A Guide to Psychology and its Practice

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Page Contents: The mistake of “getting rid of problems” in psychotherapy.                    


I’ve taken part at group psychotherapy for six months. There is an issue I think might be essential about me and I’d like to talk about, but I feel extremely shy, 1st) because I can’t be totally comfortable with other people 2nd) because I live in a country where abortion is crime (I’ve had an abortion performed in a very traumatic way and then for about ten years I got pregnant nine more times and I just stopped that when I decided to carry on my last pregnancy). I wouldn’t want to have problems with police (I trust my psychotherapist but not the other members of the group), besides that I think they (the other members of the group) might be judgmental or even indiscreet about that. There’s great prejudice about abortion here in Brazil. I feel awful having to talk about that, do you think its really important to tell that to my psychotherapist.

You have no reason to talk about anything in psychotherapy unless you are open to change. But, even more than that, you have no reason to be in psychotherapy unless you are willing to submit everything about your life to examination and are willing for every unhealthy psychological defense in your life to change.

This means that it is important to face all your mistakes with honest scrutiny and that it is a grave psychological error to try to “get rid of” any problem that seems too unpleasant or too inconvenient for you—whether it be a psychological defense, part of your personality, your parents, your friends, your children—or a child in the womb.

The fact is, abortion is a hate crime against humanity, for it reduces a human child to a piece of garbage. And that cold process of reduction results in profound trauma that most medical and psychological organizations prefer to ignore. As Mother Teresa said, “We must not be surprised when we hear of murders, of wars, of hatred. If a mother can kill her own child, what is left but for us to kill each other?” Is it any wonder, then, that with a psychological attitude of “getting rid of problems” our world today is drowning in hatred and revenge and plagued with the constant threat of terrorism and war?

In a similar way, trying to get rid of problems with psychotherapy is a hate crime against the unconscious. Psychological problems need to be treated with compassion and understanding so that you can get to the real cause of your emotional pain.

Therefore, your real psycholgical task is to realize what a huge mistake your abortions have been, and to realize how you have used abortion unconsciously to mask deep psychological pain and despair from your childhood. When you can talk about your past abortions from a place of sorrow, that sorrow can be a profound motive for scrutiny and psychological change in other areas of your life.

Group psychotherapy, however, as you point out, poses a real problem with confidentiality. The whole point of a psychotherapy group is to engage in honest interactions with others so that you can recognize defensive patterns of social interaction as they occur in the moment, right in the group, and change those patterns as necessary. If you believe that confidentially cannot be guaranteed, then you cannot interact with others honestly, and in that case it would be best if you continued your treatment individually.

Just remember that if you speak about your past mistakes with sorrow the other members of a group would treat you with compassion, not judgment, and you wouldn’t feel like an outcast they were trying to get rid of. So be careful that you don’t use this issue with group psychotherapy as an excuse to get rid of the full potential of your treatment altogether.



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Raymond Lloyd Richmond, Ph.D.
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A Guide to Psychology and its Practice



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