Psychological Self-Help

Navigation bar
  Home Print document View PDF document Start Previous page
 68 of 78 
Next page End Contents 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73  

Completely out of control, hysterical expression of intense
emotions should be avoided, unless you are supervised by a
professional. Occasionally, a disturbing thought or feeling may occur to
you. Try to accept it (see chapter 15) and assume you are more able
to cope with the feeling when you are aware of it, rather than
unaware. Some people object to expressing emotions by using cuss
words and obscenities. You should use whatever words are naturally
expressive for you. On the other hand, don't let your desire to "be
nice" inhibit your expression (in private) of your true thoughts and
feelings, some of which are hostile (remember 2/3rds of us would wipe
out someone if we could), evil, vulgar, and nasty. 
Effectiveness, advantages, and dangers
We have two sources of data: (1) patients in insight therapy vent
feelings and generally report feeling better, but (2) subjects in
laboratories observe or experience and express aggression and
become more aggressive (Bandura, 1973; Tavris, 1984). Many
therapists also doubt the efficacy of catharsis and abreactions.
Unfortunately, there is little or no research about the effectiveness of
self-induced discharging of emotions, as described in this self-help
method. Tentatively, one might assume that public expressions of
anger or sadness, like aggression or crying, which are reinforced (yield
some payoff) by others, are likely to continue in the future. Private
expressions of feelings, as in this self-help method where the intent is
clearly to reduce the unwanted emotions, could result in decreasing
both internal emotional stress and overt expression. You may want to
try it and see how you respond but use caution. Much more research is
needed. Please note the warning given in the introduction of this
method and read the "Dealing with Trauma" section in chapter 5. 
Remember, anger, fears, and sadness probably grow, if one
obsesses about the situation. In fact, just talking about a highly
emotional problem and expressing your feelings with a friend is not
always helpful. If the focus is on how to stop the unwanted feeling, the
talking may help. And, interestingly enough, talking about other things
(not the upsetting problem) can be helpful. So, anything that distracts
our attention or helps us forget the distressing situation should be
helpful. See if venting your feelings helps you put the troubles aside or
if it just reminds you more of the problem. 
There are possible dangers. The emotional reaction could be
unexpectedly intense. So, having a friend with you, who has plenty of
time and knows what to expect, may be wise. Also, know someone to
call or a crisis hot line or a hospital emergency service if it should
become necessary (not likely). Remember, if your emotions are
intense enough that harm could occur to yourself or others, you should
seek professional help, not just rely on self-help. 
Additional readings
Previous page Top Next page

« Back