• Rita Santos

The good person's syndrome

Since we are born we are educated to be part of a family and members of a community. Very soon and very clearly, whether we understand it or agree with it, we learn what's right and what's wrong according to our educators.

In general and among others, it's allowed to be smart, polite, helpful, beautiful, tolerant, hard-worker, humble, loyal, submissive... Violence, fear, envy, hate, contempt, disrespect, weakness, arrogance, betrayal, etc are unacceptable even though they are intrinsic in us as part of an automatic biological defense mechanism and anyway, we feel them all the time.

In our society being a good person means to show only a part of ourselves and to repress the other. Several novels have been written about this theme like "The strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde" by Robert Louis Stevenson and "The portrait of Dorian Gray" by Oscar Wilde. So where is this other part? What happens to the unacceptable acts, feelings, thoughts and impulses? Where is Mr Hyde?

Nothing that was ever created can ever be eliminated, it will be stored in the unconscious mind waiting for a chance to express itself.

Whether it's years later or even generations later, it appears as physical symptoms, character traits, vocations, intense wishes or even phobias. Accumulated rage and frustration can come out in the wrong moment, with the wrong person and the wrong intensity. The feeling of lack of support or situations that I see as too heavy to carry by myself can become a lower back pain. Something "unswallowable" can become a stomach pain.

Symptoms express beliefs and hidden emotions. They are the perfect opportunity to comprehend and integrate new aspects of ourselves. Dr Jekyll can finally understand that Mr Hyde is an invaluable part of himself, that one can't exist without the other. To achieve balance and coherence, judgment and rejection have to be replaced by comprehension and integration.

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