Psychological Self-Help

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handling stress (see toughness above). Certainly, being over-protected
and pampered can cause problems too. 
What are the implications? You should investigate your history; try
to understand the source of your personality, attitudes, and problems
(see Allen (1995) and chapter 15). That is a characteristic of a mature,
aware, insightful, wise person. But don't stop with insight; don't think
that is all you have to do. You have to use the understanding to
change. That changing may also involve some of the cognitive-
behavioral methods mentioned above, e.g. one may need to remind
oneself "I'm sensitive about angry yelling because my father..." or "I
tend to avoid schoolwork because my sister was so damned smart." 
Warning: Beware of therapists, groups, and books that implant and
nurture false memories, such as sexual abuse as a child (see
discussion of this in chapter 15).
A compelling need to know-- there is a natural curiosity, a need
to know. Not just to understand what makes us tick but also to know
what really happened in our relationships. Notice what happens when
a person has a conflict or breaks up with someone. Often hours are
spent "analyzing" the situation: Why did he/she leave me? What did
he/she really want or need? Was he/she interested in someone else?
Did he/she deceive me? Why did I take him/her for granted? Where
did I fail? This questioning and analyzing can be calming if the
understanding can become a means for accepting what has happened
and even a basis for believing we will handle the situation better next
time around. The "retrospective analysis" can be harmful if we become
self-critical or develop very negative views of the other person's
motives or character. Psychologizing in a harmful way is discussed in
chapter 9. Nevertheless, gaining genuine understanding can lessen
confusion, reduce a fear of history repeating itself, and bring some
Open-mindedness --knowing a few psychological theories and
self-help techniques should never lull you (or any therapist for that
matter) into believing you know all about how to understand and deal
with a certain kind of problem. For example, suppose within someone's
mind the urge to kill him/herself gets diverted into a fear of knives. It
is obvious that the problem is much greater than avoiding knives. The
underlying problem needs to be faced. In a similar situation, Wolpe
(1973) reported a case of an 18-year-old male who, after urinating,
washed his genitals 45 minutes, his hands 2 hours, and his body in a
shower for 4 hours. The compulsive washing was apparently connected
with sleeping with his sister until he was 15 (she was 17) and having
severe guilt about sexual thoughts and reactions. Wolpe reduced the
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