Psychological Self-Help

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1495
I have never seen a patient, the germs of whose disease I could not find in myself.
-Sigmund Freud
Naturally, we don't like to uncover bad things about ourselves. Yet,
awareness, mindfulness, insight, introspection, psychological-
mindedness, introversion (as described by Jung), self-reflection, or
private self-consciousness are generally valued concepts. One could
argue that it is better to be aware and have a chance to cope with
some "problematic" personal characteristic than to have this
undesirable trait operating inside of us and be ignorant of it and, thus,
helpless to change. But, some people think psychological-minded
people are emotionally detached, emotionally unexpressive, poorly
adjusted, and painfully self-conscious. Not true (Farber, 1989).
Actually, more aware people are more emotional, but they may not
express a greater proportion of their emotions (and, therefore, look
like they are withholding their feelings). Unfortunately, while
psychologically aware people may be wiser, they are probably sadder
and have lower self-esteem (see Farber). Being insightful means you
see your faults, your failed opportunities, your selfish and mean
impulses, your self-serving self-deceptions, etc. This is humbling and
maybe scary. Nevertheless, insight is made more tolerable if you can
take a deterministic attitude (method #4 in chapter 14), believe
everyone has all kinds of evil thoughts and feelings, and think you can
and will stay in control so long as you know what is going on inside of
you. Facing your true nature can be more of an asset than a liability. 
One hundred years after Freud described in fantastic detail the
unconscious (the "hidden 6/7ths of the mind"), experimental science
has not come close to objectively investigating and explaining the
denial of an alcoholic or a smoker, the mechanisms of repressed
childhood abuse, the self-cons of the procrastinator or underachiever,
the blindness of a hysteric or a hypnotic subject, etc. Clinicians
describe and speculate about these matters, but science is pretty
impotent with the unconscious, thus far. Science has investigated the
subliminal (quick) perception of words or symbols (we do learn without
awareness), subliminal popcorn ads and self-improvement tapes (no
evidence they work), other very simple perceptions (are influenced by
needs and expectations), and very simple judgments, like "Is this a
famous name?" (such judgments are influenced by "forgotten"
information). But, we certainly don't know scientifically how influential
or how smart the unconscious is (see June, 1992, American
Psychologist).
With the evolving view of the brain as having many parallel
clusters of neurons, researchers now think unpleasant information,
such as the denial of cancer or the repression of sexual abuse, is being
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