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Well-being and Suffering

© Jayni Bloch 9 February 2004

The theatre experience on Saturday has left me totally entranced. The play was called "The Well Being", by a South African Mouthpeace collective, Andrew Buckland and Lionel Newton, together with director, Lara Foot-Newton.

It was one of the most profound pieces of living art I have seen in a long time.

My sleep was disturbed and thoughts came rushing through my mind during the night and the next morning.

The two actors portrayed and moved constantly between many different masculine and feminine characters. They seem to represent the rational and spiritual sides of ourselves and all the different aspects or sub-personalities (ego-states) that we have. The intertwined bodies of the actors seem to say that we are all the parts and one with all sides of being in the end.

The play portrays the disregard for (no value for) the feminine by abusing and raping mother earth, ripping her up like ripping paper, as we do woman, elders, nature (our forests), our aboriginal cultures, our psyche, spirituality and the unconscious.

Like immature children, we then discard her like wastepaper; trying to get rid of the damage by ignoring it, shunning it, but it stays on the periphery, and it irritates us. We hate to see it, but we cannot ignore the wounded reflected to us in the problems of our environment or in the problems or pain of our psyches that shows as symptoms and problem issues in our lives.

The wounded and crippled parts of our psyche are discarded to the outside of our awareness just like these aspects of our community are discarded to the outskirts of our towns, or projected to be out there or belonging to others. Its difficult to own our imperfect and wounded aspects, therefore we project it. He/she is the problem; theres something wrong with them, not us.

We have shame and want to hide when we have messed up, so while one part of us deny or try to escape, the wounded side cover and bury ourselves with dirt, digging deeper into the depths of woundedness.

Our wounds and pain separate us to a "silence", withdrawn from community or consciousness. The silence, pain and loneliness drives the digging into the earth. The deeper the wounds the deeper the digging into the earth, which is synonymous to digging down to the depths of the subconscious, initially to kill the pain not knowing that this torture and dark experience of the soul is a healing process. The pain and the wounds motivate us to keep pounding away at the dirt of our unconscious until it gives way to resolution.

Inanna is the Goddess who penetrates the depths of Earth to bring new life. Just like her transformational journey into the unknown depths of the psyche we too go to where despair, anguish and grief of the lost self is transformed to bring new life.

The deeper the digging the deeper the darkness we go into and the deeper the "well" of tears and mourning but also the mound (the heap of conscious dirt that we've recognized) that saves us in the end when the flood comes. It becomes the solid ground that we stand on when the waters break, the emotion of the uncovered (discovered) truth becomes overwhelming.

The flood of water is the "Breakthrough point". Breakthrough means that our conscious rational mind connects with the "water creature", the psyche or spiritual side. This connection is productive, so a "new baby" or healing, new solution and new idea is born.

That's when the watermelon is broken open, exposing its sweet fruit the result of creativity. The results of pain and suffering, the conflict of delving into the dark unconscious, pounding away for truth and solution, results in Creativity, new understanding, giving birth to new self. The fruit of the labor of suffering is to get the answer or the meaning; the "unconventional" baby.

The pain-carrier's work benefits the collective, not only the self; it benefits all parts of ourselves and all of humanity.

After the flood there's always a feeling of drought that follows, the hard work has been done and there's the unwinding and the assimilation of the healing process.

And then the next wound happens... this process drives evolution.


What to Value

© Jayni Bloch 17 December 2003

A 'Test of Values' happens every once in a while in one's life. These 'tests' could involve having to make important choices, which could be tricky at times. It seems as if the challenge is to find one's deepest sincerest most essential soul values.

Ironically I discovered what truly matters to me during times when I had to give up the things my ego considered important and part with the things my ego thought I could not part with. I discovered that whatever belonged to me, won't be lost if I am prepared to give it up or lose it, while the things that don't truly belong to me, that are not truly of value to my soul, cannot be acquired or kept anyway. Even if I manage to acquire these things by my willful efforts, I lose them in the end. To gain on the soul level means to be prepare to lose or break with behavioral, material or human attachments. Losing means gaining in the end and gaining means losing, in reality, sometimes.


The Scream

© Jayni Bloch 24 November 2003

The emotional SCREAM is behavior of an unobvious, defensive nature that covers and hides one's truest deepest emotional needs.

The deeper the emotional pain, the harder and more desperate the "scream" for attention, recognition and CONNECTION, but at the same time the more disguised this scream is.

It is difficult to recognize emotional "screaming" because it is mostly perceived as defiance, aggression, criticism, bravado, withdrawal, or uncaring behavior.

Screaming can be loud or soft or non-verbal. The Scream usually seem to communicate the opposite to the actual need. For instance, "go away" when the person actually need affection, or "I hate you" when the person needs confirmation of your love and support.

A father told me how he recoils from his son who defies his attempt to discipline. The 12 year old reverts to name-calling and humiliation to provoke the father. This boy is in desperate need of guidance and structure from a firm but loving father. The harder he seem to resist the fathers attempt to create a structured environment the more desperate he needs it. He is "fighting hard" to provoke the dad to give it to him.

A woman told me of her attempt to get her husband's attention by engaging in many interests and activities so she was rarely home. He read this behavior as her not wanting to be with him and wondered how soon it would be before she left for good. She hoped in silence that he would show how much he needed her and how important she was to him, by requesting more time with her, which he of course felt unable to do. It was too difficult for him to see through the defensive behavior which she so strongly created. Both of them were in deed vulnerable and did not want to let it show.

Another woman become angry, critical and even verbally abusive towards her spouse when she felt hurt or fearful of losing his affection. It was emotionally frightening ("uncomfortable/unsafe") to be vulnerable enough to express her true need for his tender connectiveness.

Most of the time we automatically respond to the defensive behavior of the people we love. We could learn to see through the defense and notice the actual emotional need and respond to that. Defensive behavior triggers our own fears that makes us feel incapable of reassuring the other which would relax their fears. Our own reactive responses usually confirms the fears of the other. Their reaction to our reaction puts us in a vicious circle of defensive-responses that feeds our deeper schemas and wounds.

References: Reinventing Your Life : Jeffrey E Young, Ph.D. and Janet S. Klosko, Ph.D.


Fears and Phobias

© Jayni Bloch, October 2002

We become frightened when we feel endangered by the unknown. When we don't understand, don't know what will happen to us or how we will cope in certain situations, or are confronted by the unexpected.

The physical symptoms of anxiety such as heart palpitations, sweating, dizziness and shallow rapid breaths, can become so alarming that we get even more anxious.

When the anxiety becomes so server that the physical symptoms trigger extreme fear and a feeling of not having any control, we talk about panic attacks.

Phobias occur when there is a fear about a particular object or situation, but there is logically no reason or real danger. Illness, associations and stressful experiences can trigger phobias or it can develop from normal childhood developmental fears. For instance, infants is freighted by surprises to their senses like loud noises, bright lights, unexpected movements and toddlers by the dark and scary new activities like swimming and cycling. School age children are afraid of the potential jeopardy to the safety of their homes and family and older children have social concerns and worries about family strife and self acceptance.

Sometimes we like to be scared by someone playing a trick on us or by a scary movie. It pumps adrenalin and activates us to act protectively. We feel exhilarated by using our creativity and defense mechanisms. It confirms to us that we are alive and have control over the unexpected and somehow we feel more confidant and prepared to handle life's challenges.

Simple phobias of animals and natural elements can sometimes develop into complex phobias like Agoraphobia, the fear of leaving home and open spaces, or Claustrophobia, the fear of crowded places like elevators and busses. One can also develop social phobias because of the fear of being criticized or rejected.

Truly traumatic and threatening experiences, like disasters, can leave one with a severe and long lasting anxiety in the form of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Obsessive compulsive disorder is another form of anxiety disorder that come in the form of uncontrollable illogical reoccurring thoughts and repetitive behavior rituals like hand washing or counting steps.

The feeling of Depression has become associated with most anxiety disorders and is very uncomfortable to deal with if not addressed through psychotherapy. Psychotherapy can happen in conjunction with a chemical treatment plan.

Psychotherapy Approaches

The following are very effective treatment strategies for anxiety disorders, fears and phobias:

The important thing to remember is that the fear of phobia could be a symbol of an unacknowledged need to belong or to be recognized or supported. It could mean that we need to empower ourselves by learning how to take control of our life in some way. Or it may mean that we need to learn how to protect, assert of defend ourselves properly. Being informed and having good knowledge about the unknown object of our fear also helps us. Most important of all is our relationships with other meaningful people. We need to feel a sense of belonging where we are encouraged, accepted supported and reassured or consoled.

Please contact us at this office if you require an assessment of and help for your fear of phobia.

613 599-0937 or

Self Help: Visit the Fear Website., describes all the possible fears one can have and even suggest appropriate reading material about specific subjects.


Animal Hoarding

© Jayni Bloch, June 2002

Recent events, in our own town Kanata, caught media attention of an exotic animal collection kept in inappropriate and neglected conditions.

Until recently mostly animal care workers dealt with this kind of behavior in isolated incidences across North America. Mostly the animals kept were not as exotic as in this case. Mental Health professionals only started giving this problem more attention since 1999 when it was realized that this phenomenon was either growing or being noticed more.

I wonder what this phenomenon says of the society we live in? Is this somehow a symptom of our culture? Are we taking care of and notice each other's needs? Is this a sign of our longing to re-connect with nature and the mystery and awe of the animal world? Let's leave these rhetorical questions for a moment and address the issue rationally first.

Hoarders are people who collect compulsively. Animal Hoarders are people who collect animals in excessive quantities beyond their care-taking ability to possibly compensate for un-acknowledged emotional needs.

The psychology of Animal Hoarding involves a complex composite of cognitive, behavioral and psychodynamic angles. According to R.O. Frost (1993, 1995, 1996, 1998 and 1999), R. Lockwood (1994) and G.J. Patronek (1999), a variety of symptoms form this eccentric behavior. Symptoms can be "normal" during conditions of stress or crisis. When symptoms intensify significantly, last long after the crisis and interfere with dealing with regular life, it becomes pathological. Some symptoms associated with animal hoarding are:

These symptoms could be unique to each individual and should be evaluated for their neurological, personality or psychotic origin by a mental health professional.

Parental deprivation, neglect or abuse during childhood can result in displaced emotional attachment for animals as the source of affection but also a source of projection of unresolved anger (passive- aggressive behavior). That might explain the excessive hording of animals in an attempt to possess "objects" of affection or value as well as the neglected and appalling conditions of the animals (projected subconscious anger). Usually the conflict of wanting love and projecting anger towards the same "object" goes together.

People with any of the described tendencies could benefit form counselling or psychotherapy to address the underlying unresolved emotional issues.

There could be psychological reasons for having an affinity for a specific type or types of animals like birds, cats, horses, dogs, etcetera. Each kind of animal has mythological meaning. The kind of animal or object collected holds conscious or subconscious meaning for the hoarder. Herpetologists collect reptiles and amphibians for example and could be meaningful because of the fear-factor they generally carry for others. It tells something about the keeper. According to traditional mythology, snakes symbolized a process of transformation and re-generation of the psyche. Birds are the " messengers". They foretell the weather and changing seasons. They are also associated with "air" (flight), mind-spirit and forces of life. Birds laid the great Cosmic Egg of many culture's creation myths.

The combination of different kinds of hoarded animals could therefore be quite interesting in terms of their symbology and usually relates somehow to the background, history and personality or needs of the specific individual. Exotic animals with great monetary value could be an indication of the need for sophistication, value and uniqueness.

Let's not judge but participate with empathy and kindness to assist everyone (including the animals) to live healthily in our society.





© Jayni Bloch, January 2002

What is it all about?

How do we handle and cope with emotions like anger?

The recent 'Hockey Rage' incident (in which one parent killed another at a kids game) has brought the whole question of anger and how we handle it, to the forefront of our minds.

Anger is an emotion that is normal and in primitive times helped us cope with dangerous situations when we needed to protect ourselves. The emotion triggers Adrenalin that raises our blood pressure, blood sugar and heart rate and increases our muscle tone so we will be ready for the fight or flight response. Our civilized society mostly does not require fight or fight responses, which leaves us all revved up with energy at times with no outlet.

Anger is helpful to give us courage when we need to assert ourselves.

Too much anger can manifests as violence when it bursts out inappropriately for example when unconscious childhood wounds reappear as projected material in our life. Our emotions are exaggerated because of perceived victimization.

When we carry wounds from the past, we develop defense mechanisms of emotional hyper vigilance for protection against hurt. This sensitivity and alertness are like antennas that react to the slightest possible indications of danger of exposure to the emotions that caused hurt. We become extremely sensitive to any sign that might indicate rejection, discrimination or emotional abuse of a similar kind that reminds us of these wounds. Most of the time what we perceive as danger is nowhere as real as it seems, but our perception of reality is colored with that of emotional danger because of our sensitivity to being hurt.

We tend to develop and build justifications for our colored perceptions and they become personal belief systems on which we base our reality. For instance we might believe that people are threatening and nasty towards us so we might believe that we need to be aggressive to defend our position. These ideas are not reality based but beliefs that have been shaped out of perception and experience with specific individuals. Generalizations about peoples' motives attitudes and feelings for us can affect our feelings of worthiness and confidence and therefore our behavior towards others.

Sometimes our children remind us of hurtful or helpless circumstances we suffered in the past. Suppressed anger can leave one with a feeling of helplessness, which adds to the stress when we feel angry or wronged. If we never dealt with our resentment or anger towards people who hurt us we might generalize this anger by becoming short fused, hostile, impatient, bitter, paranoid, frustrated, or sarcastic. Feelings of victimization triggers mean or even violent behavior towards others out of revengeful efforts to protect ourselves.

The more unconscious the hurt, the more suppressed the anger and the more dangerous the possible reactions become, because the counter side of helplessness is summoned by the subconscious defense system of the psyche.

Anger is healthy when used to assert oneself appropriately. Suppressed anger can turn into depression or manifest itself in other physiological health symptoms like high blood pressure, muscle tension, headaches, body pains, sleeping and eating problems and anxiety.

It is important to learn how to balance 'letting the anger out' (assertiveness instead of violence) and 'controlling the anger' (not suppression it). Dealing with our inner wounds is not easy and sometimes we need the help and guidance of psychotherapy.

How do we learn to let off steam safely?

It is important to recognize when we are excessively angry. Consciousness or awareness helps us to be able to identify situations, people and patterns in life that triggers our anger.

Patterns relate to whether we get angry more easily when we are tired or when we had too much alcohol or when we did not eat or sleep, or when certain people trigger emotional associations that reminds us of our unresolved wounds and resentments. Listen to others when they tell you that you are too aggressive or when they tell you that your anger scares them.

Seek professional help immediately.

Act on the advice and direction you are given in your therapy.

Ask for feedback and support form your support system.

When you lose your cool inappropriately and there is no time to do all the above, you have to stop yourself in the moment.

STOP, BREATH DEEPLY and tell yourself that THIS IS NOT A LIFE-THREATENING SITUATION despite your feelings.

Get perspective on reality. Know that the chances are great that you are reacting emotionally because of your past hurts and wounds. You cannot solve the situation in this instant with your angry reaction.

Step back and let it go.

What will professional help do for you?

  1. It will help you to understand yourself and your emotions. Learning is a normal part of the process of life. At different times in your life you'll have to deal with different issues. It does not make you abnormal, its part of the human condition. Talk to someone who understands the human process.
  2. It will help you learn skills to handle and deal with these emotions and issues. Anger management involves learning skills to
    • cope with stress,
    • communicate more effectively,
    • develope clarity of judgment of others and ones own motivation,
    • solve practical and emotional problems (understanding your unconscious 'schemas'),
    • assert yourself appropriately,
    • relax,
    • use physical exercise and outlets to release stress,
    • learn to let go of the hurt
  3. It will support you through your healing process
  4. It will help prevent negative consequences

© Jayni Bloch, M.A. C. Psych. Assoc. 28 January 2002