I am not an expert on bipolar disorder... I just live with it. This is my blog of hope and encouragement.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Validation vs the "Wounded Healer"

I am jumping in way over my head here and will be gathering material from other sources, but I have recently been slammed between these two frames of reference:  'validation' as a driver for human behavior, and the concept of the "Wounded Healer."

From Wikipedia," Wounded healer is a term created by psychologist Carl Jung. The idea states that an analyst is compelled to treat patients because the analyst himself is "wounded". The idea may have Greek mythology origins. Research has shown that 73.9% of counselors and psychotherapists have experienced one or more wounding experiences leading to career choice."

Furthermore, the act of healing, heals the healer....what you would call a win-win situation.  A lot of my compatriots on a mental health forum site realize this concept comes into play quite often in the work they do, even though they are not technically "analysts."  They are more patient and kind with people who have mental health issues and that helping others makes them feel better...less ill themselves.  These forum posters were surprised to learn that there is actually a term for it.  

But, another concept was brought up on this forum, that of our need for "validation."  In fact, my son says there are only three drivers for human behavior:  chemical reaction, procreation, and validation.  I daresay 85% of what I do is driven by chemical reaction, particularly brain chemistry.  But, it is the validation part I am struggling with.  (I am too old to care about procreation.)  There is no virtue to validation.  It is simple neediness...a need for positive reinforcement.  Am I okay?  Did I do good?

It occurs to me that I am less of a 'wounded healer' and more of an insecure soul seeking validation.  I write this blog and post to the forum in order to do something constructive with my disorder.  Otherwise, what good is it? 
But then I wait for the rare comment.  I check throughout the day to see the number of page views rise.  I am emotionally dependent on validation.  And it makes me sick.  I am ashamed.

I once wrote a children's story about this very thing, about how the value and reward for an act of charity is diminished each time you regard it.  Have I lost that much ground?

The 'wounded healer' and the seeking of validation.  I do not think this is a case of either / or.  I believe there is great virtue in helping others and that your ability to heal others is a direct correlation of your having been wounded yourself.  However, I also feel that the benefit to one's psyche, the subsequent healing of oneself, is diminished if one's intent or interest is in validation.  If one can act, and then walk away without regard to receiving validation, then healing can happen.  Therefore, I would say to my son that there are FOUR drivers of human behavior:  chemical reaction, procreation, validation, and healing.


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