Psychological Self-Help

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What is certain is that a single reading of this method will not
throw open all the doors to deep, dark secrets within you. The
unconscious will not reveal its secrets unless it is safe to do so.
Uncovering the unconscious is a long, complex, unending process. In
therapy it can sometimes be upsetting. Only a therapist should be
trying to force open doors to another person's unconscious, for
instance by expressing hunches about what is hidden in the client's
unconscious. Friends and non-professionals should generally stay out
of this. But we can push open our own doors without much danger. If
the "secret" would be terribly upsetting, you just won't be able to open
the door yet. To some people exploring the unconscious is a great
adventure. It is a vast, fascinating world. 
Case illustration
About 25 years ago I was 20-25 pounds overweight. As part of my
very first self-help project, to lose weight, I listed the causes of my
overeating. The first 11 factors were environmental factors, like having
lots of food around, and learned habits, like having a "sweet tooth,"
poor eating habits--candy bars--during the day, a family tradition of a
big supper and snacks in the evening, and a drink as a way of
socializing. Then there were 5 or 6 unconscious factors, e.g. to
displease my wife, to avoid other women, to allay anxiety and feel well
nourished, to be "big" and make myself more imposing, and to kill
myself with a heart attack. I lost the weight primarily by joining Run
For Your Life. Yet, I should have considered the unconscious factors
more seriously since I was both divorced and had heart trouble a few
years later. The main point is, however, that even in such as
commonplace area as eating, there are several possible unconscious
Gestalt methods of increasing awareness
Fritz Perls (Perls, Hefferline & Goodman, 1951; Perls, 1971, 1972,
1976), a psychoanalyst, spent a long lifetime helping patients and
group members become more aware of their potential to discover and
change parts of themselves. Unlike Freud, Perls did not look for
childhood causes of behaviors or feelings. He looked for ways for the
patient to find and re-own unconscious feelings, wants, and behaviors.
He wasn't concerned with why these things were hidden. He simply
assumed you needed to have "all the facts"--full awareness--in order
to cope with life. 
If you have shoved important, painful experiences and feelings out
of your conscious, and they now operate unconsciously, how can you
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