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François Roustang: "Complaining suffers suffering"

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Ruminate his problems, it locks up. That's why action is better than introspection. A rather paradoxical statement for a psychiatrist. Except that he did not believe in the psyche.

Isabelle Taubes

A life against the current. François Roustang is one of the big troublemakers in the psy world. In his book, "The End of the Complaint", he invites us to stop glorifying our dear "me". Amazing for a therapist? This position, he owes to his initial training, philosophy, and his attendance of the Lacanian theory that sees in the ego a swollen balloon of pride. In the 1980s, Roustang abandoned traditional psychoanalysis to devote himself to hypnosis. Again, it is against the mainstream of commonly accepted ideas. For him, this technique, far from being passive, wakes us up: it brings about an extraordinary state of vigilance, where we make contact with our creative potential.

"After what do you run?" one day asked therapist François Roustang one of his friends. He replied, "I'm trying to stop the complaint!" The other thought a joke. From this conversation came a book, "The End of the Complaint".

The complaint often goes like this: "I have a husband and lovely children, I like my job, yet I am dissatisfied." It may have more tragic outlines: "It is impossible for me to love because my father abused me as a child." In any case, it is proof that a persistent event of the past prevents us from enjoying the present. And to face him. However, explains François Roustang, the more we complain, the more we suffer. Because the complaint maintains the suffering. Hence his invitation to surpass it.

Psychologies: When one consults a psychiatrist, is it not precisely to complain about not enjoying life? And especially to try to understand the cause?

François Roustang: This attitude is a characteristic of our time, of our culture, which invites us to tell us, to worry about our self, our image. It goes hand in hand with the ambient individualism. To believe that one will heal of one's inner pain by learning to know oneself is the great illusion of the moment. Born with psychology, it has developed with the multiplication of therapies. Today we come to absurd situations: young women who are convinced that they do not meet great love because they have not worked enough on them. As if you had to work on yourself to be in love! Not only does self-knowledge not heal, but it locks up! It makes us depressive narcissists. The need to understand is respectable, it is fully part of our culture.But understanding does not change.

If you know better you can not live better, what do you propose?

François Roustang: A track that focuses not on introspection, but on action. An example: a woman complains about her bad relationship with her mother, who has never recognized her worth. Instead of inviting her to rehash her unhappy childhood, I try to make her understand that she no longer needs to be recognized by her mother today; that there are many sources of happiness for her: to invest in work, love, friendship. The past does not change.

It is absurd to wait for recognition or love "to take place". The question is, "How can I make myself available to the actual reality?" This means turning one's back on one's usual ways of living, thinking, feeling.

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