Dear Dr. Norquist: I’m a psychology major, a late comer to the college scene, so I have read about different kinds of psychopathology, and lately about the importance of the bonding process between mothers and infants. I know they say med students start thinking that they have one (or more) of the medical conditions that they are reading about. Well, I have the same response to the mental health diagnoses I read about.
In particular, I know that my early relationship with my mother was disturbed. In fact, she was hospitalized several times for an extended period (for depression) in the first few years of my life. I’ve made my way in life, but now I read that I could have trouble bonding with my own child (when I have one) because of the way things went with my mom. This worries me immensely.
Dr. Norquist responds:
I can certainly empathize with you here. Over the years however, I’ve discovered over and over that emotional injuries, traumas and neglect are like diamonds in the rough. As we examine, polish and lovingly reshape these “misfortunes”, they reflect more and more of our own inner brilliance. However they may have affected you, your early bonding experiences are perfect for your own growth needs. They are an essential part of the beauty and brilliance of who you are and what you can bring to your work and your life as a whole. All injuries, misfortunes, traumas, and even addictions can become incredible blessings for you, your loved ones, and the people you touch throughout your life. If you are willing to do the work they will add to your brilliance. The wounds that you carry can enhance the work that you intend to do.
No need for worries here. Instead, see this as an area for exploration and healing in your life. Our “injuries” point the way. They are like road signs, showing us the next step in this healing journey called Life.
(Dr. Sallie Norquist is a licensed psychologist (NJ #2371) in private practice and is director of Chaitanya Counseling Services, a center for upliftment and enlivenment, in Hoboken.)Dr. Norquist and the staff of Chaitanya invite you to write them at Chaitanya Counseling Services, 51 Newark St., Suite 202, Hoboken, NJ 07030 or www.chaitanya.com or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by fax at (201) 656-4700. Questions can address various topics, including relationships, life’s stresses, difficulties, mysteries and dilemmas, as well as questions related to managing stress or alternative ways of understanding health-related concerns. 2014 Chaitanya Counseling Services