Psychological Self-Help

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44
Anger turned inward 
Psychoanalysts have long believed that anger towards others gets
turned against ourselves. Our anger converted into self-hatred causes
depression. Karen Horney (see Monte, 1980, or any theories of
personality book) wrote that the basic problem starts with neurotic
parents who are inconsistent (both overindulgent and demanding),
lacking in warmth, inconsiderate or openly hostile, or driven by their
own needs. The child resents these things. But parents are powerful
and a child's only means of survival. So, because of fear or love or
guilt, the child represses the anger. The child, being small, alone,
confused, and helpless in an unpredictable, hostile world, is, of course,
scared. How does the child protect itself? 
The child, aware of his or her weakness, the criticism of others,
and his or her own hostility and fears, develops a "despised" self-
concept. Also, the resentment of others has been turned against the
self: "I am unlovable, a bad person." At the same time, the child starts
to develop a notion of an "ideal" self--what he/she should be--in order
to survive and get the love and approval he/she wants. This ideal self,
trying to compensate for weakness and guilt, sets up impossible
demands, called neurotic needs. These needs are unconscious,
intense, insatiable, anxiety-causing, and out of touch with reality. For
instance, if one has a neurotic need for affection, it becomes urgent to
be loved by everyone, all one's peers, all the family, teachers, the
paper carrier, etc. Horney listed several neurotic needs, primarily
needs for perfection, power, independence, and affection. All are
attempts to handle the primitive hostility from childhood. So, how do
we get depressed? 
In extreme cases, some people become so self-effacing, i.e.
compliant, unselfish, and modest; they almost do away with their
"self." Suffering, helplessness, and martyrdom are their ideals. They
need to be loved, liked, approved, important, but taken care of. Their
"solution" is: "If you love me, you will not hurt me." But beneath this
saintly, goody-goody surface sometimes boils the old anger, rage, and
strong urges to be aggressive and mean. Besides, love never runs
smoothly--remember everyone must love them--so these kinds of
dejected people may turn against themselves, becoming very self-
critical and unhappy. Often they have also become bitter because the
unwritten agreement was broken, namely, "I'll be nice and not hate
you, if you will love, respect, and care for me always." People striving
for sainthood often suffer because others will not always put them
first. 
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