Ever since the lockdown and quarantine have taken place, there are a lot of people who are struggling with this new way of life- being confined to your house with your family. Husbands and wives are not going to work, children are not going to school, social distancing has to be maintained, and to top it off, the fear the media has instilled in all of us about Covid-19.
In my interactions with my friends/ colleagues/ clients, one of the things that have been cropping up is: “I am depressed.” They are not able to make sense of their lives in these unprecedented times. Some are coping well, others aren’t coping well. But are they really depressed? Is it possible they are blocking their emotions to experience a state of helplessness or a feeling of stuckness, hence that feeling of being depressed?
That is exactly what this book intends to sort: we can work through AEDP- “accelerated experiential dynamic psychotherapy’: “It speeds up healing through having an emotional experience in the here and now. It allows you to reacquaint yourself with your feelings, to recover a more authentic self, and to be more calm, curious, and connected.”
It’s Not Always Depression is a book by Hilary Jacobs Hendel, who is a pioneering psychotherapist and has revealed to us in her book that we can effectively deal with our issues without going down the depression. In my own experience, a lot of people label their sadness as depression, which is two very different things. Most of the time, the struggles or issues are somewhat not too hard to grasp and handle.
Hendel leads us through her own experience of struggling with her issues and has come up with The Change Triangle. This basically demonstrates how we may have “defenses’ on one side, and “inhibitory emotions” on the other end, and we need to come down towards our “core emotions” to be able to reach that “authentic self.”
“The Change Triangle is a map to move is out of our defenses and put us back in touch with our core emotions.
Core Emotions: these are otherwise known as survival emotions. They are meant to inform us about our environment so we love adaptively as possible. These include Fear, Anger, Sadness, Disgust, Joy, Excitement, and Sexual Excitement.
Inhibitory Emotions: these are a special set of emotions that block core emotions. Sometimes we block core emotions to get along with others and sometimes we block core emotions because that overwhelms us. These include Anxiety, Guilt, and Shame.
Defenses: these are brilliant and creative maneuvers the mind makes to spare us the pain and overwhelming sensations that emotions can cause. They are anything we do to avoid feeling core or inhibitory emotions. In others, defenses are emotional protection.
Chapter 2 talks about the concept of releasing our core emotions through several case studies.
Chapter 3 helps us understand trauma and how to identify them in order to process them.
Chapter 4 covers in detail in understanding our core emotions and how we can work through them.
Chapters 5 and 6 cover in details inhibitory emotions and defenses.
The last chapters talk about achieving our authentic self.
Should I read this or not?
This book will primarily appeal to psychotherapists, and to those who are really interested in understanding human emotions. Because it’s such a technically written book, a layperson may just gloss over and not really read all the pages. It does give off a very academic feel to it, so it may only appeal to certain people. Personally speaking, I enjoyed the book in parts, mainly because I have personally worked through the whole idea of releasing our core emotions to achieve self authenticity, so I felt like I was treading on familiar ground. Other parts, especially when it came to writing things down, I sort of skimmed over.
That is not to deny the concept of The Change Triangle that Hendel purports in her book. It is a useful tool. It can benefit not just your clients in your therapy work, but can also benefit you in terms of understanding your friends and family.