My alarm goes off at 06:30 in the morning, completely annoyed I curse heaven and earth, and of course I try to sabotage me by staying some extra minutes in bed, however the consciousness of getting late throws me out of my comfy bed. I remember my update on Facebook last night: "If Frodo can manage to get the ring to Mordor, you too can get out of bed". I smile and get up.
Another week begins above the parallel 51° north. Although, this week is a short one, only four days after Easter, I feel tired, but I am on my way to have a few days of rest. Over the next forty minutes I follow quite blind around the house. I go from one room to another until I am finally ready to leave, and soon I find myself inside the train on the way to London. I can't help but notice the people around me, teammates and comrades of commuting that probably faced the same personal battles that I faced upon waking this morning. Many of these faces are familiar, even though we do not talk or say hi to each other, I feel like I know them. They are people who are part of my routine. These people are my “friends” that like me, are on their way, and just like me, they are also in search of something. Probably they are waiting for their dreams and projects to come true within the deadlines planned, or maybe those holidays will arrive sooner or even that the boss will finally give them a break today and stop making their life a misery… The wait, we are always waiting… Wishing and hoping.
I blend myself in this environment and I follow the people who are listening to music on their phones, ipads or computers, and without surprise, the time pass quick as we are completely immersed in our own worlds. The train arrives at St. Pancras International Station thirty-five minutes later and from there I board into a carriage of the Piccadilly line, which miraculously is not crowded this morning, maybe is the Easter week, and once again I spare a look at my fellow travelers with their faces around me. I think about the vulnerabilities of the people around me, and of course, this process only happens in my mind, because in a city like London, there is no talking with strangers in public transport. People don't relate to others when in these environments. Sometimes, they look at you, only to lower their gaze when they realize that you are looking at them. The last thing we want is to give the impression that we are invading a stranger’s life and privacy. Odd, very odd! Anyway, there are rules that are understood without the need for verbal explanation in a city like London, and despite being affected by the world of others around us, our essence is connected, rooted in our own world ... stations pass by me and after a change of line in Leicester Square, I got to work twenty minutes later.
At the twenty-first floor window, I see London opening-up in front of me. The sun shines on a typical spring morning and even through the double glazed windows, I can hear the noises that come from the street downstairs. The city is alive, as usual and I feel my mind wandering while I press the button to bring my laptop to life. If we are constantly affected by the environment, including all the people around us, and even without having a conversation with them, why we have the tendency to ignore these people so easy? Why is so complicated to give the real meaning to these “relationships”? Even worse, why we don't even realize that we are in constant contact with the environment?
I believe that we are all one and that our basic operations revolve around our self regulating function. We are a balanced system where we exchanges everything we need with the environment around us, so we are in touch with a surrounding world that constantly performs trading with the environment, i.e. we make contact to satisfy our dominant and emerging needs, therefore the contact has a cyclic operation: contact and retraction.
Here, I open a space to cite the theory of J.Zinker (1979), which defines the contact's cycle as follows:
• Awareness: is the emergence of vague impressions, restlessness, which soon begins to realize, is consciousness. Generally speaking, is situation where we know that something is bothering us, like something is not quite right, a little bit out of place, but we cannot quite put our finger on it. If the awareness is complete and clear, then we are able to identify our dominant need at that time.
• Energizing/action: is the penny dropping moment. We know that something must be done, and as a result of it our body invites our muscles for the action, there is a growing feeling of energy, awareness is being organized for our satisfaction.
• Contact: this is when we come in contact with what will satisfy the need, is the time of encounter with the difference (Me and the Not-Self), the transformation takes place, and the figures clearly emerge. What was in the subconscious (background) comes to the fore and become clear "figures".
• Withdrawal/conclusion: the need was satisfied and the body now retires, the resolution and the relief can be felt and the energy begins to collapse.
• Withdrawal: here there is the closing of the Gestalt as the energy fully retracts bringing that feeling of accomplished duty.
But what all of this have to do with the theme of this text? Hold on, I will be there in a moment. The cycle described above is known as the gestaltic cycle, and reflects the healthy functioning of the body. During this cycle the break of energy can occur and may be stagnant or be extended. This is known as a phenomenon called contact disorders or neuroses, that start to appear.
For all of those who left the teenager years behind, knows that life not always follows the fairy tales. A friend of mine used to say that “As the rickshaw progresses, the watermelons accommodates itself”. Well, it is true that with the balance made by the rickshaw, the watermelons will find their places, however, the question is: is the place found the right one? Sometimes we feel that we are at a crossroads. Nothing looks good. Nothing brings satisfaction. Usually this happens during moments that we can no longer identify our eminent needs and our organism, nevertheless, attempts to find the balance lost, and usually create conflicts.
For all those who know me, it is known that my main educational training was in Psychology, moreover, in Gestalt Therapy, so based on this, I feel free to use the concept of Gestalt to explain my thoughts. If you feel more comfortable, feel free to use the psychoanalysis concept of insight, which is far more known by the majority of people. Anyway, whichever term used, unresolved issues remain outstanding and the balance is impaired, the neurotic symptoms arise as an attempt to reorganize and assimilate the gestalts opened, or are not met. And let's be honest, we all know exactly what is like not having our needs met and all the stagnate energy that comes from these facts.
Various authors, whom I studied throughout my academic life, described the process of formation and establishment of neuroses. Freud had specific thoughts and explanations, Behaviorism, as well, so as Existentialism. For me, an existentialist by conviction, I believe that the neurotic is constantly interrupting the process of formation and elimination of perceptions, not realizing clearly what are their needs and their emotions. This way they do lose the opportunity to complete their gestalts and therefore satisfy their needs. On another hand, this creates a continuous state of dissatisfaction, taking the neurotic to not take from the environment what it is needed to keep the balance and a healthy survival, let alone does not contributes to give back to the environment what it is claimed to somehow fit him. This is a vicious game that resembles a kind of addiction is more pathological cases.
In order to allow us to satisfy our needs we need to have the awareness of the needs that arise as we make choices throughout life. We shall have to learn to make right choices, it is a tricky process and as a result, the neurotic is a person full of interruptions, which interrupts himself in the process of meeting his own needs, perhaps because he is unable to make choices. Remember that even not choosing one or another option, turns out to be a choice too, after all stay over the fence is also a choice.
The neurotic people are first and foremost phobic people. They are afraid of pain and frustration. They stop themselves in the process of growth; the unresolved gestalts accumulate and restrain them to establish new contacts with the world and people around them. They usually are confused as to what they feel or what they do; do not recognize what are their real needs, resulting in a fragile self-esteem and self-concept, and to feed themselves constantly they seek external support in the environment, using manipulations and stereotyped defenses to achieve their satisfaction. The neurotics are very poorly in resolving their issues, consequently they become blind spots.
The human been is the only specie able to exist. This existence can be translated by the ability to put things out, projecting you in the environment. This capability is characteristically human, human beings alone transcends all barriers, while, other species follow their biological programming. Humans construct themselves based on culture, history, and their own individuality.
The human’s goals, their condition of existence becomes their potential, these then proceeds to give meaning to itself and its trajectory. Humans are the only specie that lives in a constant evolution and gearing towards the process of “coming-to-be”, improving by doing. The man is by it an unfinished creation. Their project is to make their own destiny more comfortable and therefore being masters of their own destiny.
During our journey, the social environment where we live can sometimes be devastating, cruel, which may destroy our genuine potential and corrupt us. Only children are pure, remember this popular saying? The way of human existence is rough and filled with stones, and for much the existence loses its greater meaning, the happiness is lost; our achievement becomes increasingly distant. Some people living their meaningless life are unable to live fully. In human existence, it is needed to dive into the darkness; this is part of the walk; however, to exit out of the darkness we have to find the true meaning of life. Remember that even in the desert, the most beautiful flower can bloom.
A good Easter to all of us, and I wish we may be able use the mean of this celebration to somehow revive, to understand how we make contacts, not only with us, but with the environment around us, so that we release stagnant energy back t the universe, and thus prevent neuroses evolve to a higher degree. I wish that many flowers flourish in your garden.
Have a good afternoon,