In his book, Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious, Freud (1905/1976) recounts the following tale:
A borrowed a copper kettle from B and after he had returned it was sued by B because the kettle now had a big hole in it which made it unusable. His defence was "First, I never borrowed a kettle from B at all; secondly, the kettle had a hole in it already when I got it from him; and thirdly, I gave him back the kettle undamaged". (1976, p. 100)
This comic story illustrates the extraordinary lengths to which individuals will go in order to protect the self from unwelcome or unwanted information. The general approach of emotion-focused therapy will only be outlined here, although a more detailed account has been provided elsewhere (Power & Schmidt, 2004) and for which the pioneering work of Les Greenberg is also important (e.g., Greenberg, 2002, 2004).
One theme that we will discuss in relation to therapeutic interventions for the emotional disorders is how to overcome the pervasive need to reject unwanted aspects of the self, be this in terms of unwanted experiences or situations, unwanted impulses, or unwanted emotional states. A second major theme that we will explore is the proposal that there are two main routes to emotion: What are the therapeutic implications of such a model and how might it relate to the processes of therapeutic change? First, however, we will consider the question of the exclusion of unwanted information from the self.
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