Knowing our own minds is difficult at the best of times.
It is extraordinarily hard to secure even basic insights
into our characters and motivations of a kind that we hope can free us
from some of the neuroses and compulsions that spoil so much of our lives.
It is therefore especially humbling and at moments truly dispiriting
to realise that dispelling ignorance of our psyches with knowledge.
It is not going to be enough by itself.
Or rather we stand to realise that
there is going to need to be a further
and yet more arduous distinction to observe
between knowing somethingabout ourselves intellectually and knowing about it emotionally.
We might, for example,come to an intellectual understanding
that we are timid around figures of authority
because our father was a remote and distant figure
who didn’t give us some of support and love
we needed to tolerate ourselves.
Assembling this insight into our characters
might be the work of many years,
and having reached it,
we could reasonably expect
that our problems with timidity and authority would then abate.
But the mind’s knots are sadly not so simple to unpick.
An intellectual understanding of the past, though not wrong,
won ’ t by itself be effective in the sense of being able to
release us from the true intensity of our neurotic symptoms.
For this, we have to edge our way
towards a far more close-up, detailed,
visceral appreciation of where we have come from
and what we have suffered.
We need to strive for what we can call
an emotional understanding of the past
as opposed to a top-down, abbreviated intellectual one.
We will have to re-experience
at a novelistic level of detail
a whole set of scenes from our early life
in which our problems around fathersand authority were formed.
We will need to let our imaginations wonder back to certain moments
that have been too unbearable to keep alive
in a three-dimensional form in our active memories
(a mind liking, unless actively prompted
to reduce most of what we ’ ve been through
to headings rather than the full story,
a document which it shelves in remote locations
of the inner library ).
We need not only to know
that we had a difficult relationship with our father,
we need to relive the sorrow
as if it were happening to us today.
We need to be back in his book lined study
when we would have been not more than six;
we need to remember the light coming in from the garden,
the corduroy trousers we were wearing,
the sound of our father ’ s voice
as it reached its pitch of heightened anxiety,
the rage he flew into because we had not met his expectations,
the tears that ran down our cheeks,
the shouting that followed us as we ran out into the corridor,
the feeling that we wanted to die and that everything good was destroyed.
We need the novel, not the essay.
Psychotherapy has longrecognised this distinction.
It knows that thinking is hugely important
but on its own, within the therapeutic process itself,
thinking is not the key to fixing our psychological problems.
Psychotherapy insists on a crucial difference
between broadly recognising that we were shy as a child
and re-experiencing in its full intensity,
what it was like to feel cowed,
ignored and in constant danger of being rebuffed or mocked.
The difference between knowing in an abstract way
our mother wasn ’ t much focused on us when we were little
and reconnecting with the desolate feelings we had
when we tried to share certain of our needs with her.
Therapy is built on the idea of a return to live feelings.
It’s only when we’re properly in touch with feelings
that we can correct them with the help of our more mature faculties
and thereby address the real troubles of our adult lives.
Oddly and interestingly, this means intellectual people
can have a particularly tricky time in therapy.
They get interested in the ideas,
but they don ’ t so easily recreate
and exhibit the pains and distresses
of their earlier less sophisticated selves.
Though it ’ s actually these parts
of who we all are that need to be encountered, listened to
and perhaps, for the first time, comforted and reassured.
We need to get fully better, to go back in time
perhaps every week or so for a few years,
and deeply relive what it was like to be us
at five and nine and fifteen
and allow ourselves to weep and be terrified and furious
哭泣 害怕和恐惧 基于这种
in accordance with the reality of the situation. And it is on the basis of this kind
And it is, on the basis of this kind
of hard-won emotional knowledge,
not its more painless intellectual kind,
that we may one day, with a fair wind,
discover a measure of relief from some of the troubles within us.
Our dictionary features the language of emotional intelligence.
Too often, we struggle to find the right words to explain what we mean.
This dictionary is a tool to help us convey our true emotions
and intentions with economy and precision.