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19 March 2022
An interesting dialectic: history repeats itself OR everything flows?
Two philosophical concepts have always fascinated me:
They appear to be opposites, although I find truth in them both. This is a real dialectic, and in dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT) we try to examine the kernel of truth in apparently opposing positions to find synthesis.
In my clinical work, I can think about many examples of history repeating itself. Events occur and reoccur, such as reactions to threat, maladaptive coping strategies. I also see examples of everything flows such as in the passing of intense emotions, urges and pain.
The truth is that we tend to repeat history AND everything will pass. As humans, we are programmed to react in certain ways to triggers. At the same time, we can tolerate only a certain amount of intense emotions before they subside. Our brain’s main mission is to keep us safe and away from threats. So, the brain will react using learned strategies to every threat. This defence can only last for a limited period of time - or we will go into the terror and overwhelm area of the freezing mode, where there is stuckness, suffering and trauma.
So, history repeats itself AND everything flows.
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