OUR INFANT PUPPETEER, by Art Smukler, author & psychiatrist

Let’s not dwell on the past

We’ll start from now and go forward.

Sometimes clichés are just shorthand for inane assumptions.

Not using information from our past is like trying to build a hi-rise and leaving out the foundation. It looks good until that first Santa Ana wind hits it’s eastern facade. Boom. No substance. All show.

The problem, and it’s a big one, is that our past is often hidden from our conscious thoughts. It’s there directing what we do, and we’re blithely assuming that we are making logical, conscious decisions. The truth, as difficult as it may be to accept, is that the child part of us, the infant, desperate to have his needs met, is often the puppeteer controlling our “adult” behavior.

One major example that I see all the time, is how we “adults” choose our spouse. On the surface, it’s all so straightforward. We meet someone, feel attracted and connected, and make a conscious decision to spend the rest of our lives with this person. Simple, right?

Not in my opinion. We handpick spouses who unconsciously meet a deep need from our childhood. For example, we consciously pick someone who we love, yet so often, our choice has many of the same flaws that our father or mother had. The same hurt is now re-lived, here in the present, just like it happened when we were little. Over and over, like a Chinese water torture, until the pain is so great you join 50% of your peers and get divorced.

What’s the answer? How do we stop being driven by the baby puppeteer?

Ah, we need a super-hero to help us.

Enter Freud, wearing a cape and driving a black Freud-mobile (an eco-friendly, convertible Tesla). After carefully removing his cape and settling into his well-worn, easy chair, what does the great man do?

He asks about your past. He helps you see the similarities between your life as a child and how you are now reliving that same life with your wife. Most importantly, he helps you see YOUR part in perpetuating this flawed reliving of an old bad movie.

It takes a while to tease out the past from the present, but eventually the immature puppeteer is exposed, and then the REAL YOU can make healthy choices and not be driven by a past that you can’t understand.

If you enjoy reading, Inside the Mind of a Psychiatrist, you might also enjoy Dr. Smukler’s novels, Chasing Backwards, a psychological murder mystery, Skin Dance, a mystery, and The Man with a Microphone in his Ear. All are available as paperbacks and eBooks.

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