Licenced Mental Health Counselor WA
Ph.D ABD in Ethology
Communication between Blinds and thier guide Dog
Supervisor for Social Workers
Family Centrum IX District Budapest
C.G.Jung Theoretical Seminar
Hungarian Complex Psychotherapy Association
Volunteer Field Study Kenya
Daily Activity Pattern of Waterbuck
St Rókus Hospital Budapest
MA in Psychology
Educator, Foster Home
BA Music Teacher
My main interest and entertainment – in the good sense – in psychology is how our unconscious tendencies form our life. Whether it is a symptom like lump in the throat, an attention demanding unusual behavior, a strange dream or the symbols of art, I am always curious to know: What does it mean? Where does it come from? And what do you make of it?
The curiosity took me in different paths in my career and different places on Earth. I grew up, got my degrees and work for 15 years in Hungary as educator, psychotherapist, behavior researcher and trainer. Now in the Pacific Northwest I turned back to my psychotherapist self and launched a private practice. Before I got here, I spent 3 months in Kenya with volunteer animal behavior research, 1/2 a year in the southern part of Africa, and lived for 6 years in Germany.
The synthesis is renewing again and again, but let me share with you what I’ve gained from these experiences!
The Animal Behavior Sciences or Evolutionary Psychology if you like basically anchor my thinking because it shows how the adaptation to the environment shaped the species in the course of millions of years of evolution, not just in the biological-anatomical but also in the behavioral sense. It is true for humans too, so if I have doubt, usually I turn back to the tribal living. Genetic change follows slowly environmental change, so our present genetic makeup prepared us to function well in the few thousand years earlier physical-social environment. If we want to understand certain behavior, sometimes we need to know where it comes from.
It helps to plan changes as well. For example if we assume that an abnormal behavior is derivative of an unmet need or present environmental difficulties, comparing then and now can help figuring out corrections. I like to imagine how our ancestor solved this or that problem. For instance: Did they use pacifier? What did they do when their baby cried and cried? Actually, tribal mothers nurse their baby today as well any time when their babies ask for, when they’re thirsty, when they’re hungry and when they just want comfort.
Acknowledging its benefits the modern science supports the idea of “demand feeding” again. It might be too demanding for mothers mainly in industrial countries, but studies show different advantages for babies.
In my work I find the Jungian Analytic Psychology closest to me. I love how it deals with conscious – unconscious happenings, follows the personality development through stages of life, has ideas about symbolism, morality and also spirituality. It gives the background to deal with people as a whole. In addition it has the optimistic outlook, for example it consider symptoms not as illness, but unconscious attempts to solve a problem – we just need to figure out what it is supposed to solve, and do it a different, conscious way.
Complexes are not illnesses either, but controversial thoughts, feelings, judgments; we just need to straighten them out and let them free from the discrepancies. I have to tell you, I do it with as much pleasure as I solve the Sudoku riddles.
Traveling around the world gave me impressions about different cultures, and I ‘ve got the conviction from them, that there is no absolute truth! There are some very deeply, unconsciously carved values, attitudes and judgments that seem to be absolute and valid everywhere and we are not aware of what kind of values drives them.
One of my recent surprises connects to the functioning of the schools. In Hungary we went to elementary school at our 6 years old, and the classes were kept together with small fluctuation until our age 14. When I saw here that children are completely mixed from one year to another I didn’t understand the reason. (Wouldn’t it be simpler just put them together in the next grade?) Now I guess: easy socialization, ability to make connections quickly is higher priority here, while to establish less but deeper social bond is higher priority there. None is better or worse, but different. But who have thought before?
In Kenya I was enchanted by the honest smiles, the sincerely friendly people and the calm, cheerful, polite and incredible considerate Swahili culture. Not just their faces, their hearts are smiling as well even in the time of big difficulties. Often I feel that in our western world we have no idea whatsoever what kind of social support, helping net of friendship can people provide for each other. When I hear about National Adoption, I always remember a little girl, who just jumped unexpectedly to her divorced father’s – grandmother’s house for a short visit and a meal. This is pretty natural for them, while we cannot solve “shared custody” through divorce attorneys and custody battles. I wonder whether those adoptable children in developing countries really don’t have the loving grannies’, aunties’ and cousins’ net who can provide them with the basics and their original, sharing culture? Do the fuzzy pink blanket and regular fatty meals really mean more than the supervision of an extended family?
South Africa was quite a different experience – some years after the Apartheid – wounds not healed yet, less cheer, less trust, less joy. Painful, how much damage cruelty can cause in the soul.
Namibia different another way: Have you ever heard African people speak German? Strange. They do it in Namibia, probably after the German presence in World War II. The people are friendly, and there are way more mixed race people than in South Africa, showing that the segregation wasn’t as severe. This is the land of missing water. Farmer’s everyday problem is how to have a ride and get a repaiman because elephants destroyed the water pump. Time flows with different speed. No hurries, no nervousness. Roads are good – the only question: do you go by foot or by donkey? You can get to your place within 2 to 3 weeks. You really have a chance to enjoy the peace of mind and all the beauty that Mother Earth could give.
Botswana is beautiful: wide empty sky above the Kalahari. Some game came to visit. At the edge of a village there was a public phone, people stand in line to make a call. Everybody waited patiently, nobody spoke too long. We were the only “mzungu” (originally rambunctious, used for white people in Swahili) there: we wanted to speak with our American bank because the bank card hasn’t worked. They looked at our panic uncomprehendingly.
In Germany I had some difficulty adjusting to the vertical hierarchy of people. For me it felt like I have no choice but to fight for the dominance, or accept subordinate role. My symmetrical preference wasn’t a frequent possibility. I also had some personal experience with their child rearing habits – and through this with the shaping of attachment. More times than I liked I’ve seen mothers not react to their baby’s needs, they liked to put them in the different room with some – “He needs some sleep.” – note when they cried, they tried not to acknowledge and understand their feelings when babies and toddlers asked for it.
One Attachment research shows 50% “Avoidance” attachment type among German children against the 23% world average. In the same time I observed too many inattentive or insensitive actions. I cannot help but draw the conclusion although it’s my personal one: If people don’t show empathy for their baby, toddler and bigger children, they have no chance to learn how to live empathetically with others in their adulthood.
Here in the Pacific Northwest I appreciate very much people’s positive way of thinking. I am grateful for the tons of encouragement and acceptance that I’ve gotten. I am happy to hear that everybody is all right every time!
But this is what I am worrying about as well! Even when it is obvious that someone has a problem, this culture expects not to burden the others with it. The good side: I don’t have to hear everybody’s every problem as it is fashion in Hungary. The problem with it is that the person has to deny or conceal it. Both make the trouble more unbearable.
So, I’m Hungarian: I grew up in away where everybody was allowed to tell the most shocking troubles and experiences to their hardly known acquaintances. (Once I’ve heard a whole stomach surgery story while traveling on a tram from completely unknown people.)
But I want you to know: I can take it! Sometimes just telling itself helps to vent the disturbing feelings! Sometimes telling helps to see things in a different context…
I am very happy if you choose me to share your problems, and let me add my understanding to yours!