Why is Sachin still far from 100 not out? Is the psychological self sabotage at play here



While Sachin has dismissed the hundredth 100 as just another century, the Indian diaspora is keenly awaiting this one. And with the over zealous aspirations of 1.2 billion riding high on the bat of this young master, pressure is bound to build on him? Suddenly Sachin is out of form and the runs off the bat have abruptly dried up. In our opinion, we do not believe that the lack of form is at work here but certain certain self sabotaging behaviors are preventing him from achieving the much awaited milestone. In this article we explore the psychological impact of self sabotaging behaviour and how it emanates in daily walks of life.

Consider the following self-sabotaging behaviours which are commonly observed: Why do we wait till the last minute to leave for a place? Why are some people perpetually late for something important that they have really desired? Why do we remain employed in a company although we know we deserve and can get a better job? Why do we repeatedly get into an abusive relationship? We’ve all seen this in our friends and even, regrettably, in ourselves.

However bizarre as it may seem, we must derive some benefit from these problematic behaviours of ours. These problems may appear maladaptive on surface but if we give it a closer look, we will realize that in some way, we benefit from them. In other words, in some way we are protected by our problems. One can’t usually explain the “real” reasons for ones behavior because the reasons are outside of their conscious awareness. So although we may consciously strive for something, it is possible that our unconscious mind works in direct opposition to it, self-sabotaging our resolves leaving us frustrated and helpless.

This is precisely the reason why an obese person is unable to stick to the food diet regime. Maybe unconsciously becoming fitter would draw more attention from the opposite sex or make the person more successful than his loved one and thereby lose love of her spouse. Or getting into an abusive relationship is ones way to remain in agreement with the unconscious belief that one is not worthy of love. Or becoming more successful than ones parent will in some way unleash the wrath of the parent who may abandon them. These fears of abandonment or of a loved one getting angry are deeply rooted in one’s childhood experiences and are extremely anxiety provoking. They continue to strongly influence our current behavior unless we bring this conflict into consciousness to be worked on in therapy.

I was approached by a manager at a very senior level for marital counseling. The couple was batting infidelity in their marriage. While his outward behavior seemed very protective and caring towards his wife, his unwarranted affair had a devastating effect on his marriage. During sessions when I enquired about how the affair started and what the other woman meant to him, I was not surprised to hear that she meant nothing to him and that he himself couldn’t justify the need to get into this one night stand and risking his marriage. Worse still he made no effort to hide it from his wife and in fact seemed relieved when she got to know about it. This seemed to fit the bill of the maladaptive behavior perfectly and we looked for further clues on the possible benefits. As we explored the childhood and some of his current behaviours things crystalized further. He was a neglected child and grew up with a feeling of not worthy of love. This feeling remained entrenched in his unconscious although he gained good marks and then went on to become the most successful of all his siblings, taking care to help them settle in life and therefore much adored too. When he got married he started facing difficulties in developing intimacy with his. His wife found him very appropriate however lacking in demonstration of love and affection. She however was deeply in love with him and found his aloofness disturbing. This became an issue when she discovered that he had had a one night stand with a woman. What was disturbing her further was that he could not furbish any justifiable excuse nor did he even attempt to hide the truth from her. It was almost as if he wanted her to find out and thereby punish him by withdrawing her love. This was in line with his unconscious belief that he was not loveable and now he had proven to himself once again that he is not worthy of love.

Sachin Tendulkar too seems to be having this mal adaptive behavior which appears repetitive wherein he gets out just as he is touching his century or when there is tremendous pressure on him to perform. It’s almost as if, if he does meet with the expectations of the country then something terrible will befall on him. If he is successful then maybe he will be abandoned / not loved? Or worse still he will become somehow bigger and stronger than the father whose oedipal complex may still haunt him. It isn’t uncommon to be unable to perform at peak capacity or self-sabotage once life and career to tag the line of one’s unconscious oedipal fears of the opposite sex parent or the belief system of not being good enough/ not loveable/ not worthy of. Our actions are mainly governed by this unconscious dictum and efforts are made to keep it unconscious and seeking more and more proof through experiences that match these beliefs. It is kept unconscious precisely for this reason that it produces anxiety while conscious life experiences seem to fall in line magically with these beliefs.

Most people find the notion that all behavior, no matter how self-destructive, has an adaptive function difficult to grasp. So, how do you go about learning more about the advantages to maintaining your current (purportedly unwanted) situation? A first step is to examine the advantages to maintaining the status quo. To do this, ask yourself the following questions.
Describe a longstanding difficulty with which you have struggled. Describe the ways in which it is maladaptive. How does this difficulty hurt you or hold you back or make you unhappy? What is its impact on your relationships at work, at home, and socially? Ask yourself the following question:

1. Have you attempted to change this difficulty? If not, why not? If so, describe the nature of your efforts?
2. In what ways have your efforts been successful? If they have been unsuccessful, why?
3. In what ways have your efforts been thwarted? How were they sabotaged?

Most people never come to the stage of seeking out professional assistance because they are not aware that they are sabotaging themselves. Those that do seek help often wait until well into adulthood. In life, we all aspire to both conscious and unconscious goals, but often there are psychological barriers that we may cling to and be haunted by, which block our aspirations. Projected envy and terrors of the actual envy of others can block motivations to succeed, when dissociated and/or repressed primal rage intensify the intimidating power of projected hostility and envy, and of perceptions of others as rivalries in areas of competition. Desire can be blocked by oedipal level fears of rivalry and hostile completion, but more primitive and primal fears of abandonment can also be at play, when developmental arrests have taken place in the preoedipal years of separation-individuation and self-integration. How we address these psychological blocks in a clinical situation is critical to helping patients to overcome all their inhibitions and intimidations, as they attempt to motivate themselves to succeed in life.

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SURVING CANCER



Being diagnosed with cancer affects a patient not just physiologically but also psychologically, and has a deep impact on the emotional status of the patient and his family for an extended period of time. And while there are treatments for the physiological symptoms of the patient, dealing with the psychological trauma associated with cancer is another story altogether. Cancer is an experience of repeated traumas and for undetermined length, unlike an accident. The patient may experience posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms anytime from diagnosis through completion of treatment and cancer recurrence.

As is seen in the case of our Indian skipper Yuvraj Singh how the misdiagnosis and then the reconfirmation of the cancer must have been a series of highs and lows. Especially for a sportsperson who works under tremendous pressure to be fit and putting out an outstanding performance, trauma such as this can be doubly difficult psychologically rather than physically. Any ones guess would be whether he will be able to return to the stadium fit enough to play his best innings. Here is a glimpse of what he might be undergoing…

Although, the end of treatment is often marked with a sense of relief, accomplishment, and even joy in having gotten through a difficult experience. Yet for many cancer survivors, it is also a stressful time filled with new routines to learn, as well as mixed feelings about what they’ve just gone through. Many people find themselves unsure of how to move forward, wondering, “Now what?” Therefore, effects of PTSD are long-lasting and serious. It does not end with the end of the treatment. It may affect the patient’s ability to have a normal lifestyle and may interfere with personal relationships, education, and employment even after the patient is ‘cured’. Because avoiding places and persons associated with cancer is part of PTSD, the syndrome may prevent the patient from seeking medical treatment or psychotherapy. It is therefore important that cancer survivors and their family receive information about the possible psychological effects of their cancer experience and early treatment of symptoms of PTSD.

Also, as a patient, they may have been so busy learning about their diagnosis, working with the medical team, and going through treatment that they didn’t fully feel the emotional impact of the diagnosis until after end of the treatment. It’s common for many cancer survivors to have a variety of complex and often conflicting feelings about their diagnosis, treatment, and recovery. It is normal to feel relieved that treatment is over, yet angry or sad about having gone through such a serious illness. Or, they may feel guilty about surviving a diagnosis that other people do not. The patient may also feel anxious and fearful about the cancer coming back, or worried that the treatment didn’t work. It is normal, too, to feel confused about what they’ve been through and to be concerned about the future. Family and friends can provide much comfort and support during this time. However, survivors often feel a bit isolated from loved ones and the world around them. Loved ones usually mean well, but they might not be fully aware of all the emotional challenges that can arise for you after overwhelming, interfering with your day-to-day activities and even your health.
Another concern faced by many cancer survivors is the realization that life after their diagnosis and treatment never really goes back to what it was before cancer. Many survivors find they are not able to return to their old “normal” life but must adapt to a “new normal.” Understanding what your new normal is can take time. This process may involve: Reflecting on what you’ve been through. Identifying changes you might want to make in your life. Recognizing what you’ve learned and what’s changed about yourself. Re-evaluating personal relationships or professional goals.
Discovering new ways of finding meaning and fulfillment.
In India, we find that patients usually resort to prayer, fasting, performing ceremonies in order to deal with their illness as against proactively seeking information from the doctor, reading up on the net and medical journals, exercising, eating healthy, meditating or seeking professional help to deal with their emotions. (Stress and Coping amongst infertile women Research conducted by Dimple Shah for Mumbai University, 1994.). Although these actions mimic active coping mechanisms, in essence it is passive coping mechanisms resigning pessimistically and blaming fate for their misfortune and instilling deep fear and helplessness, therefore unable to relieve the person of stress. Patients and their family needs to be informed of these inactive and potentially stress inducing coping mechanisms and be guided to utilize proactive coping mechanisms mentioned above from the beginning.

Therapies used to treat PTSD are those used for other trauma victims. Treatment may involve more than one type of therapy. Feelings of sorrow, grief, hopelessness; coupled with mood swings, fear of losing life, leaving behind loved ones and anxiety and depression are very common amongst patients fighting against cancer. Serious psychosocial distress was seen 40% more among cancer survivors of 5 years or more than in those who have never had cancer. About 10% develop major depressive disorder; others experience an adjustment disorder. In young adult cancer survivors, one small study found that 20% of participants met the full clinical diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and 45% to 95% displayed at least one symptom of PTSD. Survivors of adult cancer are at an increased risk of suicidal ideology (having thoughts about suicide), while as many as 13% of childhood cancer survivors experience suicidal ideology.

The prognosis of cancer it is proven scientifically that an emotionally stable person reacts better to the medication and treatment modalities of cancer. This is where a person’s inner strength becomes paramount. Yet it is expected that the person who has been diagnosed with cancer will initially at least crumble under the stress of the trauma. Here the key is, the support system that has a tremendous impact to help the patient bounce back to fighting cancer is the family and friends. Psychotherapy from the time of diagnosis to surgery and post treatment is crucial in providing this supporting network. When one member of a family has cancer, the whole family is affected and, in fact, psychotherapists consider these family members to be “secondary patients.” Cancer affects an entire family, not only because there are genetic links to cancer and cancer risk, but because when one member of a family has cancer the whole family must deal with the illness.

The therapist focuses on solving problems, teaching coping skills, and providing a supportive setting for the patient. Some patients are helped by methods that teach them to change their behaviors by changing their thinking patterns. Some of these methods include helping the patient understand symptoms, teaching coping and stress management skills (such as relaxation training), teaching the patient to reward upsetting thoughts, and helping the patient become less sensitive to upsetting triggers. Therapist may also use group work and introspective art therapy help the patient express their emotions. Sometimes having someone paying attention to the painful emotions itself is healing and patients show tremendous resilience once they are able to confide in someone who can demonstrate strength to listen to their pain, which family members are unable to do so at that point of time.

Most importantly cancer trauma, like other life threatening traumas bring back the past and often unconscious hurts and losses and therefore the psychological effect appears long lasting and compounded. Often people close to the patient find the person overreacting and are unable to understand where they are coming from. They feel hurt, angry and confused. But if you make an effort to understand that these emotions of hurt, anger and confusion that you are experiencing are not really incident related or even yours; that they belong to the person who is suffering from cancer you will be better able to deal with both the patient and the emotions thrown into you. Doing this is not as easy as it sounds and this is also where the psychotherapists step in. Psychotherapists help the family to experience and deal with these emotions that are thrown into them and also help them make better response choices. Therefore the psychological treatment on which the prognosis of cancer depends is strengthened using multifaceted psychotherapy approaches. It is beneficial to start with these sessions from the time of diagnosis and continue till post treatment; as although we expect psychological reactions to emerge within the first three months of diagnosis, there is no fixed rule and if not brought into the forefront of therapy may remain suppressed and resurface later on after many years, often with unconceivable strength.
Follow up article on Yuvraj singhs recovery from cancer
https://revivallife.wordpress.com/2012/04/14/surviving-cancer-2/