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Coping with life’s issues – from childhood defence strategies to here & now wise mechanisms

Source | | Meenakshi Kirtane | Founder, Director at Maanas

I grew up understanding creativity as either drawing, painting and craft work that all children do or as the masterpieces ‘Monalisa’ or ‘Geetanjali’ that were a resultant of the passionate frenzy of creative geniuses. With this backdrop, when I met creativity in a completely new ‘avatar’, in my consulting room, it came as a huge surprise.

Creative defence mechanisms of childhood

Client after client, session after session, I was amazed at the different defence mechanisms in operation. Clients honoured me by explaining their world and honestly sharing how they have used different emotional strategies, to survive. As they became aware of the different layers within them, a very intricate and complexly woven design or pattern would emerge. Very unlike the masterpieces celebrated in the world outside, these created patterns were not only very distorted and dysfunctional at times, but outrightly damaging to the clients themselves.

While my training and theoretical understanding told me that I needed to help my clients break out of these defences and see them as problems that needed to be solved, I could not help myself being spellbound by their creativity at work!!!

No one had told me during my training, that one of the names of creativity, in the therapeutic world, was ‘defence mechanisms’ to cope with issues!!

This creativity in coping isn’t beautiful

I realised that in these weaves and patterns, it was creativity at work at the basic level of survival. It wasn’t creativity at its beautiful, magnificent, self-actualised level, right at the top of the Maslow’s hierarchy. Rather, it was the creativity that kicked in right at the bottom of the hierarchy, where a person was gasping for psychological air.

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