What is Personality Reconstruction?

Saturday, March 26th, 2011, Written by jackrosenberger

A term I use frequently in the work of therapy is “personality reconstruction”.  This term can cause a lot of misunderstanding.  I am not saying that I do not like people the way they are; I’ve always found something to admire in every patient I’ve ever counseled.

When I say personality reconstruction, I mean repairing the damage a person sustains through life. That damage is different for each person: trauma, loss, or some other set of events. This damage has prevented the person from actualizing their full potential self. For example, maybe a past trauma has stunted their progress towards his or her native talents and gifts; now, they are in an unbearable state because they aren’t living the life they were meant to.

The term personality reconstruction refers to the process of accompanying a person through whatever process they need to become the best person he or she can be.  Now the crafty among you are saying, “You’re mean I’m not being myself!”  To that complaint, I respond with a resounding YES!  Too many people walk through life not being the self they truly are; they are bagged by symptoms and know deep in their hearts that they are living some kind of false self.

In short, they are living a lie of some sort.

To borrow a term from Martin Heidegger, they are living an inauthentic existence, giving way to desires that are not truly their own.  They are living as if they are  part of the “herd”,  borrowing their ideas, affections, and even sense of self from everyone else but themselves.  What analytic psychotherapy does is afford a person the chance to become the person he/she most truly and deeply might be.   This process and even way of life is not easy;  it can put one at odds with former friends and lovers.  But as the French writer put it well, “Better to be hated for who one is than loved for who one is not.”

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