In the 1950’s, I struggled to understand masochism.
Psychoanalysts said pain becomes a pleasure, but they didn’t explain how it becomes a pleasure.
I asked some of them if pain becomes a pleasure, why doesn’t all pain become a pleasure so we have no pain left over?
People who are depressed or are anxious are in pain. Why doesn’t that pain change into a pleasure. Of course, there’s no explanation for it.
Psychologists said it’s a matter of not knowing a better way. That didn’t explain everything to me. For example, I’m banging my head against a wall to produce a painting. Say I’ve got a bare wall in my office and I need a painting. So I’m banging my head against the wall to produce a painting.
Now, it never produces a painting, but I persist in banging my head against the wall. Psychologists say, “Poor Homer! It’s because he doesn’t understand and doesn’t know about paint brushes and paint sprays.”
Well, that explains why I don’t use paint brushes and paint sprays, but it does not explain why I don’t stop banging my head against the wall.
And it’s quite observable, quite provable that people do bang their head against the wall and keep doing it.
So why do I bang my head against the wall, even though it causes me to feel depressed and cry, and I persist in doing it?
Because simultaneously with my banging my head against the wall, I’m patting myself on the head. So I’m giving myself ego satisfaction.
Another metaphor. I keep reaching my hand into a hot oven.
My hand burns and I’m crying about it, but I keep putting my hand in the hot oven because there is a bite of food there.
There’s a bite of pie.
If there’s no pie at all, I don’t do it.
There’s got to be a bite of pie. So I have people see that there’s a whole lot more pie on top of the stove, and you don’t get burned.
I was explaining to a psychologist who was in for marriage counseling in my office years ago, I said, “I just finished with a client. He’s staying with his wife, who has open contempt for him.”
I said, “I’ve discovered that the less love that a man has received from his wife, the more he’ll cling. And the more love that he’s received from her, the more he’s able to let go.”
I told this particular client, “Jeff, imagine that my office here is full of refrigerators. They’re glass refrigerators, so you can look inside and see most of them have good food in it and the doors swing open easily.
But there’s a refrigerator over here that has bad food in it and the door is stuck, and you’re fascinated with that refrigerator.
And you say that you’re clinging to that refrigerator because you’re hungry for food.
You subconsciously want pain.”
Now, I don’t think people enjoy pain.
I think people hate pain, but they want it.
And when I discovered this, I said, “Oh, my goodness, it’s Pavlovian conditioning!” Pavlovian conditioning.
I want my wife to put a stick out there, and I want to take this stick and jam it into my stomach, even though that’s painful and I hate the pain. I still want it. Because when I do that with one hand, I’m patting myself on the head with the other hand. That ego lift that I give myself, I do that simultaneously with the pain.
I have never seen a person upset who was not thinking, “I wouldn’t do this to you” or “I don’t deserve this!” That’s the ego pat. So when a person is upset, they are always feeling self-righteous.
In fact, it’s the self-righteousness that’s experiencing most of the pain!
If I think I’m a lowly peon like everybody else, if I’m not invited to the party that they’re having over there, it’s a little disappointing but it’s no big deal.
It’s no ego shock.
But if I think that I’m the king and they didn’t invite me to the party, then I am shocked and I can’t understand this.
When a person is in pain, they are always feeling neurotic conceit.
Rejection doesn’t hurt a healthy ego, it hurts the conceit.
I know that these lesser mortals down here are being rejected right and left, being divorced right and left, but me?
So it’s the neurotic conceit that’s shocked by rejection.
I’m a human being same as anybody else. Why shouldn’t I be rejected?
So I’m rejected, I turn to somebody else who’s not going to reject me. No big deal. If I’m in pain, it’s the neurotic conceit that experiences the pain.
Another metaphor. We hate the pain, but we love something that causes the pain.
I’m hugging a porcupine. And the porcupine quills go in, I’m bleeding and I’m crying. People think I’m talking about their mate.
No, I’m not talking about their mate.
If I put the porcupine down, I don’t have the pain.
But I love the porcupine.
The porcupine stands for the ideas, the irrational ideas that cause my pain. I love the idea that I need to be loved.
Barbra Streisand sings, “You’re nobody till somebody loves you” and “people who need people are the luckiest people in the world.”
Those ideas that we love cause the pain.
And if you get rid of those ideas that cause the pain, you get rid of the pain. People hate the pain, but they love the ideas.
They really expect that in some kind of magical way, that they can keep their ideas and lose their pain. There is no way.
Awareness is extremely helpful.
There are two different things we want to do.
One is observe facts. The second is to come up with a theory that explains these facts.
So far, I haven’t found any fact. I’ve found a lot of opinions, but no fact that goes against my theory that when a man is willing to do anything to save his marriage and the wife is rejecting him, it’s almost always due to low self-esteem on her part and the fact that she knows that he’s head over heels in love with her.
She will give false explanations.
Here’s what happens. She moves away from him emotionally. The original excitement gets less and less.
Either it can happen very rapidly, it can happen almost within an hour, or it might take months. But gradually, because of her low self-esteem, she begins to look down on anything that she’s accomplished.
At first, she’s patting herself on the head for getting this great guy to love her. But then the negative part of her mind begins, “Oh, you never do anything great. So this can’t be great.” So she begins to look down on him and begins to feel bored.
I have women all over the United States call me and say, “The man in my life is pulling away. He’s pulling away because he is afraid of commitment.”
There’s a lot written about men afraid of commitment because he’s afraid he’s going to be hurt.
So I say to the women, “How long have you been involved?”
She’ll say, “Three months” or “three years.”
I say, “So why is he afraid of commitment?”
She’ll say, “Well, because he’s been rejected before in marriage or a previous love relationship and he does not want to be hurt again.”
So I find out that any friends involved or any psychologist involved all accept that theory that he is afraid of being hurt because he’s been hurt before. He has been hurt before, and it’s normal to fear going through the doorway of commitment or marriage that has produced hurt before.
But I go after facts first.
Just like the old detective, “Just the facts, ma’am.”
I say, “Was he afraid of commitment at the beginning of your relationship?”
The answer is always the same, whether it was somebody in Connecticut or California. They say, “No, he wanted commitment. He even talked marriage. He strongly wanted commitment.”
I say, “The beginning of the relationship is the logical time for him to be afraid of commitment for two reasons. Number one, it’s closer in time to when he had been hurt before. And second, you had not been tested.”
I say, “Now, you say you’ve been involved with this guy for a year or two or three, whatever? During this time, have you dated others?”
“Oh, no. No, no, no. This guy is the only one for me. He practically walks on water. He’s the right one for me. I haven’t even looked at another guy at all.”
I said, “Well, isn’t that fascinating? Look at these facts.
At the beginning of the relationship, before he knows you, before you’ve been tested, he has total faith in you that you’re not going to hurt him.
And then, after you have proven yourself, that you’re not going to hurt him, that you’re there always and you don’t even look at another guy, then you have earned his trust, he takes it away?
And before you have earned it, he gives it to you?
He’s not afraid. He’s bored to death.
Then he becomes afraid. He’s afraid that he’s going to be bored to death the rest of his life. And he’s bored because he subconsciously wants struggle.
At the very beginning that he had struggle, he was fascinated. You take all the struggle away by giving him reassurances, reassurances, and he gets bored because subconsciously he wants struggle.
So then I tell her, “Tell him that he is right, that you have rushed things even if it’s been three years.
Say to him, ‘I’m not ready for commitment either. I want to date others. I need my space.’
Back off from him, agree with him, and instantly he will want commitment.”
He’ll say, “Wait a minute!” because she’s giving him the struggle, the challenge, the frustration that he subconsciously wants.
This is a point of view that I have not heard from anybody.
But it’s a theory that explains the facts.
And also, another test of the theory is when she starts acting on the basis of this, she gets him.This is a Free Excerpt From Stop Your Divorce... Click Here to Learn More.