I’ll refer to the neurotic as “She”. Are there more “She” neurotics? Perhaps, however, it matters little as the despair and inability to function in a happy, vital way in society is the same whether male or female. She is tied to the past and to outmoded ways of acting. She wanted a doll for Christmas when she was age seven. She didn’t get the doll and has ever since blamed her Father for “not loving” her enough to buy the doll. She transfers this blame on to all the men in her life. They can never buy her the right gift at the right time and irregardless of what they do or say she is convinced they don’t love her. She grew up believing that if she were a good girl, pretty, dressed attractively that she would marry well, have children, success, a pretty home and all the fantasies that our Disneyland society purports. She married but it was not to a financially successful man, had children who were successful but not up to her expectations, became a grandmother and gradually began to show signs of aging. She continued to “want” the doll, the white picket fence, the storybook marriage; want, want, want. A hole that can never be filled. The fantasy could just as easily be that of a man who wanted to be a doctor, lawyer or successful businessman and blames not realizing that dream on some past event or person.
The present looks bleak because she sees it thu the lens of her childhood expectations. The future appears even more bleak since her present is out of her control. Her homeostasis is not working properly, she is out of balance. She is intelligent and knows that she is out of balance but continues to revert back to being tied to the past, obsessed with solutions that are tied to the past problems and unable to remain in the present.
She has learned to manipulate her environment so that it does her work for her. She is lacking one of the skills that promotes survival, self-support. So, she leans on others and puts all her energy into minimizing this lack of skill to self-support rather than learning to overcome it.
She has become the whiny, dependent woman who can coax attention and support out of her spouse, her children and her friends. Her problem is not that she cannot manipulate but rather than her manipulations are directed towards preserving this old, old way of behaving rather than putting energy into getting rid of the habit. If she would devote as much energy into becoming self-supporting as she does to manipulating her environment she would have success.
She is very much like an adolescent who has been smoking marijuana for several years and has missed out on learning the social skills learned in adolescence. She has stayed focused on her past “trauma” and in doing so has missed opportunities to learn how she creates her own problems. Talk, talk, talk, talk. Tell the same story over and over again. Someone will feel sorry for her, someone will really love her, someone will bring her a doll and it will be better than anyone else’s doll.
“Man postpones or remembers; he does not live in the present, but with reverted eye laments the past, or, heedless of the riches that surround him, stands on tiptoe to foresee the future. He cannot be happy and strong until he too lives with nature in the present, above time.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson