Peeling Off Layers

A comment on progress in therapy and self-awareness, from one of Carl Roger’s patients:

As I look back on it now, I was peeling off layer after layer of defenses. I’d build them up, try then, and then discard them when you remained the same. I didn’t know what was at the bottom and I was very much afraid to find out, but I had to keep on trying. At first I felt there was nothing within me — just a great emptiness where I needed and wanted a solid core. Then I began to feel that I was facing a solid brick wall, too high to get over and too thick to go through. One day the wall became translucent, rather than solid. After this, the wall seemed to disappear but beyond it I discovered a dam holding back violent, churning waters. I felt as if I were holding back the force of these waters and if I opened even a tiny hole I and all about me would be destroyed in the ensuing torrent of feelings represented by the water. Finally, I could stand the strain no longer and I let go. All I did, actually, was to succumb to complete and utter self pity, then hate, then love. After this experience, I felt as if I had leaped a brink and was safely on the other side, though still tottering a bit on the edge. I don’t know what I was searching for or where I was going, but I felt then as I have always felt whenever I really lived, that I was moving forward.

From: Carl R. Rogers, On Becoming a Person

psychotherapy, client-centered psychotherapy, Carl Rogers

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