Psychological Self-Help

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bad memories seem to feed on themselves...our remembering old
hurts/fears arouses emotions which call up more bad memories in an
unending circle. It is an unhappy condition to be in. Most people would
say, if your thoughts center on old wounds that make you unhappy,
scared, angry, or physically sick, then you need to find a way to
change those thoughts or reduce those memories. 
Warning: The following paragraphs contain ideas that may seem
critical and blaming or, at least, unsympathetic to a long-suffering
person with deep wounds. If you are such a person, you may not want
to read this section now. However, if you feel ready to read it, keep in
mind that the author cited below is describing an unconscious process,
not an intentional manipulation of others. 
There is an old concept in psychiatry that certain symptoms may
yield some "secondary gain"--some more or less unconscious payoff--
for the patient. But, how could having depressing, upsetting thoughts
or seeing oneself as weak, sick, abused, or dependent yield some
psychological gain to the distressed person? Possible answers are
offered by writers in a currently popular area of study called
woundology--the study of emotional wounds. Wounds are frequently
an aspect of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders, depression, dependency,
long-term anger, forms of anxiety, and many other conditions. 
A recent writer, Caroline Myss (1997), who gives herself the
revealing label of "energy medicine intuitive," has described at length
how some suffering people can become almost completely immersed
in the trauma and define themselves in terms of their wounds. When
this happens to us, she says it is very difficult to heal ourselves and
escape our own personal hole of misery. Myss offers many workshops
to persons with long-term disorders. In this setting, she has been
taken aback by the degree to which the many people seem to define
themselves--their whole being--in terms of the assumed source of
their troubles. Examples of the self-descriptions: "I am an incest
victim," "I am a cancer victim," "I am an alcoholic," "I am a
Borderline," and so on. Their minds seem to be filled with ruminations
about their stressful history, their resulting current symptoms, and
their interpersonal contacts (mostly therapists, caretakers, support
groups, and sympathetic friends with similar pasts or problems). See
the discussion of Woundology in the next section. 
When Myss has tried to suggest to these people that they may be
unduly preoccupied with their trauma and in this way avoiding or
resisting mending their problems by changing or getting out of their
current situations, they would usually get pissed-off at her. They felt
offended...that she unfairly blamed them for their own problems. That
reaction is certainly understandable. They are deeply hurt and trying
to get better. But what if Dr. Myss's theory is sometimes true? Some
suffering people see themselves as innocent victims having nothing to
do with causing the upsetting situation. (Of course, some others
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