🌲Holiday greetings & holiday openings🌲

🎄🌟🎄Psychology Experts and Dr. Elefant-Yanni wish you and your family warm wishes for the holidays and a great start to 2019! 🎄🌟🎄

🌟🎄🌟May this new year be filled with joys, accomplishments & good health! 🌟🎄🌟

Please note that our office will be closed December 25th and from December 27th to January 11th.
We will be open December 24th and 26th.

We will be back to regular opening hours from Monday January 14th 2019, 10am to 8pm.

As usual, you may book an appointment via email dr.elefant-yanni@psychologistsingapore.sg or phone +65 8722 3369.

Safety vs growth

The desire for safety stands against every great and noble enterprise. Tacitus

We have all heard financial specialist say that the greater the risk, the greater the reward. Whether it is always true for our hard earned savings is a debate for another time. What I am interested in tonight, is how taking measured risks in our everyday can have an incredible impact on our happiness!

Looking back at your past experiences, how many times have you played it safe out of fear and regretted it? It doesn’t need to be a grandiose adventure on the cliff of a mountain. Fear of rejection when asking someone for a date, fear of loosing face with a new idea in front of colleagues, fear that our kids will see us as a burden if we ask to spend time with them… so we play it safe and we stay at home in front of tv alone, we don’t stand out for that promotion at work, and we don’t enjoy time with our loved ones.

So take a step back and check in what areas of your life you are playing it safe out of fear. Now picture what would be the worst and best case scenarios. Would you regret it if you didn’t at least try? Then set yourself up to success and GO FOR IT!

It’s that first step of making the decision that is the hardest. From it you will gain momentum to make the change in the rest of your life and the improvements you will see will reinforce your confidence and radiate in other areas of your life as well.

If you are not sure where to start, wish to speak with a therapist for advice, or simply discuss with a third party; contact us at Psychology Experts in Singapore for a private and confidential appointment.

 

The taboo of violence and the need for parental authority, Part 2

Violence is inherent to human condition. It is born of the frustration of our omnipotence, our vital energy. This violence that we want to restrain and ignore, has a price to be paid. The inevitable circulation of this violence means that if the parents do not take responsibility for it, it comes to the child who does not have the psychic means to contain it, in the form of rage first and then of aggression against himself. Self-injury is a very visible form, but there are also risky behaviors and the ideomotor slowing of depression. In this context, to show authority is to take responsibility for the violence and to discharge the child by offering him a framework that relieves him of his uneasiness, his physical feelings of unease.

The need for parental authority

It is precisely here that parental authority is necessary. You have to understand that there is a circulation of violence, if you refuse the responsibility that is yours in its sharing and its balance, too much violence will come out somewhere in the tantrums of your children that reflect the malaise where they are. Parental authority demands violence, if only in coercion. It is impossible to escape, and one must understand its necessity to assume it without guilt. Parental authority relieves the child of the responsibility of violence, and therefore of the guilt that is his in the fantasy of his omnipotent and destructive violence. This frees him from his guilt. The second effect is that he survives the frustration of his restrained anger. He gradually internalizes parental control and controls his frustrations and impulses. The framework that is thus defined for him helps him to structure himself.

Parents may have different reasons for refusing their responsibility for parental authority. Some may want to take a stand against the model of their own parents because they have abused their parental authority and have been excessively violent in their corrections. Sometimes these memories of children are also exaggerated, and they forget that this parental authority that they reject a posteriori allowed them to be the adults they are today. Sometimes parents are afraid of losing the love of their children if they are harsh. The bond between a child and his parents is so strong that even abused children (and I’m not talking about authority here, but abuse) love their parents. It is not a question of beating them, but of exercising reasonable violence to contain the child’s violence and to release him from his responsibility and the guilt that accompanies it.

A parent cannot be his child’s friend, he has a responsibility to assume that places him in a de facto unequal position. Finally, the last scenario concerns parents who feel that something is not working but choose to ignore it by ideology. The “positive parenting” that preaches the abandonment of parental authority and coercion is nonsense that does not respect the nature of the child. The young human is born immature with a natural need for guidance and education. Parental authority meets this need. You can see it in other mammals in the wild, and human being is a mammal among others. The ideal of a mature human being is a goal towards which to tend, if you forget the steps to climb or do not want to see them, you stay down.

Again, it is not a question of beating your children, but of correcting them. If you feel angry, or “go off the rails”, do not run wild on your children with the excuse of exercising parental authority. This is not to condone parental abuse either. If, as a parent, you are afraid of your own violence, count to three aloud. It will give you time to calm down and recover before you exercise your authority with reason. With time, the correction will not be necessary, counting will be enough. The goal is to allow the child to internalize this parental control. When the child grows up, an explanation can take over as long as acceptance of frustration is gained.

When the process goes on without too much trouble, around the age of 7, the child completes his individuation. He is no longer rationally the creator of the world and consequently his parents become truly mortal. Nightmares express the terror of their disappearance and with them the important libidinal investment he has placed in them and which would be a loss of vital energy of such importance that the survival of the child’s ego seems compromised. In my practice, I was able to note that if we explain to children that we are all energy and that the energy never disappears but changes, even if we do not know how and we cannot have any more contact with those we love, this simple explanation satisfies them enough for the nightmares to cease. The conviction that energy is not lost, even for the self, but just transformed, no longer threatens libidinal investment and the ego.

Le tabou de la violence et la nécessité de l’autorité parentale, 2eme partie

La violence est inhĂ©rente Ă  la condition humaine. Elle naĂ®t de la frustration de notre toute-puissance, de notre Ă©nergie vitale. Cette violence qu’on veut brimer et ignorer Ă  un prix Ă  payer. La circulation inĂ©vitable de cette violence fait que si les parents n’en prennent pas la responsabilitĂ©, elle ressort chez l’enfant qui n’a pas les moyens psychiques de la contenir, sous forme de rage d’abord, puis d’agression contre soi. L’automutilation est une forme très visible, mais il y a aussi les comportements Ă  risque et le ralentissement idĂ©o-moteur de la dĂ©pression. Dans ce contexte, faire preuve d’autoritĂ© c’est prendre la responsabilitĂ© de la violence et en dĂ©charger l’enfant en lui offrant un cadre qui le soulage de son mal-ĂŞtre, de son ressenti physique de malaise.

La nécessité de l’autorité parentale

C’est là précisément que l’autorité parentale est nécessaire. Il faut comprendre qu’il y a comme une circulation de la violence, si vous refusez la responsabilité qui est la vôtre dans son partage et son équilibre, un trop plein de violence ressortira quelque part dans les accès de colère de vos enfants qui reflètent le malaise où ils se trouvent. L’autorité parentale demande de la violence, ne serait-ce que dans la coercition. Il est impossible d’y échapper et il faut comprendre sa nécessité pour l’assumer sans culpabilité. L’autorité parentale décharge l’enfant de la responsabilité de la violence, et donc de la culpabilité qui est la sienne dans le fantasme de sa violence toute-puissante et destructrice. Cela le libère de sa culpabilité. Le second effet vient de ce qu’il survit à la frustration de sa colère brimée. Il intériorise peu à peu le contrôle parental et contrôle ses frustrations, ses pulsions. Le cadre qui est ainsi définit pour lui l’aide à se structurer.

Les parents peuvent avoir différentes raisons pour justifier leur refus de leur responsabilité de l’autorité parentale. Certains peuvent vouloir prendre le contrepied du modèle de leurs propres parents parce que ces derniers ont abusé de leur autorité parentale et se sont montrés excessivement violents dans leurs corrections. Parfois ces souvenirs d’enfants sont aussi exagérés, et ils oublient que cette autorité parentale qu’ils rejettent à posteriori leur a permis d’être les adultes qu’ils sont aujourd’hui. Parfois, les parents ont peur de perdre l’amour de leurs enfants s’ils se montrent sévères. Le lien qui unit un enfant à ses parents est si fort que même les enfants maltraités (et je ne parle pas ici d’autorité, mais bien de maltraitance) aiment leurs parents. Il n’est pas question ici de les battre, mais d’exercer une violence raisonnable pour contenir la violence de l’enfant et le décharger de sa responsabilité et de la culpabilité qui l’accompagne. Un parent ne peut pas être le copain de son enfant, il a une responsabilité à assumer qui le place dans une position inégale de facto. Enfin, le dernier scénario concerne les parents qui sentent que quelque chose ne fonctionne pas, mais choisissent de l’ignorer par idéologie. La « parentalité positive » qui prêche l’abandon de l’autorité parentale et de la coercition est un non-sens qui ne respecte pas la nature de l’enfant. Le jeune humain nait immature avec un besoin naturel de guidance et d’éducation. L’autorité parentale répond à ce besoin. Vous pouvez l’observer chez les autres mammifères dans la nature, et l’être humain est un mammifère parmi les autres. L’idéal d’un être humain mature est un sommet vers quoi tendre, si vous oubliez les marches à gravir ou ne voulez pas les voir, vous restez en bas.

A nouveau, il ne s’agit en aucun cas de battre ses enfants, mais de les corriger. Si vous vous sentez énervé, ou « pétez un plomb », ne vous défoulez pas sur vos enfants avec l’excuse d’exercer votre autorité parentale. Il ne s’agit pas ici de cautionner la maltraitance parentale non plus. Si, en tant que parent vous avez peur de votre propre violence, comptez jusqu’à trois à haute voix. Ça vous donnera le temps de vous calmer et de vous reprendre avant d’exercer votre autorité avec raison. Avec le temps, la correction ne sera plus nécessaire, compter sera suffisant. Le but est de permettre à l’enfant d’internaliser ce contrôle parental. Quand l’enfant grandit, une explication peut prendre le relais à condition que l’acceptation de la frustration soit acquise.

Quand le processus suit son cours sans trop d’accroc, vers l’âge approximatif de 7 ans, l’enfant complète son individuation. Il n’est plus rationnellement le créateur du monde et en conséquence ses parents deviennent véritablement mortels. Les cauchemars expriment la terreur de leur disparition et avec eux l’investissement libidinal important qu’il a placé en eux et qui serait une perte d’énergie vitale d’une telle importance que la survie du moi de l’enfant semble compromise. Dans ma pratique,  j’ai pu noter que si on explique aux enfants que nous sommes tous énergie et que l’énergie ne disparait jamais mais se transforme, même si on ne sait pas comment et qu’on ne peut plus avoir de contact avec ceux qu’on aime, cette simple explication les satisfait suffisamment pour que les cauchemars cessent. La conviction que l’énergie n’est donc pas perdue, y compris pour le moi, mais juste transformée, ne menace plus l’investissement libidinal et le moi.

The taboo of violence and the need for parental authority

Violence is inherent to human condition. It is born of the frustration of our omnipotence, our vital energy. This violence that we want to restrain and ignore, has a price to be paid. The inevitable circulation of this violence means that if the parents do not take responsibility for it, it comes to the child who does not have the psychic means to contain it, in the form of rage first and then of aggression against himself. Self-injury is a very visible form, but there are also risky behaviors and the ideomotor slowing of depression.

The taboo of violence

Violence is natural and an integral part of our human condition, and it is a good thing. This violence is intrinsically linked to our life drive, to our vital energy, our libido. This violence we observe as something normal in animal behavior for its survival, to defend itself, to feed or even to reproduce. This violence we have been taught to hate and ignore in ourselves to be better socialized, forgetting that socialization is a domestication that aims to break this vital drive of the individual, to deny his omnipotence. There is a balance to be found here, and above all an acceptance which requires first to acknowledge it.

The omnipotence of the newborn exists in the fact that for him, he is not born into the world but it is the world that is born for him. There is no differentiation at the origin. He exists only through all his feelings and the world among them. When the need arises, if his mother is slow to answer, the child hallucinates the answer to his feeling of lack. For example, he will suck his thumb to hallucinate the breast or bottle that comes to him to satisfy his feelings of discomfort related to hunger. The most important thing for this little “social” being is especially the relationship. From birth, the child is taken into the relationship, in particular to his mother. The relationship is vital to the survival of the newborn who is made to overcome its absence by hallucination. From the gap between hallucination and reality, the baby gradually becomes aware of the existence of his mother outside of him. It is the lack and frustration of his omnipotence, tempered and acceptable, that will allow the child to do the psychic work that will gradually lead him to differentiate himself from his mother, to differentiate his ego and the other. Omnipotence also persists and safeguards the continuity of its being.

Nature is thus made that the hormonal game usually leads the mother to a “transient madness”, to a “primary maternal preoccupation” that makes her obsessed exclusively by her newborn and puts herself at his disposal. There is a subtle tuning where the mother puts herself at the level of her child, for example by amplifying the stimuli (voice, gesture, etc.) to share with him the pleasure experienced as a satisfactory extension of his omnipotence, “good”, but inevitably always a little “bad”, a gradient of feelings of discomfort that represents so many small touches of frustration to his omnipotence. This frustration brings him to the world by imposing on him something else by nature that the pleasure inherent to his omnipotence, the different that allows him to differentiate himself at the same time as his mother. Individuation is essentially a more or less successful frustration of omnipotence.

Now there are times when the hallucination is no longer enough, when the discomfort is so unbearable that it is exteriorized by cries and anger. When you hurt, you shout the same way, but you can have an action on the world to channel your omnipotence and remedy that pain in general. The baby cannot have direct action on the world to calm his discomfort, the frustration of his omnipotence is experienced as an attack on his ability to survive. Without the other, the child could not survive. When we look at an angry baby, we are impressed by the violence that he releases compared to his small person. It does not matter because a baby does not have the physical strength that could inflict damage around him, but imagine the same degree of rage in a teenager who has physical strength and no ability to bear the frustration, no control of oneself, one’s impulses … and you have a juvenile delinquent image.

When the baby has already started to form a maternal object outside of him, he has the feeling that his discomfort comes from the absence of his mother that he could not “create”, and so somehow that he destroyed. The anger of frustration turns into guilt for destroying the beloved mother. This negative image of the maternal object is a loss of the libido that the child has invested in it, a loss of a part of his vital energy, an attack on his survival. The violence born from the frustration of the omnipotence then becomes punitive and is turned against the self in a deflation, a depression. If this situation is temporary and the satisfactory answer arrives to put an end to the malaise, if the frustration is given by homeopathic dose, the child comes out with a consolidated omnipotence but also with a better control of his frustrations because he did experience that they will not destroy him.

In cases where the situation lasts too long, an “infantile depression” is structured with two possible outcomes depending on the duration. In the best case, the child grows up with “belly rage”, rebelling against any form of authority, and without graduation to his tantrums system on-off. Any frustration sounds like an attack on his survival. In the other case, the child has gone to the self-punitive stage. He sees himself as bad, bad because he feels this violence in him and is afraid of himself, afraid to destroy those he loves. He remains frozen in the slowing of depression, stopping himself from living in an attempt to protect those he loves. In both cases, children are afraid of their own violence, which they see through the prism of omnipotence as destructive and dangerous for their parents.

Next week, part two:

The need for parental authority

Le tabou de la violence et la nécessité de l’autorité parentale

La violence est inhérente à la condition humaine. Elle naît de la frustration de notre toute-puissance, de notre énergie vitale. Cette violence qu’on veut brimer et ignorer à un prix à payer. La circulation inévitable de cette violence fait que si les parents n’en prennent pas la responsabilité, elle ressort chez l’enfant qui n’a pas les moyens psychiques de la contenir, sous forme de rage d’abord, puis d’agression contre soi. L’automutilation est une forme très visible, mais il y a aussi les comportements à risque et le ralentissement idéo-moteur de la  dépression.

Le tabou de la violence

La violence est naturelle et fait partie intégrante de notre condition humaine, et c’est une bonne chose. Cette violence est intrinsèquement liée à notre pulsion de vie, à notre énergie vitale, notre libido. Cette violence que nous observons comme quelque chose de normal dans le comportement animal pour sa survie, pour se défendre, pour se nourrir ou même pour se reproduire. Cette violence qu’on nous a appris à détester et à ignorer en nous-mêmes pour mieux être socialisés, en oubliant que la socialisation est une domestication qui vise à briser cette pulsion vitale de l’individu, à brimer sa toute puissance. Il y a un équilibre à trouver là et surtout une acceptation qui demande d’abord qu’on en ait la connaissance.

La toute-puissance du nouveau-né existe par le fait que pour lui, il ne naît pas au monde mais c’est le monde qui naît pour lui. Il n’y a pas de différenciation à l’origine. Il n’existe que par l’ensemble de ses ressentis et le monde en fait partie. Quand le besoin se fait sentir, si la mère tarde à y répondre, l’enfant hallucine la réponse à son ressenti de manque. Par exemple il va sucer son pouce pour halluciner le sein ou le biberon qui se présente à lui pour satisfaire son ressenti de malaise lié à la faim. Le plus important pour ce petit être « social » est surtout la relation. Dès sa naissance l’enfant est pris dans la relation, en particulier à la mère. La relation est vitale à la survie du nouveau-né qui est amené à pallier à son absence par l’hallucination. A partir de l’écart entre l’hallucination et la réalité, le bébé prend peu à peu conscience de l’existence de la mère en dehors de lui. C’est le manque et la frustration de sa toute-puissance, tempérés et acceptables, qui vont permettre à l’enfant de faire le travail psychique qui vont l’amener progressivement à se différencier de sa mère, à différencier son moi et l’autre. La toute-puissance persiste par ailleurs et sauvegarde la continuité de son être.

La nature est ainsi faite que le jeu hormonal amène généralement la mère à une « folie passagère », à une « préoccupation maternelle primaire » qui fait qu’elle est obnubilée exclusivement par son nouveau-né et se met à sa disposition. Il y a un accordage subtil où la mère se met au niveau de l’enfant, par exemple en amplifiant les stimuli (voix, gestuel, etc.) pour partager avec lui du plaisir vécu comme un prolongement satisfaisant de sa toute-puissance, du « bon » mais inévitablement toujours un peu de « mauvais », un dégradé de ressentis de malaise qui représente autant de petites touches de frustration à sa toute-puissance. Cette frustration l’amène au monde en lui imposant quelque chose d’autre par nature que le plaisir inhérent à la toute-puissance, du différent qui lui permet de se différencier en même temps que sa mère. L’individuation est essentiellement une frustration plus ou moins réussie de la toute-puissance.

Maintenant il y a des moments où l’hallucination ne suffit plus, où le malaise est tellement insupportable qu’il est extériorisé par des cris et de la colère. Quand vous avez mal vous criez de la même manière, mais vous pouvez avoir une action sur le monde pour canaliser votre toute-puissance et remédier à cette douleur en général. Le bébé ne peut pas avoir d’action direct sur le monde pour calmer son malaise, la frustration de sa toute-puissance est vécue comme une atteinte à sa capacité de survie. Sans l’autre, l’enfant ne pourrait survivre. Quand on regarde un bébé en colère, on est impressionné par la violence qu’il dégage comparativement à sa petite personne. Ça n’a pas de conséquence parce qu’un bébé n’a pas la force physique qui pourrait infliger des dégâts autour de lui, mais imaginer le même degré de rage chez un adolescent qui a la force physique et aucune capacité à supporter la frustration, aucun contrôle de soi, de ses pulsions…et vous avez une image de délinquant juvénile.

Quand le bébé a déjà commencé à former un objet maternel en dehors de lui, il a le ressenti que son malaise vient de l’absence de sa mère qu’il n’a pas pu « créer », et donc quelque part qu’il a détruite. La colère de la frustration se transforme en culpabilité d’avoir détruit la mère aimée. Cette image en négatif de l’objet maternel est une perte de la libido que l’enfant a investie en lui, une perte d’une part de son énergie vitale, une atteinte à sa survie. La violence née de la frustration de la toute-puissance devient alors punitive et est retournée contre le moi en une déflation, une dépression. Si cette situation est passagère et que la réponse satisfaisante arrive pour mettre fin au malaise, si la frustration est donnée par dose homéopathique, l’enfant en sort avec une toute-puissance consolidée mais aussi avec un meilleure contrôle de ses frustrations puisqu’il fait l’expérience qu’elles ne le détruiront pas.

Dans les cas où la situation perdure trop longtemps, une « dépression infantile » se structure avec deux résultats possibles selon la durée. Dans le meilleur cas, l’enfant grandit avec « la rage au ventre », rebelle à toute forme d’autorité, et sans graduation à ses accès de colère système on-off. Toute frustration résonne comme une atteinte à la survie. Dans l’autre cas, l’enfant est passé au stade autopunitif. Il se perçoit comme mauvais, méchant parce qu’il sent cette violence en lui et a peur de lui-même, peur de détruire ceux qu’il aime. Il reste figé dans le ralentissement de la dépression, s’empêchant de vivre dans une tentative de protéger ceux qu’il aime. Dans les deux cas, les enfants ont peur de leur propre violence, qu’ils voient à travers le prisme de la toute-puissance comme destructrice et dangereuse pour leurs parents.

La semaine prochaine, seconde partie:

La nécessité de l’autorité parentale

The Power of the Mind Part II

The Power of the Mind Part II

The reasons of today’s life-altering issues like depression, anxiety and poor awareness

Nowadays, depression and anxiety are increasingly common. One of the reasons I see behind it, is today’s loss of references. Everything has become relative. Political correctness killed right or wrong, better or worse. Ideology like the gender theory attacks the very foundation of our identity as it became incorrect to define ourselves as a man or a woman. From levelling any notion of superiority in an ideal quest for equality, we get to the point to erase any notion of difference.

The repercussions are even more difficult to resist with a lot of people being isolated and deprived of their social support. Individualism per se is not necessarily a bad thing, but it comes with a package, of which we should be aware. For example, the painful feeling of loneliness, which is to be distinguished from the solitary pleasure of being alone, touches more and more people.

Despite the official discourse, we have seen a global decline in education quality. Universities train technicians to sustain our system instead of nurturing bright minds who will re-invent our world and improve it. Critical thinking or thinking out of the box is not encouraged. I’ve seen how PhD students are not encouraged to innovate, but to stay confined to their directors’ research project and just follow the trends.

There is an acceleration because the pace we can allow ourselves to absorb stimuli is getting shorter and shorter as we are constantly bombarded by a flow of information. For example, when we watch an old movie, it becomes quickly annoying as the pace is too slow compared to what we are used today.

All of the above result in a kind of alienation. Even our personality type, another foundation of who we are, is now re-labeled as personality disorders by the American Psychological Association. It is alienation for all. They even have the medications to treat your condition. It reminds me of the good old days of the communist era where all dissidents were sent to mental asylums. Don’t dare to think by yourself, don’t dare to think out of the box, don’t dare to escape the orthodox thinking, or you will be labeled as weird and ostracized.

The process of civilization is a process of domestication, but we get far too disconnected from nature. Not only disconnected from environmental nature as we live in urban environment, but worse we get disconnected from our own nature. We mainly live in our head, in our projections for the future or our ruminations of the past, unaware of our feelings, alienated from our true-self. We want to keep the flower but we cut the roots that give it its life energy.

When can we know that our mind is no longer fully in our control?

Our mind is NEVER under our control, NEVER. The iceberg is a good illustration here as the tiny part that we see floating above the surface, the conscious to which we have access, is only a fraction of our mind. Part of the problematic that I encounter with my patients is around that acceptation of “let go”, “letting go” of this impossible control.

When do we need to seek help?

We need to seek help when we suffer, when we are unhappy for too long, unable to find pleasure in life anymore. Sometimes people say they feel like they live through a tunnel, or that they feel like zombies detached of their feelings. All kind of habits can be used in excess to lessen feelings: alcohol, drugs – legal or illegal -, sleep-deprivation, losing ourselves in our work or intensive sport program, TV, computer games, etc. Anything that can keep us occupied otherwise and allows us to forget ourselves. However, you don’t need to wait to be in such bad place to seek professional help.

How about seeking help for others?

We can advise a loved one or a colleague to consult, but only the person concerned can do the necessary work. So she has to be willing, she has to have the desire to change to feel better. The psychotherapist can work with the patient like a temporary crutch until his patient recovers his balance. Ultimately my goal is to give my patients the means to help themselves, to enjoy life again, and carry on their life projects with renewed energy.

How to better take care of our mind?

The first thing would be to better understand our functioning. I believe, the Affect model that I presented proves to be a practical tool in that regard as it also offers how we can improve. The second would be to develop our knowledge and maturity through introspection and meditation to regain our balance. On that subject, I want to add that compassion is not an entry door, but a consequence. It is only when we understand and viscerally believe in the common nature of our true-self that we can feel the commonality between all lives.

What proven ways can we practice on our own?

The Three Breathings technique is an easy practice that one can use at anytime and anywhere. Breathing slowly and deeply with your belly, inhaling and exhaling through your nose. Feel the breath in your body, hold it for a count of two. Similarly, feel your body when you have exhaled and hold for an instant before inhaling again.

Meditating, as regularly as possible, is like a shower for our mind. When we grow up, we acquire new concepts and we develop a space in your mind where you can play with them through our thinking. Meditation helps us to develop an affect space, where you can see your feeling independently of our self. We can see our sadness or our anger, and take some distance from them. That allows us to take a step back, analyze our feelings, without letting them guide us in a hasty way.

Taking time, slowing down for introspection, for loving our self, accepting our strengths and limitations, accepting that we are human, so that we may enjoy life’s small everyday pleasures.

What is the difference between psychology and psychotherapy?

Psychology is a set of theories on the functioning of the mind. It is a tool for a practitioner, like me as a psychotherapist. Mindfulness is another tool that is now introduced in schools across the globe, also in Singapore. It has proved to help children to feel calmer and more focused during their classes, with better grades as a result. More and more businesses also understand the positive impact it can have on their employees’ performance and hence their company’s bottom-line. I have developed my own programs to tackle employees’ mental health through Awareness, Mindfulness and Visualization trainings, and a Gratitude practice.

I hope that I helped you to better understand your functioning and how you can use meditation to help yourself, or when you could benefit from psychotherapy. Enjoy life and carry on!

The Power of the Mind

The Power of the Mind

“You have power over your mind, not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” Marcus Aurelius

A few weeks ago, I was invited to participate to “Pause Salon, Power of the Mind” where I had the pleasure to share my thoughts with like-minded individuals. Knowing that the participants would be well-read about wellness and keen to expand their knowledge about personal growth, I prepared a crash course to move their attention from their outer world to their inner world. It is not just a change of perspective, it is a change of world as we know it. Here it is:

My personal path and my approach based on affect and meditation

All of you are unique and you all have something unique to contribute to make the world a better place. The problem is how to realize your potential. The title of this talk is “The power of the mind”, but the real question is it not “how to be happy?” The first thing would be to have a guideline to how your mind works, like a user’s manual to our mind and what you can do to improve.

My path to personal growth took me to the University of Geneva in Switzerland, where I did all my education and worked for 17 years. There, I taught clinical psychology and trained master’s students to give psychological exams to public school children, as introduced by Jean Piaget a long time before. I worked at the developmental unit set up within the university to monitor children reported by their teachers or their parents for functioning disorders. I also worked at the psychiatric children hospital where they can get long-term follow-up.

I first specialized in child clinical psychology, which is the best school to understand any individual problematic as personality structuration happens then. In addition, it is very rewarding working with kids, as children still have a supple psyche that can easily be put back on track with a few sessions. At that time, affect became my main research theme and I began to use meditation with my patients. After that, for family reasons, I lived in Canada and in Korea for some years.

In Korea, they have very few psychologists, so I began to work with a lot of young adults and professionals, as well as with couples and families within the expat community, developing my expertise with all kinds of populations and problematics. I feel grateful because it gave me the opportunity to develop my approach based on affect and the use of meditation, as I did a lot of formative seminars with renowned Buddhist masters like master Soebol or Jawoo Sunim of the Joggye order.

At that point, you may wonder “what is affect?” Affect is a transitory feeling induced at any instant by the whole ongoing situation, including internal and external stimuli. Put end to end, affects are the fabric of your very life. Affect is an elementary process, accessible to consciousness in terms of activation, tension and valence.

Activation is the level of energy of your body, of readiness like to fight or to flight, of arousal. Tension is the continuum of your body tension between tense and relax. Valence corresponds to the fact that it is globally pleasant or unpleasant, you are at that instant feeling good or bad. Valence is already a proto-representation as good or bad.

At the birth of psychology in 1879, Wundt already postulated an affect structure with these three dimensions base on introspection. Today’s more refined research methodology shows the same affect model with a bipolar three-dimensional structure.

There are 3 points of interest here:

There are bipolar dimensions: so if you keep a positive mind, you will stay away from being depressed. There are different methods, laughter yoga is a good one.

Meditation demands that you keep these three dimensions as low as possible: to enter meditation, you have to relax, you have to stay still, and to let the flow of your thought dry up. Then, with practice you can meet you true self in a serene void, that patches your ego, consolidates your self-esteem, and gives you confidence.

Your only freedom, your freedom of choice, is your influence to choose positive or negative, as you have a fleeting instant before the affect settles as good or bad. Or you can deliberately choose to remain before this choice settles and keep an open mind.

A person is in and in-between affects at all times, a fleeting state that can be illustrated as a region within the three-dimensional space as on the following illustration:

 

Here I have drawn the three vectors of the affect: Alert, Serene, and Good with the projections of their references on the three dimensions of Activation, Tension and Valence. It marks the position we occupy when we are experiencing these affects. Indeed we live in three dimensions, but not the ones we generally considered.

Affect is central in our experience of the world. It is a subtle knowledge that rises from the feeling rather than the reasoning. It is an immediate mode of apprehension different from the mediate mode of understanding that allows the organism to cope in real time with various situation, positive or negative, or even lethal.

How powerful is the mind, and how can we control its health?

Reflect with me on the fact that every day, I change lives, even sometimes save lives, with the power of words. I would like you to understand that we create the world around us with projections of our mind and that the representations we use to structure it have an incredible impact. For this, I invite you to consider the following well-known images:

What do you see? How do you describe these images?

At the top left, do you see the top line as shorter that the bottom line? But they both are the same length. Top center, does the vertical line look longer than the horizontal line, even though they are both the same length? On the third drawing, the top line appears longer that the bottom line, even though they are both again the same length.

Then below, we see a white circle in the middle where in fact there is none. And for the last two, the middle circles are both times the same size, but the ones on the right look bigger.

Then what do you see on the next illustrations?

On the left, some of you see two faces in profile, some of you see a white vase. And on the right, some of you see a young lady, and some of you see an old lady.

It is of particular interest here that even if we saw both versions in these drawings, that we can only see one at a time. It is how the projection of our mind structures the real around us (to become our reality). For example, it is interesting to note that the vertical doesn’t exist outside of the construct that we created in our mind and projected on the world.

Concerning our mind’s health, I believe the first step would be to understand our functioning. And in this direction, the concept of affect is the missing link between mind and body. Affect is also the bridge between the unconscious and conscious levels. Meditation where we can let go of the flow of our thought and of the flow of our fleeting affects, being still in the now. It is as a shower for our mind. If we have the time for a body shower every day, we should be able to similarly find 20 minutes for our mind shower.

TO BE CONTINUE…NEXT WEEK WITH

The reasons of today’s life-altering issues like depression, anxiety and poor awareness