Reactions To Catastrophic Events and Punishing Situations 

The wonderful emotional implications of this culture's ethic, while not always lived up to, do stat an imperative that is unique in an understanding of necessary human hope and expectation.  The American Declaration of Independence states human begins have inalienable rights to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

At times of personal, national, and regional calamity people may unconsciously and consciously try to submerge their personal needs.  A feeling of not being as important as that of the World Trade Tower tragedy is often mistakenly used to avoid thinking about personal concerns, but the freedom to have personal concerns is the hallmark of this multi-cultural land.  The unique words of "our right to pursue happiness" is one of the most enlightened statements of national intent. It is not selfish:  it is realistically the most important component of trying to live.

We are feeling creatures, whether we consciously admit it or not.  Emotional responses to any and all events is not an exceptional situation.  Everything we do has an emotional component before we act, during the act, and after.  People who need to hide their feelings from themselves may say, or even believe that they are not "feeling" about anything--an idea, memory, action, or whatever, are always feeling emotion even if it is well hidden.

Hiding feelings from ourself was an important but limiting survival technique that this culture had to use as part of it's necessary "damage control" method as our ancestors and us faced tremendous aloneness and helplessness.

Arriving in the Americas, coming from cultures that had developed hundreds of years plus of methods for handling disasters, people here found themselves without the enormous back-up of knowledge and feeling that out ancestral home may have had.  We were fairly alone and cut off by months of travel and fragmentary communications, if any, with fading contact with loved ones.

Think of our African country people as an example.  Ripped away from their homes, language, religious, and all communal meaning they were catapulted into a demeaning denigrating world of powerlessness and helplessness with almost no chance of rebuilding self-respect and without power over their immediate and future destiny.

The rest of us came from cultures that while sometimes quite denigrated or put down were allowed some chance to improve their conditions.

Now at this time in our culture we may be lucky enough to have a chance to improve our life but be unable to take part in that improvement because in some psychologically similar way in being enslaved we are enslaved by our personal history, our personal development.

We may look as if we are free and have power in our own life, but if we are living with controlling, limiting concepts of ourself that make us unable to seek love and psychological comfort then we may be enslaved by that which lies in our own minds.

As we work with an insight-giving Psycholtherapist we have a chance of regaining more control over life and turning it in the direction that is best for us.

If we learn anything from all the catastrophy that the world is experiencing it is essential that we remember the Declaration of Independence' well state aim...of our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

We at Associates in Psychotherapy, Scotch Plains, NJ wish all of our world's fellows a life of gentleness, self-respect, love, and a sense of being comfortably at home in the world.

Drs. Lehrer
Associates in Psychotherapy, P.A.
Scotch Plains, NJ