Dr David Malkin

Clinical Psychologist Perth | Counsellor Perth

Tel: 0409 227 548

Choose Your Defences

We shall fight on the seas and oceans,

...We shall fight on the beaches,

we shall fight on the landing grounds,

we shall fight in the fields and in the streets,

we shall fight in the hills;

we shall never surrender...

Winston Churchill (speech to the House of Commons 4 June 1940)

 

Sometimes defence is necessary and vital. As children we learn to defend ourselves in a number of ways against adversities quite automatically. We do not generally consciously choose the type of defence we use and often do not even realise we have moved to a defensive position. Defences help us to survive to adulthood. They become fixed and characteristic in our personality. Different people have different defensive styles. Some people may become jokers; some easily moved to anger, expressed actively and/or passively; some easily moved to tears; some may run away, some may fight; some may trust easily and some with difficulty; some may try to control and others shun control; some set firm boundaries and others loose ones; some may depend excessively and others avoid depending on others if possible; some act charmingly and others threateningly; and so on.

 

Children do not generally have the ability to analyse their defences and adapt and adopt different defensive positions. However, as adults this is what we are required to do. The same defence used as an adult in all problem situations will not lead to optimum outcomes. So, those that don't trust will often limit opportunities or create distance unnecessarily. Those who are always brave and very honest in public will be inclined to expose themseves to wounding crticism when sometimes a more considered diplomatic stance would be wiser. Jokers may find they are not taken seriously. Easily angered or aggressive people may find themselves ostracised by others socially. Avoiding dependency on others routinely may lead instead to dependency expressed in addictive behaviour.

 

The point to be taken is that as adults we need to build a raft of defences appropriate and strategic to each situation. This requires examining and understanding how your characteristic defence operates automatically, often resulting in the same old bad outcome. It may feel risky to experiment with new ways of protecting yourself. For example, if you realise you operate with passive anger and move away or avoid situations, it may be productive to practice a more active assertiveness, problem solving, and conflict resolution process. If you routinely assume a particular category of person is not to be trusted and you act accordingly, it may be more productive in terms of outcome to develop alternative defensive styles e.g. checking the evidence. If you fear attachment and feel isolated, it may be worth experimenting with attachment in the first instance to various group situations that have a safe and respectful style. Compulsive crusaders who feel they are making too many hurtful sacrifices  may consider building self worth and self esteem in other ways with more overall balance. You do not need to fear losing your core defence, it is hard wired. Building a panoply of choices of  response allows protection together with the possibilty of more optimal outcomes.

 

If you require the services of a Perth Psychologist or Perth Counsellor, please contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Attitudes

' ...You gotta learn to be positive, it's your only chance

You mustn't be so defensive,you gotta join in the dance

But it isn't your dancing that you've gotta improve

Ooh,it's your attitude...'

( The Kinks..."Attitude" )

 It's natural to see the world in a habitual fashion,like wearing glasses with writing on the lenses.You will see this message everywhere.These filters or channels help to configure and reinforce our  attitude or way of experiencing and reacting to the world at large.  Eric Berne, founder of Transactional Analysis, regarded neurotic behaviours as patterns described as different types of 'psychological games' .One of Berne's students ,Stephen Karpman, has suggested  the entry point  to these behaviours is signposted. The characteristic signposts were designated as behavioural patterns seen to be one of three possible positions. The positions are described as 'Victim, Persecutor, or Rescuer ' in a dynamic described as the Karpman Drama Triangle.  The positions change from the beginning to the end of a sequence of behaviours or 'psychological games'. The end result is the repetition of a pattern with an attached familiar bad result and familiar bad feeling. Anxiety, depression, fear, anger, relationship or self esteem  difficulties may feature. Generally pre-existing attitudes or beliefs are reinforced in this process.

With reflection and insight these characteristic ' Victim, Persecutor, or Rescuer '  patterns may be recognised and modified so that behaviour, in turn, may be modified. This work is one of the elements of a certain type of psychotherapeutic work. Doing this; changing your outdated characteristic , automatic and  compulsive beliefs or ways of seeing the world , may lead  to a change of attitudes. In turn this may radically help you to change the way you structure your life and experience. The resulting possible changes in  negative repetitive patterns may result in better quality relationships and perception of self and others. This is a common goal in counselling or therapy and the work often involves separating past experiences from present day reality testing.

If you are seeking the services of a Perth psychologist or Perth Counsellor,please contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Self Esteem

'You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.'

            - Gautama Buddha

 

This is a value judgement. It is not based on anything except a decision to value spiritually equal every being in the universe regardless of persona, status, or ability. Like every grain of sand on the beach being equally important in the inanimate world.

This position seems very hard for many people to experience as status and performance are so highly valued. Even then, many people with lofty rank and great ability and achievement harbour feelings of low self worth.This can lead to a search for perfection, where nothing one achieves feels good enough. It can also lead to approval seeking behaviour, extreme criticism of self or others, and feelings of depression and/or anxiety. It may lead to some people giving up entirely in trying to achieve anything.

This state of affairs may be remedied by understanding the difference between UNCONDITIONAL worth and CONDITIONAL worth.The former is represented in the above quote of Gautama Buddha. It is a spiritual value judgement. This is a deliberate  DECISION not a performance.Unconditional worth can be seen as the cake and conditional worth as the icing on it. Unconditional worth is based on BEING whereas conditional worth is based on DOING. You can decide to value and support yourself no matter what circumstances prevail. This is a cognitive activity of choice not a muscular one. If nobody loves or values you, you CAN decide to love and value yourself anyway.The self parenting strategy outlined in an earlier blog may be a useful way to do this.

It does not mean you are selfish or unable to recognise, reflect on, and react to mistakes, errors of judgement, or inadequacies. It does not mean you can not strive for conditional feelings of worth based on maximising potential. It simply means you can decide on a solid foundation of  one level of equal self/other valuing in your existence no matter what. This knowing must not be lost or covered  with passing feelings of  hurt and disappointment when a performance or outcome has been less than hoped for. Nor lost in the face of exclusion or criticism by others.

The corollary of all this is the ability to also  choose to give others compliments or 'strokes' based on both conditional and/or unconditional regard.

If you are seeking the services of a Psychologist Perth or Counsellor Perth please contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Psychological Discomfort

Psychological symptoms or discomforts can sometimes be an opportunity knocking in disguise but not always so.

The stars are not wanted now:put out every one;

Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;

Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.

For nothing now can ever come to any good.

(W.H.Auden 'Funeral Blues'  1938 )

This could be a graphic portrayal of grief without redemption. Some clouds don't have a silver lining. The pain cannot be rationalised or analysed away.The wounding needs a long time to heal,if ever, and leaves a scar.

 

In contrast, C.G.Jung wrote 'We are still as much possessed by autonomous psychic contents as if they were Olympians. Today they are called phobias,obsessions, and so forth; in a word neurotic symptoms. The gods have become diseases; Zeus no longer rules Olympus but rather the solar plexus, and produces curious symptoms for the doctor's consulting room...'

(Commentary on 'The Secret of the Golden Flower'. Collected Works v, 13 1968)

 

In Jung's conceptualisation,these painful experiences can be construed as meaningful. So the anxieties,depression, and other psychological malaise are  indicators of the need for actions leading to change. For example, the boredom or depression arising from being in the 'wrong' career; the anxiety about losing the 'wrong' job;  the pain of a dysfunctional relationship; or frustrated self development in general, can lead to a more positive course of action or  arrangement. The pain of low self esteem can signal a call to arms for choices, behaviours, and achievements of various kinds.

The fear of risk in confronting change may be overcome when an apparent purpose for a symptom can be realised in a way that seems to fit. There may be an opportunity for needed growth in a frightening symptom or circumstance. It is a sober task to differentiate between the latter and psychological distress  that simply requires recovery.

 

If you are seeking the services of a Perth Psychologist or Perth Counsellor. please contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

I still don't know what I was waiting for

And my time was running wild

A million dead-end streets

Every time I thought I'd got it made

It seemed the taste was not so sweet

(omitted material)

ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

(omitted material)

Time may change me...

So sang David Bowie on his 1971 album Hunky Dory.

One of the puzzles in counselling work has been why clients find it so difficult to make changes that they clearly want for their own good. Sometimes changes are totally resistant or only occur with time and the mellowing of older age. Ego State theory developed by Eric Berne in Transactional Analysis in 1957 helps understanding of this. Loosely based on Freud's multifaceted personality theories, Ego State theory explains how people can have several opposing strands of motivation running at different levels in the personality  at the same time and some of them outside of  awareness. Berne called the ego states the Parent, the Adult, and the Child. Berne explained how experiences and decisions formed at the Child level remained locked in and dominating of life outcomes in adulthood.

Redecision therapy was developed in 1965 by Bob and Mary Goulding. This therapy is based on the assumption that if decisions are made in chilhood in emotional situations,then redecisional changes are best made by re-invoking those emotional scenarios often in role play situations. The therapy is a combination of Transactional Analysis,Gestalt Therapy, and Cognitive Therapy.The therapist offers support for the making of more self-enhancing beliefs at all levels of personality.However, because of the intense emotions often invoked, this therapy is only suitable for clients with good ego strength who can well integrate the material.

If you require the services of a Psychologist Perth or Counsellor Perth, please contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Swanbourne WA 6010

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