Psychotherapy for me is based on the idea that not only do we often hide parts of ourselves from others, we also endeavour to hide parts of ourselves from ourselves. We do this for many reasons and often in extreme ways – one of the most impressive and effective has to be the repetition compulsion.
To summarize, and as strange as hiding from ourselves, we repeat things so as to avoid remembering them. This repetition can be broken down into four central components: - 1)we have another bash at righting a wrong, or understanding a situation; 2)the known is better than the unknown and we believe we have more control over something, however horrid; 3) there is nearly always a certain amount of gratification in the repetition and; 4) a form of punishment which allows, for a time, our guilt to be abolished.
Over and over, we return to the scene, or a variation of it, of the original ‘crime’, but what remains hidden are conscious and felt reactions and thoughts about it. A strange kind of ‘red herring’ that we believe keeps us safe, but very often does the opposite. The horror of discovering the truth can drive one to another kind of self-induced blindess . It’s a bit like ‘you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t’ but, as a rule, turning a blind eye to what is going on both around you and inside you is unlikely to end well. And, in many ways, although you don’t often realise it, at some level you understand it and come to knock at the door of a therapist.