Drivers welcome: part i
Just as an automobile maneuvers a street so does your mind a thought, both start and stop, as the vehicle navigates a whole city so does your mind the relationships or dissimilarities between thoughts; both continue, starting and stopping until the final destination or conclusion is arrived at. The most obvious difference is the mind’s distinct ability to differentiate the external environment, a street or city for this instance, from the internal thoughts, the mind’s own internal environment, about the city or any other object it is thinking about.
Troubles arise when the automobile’s driver does not see the green light turn to yellow and then, worse, red. This is so obviously devastating in the real world when an accident occurs; similarly with the mind, but usually with much less obviousness. The street an automobile travels is often illuminated by some source of light, be it a celestial object (sun, moon, stars), street lights or the head lights of the vehicle itself, the mind can have very dark corners a driver is often unable to or ill-equipped to navigate and satisfactorily maneuver. This is when a person may have an unfortunate instance of having a mental or psychological accident.
The human brain could be thought of as the car in the above metaphor and as it houses the mind, the driver could be thought of as the mind. This car is the most complex object in the known universe. How well is it’s driver acquainted with its mechanisms, operation and required maintenance? This being known, how much more difficult is it for any individual to adequately navigate the roads/events of their lives without having breakdowns or accidents due to its inherent complexity?
Not only is the car complex but the roads taken during the maturational process can be highly treacherous and danger filled. The young driver is incapable and ill prepared to handle the obstacles and pitfalls. The barriers and problems that are encountered are more often than not inappropriately navigated and the aftereffects that are not appropriately processed or “repaired” leave the vehicle in a state of disrepair. The driver is no longer able to freely and readily travel the roads that inevitably continue to present themselves.
Therapy is a way for the driver to reacquaint themselves to their complex vehicle and then to better be able to reorient themselves to the roads that they not only must travel, but, then will enjoy, once again, travelling.
The thought within your mind is a road travelled by your mind. The two are as intimately bound as is the car with the road it travels. Unlike the physical road and the car your mind can take “flight” and travel down roads that are so far up in the sky that there has not been yet a physical vehicle manufactured that could reach such similar heights. This can obviously be very good, as when you find a very creative impulse or devastatingly dangerous, as when that creative impulse leads you into a dark space of loss, despair and depression. Distinguishing how to moderate and thereby appropriately navigate how you create your mind-space or mind-set can assist a person in traveling safely.
How does one travel safely? Well, as with a car that has a gas pedal and entropy producing brakes, so does your mind need countervailing mechanisms that produce thrust or momentum and then reduce or eliminate that movement forward or backward when it is necessary and appropriate.
It is relatively simple to manipulate a gas pedal and brake after a few hours of instructed application. The same is not always true for instruction and implementation of the parallel mechanisms of the mind. The way the car has been managed are ultimately the most important factors for producing, re-engaging or reacquainting the driver to their throttle and brake: how well has the car been properly maintained and more importantly how roughly has the car been handled, by its owner and by those entrusted with its safety, i.e. its caregivers?
These factors will play heavily into how easily an individual will be able to begin to right the direction their car has been traveling and a therapist can act as a driver’s instructor.
By Mathew Quaschnick
Intensive Short-term Dynamic Psychotherapy (ISDP) utilizes two maps, Triangle of Conflict and of Person, for assisting the therapeutic processing of client behavior.
ISDP favors this schematic for directing the behavioral as well as interventional material within the immediate moment and moments of the session as they are produced in the here and now. The triangle of conflict represents the dynamic flow of the client's unconscious material. The triangle of person is meant to pictorially represent the basic reality that the therapist-client relationship.
There are three main components each representing an active conscious or unconscious dynamic in any given relationship. The client draws from these relationships: e.g. the therapist "T," past persons "P," and current persons "C" to determine how they should interact with someone. The client may respond utilizing the "triangle of conflict" when the therapist attempts to interact with the client while utilizing behavioral patterns that the client has utilized in the past.
For example: If the therapist requests information about the client's presenting concern, let's say, "general depression," and the client talks about how they have not been able to "get to work on time" then this could be a defensive, or "D" response. The D response is meant to block the feelings, or "F" response, associated with the actual depressive feelings. If the client was able to answer the question about their depressive feelings then there may have been a chance for processing the emotions. However, the D response by the client instead wards off anxiety, and is an "A" response, in the triangle.
All of the points: D, A and F--are connected and each time that the therapist asks a question or implements an intervention there is a chance for one of the resulting points [D, A and F] to be utilized by the client. It is not as simple as always wanting to get an F response but more so of the therapist being actively aware of each response and then associating the triangle of conflict responses back to the Triangle of People so that the client and therapist can begin to understand the historical as well as current relationships that have and continue to contribute to the client's main presenting problem, aka general depression--but it could be any mental health concern.
By Mathew Quaschnick
Looking at Psychology Today's "Compassion Matters: Eight Ways to Actively Fight Depression"
The article "Eight Ways to Actively Fight Depression" describes eight unique ways to take control some of the most common symptoms of depression. I will, over-time, be incrementally summarizing the ways Lisa Firestone, Ph.D. describes her methods for fighting depression.
1. "Recognize and Conquer Your Critical Self Attacks"
This is one symptom that people suffering from depression most often complain. The critical attack can take the from of "a critical, self-destructive mentality that interferes with and distracts us from our daily lives." This is normally associated with a low self esteem and manifests as a "critical inner voice." This can be internalized at a very early age and makes it one of the most difficult symptoms to actively engage toward positive change outside of a therapeutic relationship. This is not to say that working outside of a therapeutic relationship is in vain but the intimate connection between self-esteem and your sense of self is difficult to separate from your self, alone and by one's self.
Dr. Firestone asks you to view the negative self talk as "parasites" that keep you in your bed during a regular physical sickness. But unlike the physical parasites, which you have no control over, Dr. Firestone advises that you have control over the negative self talk by bringing your awareness to them and actively identifying them as "alien point[s] of view." She then asks you to critically analyze the thoughts via a projection of them onto those whom you love: "would you think such cruel thoughts about a friend or family member?" Ultimately Dr. Firestone wishes that you should have compassion upon yourself and that "awareness" of your destructive thoughts will lead to more clear and realistic interpretation of yourself. By Mathew Quaschnick
2. "Think About What You Could Be Angry At"
The masked feelings of anger can be contributing to your depressive feelings. There is little doubt that unexpressed anger toward an individual, situation or emotionally significant object needs an outlet. Dr. Firestone briefly describes how this is the potential case regarding depression. She makes the suggestion to begin talking to others. This is a wonderful start but not everyone is comfortable talking about feelings of anger and not everyone has someone to healthfully begin this conversation. However, there are positive and therapeutic options people can begin utilizing to assist in the healthy expression of anger:
(1) The long term solution may be to begin talk therapy, and that is not a shameless endorsement of my work. I have help countless individuals with anger management and depression is a normal response to anger as Dr. Firestone states.
(2) Exercise! Beginning a daily or 3x per week workout routine, incorporating a martial arts practice, utilizing a heavy bag for boxing, etc...
(3) Deep breathing: The most important aspect of deep breathing is making sure when taking an in-breath that your stomach is extended outward. Your diaphragm, the main muscle for breathing will be contracted. When you breath out, the diaphragm will be relaxed, and your stomach will move in.
(4) Emergency stop gap intervention: If there is no time to perform the above options the next best effort is simply removing yourself, at the time of the feelings, from the source of anger. You can then "live to fight another day" and not inappropriately express your anger.
By Mathew Quaschnick
UPTOWN THERAPY MPLS
Edited and composed by Mathew Quaschnick
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