Unless the Hurt is Healed...!
  Vijai P. Sharma, Ph.D

 No wonder we have so much depression and anger in our society.  Countless people are walking with unhealed emotional wounds.  The estimates are that at least one in four people fall in the category of "walking wounded."  Life, not guns, inflict these wounds.  People with their mindless or heartless behaviors are responsible for wounding the ones they care for.  

 Who are these walking wounded?  Everybody knows about the orphaned, the abused and the neglected, but what about those who didn't experience such dramatic events in their life, but have suffered enough?  

They are the people whose fathers were totally occupied with their TV, newspaper, auto, workshop, or seasonal hunting and never had the time for them as they were growing up.  Some, while being raised by single parents, were left alone for long periods and feel that they had to raise themselves without any parental help.  Refrigerator became their mom and TV their dad as each of the parents got busy with someone else, starting a new family or hunting for a new partner.   

Many grew up with both parents but neither one of them was capable of expressing love.  For example, "John's" parents were good "providers," but they never threw their arms around this little child or expressed pride in his little accomplishments.  Parents often spoke harsh words to him.  Those words, as through an automatic rewind tape, constantly play in John's mind.  John never felt their love but he certainly felt their anger.  The thought that life dealt him an unfair hand constantly gnaws at him.  

Some never forgave their parents for constant bickering, yelling at each other and slamming doors.  These events often woke little "Sally" up in the middle of the night who spent countless nights cowering under her sheets and sobbing on her pillow.   

So what do the Johns and Sallies do when they grow up?  Some Johns and Sallies grow out of their pain.   They are left with emotional scars, but, by and large, they are healed of the old hurt.  Others constantly hurt.  They get mad.  They get sad.  They get awfully quiet.  Many don't tell anyone what is hurting them and nobody ever asks what is hurting them so bad.  

Johns and Sallies who still hurt due to their old wounds, try to go through the motions of life with little ambition or motivation to do any better.   Nobody told them, "I believe in you.  You can do it," or, "One day, you will do something to make us all proud."  They don't know what to do with their lives.  They don't know how to ease their pain.  They feel bad physically.  They are constantly tired, totally depleted of energy, and severely deprived of sleep.  

Our society has a medical label for Sallies and Johns who are still hurting.  It is called, "Depression."  When a person is diagnosed with a "medical condition," pills of course become the legitimate form of treatment.  Antidepressants such as Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, and many others are touted as the harbingers of peace and happiness.  

I have nothing against medication for depression.  Many times, in my practice, I recommend medication.  But, is that enough?  Must we not treat the cause in addition to the symptoms?  Of course, we must.  No one in his or her sound mind would go on taking aspirin to control the fever and not treat the infection that is causing the fever.  Often, that's exactly what we do in the case of emotional afflictions.  We don't treat the root cause of the emotional pain.  Thus, we keep carrying the hurt inside us and keep taking the pills to get by.  

As a result, our relationships with others don't improve.  We don't climb the career ladder as fast as we truly are capable of.  Our income stands still.  We get cheated out of the joy and quality of life we deserve.  We take such a compromised life to be our fate, "I am doomed to rot," someone told me.

I recently saw a man who was being treated with antidepressants alone without much success. His depression got worse after relocating to this area.  As he told his life story, the cause of his emotional pain came to the surface that he had not realized to this point.  This man always felt left out of his family.  His mentally ill and temperamental brother totally occupied his parents' attention.  He grew up feeling sad and unmotivated to do anything.   

When he first moved out of the parental home, he experienced his first bout of depression.  Why? Because, he felt "good" for getting away from his family.  He then felt guilty for feeling good.  Whenever he realized how angry he was with his parents, he felt bad for his anger.  He believed it was his duty as a son to help his parents and his brother.  But he couldn't bring himself to visit them and do what he believed to be his duty.  This is the point at which he felt depressed.  He needed to resolve this dilemma, pills could not do it for him.   

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