The New Therapy
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On ‘not being taken in’ by others…
Lack of deep bodily sense of others and inability to take
them in as ‘some body’ is a pathology of our time. For with or without
parental indifference, lovelessness or abuse during childhood, most
people grow up never having once having had the experience of being
‘loved’ in this specific sense - being fully seen, sensed, received and
‘taken in’ by another human being. This ‘being taken in’ goes far beyond
being simply acknowledged, affirmed or accepted, or given attention or
recognition. Indeed being stigmatised or judged, attacked or abused can
sometimes do more to make the individual feel ‘seen’ than being ignored,
superficially affirmed or merely ‘accepted’. Both children and adults
seek attention in all sorts of ways – whether through ‘showing off’ or
through ‘difficult’ behaviour, or through seeking recognition, sympathy
or notoriety from their peers. Yet an excessive seeking for outward
‘attention’ on the part of a child, like an excessive need for
outward success and recognition in an adult, comes precisely from a
feeling and experience of not being inwardly received, and
therefore also not receiving the nourishment of sustained inner contact
with others - parents or peers. Attention and ‘attention-seeking’
behaviour in all its forms becomes a substitute for not being taken
in. Speaking to someone is no guarantee that they will take
us or our words in - not just hearing or acknowledging those
words but truly heeding what we are saying and taking it to heart.
Similarly seeking or getting attention from someone is no guarantee that
we will be taken in by them. The life of human beings is
characterised by the different ways in which individuals adapt
themselves to not being taken in – adapt to a situation in which
they have learned to expect that neither the inner meaning of
their words or behaviour nor their inner being will be seen and
received, heeded and taken to heart. A situation in which they
therefore also expect no deep response to their inner life and to
their innermost self or being of a sort that comes from others not only
taking them in deeply but also responding to them from deep within
themselves. Below I list a number of typical behaviours through which
people adapt to not being taken in by others, all of which
prevent them from taking others in themselves.
behavioral adaptations to not having been taken in by Others…
Seeking to Be Taken In - For example, through excessive
‘attention seeking’, extroversion, showing off, artificially
heightening one’s physical or personal ‘attractiveness’, attaining
celebrity or notoriety, or by attracting attention through
‘problematic’ ‘eccentric’, ‘difficult’ or ‘abnormal’ states and
Inability to Be Taken In - For example, finding it difficult
or even identity threatening to be loved in a receptive way – to be
with someone who truly does take us in and ‘take us to heart’.
Unwillingness to Take In - For example, unwillingness to
truly ‘take someone to heart’, to truly take in and ‘heed’ their
words or what they are saying to us, to take them in as whole
persons, or to take them in sensually and through their body
language - as ‘some body’ and not merely as a ‘talking head’.
Refusal to Take In - For example, through evasive,
over-reactive or passive aggressive responses, or, somatically
through under-consumption, anorexia or extreme abstinence or
renunciation of any form.
Incapacity to Take In - For example, through allergies,
hypersensitivity, visual or hearing impairments, cognitive
impairments or so-called ‘attention deficits’.
Not Letting Oneself In - For example, not letting oneself be
drawn into one’s own body - ‘feel inside oneself’ rather than
‘looking inside oneself’ – or not letting oneself be drawn into and
feel the insideness of another person.
Excessive or Addictive Taking In - For example, bulimic or
addictive over-consumption of food, alcohol, drugs, music, books,
entertainment, or excessive taking in of intellectual ideas, or of
sensations and feelings.
Forcing Oneself In - For example, forcing one’s way into
other people’s minds or bodies through behaviours such as
indoctrination, torture, violence and rape.
Being ‘Taken In’ - For example, by being deceived or
‘conned’, being falsely led to believe one is being ‘understood’,
or being literally ‘taken in’ by social institutions such as
hospitals or prisons, or by social communities or sects.
‘Taking Over’ - For example, exercising power or control over
others in order to foster the narcissistic illusion of being
received, recognised and taken in by them.
Being ‘Taken Over’ - For example, feeling so overwhelmed by
or absorbed into something or someone other that one loses all sense
of a self that needs taking in.
Taking Lightly’ - For example, by simply accepting as
‘normal’ and ‘taking lightly’ one’s own and other people’s
adaptations to not being taken in – thus taking all
relationships lightly but also rendering them superficial and
Taking but not Giving - For example, not truly
giving of and from oneself through expressive communication. In
this way resentment towards not having been taken in takes the form
of revenge – taking from others whilst actively withholding or
concealing from them the very self that was not taken in by others.
Letting Out - For example, through explosive or cathartic
emotional outbursts which seek to evacuate and expel the feeling of
hurt at not being taken in.
Turning In - For example, through implosive breakdown,
depression and/or withdrawal from human relations into emotional and
Fitting In with Others - For example. adopting conventional
adaptive responses to not being taken in - precisely in order
to be ‘taken in’ on a superficial level, thus surrendering
the self that has never been truly and deeply taken in.
all the above-listed ways of adapting to not having been or not being
taken in are so widespread and common, they are often regarded as
‘normal’ behaviours or even used as ways of ‘Fitting In’. The only truly
healthy alternative to these ‘normotic’ reactions to not being taken
in by others is to open ourselves more fully to taking others in.
In doing so, we relieve them of the need for adaptive or compensatory
responses to not being taken in. Only by deeply seeing, receiving
and taking in others can we respond to them from deep within
ourselves – thus revealing more of ourselves and
increasing the chances of being taken in by others.