There is no imagery that will define human beings lived experience completely. Just as with other psychological perspectives, I need to look through the lens of perception. To view another individual through an absolute finding, leaving no room for individual perspective, says more to my limitations to enter another’s world than the reality of the individual human condition we all reside and live within.
As an undergraduate, I worked in a lab that examined perspective. This research took place in a fictitious airplane that crashed during takeoff. Each passenger was asked to explain their experience of the crash from their own seat. Individual passengers told of the same event and the experience was recorded in their mind from a different location on the plane. Further, each individual possesses a different life history that affects the encoding process of lived events. The individual telling of the timeline, as well as the emotional impact, was personal fact. The understanding gained from individual lived events concretizes the experience as personally borne truth regarded as actuality and fact.
My undertaking and desire to be an effective therapist is to define within myself, through the lens of attachment, individualism and collectivism via my growing understanding of development toward maturing adulthood. To understand more completely, I have combined and contrasted individualism with collectivism. What I have learned is: there is not a human completely one or the other. All human beings are confounded by differences. Additionally, some feel threatened by another’s contrary opinions. It is as if the difference hints to a possibility of a self-abnormality rather than a joy found in variety. To lessen the aloneness found in difference, we annihilate the other. Sadly, in mental illness, annihilation is an internal battlefield that in many cases comes to be known through the externalized projection. For example, scapegoating on to another what we do not like about ourselves.
I also experienced group complexity in fulfilling the class requirement through discussing caseloads and dream work. Our cohort consists of a vast array of individuals whose life perspectives are very different than my own and each other. We held steadfast to culturally maintained perspectives. However, I do know we each chose an aspect of individualism where our own comfort level resided. We separately understood the same definitions from our own perspective. This unique perspective is what makes an individual’s experience an absolute fact.
I had the opportunity to attend an annual sixth-grade Veterans Day concert. The concert was successful in creating within me a sense of being a part of the American collective. Boy Scouts posted the colors, followed by the congregation joined in voices singing the national anthem, and the mournful sounds of bagpipes humming oldies like Yankee Doodle Dandy. There was an 86-year-old American hero who told of his infantry and their experiences in military battles. A video of the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, along with photos of current and past veterans of family members in attendance, was shown on a large drop-down screen above the heads of our young entertainers. The sixth-grade band, boys and girls choirs, joined by a jazz choir united to perform beautiful renditions of all the America military service songs. As the young children’s voices sang out one by one, those service men in active duty, as well retired veterans stood in uniform. At the close, the bagpipes entered again and surrounded the congregation with the solemn music of sacred remembrance of lives spent in service.
My eyes filled with tears, heart full of pride, to be an individual within a group of fellow Americans. Generally, I consider myself to be more individualistic than collective. However, today I was taught contextually, I am both. The room was full of fellow humans who, I would assume, felt similar emotions to my own. Most would be Americans in the rural, republican state of Idaho. However, each of us experienced the event from our own chair within the school building, as well as from our individual emotionally encoded histories. The current physical placement of the body mingled with emotion of the present and past create individual perspective and understanding of the here and now.
I have kept this in mind in my therapeutic office. How my patient shows up at any given moment is their personal fact. I can only change or create new facts by the creation of a differing present experience. For me, to argue their fact, which affects their ego, is not touching the inner Self. A contrarian approach will create a polarized well-protected division of defended self-energy, rather than a relationship of trust. I strive to understand the origins of the perspective. How the functioning of perspective within the individual has sustained the person, the impacts of the culture they reside within.