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Working with Self-Denigration

Denigrations are the most prominent form of negation. The attention to indications which show that the client devalues himself (“I was really daft there.” or, more subtly, “I would very much like to become more assured, so that this stuttering in meetings finally stops.”) is, in any case, an ongoing activity of the counsellor. In practice, it revolves around teasing out the two self-representations in the client: “I would like to change myself!” <b>”Ich</b> möchte <b>mich</b>. Who is the ‘I’, which is intent on changing the me (‘myself’)? Usually, clients are not conscious of the hidden self-denigration in the intention to change. If these two sides are identified and differentiated in the experiencing, then the devalued part must make the discovery that he is not helplessly at the mercy of this denigration. And the devaluing part must discover what inner motives drive him to this interaction with the alter ego. These discoveries can only be made when both sides are explored with the attitude “What is, is permitted to be!”. Both sides require the empathy, the understanding, the resonance, the perception of the counsellor. This impartiality or, as formulated in depth psychology, the neutrality of the counsellor is indispensable. If one succumbs to the temptation of seeing the devaluing representation as the bad one and the devalued one as good, then the counsellor threatens to turn the weapon the other way: Instead of the one representation, the other will now be devalued. In that case nothing is gained – quite the opposite.

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