Psychological Self-Help

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a. Looking for possible meaning
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Introduction to Insight
If there are unconscious motives, urges, feelings, defenses, and
thoughts inside of us, or if parts of our brain carry out mental
processes we are unaware of, it seems reasonable that knowing about
those forces would improve our chances of controlling and directing
our lives. There is so much we do not understand about ourselves and
others, partly because we just don't know the laws that determine
behavior and maybe partly because we are unconscious of what's
going on. Perhaps it was no accident that the first psychotherapy--
psychoanalysis--strove to uncover "the unconscious." That was 100
years ago. Today, everyone is to some extent a Freudian
psychoanalyst. We all psychologize about what makes people tick. We
look for the true (often hidden) motives of a new date, a salesman, a
politician, an employer, and others. Once we become aware of defense
mechanisms and repression, we even wonder about our own
unconscious perceptions, needs, thoughts, and intentions. The notion
of unconscious processes constantly being at work in all of us has been
well ingrained in our culture for several decades. Now, even the new
brain research supports the idea that many parts of our brains can be
doing things without our conscious "self" being aware of what's going
on (see The Mind series on PBS). 
Man's mind stretched to a new idea never goes back to its original dimensions.
-Oliver Wendell Holmes
As additional methods of psychotherapy came along--Client
Centered, Psychodynamic, Gestalt, Transactional Analysis,
Interpersonal--the methods changed but the purpose for all these
therapies remained the same, namely, to gain insight, to understand
our mind and emotions better. Only during the 60's and 70's did the
Behavior Modification and Behavior Therapy approaches disregard the
unconscious. More recently, with the resurgence of Cognitive and
Cognitive-Behavioral techniques, the unconscious is back but in a
different form. The Cognitive therapists recognize that the distortions
of our perception and thinking are often unconsciously self-serving,
but they do not speculate a lot about evil repressed motives. As long
as the unconscious is there in any form, some of us will feel a need to
explore it. 
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