The best depth psychology is so potent that we instinctively become resistant to assimilating the knowledge. The insight upsets our sense of who we are, and we feel inner resistance because we don’t like, at least initially, that feeling of vulnerability and unsteadiness.
This inner resistance is mostly unconscious, yet we can learn to keep it in sight and thereby diminish its power to sabotage us. The resistance has many guises, including defensiveness, denial, and stubbornness. Resistance can also be expressed in the form of mocking or cynical words and thoughts, or as a whinny, sarcastic inner voice.
Sometimes resistance employs humor and wit, along with mockery and sarcasm, to reduce to absurdity the inner reality uncovered by depth psychology. I illustrate this here with a teaching story. Inner resistance is personified in this story as a sassy, skeptical black sheep. For entertainment value, this black sheep is a lively character who injects comic relief into an otherwise serious subject. The story begins:
A young shepherd, who’s taking night classes to become a psychotherapist, approaches his flock to deliver his daily lecture on the secrets of happiness. Accompanied by his sheepdog, he often talks directly to his one black sheep, the wittiest member of the flock. The shepherd, who can be a bit preachy, begins his talk, while the black sheep bleats annoyingly at the dog. [Read more…]