They are invited to television talk shows, their lectures go to full houses, their books become bestsellers. According to surveys, psychologists and psychotherapists are, on average, happier than representatives of other professions. But can they become an example to follow? Their knowledge, practice, ability to penetrate the secrets of the psyche – does all this make them happier? There is nothing more controversial.
Among psychologists, they like to tell stories from life, which rather testify to the opposite. One great psychoanalyst reproaches himself for not being able to prevent his wife’s suicide. Another therapist, a bachelor, suffers from the fact that all his love stories end in scandals. A child psychiatrist has never had children …
Consider the father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, whose humor hid his tendency to depression. Do psychologists support the adage about a shoemaker without boots? And what qualities do they acquire through the profession?
History shows that the path to psychotherapy often begins with a deep mental wound, which future specialists are trying to heal, heal, studying and testing the method they practice. We can say for sure that many psychologists began to study this very science, because they suffer or suffered themselves.
The famous American psychotherapist Irwin Yalom had an unhappy childhood and was the victim of an anti-Semitic atmosphere at school. French ethologist Boris Tsirulnik lost his family very early as a result of the deportation in 1942. This is not limited to an unhappy childhood.
Psychiatrist and psychotherapist Christophe Andre suffered from anxiety and depression and for many years was powerless to defeat them.
The founder of Soviet experimental pathopsychology, Bluma Zeigarnik, already a famous scientist, experienced family dramas, the arrest and death of her husband, and persecution of “cosmopolitanism.” After a prosperous youth, her life up to the age of 60 was full of hardships and losses. But “she knew how, at the right time, to launch a mechanism that created a sense of serenity for her,” recalls her grandson, photographer Andrei Zeigarnik. “As if she knew for sure that under all the storms of life there is some kind of smooth surface in her, with which she never loses touch.”
Many legendary psychotherapists were not all right with their health: “This is known, in particular, about the Scottish psychiatrist Ronald David Laing and about the founder of gestalt therapy Fritz Perls,” recalls psychologist Dmitry Leontiev. “But these features did not hinder them in their professional life, they rather helped.”
Psychotherapist Vladimir Baskakov agrees with this: “Recently, my colleagues and I discussed our own illnesses and sufferings. And we came to the conclusion that thanks to this we can more sensitively feel our client, we have a common space of experience with him. “
Psychologists and psychotherapists are no more protected from trauma and the vicissitudes of fate than others. But some of them, thanks to their profession, manage to find their own way to cope with troubles, and they can share this experience with clients.
“Free” is the word that often (more often than “happiness”) comes to our minds when we think about the personal life of psychotherapists. Many of those who stood at the origins of psychoanalysis tried to comprehend and consolidate in theory that personal freedom from rules and conventions, which they defended in practice.
The fate of the daughter of a Russian general, Freud’s student, writer and psychotherapist Lou Salomé is noteworthy. Already in her early youth, she became the femme fatale (“femme fatale” – translated from French) of the Western intellectual elite. She knew how to be for men both a unique intellectual partner and a “vague object of desire.”
Lou Salomé was not particularly concerned with the ethical requirements of her time. Her sex life began only at the age of 35 – after experiences of friendly and creative cohabitation with men and many years of marriage. As the philosopher Larisa Garmash writes, “her whole life was a kind of unique experiment – she seemed to be testing the elasticity of the border between masculine and feminine principles: how much“ masculine ”she is able to absorb without prejudice to her femininity” (collection “Erotica”, Cultural revolution, 2012).
We do not know if Lou Salome was happy, but she was definitely free and knew how to free her patients.
Knowledge of psychology does not save you from conflicts, but it makes it possible to see more clearly the mental organization of others and it is easier to go to reconciliation
“The profession of gestalt therapist gave me freedom,” says psychotherapist Marina Baskakova, “above all freedom of thought. You cannot be a psychologist without learning to be aware of and accept yourself. And such acceptance creates support within one’s own “I”: self-confidence, the feeling that one can rely on oneself. “
This, in turn, leads to autonomy, independence. Hence the freedom of thought and the ability to live according to one’s own aspirations, not following the stereotypes that society dictates, and not trying to meet expectations.
“My profession gave me permission to be who I am,” continues Marina Baskakova. – And show yourself in accordance with this. A simple example: I can take care of myself, fall asleep if I’m tired, pause in conversation if I need to think. Previously, this was a great difficulty for me: I, like many, considered it wrong, unacceptable. And in terms of bodily manifestations, I also became freer: I do not feel like a prisoner of ideas about a woman’s appearance. ”
And yet, much depends on the professional beliefs of the psychologist, notes Dmitry Leontyev: “There are trends that deny freedom, for example, behaviorism. Behaviorists are less free because they don’t believe in freedom. This is a self-fulfilling prophecy. “
Psychologists (in comparison with us) understand themselves more clearly, and therefore they see their relationships with other people more clearly.
“Knowledge of psychology does not eliminate conflicts,” admits psychologist and sex therapist Maria Eril, “but the mental organization of others has become more visible to me, so it’s easier for me to go for reconciliation. I used to take offense longer, attributing hostile motives to others, but now I see how others are fragile and vulnerable.
Sometimes conflict suggests that there are deep value differences between us, because of which everyone will go further on their own path. But even so, I prefer to part peacefully. And if the relationship is long, a lot of emotions are invested in them, then I am ready to work on myself to preserve them.
The most difficult person for me to communicate is my closest friend. But what we went through together speaks about the value of our relationship and the fact that they can become more harmonious. “
Happiness is not “stop, moment!”, But the alternation of events that are filled not only with delight, but also with bitterness
Knowledge of the human psyche does not provide a universal key to all situations, but vocational training trains specific communication skills. Therefore, Dmitry Leontiev believes that it is more correct to speak not about the insight of psychotherapists, but about their sensitivity.
“The very concept of discernment comes from the fact that there is a hidden essence in everyone. You just need to get to the bottom of her, and she will explain everything, – says Dmitry Lenotiev. – This is an Aristotelian view of things. Aristotle spoke about the inner essence that defines a person. If you know it, you can predict his behavior.
It is assumed that a person is always equal to this inner essence and to himself. But modern psychology believes that a person is not always equal to himself. Moreover, it is precisely where we do not strive to be equal to ourselves that development takes place. And sensitivity to these dynamics makes it easier to understand what is happening every minute and constantly makes adjustments to our understanding of the other and of ourselves. “
It is obvious that heightened perception, the ability to feel subtly does not promise personal happiness to their owners, including psychologists. And some of them find it difficult to answer at all when it comes to happiness. After all, there are so many different aspects that are difficult to put together.
“There are moments, flashes, flashes of happiness … – Vladimir Baskakov admits. – We often talk about happiness when we enter into a relationship – at this time we feel fulfilled, as if we were breathing in, and we call it happiness. But there are not only inhalations, but also exhalations. And there can be no more inhalations than exhalations – you cannot breathe like that.
Psychology helps to understand and accept this, not to panic, for example, when it is time to exhale in family life. Happiness is not “stop, moment!”, But an alternation of events that are filled not only with delight, but also with bitterness. And all this together gives life. “
Perhaps the main thing is not to stagnate in one place, always be aware of your own desires, go your own way. And do not be deceived by entering other people’s paths.