Afrikaans English
Louis Awerbuck
Louis Awerbuck
Kliniese sielkundige
Stellenbosch
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A Rational Relationship?

I often find in private practice, especially in working with couples, that people expect their partners to mostly act in a rational, logical way. This expectation often leads to the fatal effort to try and “change someone’s mind”, and mostly to conflict upon conflict. For example, if a loved one complains of having feelings of self-doubt or worthlessness, the partner in this relationship normally tries to provide logical reasons why the loved one should not feel that way. Although people generally intend to help, we know that people seldom change their personal experiences, or even their point of view, as a result of adhering to logical arguments.

Human beings are more irrational than rational. Put in different terms, the reason/s why people act the way they do are more than often not logical and cannot be explained rationally. If this was not the case, the world we live in would have been governed by factual, rational arguments and differences would have been sorted out peacefully and for the greater good of all parties involved. Unfortunately, we know that logic does not prevail in general, indicating that people are more motivated by how they subjectively experience life around them, than by the actual logic thereof. These illogical and highly personal part of our psychological make-up has become known as the Unconscious.

As a psychologist, I am invested in attempting to understand how unconscious influences originate and gets cemented in people’s psyches from an early age. In private practice I often have to face unconscious forces as the biggest adversary to a client’s mental health. A good example in today’s modern world is the unconscious/illogical learned belief that psychological acceptance is obtained by performance. The price to pay for this belief is evident in the high percentage of anxiety disorders world-wide. This is only one example of many illogical beliefs that people integrate in early childhood.

In short, only about a third of WHY people act the way they do can be explained by logical reasons. The rest of the explanation lies in the vast, illogical world of the unconscious.

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