If I took a census of one thousand adults and asked, “have you ever been examined by a doctor”, I would be confident in an affirmative response of ninety five percent plus. This is both reasonable and predictable, as practically all of us will become unwell or need medical attention at various stages throughout our lives. Similarly, if I asked the following question, “have you ever met with a psychological practitioner?” I wonder what the responses would reveal.
As with the physical, it is equally predictable that during the course of our existence we will also suffer in the emotional and psychological realms. Traditionally within the context of the Irish psyche (although a shift is underway), to seek assistance of this kind is fraught with accompanying negative implications, most typically around ideas such as ‘never air your dirty laundry in public’; and notions of weakness (etc). In psychological parlance this is referred to as a ‘double- bind’, that is, if you seek help then you’re weak, if you don’t, you continue to suffer (generally alone and needlessly). So strong is this cultural construct that our internal struggles ‘cannot’ be attended to. In many instances our emotional well-being is silenced and the accompanying material is pushed down or ignored. Essentially we suppress what is genuinely going on for us. As a consequence we may revert to work, drink, sex or porn to act as an auxiliary anaesthetic which invariably serves to alienate ourselves even further from our difficulties.
When the complexities of modern life challenges us with emotional and psychological suffering, we can certainly choose to go it alone, that is, if wewant; however, we don’t have to. You wouldn’t ignore your physical health, don’t ignore mental health.