Case Study: Felicia

'Felicia' came to see me feeling that she did not know what to do with herself when she went home. She was outwardly very successful – and earned a lot of money. She felt as if she was always running towards a goal somewhere in the future, but did not really know what that goal was. Sometimes she felt panicked on aircraft – as if she felt trapped and afraid that other people might see her panicky feelings. Gradually as we explored her parts (Jung calls them autonomous complexes, analysts may call them self-states – its all the same phenomena) we came to realise how much Felicia was run by a part that was bent on proving how good she was. It was frightened of being frightened, not sure what this might mean about her – and could not cut her any slack in having to look right for others. As time went on we understood how hard this part had had to work to look good at school, earn top marks, and reassure her parents who she secretly felt she had to look after. In turn as the part felt understood and even appreciated, it was willing to soften its grip, and step back so that Felicia could see what it had covered up. Felicia was in my experience unusual in that she could fairly easily identify a part, and then felt able to see it rather than be it. It was rather like recognising she had been looking through a pair of dark glasses which she thought was her, only to see she could take them off and restore the natural viewpoint.. Identifying and articulating  parts of the mind means we are no longer identified with them. Of course this lead to some anxiety – if she was not this perfect mask, who was she ?  If she stopped running, how did she fit in with her peers ? Who also seemed to be running headlong into an imaginary future, which never quite arrived. As she hung in, she began to feel in her heart an old denied self that had got used to being squashed and apologised for. She began to express her feelings more to her partner, and not just go along with his ideas of what to do. Staying with and settling down into her experience, she began to feel at large, free and solid in a way that was quite new for her. Her friends seemingly had to jet off somewhere every weekend, but she could be content with just cooking, or just working in the garden – not needing to fill a sense of lack up. The door to real freedom in life is recognising you do not have to do anything to be yourself, and that you then do not have to enslave what you thought was yourself in the name of artificial goals.

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