Why Your Childhood Matters

A comNosce te ipsummon question people ask is where their problems come from. Why do they have sudden panic attacks at work? Why do they yell at their spouse when they don’t want to? Why do they lie when they mean to be honest? Why do they tell people get lost when they really want them to stay? Why do they choose to spend so much time with people who cannot help them to be happy? Why do they not have the motivation to get up in the morning to deal with their problems? The root of all these problems lies in childhood.

This answer appears surprising to many people, though. Most people tend to assume the reason why they feel uncontrollably sad, angry, or guilty is because of the situation or person immediately facing them. In fact, they often think it is all to do with the person or problem facing them and not anything to do with their childhood at all. The other person or the situation is making them feel sad, making them feel angry, and making them feel guilty (See “Who Makes You Feel?”). They are helpless puppets responding to the behaviour of people and situations around them. The idea that their now long distant childhood had something to do with it is actually far from their minds, if it is even something they are aware of as being a factor in their present unhappiness.

How do events that happened to them so long ago continue to affect them? Continue reading

Who Makes You Feel?

Inside-Out-5-Emotions2

John was running late to work because the bus had broken down. When he arrived at his office he was worried that his boss would be angry at him. He informed her about the bus, but she just frowned and said you cannot control things like that. John felt huge relief and as though his boss cared about him. Mary was trying on clothes in a store and she overheard one of the staff comment on how fat she was. She peeked out the door of the change room and saw that the staff member who had said it was a thin, tall girl, like all the girls in the store. She immediately felt self-conscious about her body and ashamed.

The two little stories above are examples events that many people have probably experienced at some point in their lives. What I find curious is the different answers I get from people when I ask them, “Who makes John and Mary feel the different emotions they experience?”

Some people will answer that John has no control over how he feels, it is his boss who decides if he will feel relieved or frightened about losing his job based on how she reacts to him being late. In the case of Mary, she is powerless to prevent herself from feeling self-conscious and ashamed when someone calls her fat. The skinny girl makes Mary feel bad about herself.

Continue reading

The Neuroscience of Motivation

DopamineLack of motivation is a common complaint in the 21st century. Many people talk about feeling a lack of motivation. There are many factors that control how motivated a person feels: incentives, deterrents, personal interest, cognitive dissonance, past childhood traumas, and dopamine levels all rate highly. Each of these topics deserves an article in its own right, but for this topic, however, this article will concern itself merely with self-esteem and dopamine levels. Furthermore, it will act simply as an introduction to the topic of dopamine and its relationship to motivation. If you are interested in this topic, you are urged to do your own further research, as this article will not be an in-depth academic piece. There are a few links at the bottom to get you started.

Dopamine is a chemical produced in the brain that appears to be strongly connected with motivation. People who lack dopamine have difficulty getting up to do anything. In fact, Parkinson’s disease, a condition that gradually paralyses its victims over time, does so by killing off the neurons responsible for producing dopamine.   Without dopamine, we are simply brains trapped in jars. This raises some interesting questions about the nature of depression: is depression actually about sadness at all or just about motivation? If we pull happiness and motivation apart from each other, we can arrive at four distinct states:

  1. Happy and motivated.
  2. Miserable and unmotivated.
  3. Miserable, but motivated.
  4. Happy, but unmotivated.

Continue reading

Philosophical Therapy

What is Philosophical Therapy?

Philosophical theory is a drug-free, talk-based therapy that is an alternative to modern psychology and psychiatry. It has its roots in Ancient Greece and Rome, with geniuses like Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Epicurus and Galen as its founders and practitioners. In fact, philosophy was the primary method for treating the conditions we now call “mental illness” for over two thousand years.

The Roman physician, Galen, believed one should always seek a philosophical solution to one’s ailment before moving onto the next level of medical treatment. He argued that there are many reasons why a patient might have a headache or insomnia. Galen may not have used the term “cognitive dissonance”, but he certainly understood that some headaches are created by inner conflicts. Likewise, he understood that a good conscience was necessary for a good night’s sleep.

Who should see a philosophical therapist?

There are a variety of problems a philosophical therapist can help you with: Lack of energy and motivation, excessive worrying, difficultly making decisions, relationship problems, settling disputes, loneliness, grief, lack of meaning and purpose in life. Unlike psychologists and psychiatrists, philosophical therapists have no interest in diagnosing you or prescribing drugs. They are just interested in helping you to explore, articulate, and understand your particular problem. If you have any problem that you can’t make sense or has been going on for a long time, then you could almost certainly benefit from discussing it with a philosophical therapist.

What to expect from philosophical therapy?

Expect to be listened to, to have your emotions explained, to be asked probing questions, to hear occasional humorous rants and to be encouraged to answer uncomfortable questions. There will be no diagnoses, no medications, no directives that you must obey. You might be asked to complete some exercises that are focused on promoting self-knowledge and better emotional awareness, but nothing compulsory. It may not seem like much, but just changing the way you think or approach a situation will impact your entire life.

Email Jason at: philosophical.therapy@outlook.com