Sometimes it takes a lifetime…

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E. was a friend of mine (we lost track of each other a long time ago) and he had a curious condition – acute but very selective anxiety. The condition apparently occurred when E was about to confront somebody in a position of power or authority. It didn’t matter who had the better argument or simply who was right. The argument usually would go either E would agree on everything or get angry and issue an ultimatum that it would go his way or else… Very unproductive way to argue and very few bosses would understand and go along with it. That’s only from a professional perspective, from a personal point of view – very disturbing picture, and extremely stressful for everybody. The condition has been mitigated with pills and some cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), nothing was enough to eradicate the condition, until… He met a good psycho-therapist, not a huge surprise (I knew his father) he had been a subject of long and serious child abuse – some physical and mostly emotional. He was “trained” by his father to obey unconditionally not only in actions but to accept that he was unworthy. Later he got his university degree and a pretty decent career in science, but the condition made him work more than twice harder in order to have the same results. Another peculiar side condition serving as a coping mechanism was when he knew that there would be a prospect of a conflict he would get sick. Like real flu: real high temperature, fever, sometimes upset stomach, and he felt like dying (his words). The imaginary sickness would continue for a few days and there was no doctor who would diagnose him not to be really ill. Part of the revelations was that when he was “tortured” by his father, the only way out for E was to get “ill”. Then his father would take care of him as he really cared (who knows he probably did).

Why am I telling you this story? Maybe many of us have some dark moments in our childhood and with time we have found some compensation for the damages. Maybe these coping tricks would work most of the time and help us survive, but the best way I know is to face the naked truth (with help) however cruel it may be. That friend of mine, E, it took him about 40 years to do so…

Categories human condition, society


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