Psychological Self-Help

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defense when it is an escape. Anticipation of the future through
fantasy is a mark of an intelligent species. 
Many self-help methods use fantasy: covert rehearsal, covert
sensitization, desensitization, venting feelings, decision making,
empathy, increasing motivation and awareness and many others. If
fantasies can be therapeutic, then they can be harmful, e.g. imagining
awful consequences could create fears, sad thoughts may produce
depression, reliving an insult in fantasy might build anger. Fantasy
may be part of the problem or part of the solution. 
Compensation or substitution: trying to make up for some
feeling of inadequacy by excelling in some way. Alfred Adler, a free-
thinking student of Freud, observed that feelings of weakness and
inferiority are common when we are young. Much of life, he thought,
was devoted to compensating for our real or imaginary weaknesses,
i.e. striving for superiority. Both men and women strive for power,
competency, courage, wealth, and independence. Karen Horney wrote,
"The neurotic striving for born of anxiety, hatred and
feelings of inferiority. ...the normal striving for power is born of
strength, the neurotic of weakness." 
Sometimes we work on improving in the area we are weak in, so
the skinny, shy child becomes Miss or Mr. America or the kid with
speech problems becomes a politician (like Demosthenes with rocks in
his mouth or Winston Churchill). Sometimes we find other areas to
make up for our weaknesses; the unattractive student becomes an
outstanding scholar, the average student becomes an outstanding
athlete, the person in an unsatisfying marriage becomes deeply
involved with the children. These are compensatory substitutions.
Many are good ways of handling stress; some are not, as when an
unloved teenager seeks love promiscuously. 
Undoing: if you have done something bad, sometimes you can
undo it or make up for it. Example: if you have said some very critical
and hurtful things about one of your parents or a friend, later you may
try to undo the harm by saying nice things about them or by be being
nice to them and apologizing (sometimes it is the overdone apology
that reveals the hostility). In essence it is having the decency to feel
guilty and do something about it. 
Freud used undoing to explain certain obsessive-compulsive acts,
e.g. a 17-year-old with masturbation guilt felt compelled to recite the
alphabet backwards every time he had a sexual thought. He thought
that would undo the sin. 
Intellectualization or isolation: hiding one's emotional
responses or problems under a facade of big words and pretending one
has no problem. Suppose you were listening to a friend describe going
through his parents' divorce. He may tell about deeply hurtful
situations but show no sadness or anger; he gives a superficial
behavioral description of what happened; he might even clinically
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