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Old 06-06-17, 06:55 PM
mildadhd mildadhd is online now
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Understanding Counterwill: "Oppositionality cannot arise on its own"

Understanding counterwill has got to be one of the most important topics, all parenting adults and their children would benefit from, from being aware of.

Especially children (and adults) who are more emotionally reactive due to being born with more emotionally sensitive temperaments.


Quote:
Chapter 20 "The Defiant Ones: Oppositionality"

Quote:
And one may choose what is contrary to one's own interests and sometimes one positively...
One's own free unfettered choice, one's own caprice, however wild it may be, one's own fancy worked up at times to frenzy...
What man wants is simply independent choice, whatever that independence may cost and wherever it may lead.

-FYODOR DOSTOEVSKY, "Notes from the Underground"

Quote:
STEVEN, ATHRITY-EIGHT-YEAR-OLD labor relations officer for a large company, was referred to me for assessment.

He was respected as a creative man who brought original and innovative thinking to his work.

A skilled negotiator, he was able to approach any situation from new angles and unique perspectives that could break a logjam when everyone else was stuck.

"I do things nobody else would dream of doing, but I feel I could be doing a lot more," he said.

At times he would impulsively take on problems and responsibilities beyond his experience or control.

This propensity for risk taking had brought him and his company near the precipice of disaster more than once.
Quote:
As I wrote in my consult letter to his family doctor, "It is a tribute to Steven's daring, acumen, and creativity, and thanks to some good luck, that so far he has avoided catastrophic consequences to his original and idiosyncratic approach to his work."
Quote:
In this and in every other way, the diagnosis of AD(H)D was self-evident.

As he related his life story, Steven expressed one major regret.

He had been an extraordinarily gifted classical musician in his childhood and adolescence.

An international solo career had been widely predicted.

In his midteens, however, he had given up his instrument, the clarinet, and completely severed his involvement with music.

My consultation report noted:


Quote:
The parents were both artistically inclined.

The mother was an actress, the father a talented musician.

Steven himself was introduced to music at an early age and was apparently something of a child prodigy on the clarinet, being invited as an adolescent to play with the ... National Youth Orchestra.

He was at one time considered to be a great prospect.

He quit the clarinet at age sixteen for what he says were reasons of spite and defiance toward his father, who forced him into practicing and would beat him when he refused to do so.

He was made to practice four hours a day.

He continues to love classical music and deeply regrets not having continued with his musical studies
Quote:
Steven has for a long time considered his abandonment of a musical career as a perverse, boneheaded misjudgment.

"It was the stupidest thing I have ever done," he said.

Quote:
He was surprised to find that I did not agree with him.

"It was one of the most necessary things you have ever done," I told him.

"To have continued under those circumstances would have been to surrender your soul to your father. Psychologically, you might have not survived that"

Quote:
The mistake, if we could speak of it as a conscious act, was not committed by the son but by the father.

The force he had exerted on his son produced its own counterforce, resulting in the impulse that finally sent Steven in the direction exactly opposite what his father had wished.

Sadly, it also went against Steven's interests and contrary to the choice he probably would have made, had he been truly free to make a choice.

He did not have that freedom.

Steven had not acted, which would have meant autonomy, but reacted, which reflected psychological subjection--not to his father but to the unconscious defences he had built up against his father.

Quitting music was not an act of will, it was an expression of what the Vancouver developmental psychologist Gordon Neufeld calls counterwill*..

-Gabor Mate, "Scattered". Chapter 20, "Oppositionality", p 183-185.


(Continued on next page)
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Old 06-06-17, 06:56 PM
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Re: Understanding Counterwill: "Oppositionality cannot arise on its own"

(continued)

Quote:
..Distinguishing will from counterwill is important for any successful parenting.

Understanding counterwill is particularly crucial for the parenting of the AD(H)D child and for the self-understanding of the AD(H)D adult.
Quote:
Children with attention deficit disorder are often characterized as stubborn, oppositional, cheeky, insolent, spoiled.

Willful is a description almost universally applied to them.

Parents worry that the difficulty is rooted in some deeply embedded negative trait in their child's personality that will impede her future success in life.

The truth is more complicated than that, and it leaves more ground for optimism.

Oppositionality cannot arise on its own.

By definition, it has to develop in response to something.

It is not an isolated trait of the child's but an aspect of the child's relationship with the adult world.

Adults can change the relationship by changing their role in it
.

-Gabor Mate, "Scattered". Chapter: "Oppositionality", p 185.



m
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  #3  
Old 06-06-17, 07:28 PM
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Re: Understanding Counterwill: "Oppositionality cannot arise on its own"

Maté has a great deal to answer for in his blatant disregard for evidence and his off-the-cuff approach to decision making, but in this section of this book he has certainly hit the nail on the head.
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  #4  
Old 06-06-17, 08:29 PM
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Re: Understanding Counterwill: "Oppositionality cannot arise on its own"

(Continued)

Quote:
AD(H)D children can hardly be said to have a will at all, if by that is meant a capacity that enables a person to know what he wants and to hold that goal regardless of setbacks, difficulties or distractions.

"But my child is strong-willed," many parents insist.

"When he decides that he wants something, he just keeps at it until I cannot say no, or until I get very angry."

What is really being described here is not will but a rigid, obsessive clinging to this or that desire.

An obsession may resemble will in its persistence but has nothing in common with it.

It powers comes from the unconscious, and it rules the individual, whereas a person with true will is in command of his intentions.

Quote:
The child's oppositionality is not an expression of will.

What it denotes is the absence of will, which--like Steven's abandonment of music--only allows a person to react but not to act from a free and conscious process of decision making.

Quote:
Counterwill is an automatic resistance put up by a human being with an incompletely developed sense of self, a reflexive and unthinking opposition to the will of the other.

It is a natural but immature resistance arising from the fear of being controlled.

Counterwill arises in anyone who has not yet developed a mature and conscious will of her own.

Although it can remain active throughout life, normally it makes its most dramatic appearance during the toddler phase and again in adolescence.

In many people, and in the vast majority of children with AD(H)D, it becomes entrenched as an ever-present force and may remain powerfully active well into adulthood.

It immensely complicates personal relationships, school performance and job or career success.

-Gabor Mate, "Scattered". Chapter: "Oppositionality", p 185-186.


(Continued below)
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Old 06-06-17, 08:30 PM
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Re: Understanding Counterwill: "Oppositionality cannot arise on its own"

this is my biggest trait.

from the age of around 5-6... my "counterwill" defined me, drove me, fuelled me...

at the surface, i wanted fairness.... maybe deep down too.....

i wonder... what other ways does a child with heightened emotions have to express themselves ( physical )?

so, i believe at it's core it excess energy... and it's external constructs which lead to channeling toward mal-behavior.... because this is the only acceptable form of expression within most childrens daily existence.

not for all, but for most.....

( so i would argue that will is there, but it's diverted... emotional ownership overpowers logic )
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Old 06-06-17, 08:32 PM
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Re: Understanding Counterwill: "Oppositionality cannot arise on its own"

(Continued)


Quote:
Counterwill has many manifestations.

The parent of a child with attention deficit disorder will be familiar with them.

Most obviously, it is expressed in verbal resistance--"I don't have to," "You can't make me," the constant arguing and countering whatever the parent proposes, the ubiquitous "You are not the boss of me."

Like a psychological immune system, counterwill functions to keep out anything that does not originate within the child herself.

It is present when the four-year-old puts both hands over his ears to keep out the parent's voice, or when the older child pins up angry Keep Out sign on her door.

It is visible in the body language of the adolescent and teenager: the sullen look and the shrugged shoulder.

Its signs drive some adults around the bend, as in the futile "I'll wipe that smirk off your face" of many a parent or teacher.

Counterwill is also expressed through passivity.

Every parent of an AD(H)D child has had the experience of feeling intense frustration when, being pressured for time, they have tried to hurry their son or daughter along.

The greater the parent's anxiety and the greater the pressure he puts on the child, the more slothfully slow the child seems to become.

Passivity begins to look like almost second nature to some of these children, although when she is highly motivated, the child will perform many tasks with alacrity.

This passivity, what people may call laziness, can signal a strong internal resistance.

-Gabor Mate, "Scattered". Chapter: "Oppositionality", 186-187



(Continued below)
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Old 06-06-17, 08:59 PM
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Re: Understanding Counterwill: "Oppositionality cannot arise on its own"

(Continued)

Quote:
Counterwill is a natural inclination and does not mean there is anything intrinsically wrong with the child.

It is not as if the individual does it; it happens to the child rather than being instigated by him.

It may take the child as much by surprise as the parent.

"It really is simply a counterforce," says Dr.Neufeld.

"The counterwill dynamic is simply a manifestation of a universal principle. The same principle is seen in physics, where it is considered fundamental to keeping the universe together: for every centripetal force there has to be a centrifugal one; for every force, a counterforce."

Like all natural phenomena and all stages in the child's life, counterwill has a positive purpose.

It first appears in the toddler to help in the task of individuating, of beginning to separate from the parent.

In essence, the child erects a wall of no's.

Behind this wall, the child can gradually learn her likes and dislikes, aversions or preferences, without being overwhelmed by the far more powerful force generated by the parent's will.

Counterwill may be likened to the small fence one places around a tender young shoot to protect it from being eaten.

The vulnerable little plant here is the child's will. Without that protective fence, it cannot survive.

In adolescence, counterwill serves the same goal, helping the young person loosen his psychological dependence on the family.

It comes when the sense of self is having to emerge out of the cocoon of the family.

It is a defense mechanism to protect this fragile, threatened sense of self.

By keeping out the parent's expectations and demands, counterwill helps to make room for the growth of the child's own self-generated motivations and preferences.

-Gabor Mate, "Scattered", Chapter "Oppositionality", p.187-188.



Quote:
*The term counterwill was originally coined by the psychoanalyst Otto Rank. The description of the concept in this chapter is based on the synthesis arrived at by Gordon Neufeld and is, by his kind permission, adapted from Dr. Neufeld's lecture series on counterwill.
(Continued below)
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Old 06-06-17, 09:41 PM
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Re: Understanding Counterwill: "Oppositionality cannot arise on its own"

Quote:
Originally Posted by dvdnvwls View Post
Maté has a great deal to answer for in his blatant disregard for evidence and his off-the-cuff approach to decision making, but in this section of this book he has certainly hit the nail on the head.
Dvdnvwls

Since we agree with the information in this thread.

So we do not derail this thread with other topics you disagree with.

Do you mind if I start a new thread, where if you want, you could post some quotes made by Dr.Mate, that you disagree with, and I could focus on Dr.Mate's quote's you post in disagreement and I could decide whether I agree or disagree, and explain my opinion?

One reason why I like typing out the information from the appropriate sections of "Scattered" based on whatever the specific opening post AD(H)D thread topics is, is so people interested (who do not have a copy of "Scattered") can actually read what Dr. Mate actually wrote in full, and gather their own opinion.

Another reason is because when focusing on the book "Scattered" and ADHD, is one of the times I get motivated enough to practice my typing skills (I am getting faster than when I joined ADDForums) and discussing and typing out the information helps me learn more about the information, that I might have missed in the past.

I'll start working on the new thread discussion, if you want to?

Its okay if you do not want to, I understand what you are agreeing about in this thread, it is just that I am unsure what other different section of the book and different thread subjects you are in disagreement about?






m
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Old 06-07-17, 12:01 AM
dvdnvwls dvdnvwls is offline
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Re: Understanding Counterwill: "Oppositionality cannot arise on its own"

Quote:
Originally Posted by mildadhd View Post
Dvdnvwls

Since we agree with the information in this thread.

So we do not derail this thread with other topics you disagree with.

Do you mind if I start a new thread, where if you want, you could post some quotes made by Dr.Mate, that you disagree with, and I could focus on Dr.Mate's quote's you post in disagreement and I could decide whether I agree or disagree, and explain my opinion?

One reason why I like typing out the information from the appropriate sections of "Scattered" based on whatever the specific opening post AD(H)D thread topics is, is so people interested (who do not have a copy of "Scattered") can actually read what Dr. Mate actually wrote in full, and gather their own opinion.

Another reason is because when focusing on the book "Scattered" and ADHD, is one of the times I get motivated enough to practice my typing skills (I am getting faster than when I joined ADDForums) and discussing and typing out the information helps me learn more about the information, that I might have missed in the past.

I'll start working on the new thread discussion, if you want to?

Its okay if you do not want to, I understand what you are agreeing about in this thread, it is just that I am unsure what other different section of the book and different thread subjects you are in disagreement about?
I don't think there's any need for a picking-on-Maté thread. I'm not looking to derail this thread at all either. It was a single comment based on reading two of his books and attending one of his lectures, and I don't think it needs to be pursued beyond that.
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Old 06-07-17, 01:38 AM
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Re: Understanding Counterwill: "Oppositionality cannot arise on its own"

Quote:
Originally Posted by dvdnvwls View Post
I don't think there's any need for a picking-on-Maté thread. I'm not looking to derail this thread at all either. It was a single comment based on reading two of his books and attending one of his lectures, and I don't think it needs to be pursued beyond that.
Oh well, it's your choice, I just wish I could figure out what parts you were disagreeing with in your first post, because you didn't quote Dr.Mate and I have no idea where your disagreement is originating from?

Well at least I know you agree with keeping the attachment relationship first and foremost, because that is what this information in this section is mostly about understanding.

Actually this section of the book "Scattered", pretty much sums up most of what Dr.Mate discusses through out a few of his books, that is promoting a healthy attachment relationship between parenting figure and their child is essential for healthy development.

I have have been given a real hard time over the years for promoting the benefits of a healthy attachment between parenting figures and their children, it is really nice not have that kind of opposition in this thread. (and hopefully future thread discussions go as well)

All the best.

m
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