Adlerians Therapy

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All good personal essays, short stories, novels, and poems contain conflict. Without conflict, there is little reason to write creatively. What is conflict? If we break the word into parts, we discover it means con, or with, and flict, fliction, or pain. With pain. Go back to the essays you read in Lesson One. Sanders explores the mental anguish of alcoholism, the torments of his father and of his family because of his father's drinking. Didion explores the physical anguish of migraines. With pain. Leaf through your text and read some opening lines. "Of course all life is a process of breaking down . . ." Fitzgerald begins in "The Crack Up." "On the Twenty-ninth of July, in l943, my father died," is the first line of Baldwin's "Notes of a Native Son." And Hoagland starts his essay "The Threshold and the Jolt of Pain" with "Like most boys in their teens, I wondered once in a while how I would take torture." All of these openings indicate that the writer is about to reflect upon a certain kind of pain, whether physical, emotion, or spiritual. Much fiction also deals with this same type of conflict, whether it be divorce, low self-esteem, spiritual emptiness, disease, etc. Another kind of conflict that we find most prevalent in the personal essay is what I call conflict of idea. For instance, in his famous essay "Walking," Thoreau opens with: I wish to speak a word for Nature, for absolute freedom and wildness, as contrasted with a freedom and culture merely civil, to regard man as an inhabitant, or, a part and parcel of Nature, rather than a member of society. Here, it's easy to see the conflict because Thoreau outrightly opposes one claim or idea to another. Conflict is inherent in opposition. But even if Thoreau had not blatantly presented two opposing forces, his idea "to regard man as an inhabitant, or, a part and parcel of Nature" is amply conflictual because it goes against what was commonly held true by a majority of 19th Century Americans. (Actually,...
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