend, it can feel strengthening to be together quietly. This state has overtones of Winnicottian theory about the capacity to be alone with someone else there. It is also reminiscent of Hobson’s ‘aloneness-togetherness.’

How Can We Achieve Silence?    7 Ways:

1.We can meditate in a quiet space. This will stop the inner prattle that goes on within us all and calm the mind.

2.We can get up early or go to bed later.

3. We can take a bath.

4.We can do some exercise.

5. We can visit a place of worship

6. We can walk in the countryside, alone, or with someone else.

7. We can go on a silent retreat.

“Silence is a source of great strength.”

– Lao Tzu

 *** 3 Helpful and informative books on silence:

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The quieter you become the more you are able to hear.” Rumi

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Do you have views about silence? Could you leave a comment? I would so appreciate some feedback below and some more thoughts and discussion to enrich this post! Thankyou.

Is Forgiveness Always the Best Option?

“Always forgive your enemies—nothing annoys them so much.”

Oscar Wilde

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Do we always have to forgive?……

Can we ignore the shoulds, oughts and have-to’s, the pressure from some religions and from the often well-meaning, peacemakers ?

Even time-worn sayings urge us to ‘forgive and forget:’

“To err is human; to forgive, divine.” (Alexander Pope)

“Without forgiveness, there’s no future.” (Desmond Tutu)

“The weak can never forgive.” (Gandhi)

“Only the brave know how to forgive. … A coward never forgave; it is not in his nature.” (Laurence Sterne)

Without forgiveness, the famous quotes imply, we are weak, cowardly, hopeless.

It is hard to find quotations about not forgiving. There are exceptions:

I will remember and recover, not forgive and forget. (Dalai Lama)

“If you can’t forgive and forget, pick one.” (Robert Brault)

“Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea, until they have something to forgive.” (C.S. Lewis)

Whilst forgiveness may bring considerable benefits at the right time and in the appropriate situation, it is important that people do not feel pushed into this, to please others.

Perhaps there is no single answer to the difficult question of ‘Should we forgive?’ In reality, there are many ways of thinking about this. Each situation is different.

It is impossible to ‘advise’ on whether someone’ought’ to forgive another who has wronged them. We cannot know what is right for anyone else.

We do not have to forgive. Forgiveness is an individual choice and needs to be done for the benefit of the self. It may not always be helpful.

The Role of Psychotherapy.

It is hard to generalize about forgiveness; there are different levels of offence and ways of receiving others’ behaviour. Some things may feel unforgivable. For those who may have been severely abused, victimised, betrayed, or whose loved ones have been injured or murdered, perhaps, most understandably, forgiveness may be unthinkable. It may also be contraindicated for some people.

Forgiveness might not always  be healing or releasing. It could be disempowering. Not forgiving may actually give a hurt person something to hold onto, some personal power, in a situation where they have felt powerless.

It would be detrimental if one were made to feel bad about not forgiving. It would also be a denial of the depth of pain that has been suffered. One cannot merely ‘forget’ this.

Such ‘bygones’ are not ‘bygones’ when they still hurt and when there are reminders through dreams, flashbacks and terrible memories. Forgiveness needs to be an inner decision, made voluntarily and at a time when the trauma survivor is ready.

What is crucial is that thoughts and feelings accompanying a lack of forgiveness are prevented from ruling- and ruining- one’s life. 

Feeling grudges, remaining angry and ruminating bitterly over many years, is traumatic and self-destructive. Psychotherapy can enable people understand, work through and let go of such issues, so that they do not take over as much. 

Whilst the memories will never disappear, (can some things ever be forgotten?they may become less potent and people can feel freer as a result. They are helped to  manage the memories better.

Once worked through, vengefulness towards another matters less. They become less significant, their power has gone. They may not be as prominent in one’s thoughts.

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Can you forgive someone who has not expressed regret or apologised?

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If the offending individual has not apologised, some people will never forgive. Yet it is still possible for others to find forgiveness within them, even when the offence has been serious. They do this for themselves, for their own healing:

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Sometimes, people feel they cannot move on without forgiving. This is fine, but, especially if the wounds have been deep, there needs to be an awareness that maybe they might not be able to trust that person again.

The forgiven one does not have be in the other’s life, or to be fully reconciled. Sometimes the relationship survives, but is different. Perhaps it will be reduced in terms of time spent or the quality will change.

Things will have altered; depending on the degree of pain caused, the experience of feeling wronged might mean that the bond has been altered forever. Forgiveness is different from reconciliation.

Feeling Able to Forgive and be Reconciled.

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Image: Pinterest

Forgiveness can be a difficult process. It is important from the beginning that the hurt suffered is acknowledged by the survivor of that hurt. It is also part of the forgiveness process to grieve the betrayal, disappointment, loss, emotional or physical damage.

Emotions like anger, retaliatory feelings, rage and murderousness might arise, as well as sorrow and anguish.

Such feelings need expression,  preferably to the perpetrator. This is frequently not possible, but it can still be cathartic if such pent-up feelings are revealed in therapy or to another empathic person.

The process of forgiveness takes time, as does rebuilding trust. It does not mean that one pardons, disregards or condones what has been done, or absolves the perpetrator of all responsibility.

Perhaps there might, however, develop some objective understanding of what prompted the other to behave as they did. In time, it may be that such awareness produces new attitudes of increasing goodwill towards the offending person. Rumi has said “From understanding comes love.”

It is important also to have some insight into one’s own personal reactions to the hurt or betrayal that has occurred.

Forgiveness can have considerable therapeutic benefits. Research has indicated that

“…developing a more forgiving coping style may help minimize stress-related disorders.”

On a hopeful, yet still realistic note, I end this post with this thoughtful quotation:

“Forgiving does not erase the bitter past. A healed memory is not a deleted memory. Instead, forgiving what we cannot forget creates a new way to remember. We change the memory of our past into a hope for our future.” ― Louis B. Smedes

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Would anyone reading this be willing to share their experience of forgiving/not forgiving in the comments box below? It would be helpful to hear people’s view and experiences if possible.

10 Ways Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Could Help You

‘We repeat what we don’t repair.’

Christine Langley-Obaugh

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‘I can see no way out but through.’

Robert Frost

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When we come into psychotherapy with a plethora of issues, we hope it will ameliorate our pain. Obviously, how much this is achieved will depend on both patient and therapist. Not everyone who has psychotherapy will experience all the benefits listed below.

As we have seen, the research evidence does indicate that psychoanalytic psychotherapy can be very effective.

It might help us to –

1. Gain self-understanding and awareness, through various techniques and therapeutic experiences, over time. This self- understanding often lasts and develops throughout our life, once we have the tools to apply it.

2. Help us feel accepted and learn to accept ourselves and others.

3. Give us alternative viewpoints; to soften a black and white approach to life and to accept there are no absolutes, only shades of grey. Assist us in accepting we-and those around us- are not perfect, but may be ‘good enough.’

4. Identify and explore difficult and often conflicting feelings and come to understand them. In doing this, gently challenge the defences we have built up in order to avoid painful feelings.

5. Talk about fears, fantasies, dreams and wishes as a way of understanding what might be happening in the unconscious. This might be influencing us and our behaviour without our awareness.  Feel more comfortable with and accepting of difficult material and issues that might arise during therapy.

 

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                                          ‘The Royal Road to the Unconscious.’ Clipart.

‘Dreams are the royal road to the unconscious.’

Freud.

 

6. Understand the relationship between past and present and how past experiences affect the present in terms of behaviour, feelings and ways of relating to others. Patterns of behaviour that may be adversely affecting our lives and relationships are repeated unless they are identified and brought into awareness. These patterns will be recognised and explored in therapy.

7.  Understand how we relate to others; the therapist will use the transference. She will explore the patient/therapist relationship as a way of understanding how the patient relates generally in his/her life.

8. Comprehend that what we fear outside of ourselves may actually have originated in our internal world. This actually gives us more power to deal with such fears.

‘…our internal landscape begins to develop at birth and is a compilation of early relationships that have left their imprint on our being. Good and not so good. Our internal world is made up of real others (our parents, caretakers, siblings, teachers, places and things etc.) and our experience of them, our emotional reactions and feelings which become the fabric of the relational memories that have been taken in. So our internal world represents our intake of interactions and relationships as they have been experienced and understood at an implicit level.’

Ceccoli.

 

9. Develop confidence, self esteem and a feeling of self worth, through being heard and accepted in a non-judgemental atmosphere. Enable us to benefit from and enjoy our relationships more.

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10. Through understanding, to either be able to forgive, or, if not, to be able to manage the pain of the past with more strength and fortitude, so that it does not affect one’s present.

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Has psychoanalytic psychotherapy helped you? Please leave a response on the comments box below. Thank you. Linda.

Empathy: What is it and How Can We Show It? Find Out How Therapists Do This.

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https://www.flickr.com/photos/prabakarant/

 

“Can I see anothers woe,
And not be in sorrow too.
Can I see anothers grief,
And not seek for kind relief.

On Anothers Sorrow
William Blake, Songs of Innocence and of Experience

 

What is Empathy?

Empathy is the ability to put oneself into the world of another, in both a thinking and feeling way, as far as that is possible. It is really trying to understand how that other person sees and experiences the world.

There is a difference between empathy and sympathy or compassion. Sympathy is feeling affected by and sorry for someone’s situation. Compassion is feeling caring concern towards them and their plight and wanting to offer help. Empathy is a more total experience of someone else’s perspective, an intense attunement, putting oneself in another person’s shoes.

Empathy has been thought of as a natural aspect of most people’s personality, a fundamental, innate part of us that enables us to relate to and socialise with others. However, some recent research has indicated that it is mostly a learnt quality, influenced by upbringing and environmental factors.

This, and other research projects now mean that scientists can actually witness the areas of the brain involved with empathy:

With the technological advances of the 21st century, studies began using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to research empathy, frequently using empathy for pain as their experimental paradigm. Two seminal studies (Decety and Jackson,
2004; Singer et al., 2004) simultaneously posited that a specic set of regions of the pain matrix(specically the anterior cingulate cortex [ACC] and anterior insula [AI]) are activated both by experiencing pain and by watching others experience pain.

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Image:Flickr. The City Project.

Science has revealed that there are neurological indications that can be detected when a person is feeling empathy:

Whether it’s watching a friend get a paper cut or staring at a photo of a child refugee, observing someone else’s suffering can evoke a deep sense of distress and sadness — almost as if it’s happening to us. In the past, this might have been explained simply as empathy, the ability to experience the feelings of others, but over the last 20 years, neuroscientists have been able to pinpoint some of the specific regions of the brain responsible for this sense of interconnectedness.

 

Why does Empathy matter? What are its effects in Psychotherapy?

Being understood is in itself a highly therapeutic experience; feeling that another has really ‘heard’ you and comprehended both the thoughts and feelings that you have expressed can only improve one’s state of mind.

Many well-known psychotherapists have underlined the crucial importance of empathy as a core skill:

 

“…deep understanding is, I believe, the most precious gift one can give to another.”

(Carl Rogers.)

Empathy is the capacity to think and feel oneself into the inner life of another person.

“The empathic understanding of the experience of other human beings is as basic an endowment of man as his vision, hearing, touch, taste and smell”

Heinz Kohut

 

People often feel better after one or two sessions of therapy; this is most likely because of the fact that they have felt really heard. This is frequently an enormous relief, a new and freeing experience for many people, who might never have felt such care and attentiveness from another.

Obviously, empathy alone is not enough to bring about real lasting change; there are many other therapeutic aspects of the process.

However, empathy is important in helping create a vital sense of acceptance as an individual, validation, and safety, all through the process of psychotherapy. Without it, there can be no progress, no healing, no real connection:

“For it is an immutable truth, that ‘WHAT COMES FROM THE HEART THAT ALONE GOES TO THE HEART.’  (Coleridge)

How to show Empathy.

Therapist’s self-reflection is crucial, achieved through introspection, their own therapy and through regular individual and group casework supervision. In this way, a therapist can work though any personal blocks and obstacles that might be in the way of showing empathy to all kinds of others.

For example, if a therapist had struggles with a dominating father, then it might be difficult to show empathy to what is perceived as a dominating man in the therapy room.

Empathy can be shown in a variety of ways, both verbal and non verbal. For instance, showing a non-judgemental attitude is crucial. This is achieved through:

1.Body languagean accepting, open stance (arms and legs relaxed, unfolded), eye-contact, (but not staring) nodding supportively, mirroring the client’s body language and expression (subtly), having an accepting and warm facial expression.

2.Demonstrating understanding : gentle and accepting tone of voice, lack of judgement, never interrupting the client and allowing the client space and time to talk. The counsellor will often reflect and paraphrase the client’s thoughts and feelings to show this understanding.

3.Listening skills:There are several ways in which the therapist or counsellor can demonstrate that they are really listening. These are both verbal and non verbal. Listening and attending skills are crucial for the client to feel heard and validated.

Empathy.

Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible
Comfort of feeling safe with a person,
Having neither to weight thoughts,
Nor measure words–but pouring them
All right out–just as they are
Chaff and grain together,
Certain that a faithful hand will
Take and sift them,
Keep what is worth keeping,
And with the breath of kindness
Blow the rest away.

George Eliot.

 

Have you experienced real empathy in psychotherapy or counselling? Can you say how it helped? Leave a comment below.

 

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Image: Flickr. University of Hawaii.

Depression:Can Psychotherapy Help? (2)

 

Minstrel Man
by Langston Hughes

Because my mouth
Is wide with laughter
And my throat
Is deep with song,
You did not think
I suffer after
I’ve held my pain
So long.

Because my mouth
Is wide with laughter
You do not hear
My inner cry:
Because my feet
Are gay with dancing,
You do not know
I die.

 

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Image: Nik Shuliahin. Unsplash.

Can psychotherapy help those who experience the hellish afflictions of depressive illness? The answer to this question is that it is possible to treat some people through psychotherapy. Obviously, there is no universal panacea, no magic cure and this treatment is not for everyone.

However, there are several kinds of psychotherapy which have been shown through research to help depression. A GP or therapist will make an assessment to help the person decide which modality might suit them. Many have found different forms of psychotherapy helpful. 

There is a combination of factors in relation to the origins and causes of clinical  depression; it has both chemical and psychological origins. Therefore treatment often needs to address both of these, in terms of medical or psychiatric help and therapy. It is up to the individual to decide, along with professional advice, which treatment or treatment combination may be right for them.

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Medication for depression certainly has its place and has been proved to be effective. Indeed, it can be life-saving. Obviously different drugs suit different people, and some work generally better than others.

However, there is still plenty of room for further research:

New treatments are badly needed, the experts say. Most of the drugs in the study are known as SSRIs, which are thought to work by increasing levels of a chemical messenger called serotonin in the brain, but nobody knows for certain. “We don’t have any very precise treatments for depression at this point in time,” said Geddes.

Guardian

 

Dr Tim Cantopher, in his helpful book Depression:The Curse of the Strong, underlines the fact that depression does not happen to weak people. He refers to the increase of stress in our society, which he feels is the commonest cause of clinical depression:

This illness nearly always happens to one type of person. He or she is strong, reliable, diligent, with a strong conscience and a sense of responsibility, but is also sensitive, easily hurt by criticism and has a self-esteem which, while it may look robust on the outside, is in fact quite vulnerable and easily dented. This is the person to whom you would turn in times of need, and they would never let you down.

 

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Keeping quiet about one’s depression can make it worse; sometimes people share with friends or family and that may be helpful. At other times, being able to talk with a professional therapist may be the best way though one’s problems.

The therapist will help look for meaning, for what might lie, psychologically speaking, at the heart of the depression and emotional suffering. Insights may be gained into past experiences that may have been damaging, into negative ways of thinking and destructive behaviour patterns, all repeated in the present.

Long repressed thoughts, feelings and significant dreams can come into consciousness in the accepting and non-judgemental atmosphere of the therapy room.

Sometimes, a depressed person feels so isolated, so alone, in a very dark place. As a therapist, it seems often like a privilege to have someone try to communicate this pain of loneliness, of feeling locked inside, trapped in a dark hole, vessel. or tunnel.

Rather than attempt to ‘pull out’ the person, I wonder if there is any way I can be in there with her, even for a second? Of course I cannot know exactly what it feels like for her, but I have been in my own ‘dark spaces’ , so I know them inside myself.

Having someone even express the wish to be in that terrible place with her, may make the depressed person feel less afraid, less alone. Of course, this has to be handled sensitively and, crucially, with an awareness of timing.

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Issues like unresolved anger, grief, disillusionment, may be explored and worked through in a way that can provide understanding into the roots of the problems. Then perhaps new ways of managing such feelings may be discovered.

Gradually, such understanding may lead to re-evaluation and change, so that old patterns can be broken and new ways of being discovered.

People become trapped in their past, which is very depressing. Coming to terms with long-held feelings and disappointments can be a releasing experience, for these can inhibit personal growth and development. Adjusting to newly-found truths about oneself and one’s past may be difficult, but it often leads to increased energy for life and the wish to move on more hopefully and constructively.

Do you have thoughts about this post? Has psychotherapy helped you with depression? Feel free to share whatever you can in the comments.