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The Courage to Love

One of the obvious implications is that a person will have to face the fact that she cannot meet other people’s expectations. This signals the end of what might be called the “camel” phase of human development. I believe it was Nietschze who suggested that for the first part of life, we are camels, trudging through the desert, accepting on our backs everybody’s “shoulds” and “don’ts.” Camels only know how to spit; they don’t think for themselves or talk back. As the camel dies, a lion is born in its place.

Lions discover both their roar and the art of preening. The lion may be a little shaky at first, so support and encouragement are vital. But once the camel begins to die (e.g., signalled by depression), there is no turning back. Symptoms occupy the space between the death of the camel and the birth of the lion. A therapist can be a good midwife during this liminal phase.

Stephen Gilligan, Psychologist and developer of “Generative Change” (from the book, The Courage to Love: Principles and Practices of Self-Relations Psychotherapy)