Successful self examination seems to come easily for me. I have never experienced therapy from a psychiatrist or psychologist, so I am not familiar with all their techniques, but I gather the goal is to find what events or behavior by you or others in your past has caused your current behavior or mindset.
In examining a behavior of my own that is out of step with most people, I become curious enough to attempt “dive within” to uncover the reason. One such is my avoidance of most comedic TV shows and movies.
It goes back to my childhood. Before I started school, I had a “girlfriend” my age. We played together, hugged, held hands, and kissed in quite an innocent manner. Upon entering the first grade, our behavior didn’t change since we didn’t have reason to believe it wasn’t acceptable to our peers. We were teased relentlessly, and so we soon “broke up”. That was my first experience with bullying and that others could be quite cruel.
Over the years, I witnessed how mean and vicious certain boys and girls could be. I learned to fight back effectively, sometimes using creative tactics showing the offenders it was not worth the effort to torment me.
Just standing by and doing nothing while other classmates were treated far worse than I had been resulted in long-lasting shame. One girl in my class was afflicted by the results of polio. She wore metal braces on her legs and walked unsteadily. The accompanying fever had apparently affected her mentally to a degree as well. The other kids would call her “hop-a-long” and tease her until she was brought to tears. I didn’t participate in the belittling but knew it was terribly wrong and did nothing to stop it, showing my cowardice and my fear of retribution.
As a result, I found it painful to watch slapstick “comedies” in which the bullying was central, or contained even the suggestion of that as a theme. Examples include the “Three Stooges”, Jerry Lewis, and Dean Martin movies, and so on. To my mind, all comedies were, therefore, unacceptable. Was that rational? No, but the shows I chose to watch over time have been guided by the impulse to avoid reminders of my cowardice in my youth. It became an automatic preference to avoid popular sitcoms many people have enjoyed over the years. Maybe it is my prejudice, but most of them I’ve attempted to watch just seemed silly. There have been a few exceptions.
Self examination has brought me an understanding of my irrationalities and enabled me to make sense of what I have been unconsciously avoiding. Looking at these comedies with fresh eyes unencumbered by the past, I am now willing to watch shows I wouldn’t have considered before. Even now I doubt I would enjoy the “Three Stooges” or others of that sort, where one person is debasing another.
That having been said, I am actually looking forward to the new season of my favorite TV comedy, “The Big Bang Theory”.