wed posted: Wed 2017-07-05 05:03:41 tags: healing
coffee, 7-eleven turkey/ham sammich (19g)
transcribed a few pages of 1993 journals

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Many years ago when I was suffering some heartbreak, I picked up a copy of Dr. Deborah Phillips' 1985 "How to Fall Out of Love". It advocated and instructed the cognitive skill of "thought-stopping" as a first response to the intrusive, misery-inducing thoughts typical of heartache. And I think it was a good self-help investment, as I had need of that skill many times over the years. What Phillips specifically does NOT advocate is avoiding and shutting down normal healthy processing of feelings, only the unhealthy rumination over things you can't change.

Then back on 6/26 I happened across a blog/article that warned against suppressing the thoughts typical of addiction. So if the thought bubbles up, "damn, I need a drink" (or a toke or a wank or whatever), then according to Dr. Lance Boyle Dodes, the trick is to peel back a layer and try to identify the feeling that prompted the urge (drained, frustrated, angry, lonely, aggrieved, hopeless?) and the circumstances that prompted the feeling. The idea is run with it and work through it until the pattern is self-evident. Dodes's hypothesis is that consciously tracing the unhealthy urge to their precursors empowers the addict to exercise control and change their habitual response.

The other day I thought it was a sad commentary on our society that GoFundMe is a de facto social safety net for people struggling with medical expenses, families bereft of providers, young people suffocating under the weight of predatory student debt, etc. Here's another sad commentary: I took more than a handful of college-level psych courses and saw 2 therapists and a psychiatrist before anyone came along to inform me that "processing emotions" is a teachable skill, much less what it looks like to exercise that skill.

Psychology Today: What emotions are; what maladaptive vs. adaptive processing look like
OK, not really "maladaptive vs. adaptive processing", but really more like "maladaptive avoidance of processing". Processing is adaptive; shirking that inner work of processing is maladaptive.

So, returning to Phillips' book, it stands to reason that someone seeking help to fall out of love is someone who is stumbling, mired and stuck without skills to process some complex of emotions about a toxic or failed relationship. Train the processing skills and the patient will get un-stuck. Phillips' book becomes a sort of applied-technique vignette. The only misfortune is she didn't explicitly generalize the principle in the end.

Dr. Kathleen Young: Talking vs. Processing in Trauma Therapy