The Present, Real, and Somatic Basis of

Emotional Suffering

Most emotional distress has a present real and somatic basis, that is, it is not just a mental 'mistake'. For instance, a very shy person may withdraw from close contact with other adults. Knowing that a history of very early rejection is likely, it is tempting to conclude that the adult behavior comes  from a 'mistaken, and oddly preserved overgeneralization that others will harm. This can lead to an enthusiastic attempt to get rapidly closer to the shy person, in an attempt to provide an experience of non-harm.


However, if instead, it is understood, that even unsatisfying behavior has a logical and actual present basis in the body, a different conceptualization is possible. In the above example, if the periphery is very diffuse or thin, as in the Creator character, than closeness is a real intrusion. For the time being, other people do cause hurt, somatically and actually. Given this understanding, bodywork that strengthens the periphery and increases the capacity to hold emotion and energy is indicated. Trying to establish closeness first might be intellectually accepted by the client, but energetically, it just strengthens the defense (interior withdrawal)


Similar examples can be described for all character structures. If a friend, family member, or therapist merely redoubles conversational efforts to convince the client that he or she can have type of relationship or experience they have been unable to form, if only they would choose it, they are frustrating the person who almost surely has been trying self-help of that sort already.


Even though the present basis of suffering tends to have roots in childhood experience, even an accurate explanation of those roots does not remove the present basis. Such an explanation may, however, provide a useful organizing idea for work on removing the present basis however.


Everyday observation shows that when a situation changes, even a long-standing situation, beliefs can change rapidly. Only in psychology is it considered the norm for false beliefs to persist groundlessly. As a general rule, when persistent behavior is treated like 'it makes sense', change is experienced as a much more manageable and less mysterious process.