Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Ability to Feel

Barred Owl by Alan Murphy
Taken from the book, The Winner's Notebook, by Theodore Isaac Rubin, M.D.

To Feel

     This includes the ability to feel emotion and to know it and to be able to express it --that is, to be able to emote--to show others how you feel and what you feel.  Have you felt good, bad, anger, love?  Have you expressed your feelings to others?  This asset is important in knowing who you are in relation to yourself and to others.  What you feel is crucial in knowing who you are, what your values are, where you are going, and in retaining the center of gravity for your life so that you have a choice about your life's decisions and actions and are not  a will-o'-the wisp.  Feeling and emoting permit you to react, to communicate and to relate to people.

     The ability to emote is also crucial to mental health.  Without it one's health is indeed in jeopardy.  He becomes a walking emotional time bomb and an easy victim of feelings and aspects of himself from which he is cut off.  The ability to express both love and anger, without guilt and embarrassment, is all-important in relating.  Repressing anger usually leads to repressing love as well.  Anger, repressed, often leads to cold, sullen moods, and eventually to vindictive reactions that result in a breakdown in communicating and relating.  When people can allow themselves to express anger warmly and appropriately, they can clear the air, communicate, and go on relating and living.

   Individuals must at times become disgruntled with each other.  This is normal and natural, but reparations, accommodations and mediation cannot be effected without communication of the displeasure and feelings, whatever they are.  If you have the ability to talk things over, you are ahead, indeed; but I mean more than verbalizing.  By talking, I mean to feel, to be in touch with your feeling and to be able to communicate what you feel.  Of course, this asset is only possible as a concomitant of much security and health.  It is, therefore, a very good indicator of one's mental health status.  However, it will also be closely related to one's background and upbringing.  If as a child you lived in a house where emotions were expressed appropriately and freely without punishment or repercussion, then you already have a considerable start toward further developing this important capacity.

     If you are at all inclined to take this one for granted, please be aware that there are many people who are almost completely alienated from their feelings, who can't remember ever having had any feelings, who are emotionally estranged from themselves and all other people, who suffer from a deep inner deadness and spend their lives in a vast emotional vacuum.

Theodore Isaac Rubin, M.D. was born April 11, 1923 and lives in New York City.
Rubin is a past president of the American Institute for Psychoanalysis and the Karen Horney Institute for Psychoanalysis. 

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