An insightful exploration of how the human psyche integrates emotional trauma and suggestions on how to combat its destructive effects.
Mixing practical information with individual testimonies, Novak, a licensed clinical social worker, illuminates how people frequently avoid the pain that results from difficult experiences by burying emotions deep within the psyche. Unattended, this trapped baggage often festers, radiating from the subconscious and generating a wide array of toxic effects: low self-esteem, uncontrollable anxiety, debilitating anger and dysfunctional relationships among them. If the author’s deliberate, methodical explanations seem redundant, fear not, for Novak clearly presents her material in a highly engaging way. According to the author, the psyche deals with significant conflict by either effectively integrating the subsequent emotions or storing and avoiding those feelings. Storage and avoidance, though, require considerably more energy to maintain. As personal trauma has a tendency to continue throughout life, the psyche runs the risk of filling beyond capacity, often resulting in emotional numbing, flashbacks, psychic drain or unmanageable stress. The author employs a terrific use of allegory to illustrate her ideas. She likens the need to medicate while undergoing therapy to the use of anesthesia during dental drilling and compares a person who repeatedly buries the memory of harmful experiences with a fire alarm whose batteries have been removed. Novak is particularly sharp when addressing addiction in all its guises, from alcoholism to promiscuous sex to self-destructive shopping. In addition to creating a buzz that serves to distract the psyche from recognizing lingering pain, addictions demand considerable attention and energy that could otherwise be spent processing harmful buried feelings. Novak provides prompts for journal writing throughout the text and concludes her work with suggestions–cognitive techniques and metatherapies–to assist readers who wish to begin purging their psyches of pent-up and painful memories.
An intriguing guide to living a happier, more peaceful life.