Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Psychology Goals

I went into therapy with the mind to change myself. My thought was to find out what's wrong with me and fix it. But what if that isn't the best path?

My psychology professor knows what her issues are. She says, “I'm highly neurotic. I'm an introvert and teaching wears me out. I have a lot of cognitive dissonance.” She laughs. She's not making a joke, she's serious, but it doesn't stop her from doing what she wants to do – teach. She has a masters in psychology. She's the department head. She's a very good teacher.
What is neurosis? According to Wikipedia, "Neurosis is a class of functional mental disorders involving distress but neither delusions nor hallucinations, whereby behavior is not outside socially acceptable norms.[1] It is also known as psychoneurosis or neurotic disorder, and thus those suffering from it are said to be neurotic. The term essentially describes an "invisible injury" and the resulting condition."
Neurotic individuals may be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, OCD, hysteria, and/or endless amounts of phobias.

While I sit at home, berating myself for being so neurotic, so introverted, she goes out and does what she wants to do anyways. She knows where her issues are, and just the knowing seems to help. She can compensate for them. Her office is quiet. She spends time there to recharge after teaching. She knows that she requires time alone after teaching a class so she makes sure she gets what she needs.

Perhaps this is a higher goal. Not to find problems and fix them. Not to make me less introverted, less neurotic (though perhaps merely accepting that I am neurotic would decrease my neuroticism), but just to discover who I am, give me permission to be me. To be able to say, “Yes, I am neurotic” and then laugh. Not because it doesn't matter. But because it is OKAY.

I did the personality profile. I disagreed with several aspects of it. I argued why I was not this or that. Indeed, I answered some of the questions based on what I am trying to change into. Perhaps I will go back and redo it. However, a lot of it was spot on.

Prof. Smith said that it individuals' results do not change much over their lifetime. You could take it again in 10 years and it would still be basically the same. I was very disheartened when she said this. I thought, “Do you mean to say that there is no hope? What, then, is the point of therapy? Is all counseling pointless? It can't be. I can't keep living like this.”

Perhaps the goal of counseling ought not to be to change the individual. Perhaps the goal ought to be to teach the individual how to compensate for, or even embrace, their uniqueness, their differences. To be able to say, “I'm neurotic” with a smile on one's face rather than embarrassment.

My middle son. The most neurotic of the bunch (and the most like me). :)

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