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Re: is this regression? Shortelise

Posted by gardenergirl on December 8, 2004, at 23:36:58

In reply to Re: is this regression? gardenergirl, posted by Shortelise on December 5, 2004, at 12:17:32

> I want to stand up and shout: Hey, you, buddy -get back over here! Where d'ya think yer goin'? Don't bother to try this, it doesn't work, and the other people on the bus get scared.

> So, gg, how would you differentiate between regression and what I experience? I mean, what is regression? What would my reaction be if it were regression? Do you see what I'm asking?

Wow, that's a really tough question. I'm just going to rattle off my thoughts here. So keep a box of salt handy. I haven't looked up any references in coming up with this reply. :)

The term regression means moving to a more child-like state, and developmentally speaking, it implies moving backwards. It is used as a term for a defense mechanism. For example, I once had a client literally throw a tantrum on the floor near the elevator because the nurse wouldn't give him his pain meds right then. I think that is regression in the more perjorative sense. His behavior was clearly regressed, as no reasonable adult would likely ACTUALLY throw a tantrum like that, even if we feel we want to. This was a defense of his, in that acting like a petulant child allowed him to remain dependent and helpless rather than take more assertive steps to get what he needed. He was quite dependent when I met him.

Regression in a therapeutic sense, however, implies a discovering or re-discovering of that child-like part of us that still exists and is a valuable source of information. For some, regressing into play and child-like innocence is a nice balance to being tightly wound, controlled, and stressed. I experienced this one afternoon when I was delighting in stepping among the fall leaves just to hear the crunchy sound. Or the other night when I was giggling helplessly at Rudolph. And reciting half the lines. I think we all need this from time to time.

Sometimes that child-like part of us is wounded, angry, or ashamed. Regression to connect with this state is also therapeutic, as it allows you to own and understand more of yourself. So, in the sense that you were feeling angry and hurt with the lady at the mall, and felt yourself freezing in responding with the assertive statement (and boy so many of us come up with it too late!), you might be moving closer to times when you felt hurt, attacked, and helpless to defend yourself as a child. And of course along with those feelings might be an aggressive desire to act out. Some children actually do, some have a healthy way to deal with it, and others get ashamed of their anger and force it back down to play nice.

I guess I don't think of regression with what you described because you did act like "an adult". Maybe not the most assertive one, but didn't destroy her cart or pull her hair. That's a good thing! But perhaps the desire to do that flashed into your head and felt threatening? Shoot, we all have that inside us, I would think. It's the acting on it that is not so mature.

Does this help at all?





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