Grief and Mourning
The American culture was developed by people who had traveled across a vast, lonely, unfamiliar ocean to a land where usually there was no one that they knew. Some from non-English speaking lands found months or years of frustration before they could discuss their needs and wants with any hope of being understood. Many times even when their words were understood, their concepts, their culture, was often not understood. Northern Europeans and Southern Europeans were well meaning but completely baffled by each other's way of life. Asians faced an unbelievable perplexity of confusing, frustrating signals.
Frustration and grief were the usual experience of many coming to "wild America," with no one around to understand them. For many reasons a culture of suppressed feelings became the norm.
Holding back on showing feeling was seen as good partly because it hid the emotional pain so many were experiencing. The mind often defends itself from distress by turning off the perception of anxiety generating feelings. We avoid some of the anxiety at first but as we get further and further from our feelings we are robbed of the very connections that we need in order to understand what we are feeling and why. Without "what" and "why" we have no basis from which to accurately plan, act, feel, or resolve our dilemmas. Depression, anxiety, defensive obsessive-compulsive rituals and other symptoms develop as distorted defenses occupying our minds in the place of the original perceptions and feelings.
When we lose anything or anybody that is important to us we begin a mourning process that is our mind's attempt to heal. We feel helpless to restore the loss and angry at the loss, without necessarily being aware of the angry feelings. We may think that it is bad or crazy to feel angry that a person who has died or left us and is not there, but it is a normal feeling that our culture rarely accepts. We are not supposed to feel anger at the dead, especially for dying, but we do, often, and we also often do not realize it.
Helplessness to restore the lover, friend, business, home, parent, or lost idea usually results in a depression that we hide partly because one is "supposed to get over it" - but people are not really built that way. People who have lost a person or a business may experience a psychological hurt that is just behind their current thoughts and which may erupt full blown into consciousness whenever they are under stress. Sometimes just "enjoying themselves" may bring the loss to the surface, especially if there is any guild involved in the loss.
Someone who has lost a limb, friend, lover, pet, business, or even an idea can be bothered by that loss for years and years.
If we repress any feeling or idea we cause it to attach to many other hidden or unconscious feelings to which it connects and reconnects without our being aware of it until we have a spider web of hidden, unknown connections running through our mind and keeping the grief in front of our face, painfully and without relief.
Insight oriented interpersonal psychotherapy is one of the ways that we can work on resolving the pains and hidden hurts of our mind enough to be more comfortably alive.
We at Associates In Psychotherapy, P.A. work with you in weekly individual therapy or, if you wish, a combination of group and individual therapy, possibly including couples therapy so as to help you in your endeavor to comprehend and make use of the connections that allow you to begin to direct yourself more comfortably. One's ability to change depends on one's ability to work hard at changing.
Our web site is beginning at http://www.associnpsychotherapy.com and will be in operation soon with some of our articles. Articles, however do not replace therapy sessions. One cannot read onself into a better state of mind on any deep matter.
Dr. Lehrer, Psychologist