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Trouble remaining rational.

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Hi,

I've noticed that I seem to get overly emotional whenever my girlfriend gets mad at me. I honestly become hysterical, and will pretty much do anything to change the fact that she's angry. I literally seem to lose control of myself, my rational mind, and lose it. I'm thinking that it could be that I haven't completely intregrated Objectivism into my life. When she becomes angry, it weakens me really. I honestly do feel like I'm completely terrified of making her even more mad. I went from a drastic change in life, from self-loathing, to attempting to become an Objectivist. It's been a radical change, and I think the becoming hysterical may be something left over. Do any of you have any ideas or something as to why this might be? Thank you.

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Hi,

    I've noticed that I seem to get overly emotional whenever my girlfriend gets mad at me.  I honestly become hysterical, and will pretty much do anything to change the fact that she's angry.  I literally seem to lose control of myself, my rational mind, and lose it.  I'm thinking that it could be that I haven't completely intregrated Objectivism into my life.  When she becomes angry, it weakens me really.  I honestly do feel like I'm completely terrified of making her even more mad.  I went from a drastic change in life, from self-loathing, to attempting to become an Objectivist.  It's been a radical change, and I think the becoming hysterical may be something left over.  Do any of you have any ideas or something as to why this might be?  Thank you.

A good psychologist spends many years studying the science of the mind, and many hours with a patient applying principles to particulars. So, any advice you get on this forum -- advice from us non-professionals based on a few sentences that you write -- should be treated accordingly.

In general, I would say that the first thing for you do is not exacerbate the problem and the repercussions by continuing to act when this sort of conflict occurs. You need to gain control at first by removing yourself from the conflict, saying something like this to your girlfriend: "I need time alone to deal with my feelings before I can deal with yours." On your own, then, you should work on first identifying, as clearly as possible, what it is that you feel. This is not always an easy job, because often surface feelings that are readily accessible mask more deeply seated ones.

But, taking for granted what you note above, namely that you "feel like I'm completely terrified of making her even more mad," you should be asking yourself questions as to what her anger makes you initially feel, and why are you terrified at the prospect of making her more angry? Do these feelings arise only with a girlfriend, or with anyone whom you love? Friends? Workers? Can you look back at the earliest events in your life when you felt or acted this way? These are the sort of questions that need to be initally answered, but are not always easy to do so. Hence one value of a decent therapist. Identifying the real source of your feelings, and understanding the premises upon which those feelings are based, and replacing those premises by better newly acquired ones, can also be a difficult and time consuming task. Hence another value of a good therapist.

But, anyway, by disengaging from the conflict when it arises, and giving yourself an opportunity to gain control through identifying and attempting to understand what you are feeling before you go back to address the source of your girlfriend's anger, should itself be of value.

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No, it's really only with her. Other people, when I make them mad, I really don't care. It's only with her. I hate it when I get like that, and so does she, with extremely good reason. We've talked about it, and the only very plausible idea I can come up with currently is that it's something left over from past relationships (many of which were incredibly bad). Most of the people I've dated before her, I don't speak to anymore, because we ended up despising each other. I know that my current relationship isn't heading in that direction at all, it's an extremely good one. However, the fear I experience of making her more mad might be something left over from my past relationships ending in hatred. I think it's possible I'm afraid of her hating me. Thank you for your comment Stephen, however, I do not think I am need of a therapist honestly. But your comment is definitely appreciated.

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[...]I hate it when I get like that, and so does she, with extremely good reason.  [...] However, the fear I experience of making her more mad might be something left over from my past relationships ending in hatred.  I think it's possible I'm afraid of her hating me.  [...] I do not think I am need of a therapist honestly. [...]

[bF emphasis added.]

What do you believe should be the criteria for deciding to work with a psychotherapist?

I would suggest that the main criterion is efficiency. Can a psychotherapist be a more efficient way for me to solve the particular problem I am dealing with at this time? Might a psychotherapist help me solve the problem in weeks or months -- rather than in years of uneducated effort on my own?

In fact, I worked with psychotherapists twice in my life. In one instance, the problem was a general problem of romantic relationships. A few sessions gave me ideas I could wrestle with on my own.

In the second instance, the problem was "hurry sickness" -- at the age of 40, a compulsive drive to do more and more in less time. It truly was emerging from my subconscious. Within a few sessions working with a psychotherapist, I discovered the cause: My father and grandfathers had died in their 40s and 50s, and I was nearly there, so "therefore" I was going to die young too, before I had achieved my highest personal values. That was a connection my subconscious mind had made erroneously. Conscious work corrected it. But it was psychotherapy that uncovered what I had suppressed. Of course, other problems can take a longer time to work out.

Also, have you thought about the meaning of hatred? What is it? When does it arise appropriately and when not?

If I were facing these questions, I would ask myself for examples of hatred that I have seen in others -- e.g., in world news, which individuals are motivated by or frequently experience hatred?

I also would -- as an exercise in comparison -- consider the fictional characters Ayn Rand created. Fictional characters created by a philosopher show that philosopher's philosophy in action, but of course are not a proof by themselves. They nevertheless can be thought-provoking. In that light, which of Ayn Rand's model characters, if any, experienced hatred -- and why?

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No, it's really only with her.  Other people, when I make them mad, I really don't care.  It's only with her.  I hate it when I get like that, and so does she, with extremely good reason.  We've talked about it, and the only very plausible idea I can come up with currently is that it's something left over from past relationships (many of which were incredibly bad).  Most of the people I've dated before her, I don't speak to anymore, because we ended up despising each other.  I know that my current relationship isn't heading in that direction at all, it's an extremely good one.  However, the fear I experience of making her more mad might be something left over from my past relationships ending in hatred.  I think it's possible I'm afraid of her hating me.  Thank you for your comment Stephen, however, I do not think I am need of a therapist honestly.  But your comment is definitely appreciated.

Intresca, I hope you are not attaching any sort of stigma to the idea of seeking help through a psychologist. You have a problem; you are losing control and acting in a manner that can be harmful to you and to your relationship with the girl whom you care for. Talking to her about this is nice -- insofar that if she cares for you she herself can then better cope with the situation if she can understand you better -- but what is really needed is for you to get to the source of your feelings. With knowledge, with identification skills, with proper mental monitoring, you yourself can discover the source of the problem and correct it. But the value of a decent psychologist lies in accelerating the process, in guiding you towards the solution and saving you the wasted time going down blind alleys. There are many skills of psychologicalidentification and monitoring that a good psychologist can teach you, skills which are useful in a broader range of problems than just this single one that you brought up here. Anyway, I offer this as helpful advice for your consideration, and wish you well in resolving the problem.

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ramKatori, yes, I've told her how I feel. We had a long discussion on it not that long ago.

Stephen, I'm not attaching any stigma to a therapist. If I am, I don't realize it. I know that discussing it with a therapist could make things go by faster, and based off of that I will have to think of whether or not it would be best for me right now.

Thank you all for your help in this matter. I appreciate it.

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