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"People Are Much More Unhappy Than They Seem" - Interview, Quality Of Life, Society
"People Are Much More Unhappy Than They Seem" - Interview, Quality Of Life, Society

Video: "People Are Much More Unhappy Than They Seem" - Interview, Quality Of Life, Society

Video: "People Are Much More Unhappy Than They Seem" - Interview, Quality Of Life, Society
Video: The most important lesson from 83,000 brain scans | Daniel Amen | TEDxOrangeCoast 2023, June

A fatal diagnosis instantly turns the world from color to black and white. Divides life into "before" and "after". In addition to traditional treatment that affects life expectancy, a person diagnosed with cancer needs psychotherapeutic support to improve its quality

One of the few places where you can get it for free is the Vitality Psychological Center. We talked with its leader, Master of Psychology Dmitry Litsov, about how to behave properly with a terminally ill friend or relative, as well as about what other requests are most often addressed to a psychotherapist


Dmitry Litsov is an existential psychotherapist, a member of the Latvian Psychotherapeutic Society, as well as the East European Association for Existential Therapy. Lecturer at the International Higher School of Practical Psychology. Chairman of the Board of the Vitality Psychological Support Society. By his first education, a metallurgical engineer, graduated from the Moscow Institute of Steel and Alloys. Then he studied at the Riga Technical University. At the age of 38, after a personal tragedy, the death of his son, he entered the International Higher School of Practical Psychology in Riga, where he received a Master's degree in Psychology. Then he studied at the Institute of Humanistic and Existential Psychology in Lithuania, where he received a diploma in existential psychotherapist.

Dmitry, how did you get the idea to create the Vitality Center?

- It was almost 10 years ago. Once a man diagnosed with cancer came to his colleague Lyudmila Deryabo for a consultation. She reacted very emotionally to this client, worried. The next day, a woman came to me with oncology … In a week, 7 people came to us with this diagnosis. We took this as a sign, began to study the relevant literature, look for colleagues, and found out that there is no specialized care for cancer patients. Western experience has shown that the most effective help in such a situation is a support group. For example, in some oncological clinics in Germany, participation in a support group and the help of a psychotherapist are included in the main treatment, and for such patients, the effectiveness of treatment increases significantly.

Should a person be told that he has cancer?

- Unlike in Europe, in Russia the patient is not always informed about a serious diagnosis. As my colleague Alexander Deryabo said, "a person has the right to know, but he also has the right not to know."

For example, one of the participants in a group therapy at our center says “lung metastases” in the description of the examination results. He reads this and says: "I have some kind of nodules in my lungs, probably this is a consequence of pneumonia, which I suffered in childhood." We do not convince him, his psyche is not ready to receive real information.

Many patients are afraid to say the word cancer. Instead, the group uses phrases such as "what happened to me" … or "the reason for which we are here …" They do not want to admit to themselves what is really happening to them. But this has to be done. It is necessary to begin to see reality in the disease as it is.

How should one behave with a person who has been diagnosed with a fatal diagnosis?

- First of all, there is no need to give advice. You cannot instill false optimism in the spirit of "we will win and everything will be fine." This usually comes from a feeling of powerlessness. You shouldn't say “don't be upset”, “hold on”, etc. When my mother found out about the diagnosis, she didn't want to talk to her friends, because she expected them to say just such clichéd words.

You are worried, you are scared, so you do not need to hide it and portray equanimity. Talk about what's happening now. Ask: "What do you want?" "What can I do for you?" This attention is perceived as love. A person understands that he is needed, and this gives him the strength to fight further. The most important thing is not to leave the person alone with their fear.

What other problems are you most often asked?

- The vast majority of consultations are related to relationships with spouses and children. It happens that a child is going through an existential crisis, and the parents do not even know about it.

Once a 10-year-old boy was brought to me, let's call him Valera. The parents wanted to find out the son's level of adaptability in connection with the transition to a new school. He looked at me sullenly and was silent. I said: “Valera, maybe there is something that worries you? Since you were brought to me. I lived, I have children, share with me."

When Valera's friend suddenly died in first grade, the boy realized that he would also die. “Why then study, do homework, start a family? Why acquire a profession? " For three years he painfully pondered this, finding no meaning in life. "Did you have bad thoughts?" I asked him. "There were … a lot of medicines at home, I thought what to drink to be sure." "Why didn't you drink?" "Mom felt sorry for … I imagined how she would cry …"

"How did you solve the problem?" I asked him. “One morning I was lying in bed and looking at the sky, densely covered with clouds. Suddenly, a gap formed in the sky, through which a bright ray of the sun broke through. And I decided: “Since I die anyway, I will live as if every day is my whole life. I will only do what I like. I will learn math because I love it, not because I have to. I will only be friends with the guys that I like, I will not pretend. I will marry only if I love!””.

Imagine, he thought of this at the age of 10! I asked him what his parents were talking to him about. “Have you done your homework? Did you take out the trash? Did you call your grandmother? " - came the answer. When (with Valera's permission) I told this story to his parents, they sobbed.

One more example. Mom brought her 6-year-old son and immediately unleashed a stream of complaints: he does lessons from under the stick, abandoned karate, doesn't want to go to the pool, doesn't like French … "What do you think mom is doing wrong?" I ask him. Mom raises her eyebrows in bewilderment: how can it be, she hoped that the psychologist would take her side. “She probably just forgot how it is when you get hurt,” the boy said. Mom starts crying, they hug, end of therapy.

You need to talk with children about important things: about what worries them, how they feel in this or that situation. The reality is that dad, if he exists at all, is constantly busy, mom is also absorbed in her own affairs. As a result, children have no experience of close contact, even within the family. At the age of 13-14, it is easier for them to have sexual relations than to establish emotional contact.

How to build a harmonious relationship with your partner?

- The main thing that I realized about people when I started working as a psychotherapist is that people are much more unhappy than they seem. Sometimes even myself. A psychotherapist can help a person understand how he avoids love, what he is doing wrong.

One of the main problems is fear. Fear of opening up, trusting, and experiencing pain again as a consequence of the trauma of a relationship breakup. If there is a lot of fear in your soul, then, being among people, you keep your distance, dose information, do not open up, do not show confidence. This happens on a subconscious level.

I like the porcupine metaphor. In winter, they are cold, they cuddle closely to each other, stick with needles, and it hurts. When the pain becomes unbearable, they move away. And they get cold again. A close relationship is a constant process of finding a distance that is comfortable for both partners.

We all have narcissistic traits, which makes it difficult for us to put our partner first. As Dostoevsky said, "it is very important for a person in life to find a second place for himself." This does not mean putting your partner on a pedestal. This means being more responsible, being able to yield, being able to say "stop" to yourself. And don't expect equal responsibility. Working with couples, I often hear: "Now, if he does this and that, then I …" In such cases, I try to show that this is not a problem of him or her, but a common problem, and if it refers to a problem situations so, then the relationship has a chance.

Interviewed by Alina Jones

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