This above all to thine own self be true:
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Shakespeare: Hamlet: act 1.
- Seldom or never does a marriage develop into an individual relationship smoothly without crises. There is no birth of consciousness without pain. C.G.Jung: Psychological reflections.
- All people in this world are different from each other.
- Solitary confinement is one of the most dreaded of punishments. Jean Pain.
We all need other people in one way or another, even if we only say ‘Hello’ two or three times a day. Imagine you were stranded on an island. If, after a long time you are still sane and then, one day, another person appears. It would be a wonderful surprise. How long do you think it would last? No doubt you would both do your best to find a way of escaping. After a while, you would gradually lose hope and settle down to make the best of your lives or one of you might kill the other. Or would they? Inevitably you would soon find out all the things that you disliked about each other. I imagine that you are a man and a woman of similar age.
Now, think of the same two people, living in some kind of society, who have great difficulty in making friends, yet still believe that they can get married and make it work. That would be equally hard to do. We have to remember that none of us know ourselves very well. This has always been the case as Shakespeare in his wisdom discovered more than four centuries ago. Most of us have been influenced to fit in to the community in which they were born. I have met people in this predicament when I was a psychotherapist. Working with them is not easy.
Most of the agony aunts writing in newspapers treat this matter in a superficial way. Much of it trying to tell people to be nice to each other. What I want to do is to get down to the nitty gritty. I come across dating advertisements all the time and all of them give descriptions of themselves that shed no light on what kinds of people they are, but focus on physical appearance and hobbies. If you are looking for a long term friendship or spouse, you need to be able to read other people by the way they talk and behave.
We all base our judgements on our own experiences, what we have learned and who we have met. Henri Ellenberger tells us about how Adler possessed the gift of menschenkenntnis (the intuitive practical understanding of man). In his clinical work with a new patient, about whom he knew nothing, he looked at him for a moment, asked a few questions and he could get a complete picture of the subject’s life problems. This is something I learned to do from childhood but because it came naturally I thought nothing of it. I have based my research on the works of Harvey Sacks, C.B. Jung, Freud, Erich Bromm, Eric Berne, Adler, David Rosenthal and many other psychologists and philosophers. I have also been an avid reader all my life, mostly the classics. I find very few contemporary writers and painters that delight me.
I am building up a programme of ways to help people to understand themselves and others. This includes questionnaires, exercises, including how to find out things about themselves and other people . I have always been fascinated by how we talk with each other and how we give our real selves away in so many small movements and tones of voice.
It is not easy to make important changes in our lives and it can be temporarily a painful time, but I know how rewarding it can be when it is properly done.