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Navaco, R. (1975). Anger control: The development and
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Getting It Off Your Chest
One of Freud's great contributions was his emphasis on the
unconscious. Today, it is generally accepted in clinical psychology and
psychiatry that certain emotions and motives are so abhorrent or
upsetting that we may suppress or repress these scary, disgusting,
embarrassing feelings into our unconscious. Examples: murderous
impulses, wanting every whim cared for like a baby, fear of being
rejected or unloved, resentment of rivals, sexual thoughts and urges,
etc. But, once repressed into the unconscious, these feelings are not
dormant. These mean, nasty, crude urges and feelings (good feelings
don't need to be repressed) are, according to Freud, continually trying
to express themselves some way.
Many therapists believe that unconsciously repressed emotions
cause a variety of major problems: neurotic and psychotic behaviors,
interpersonal conflicts (see games and scripts in chapter 9),
psychosomatic disorders (stomach trouble, headaches, hypertension,
tiredness), defense mechanisms (chapters 5 and 15), distorted
thinking (chapter 14), and many other unhealthy consequences.
Perceptions can be distorted: if as a child you saw your father as cold,
critical and unloving, you may throughout life expect male teachers or
work supervisors to be that way too. Similarly, certain recent emotions
may be so threatening that they get expressed indirectly, i.e.
displaced from one person to another, such as anger from the boss to
the spouse, from a spouse to a child, or from a parent to a little
brother, etc. And a conscious emotion may be a substitute for an
unconscious one, e.g. one may cry instead of showing anger, laugh
excessively instead of expressing anxiety, feel tired instead of guilt,
etc. We fool ourselves in all of these ways.
Some therapies hope to change the inner workings of the client,
not just the behavior or the interpersonal relationships. There are two
basic approaches to changing the inner person:
Freud and several of his followers believed patients need to
uncover the unconscious--to gain insight into deeply hidden
experiences, conflicts and urges, mostly from childhood. As a
byproduct of gaining insight, patients often uncover repressed
feelings which they pour out along with the memories,
cleansing themselves of these pent up emotions and the
associated guilt. This experience in therapy was sometimes a
vivid re-living of some traumatic event, called an abreaction.