I Became a Listener Helper

A friend told me, one day out of the blue, that he was looking for a listener to help with his problem of Depersonalization Disorder (DPD). His wife of 30 years had just died, and it was a great shock to him.

After this shock to his mind he felt that all that used to be familiar was now foreign to him!


A Listening Helper is someone who helps another to explore their issues by using listening skills.

Most people find talking to an interested listener is good therapy. People want to unburden themselves to another person.


My friend told me what was important to him when talking to a Listener:

He wanted to feel that the person he was talking to had some empathy for his feelings that arose in his situation.

He wanted the Listener to offer ideas but only after he talked his problem through and he is clear about the situation.

He wanted to talk to someone who can be calm, unbiased and demonstrate understanding and shows that he is listening.


The Listener can ask questions to clarify the problem.

The Listener can give ideas to help solve the problem.

He wanted someone with good counseling skills such as:

Listening intently to the speaker to find out how they feel about their problem.

Prescribing and setting a course of action that the speaker can commit to.

Questioning to set the agenda, deciding the course of the conversation.


Then my friend started telling his story:

After the death of his wife of 30 years he became very stressed. He felt disconnected from the world, unfamiliar with people, objects and surroundings that were familiar before the trauma. He felt numb, like he was broke mentally and had lost his “self”.

He tried to act normal around others but really felt like an outsider.

He wanted to unburden himself by telling me his story.

He finished and stared blankly out the window.


I suddenly realized I was the “Listener Helper”.

I took psychology in college and I’ve read about DPD.

Because he came to me with his problem I had to try to help him.

His name is Jim.


“How do you feel right now, Jim?”

“Lately, I have not felt anything but fear, confusion and despair.

Things feel UNREAL to me and I feel detached from myself.

I feel like I’m floating around. I wonder why this is happening?”

“Well Jim, I’ve read that this disorder is the mind’s way of coping with overwhelming shock or stress.

The mind detaches itself from the surroundings for the purpose of survival.”

“ But Listener Helper, please tell me why I feel so weird?”

“Jim, this disorder is called, “Depersonalization” for a reason.

It attacks the one thing that you carry with you everywhere, every day—your SELF! It destroys the things that make you a person, and it drains your ability to make things personal and real.”


“Sometimes, I feel like the stranger inside of me is talking to me.”

“What does the stranger say, Jim?”

“It says: “I am the stranger inside of you and I will make you feel like a stranger to yourself. I did NOT have to ruin your life. You let me do it!”

“Well, that tells you that you CAN expel the stranger with the right therapy.”

“But I think about what’s wrong with me constantly!”

“Jim, you can’t THINK yourself out of DPD!

When thoughts about your problem get stuck in your mind it becomes an obsession.

Also, mental rumination constantly mulls over problems which, in turn, creates chronic worry. Excessive self-focus only will add to your discomfort.”


“What can be done about my DPD?”

“I’ll make a suggestion but YOU have to apply it.

ACCEPTANCE is the key to psychological flexibility.”

“You’re telling me to accept my suffering, how dare you.”

“Struggling and fighting against suffering keeps perpetuating the distress and intensifies it”

“Carry on, Mr. Listener Helper.”

“Your mind has a tendency to present its content as absolutely “true”.

In normal circumstances this is good because if you don’t believe what the mind is telling you, you might not react when faced with a dangerous situation.

But if you say to yourself: I am depressed and feel lousy. Then if you take that as true you will create anxiety and possibly DPD!”


“So, what can be done about my inflexibility?”

“Well Jim, my suggestions are: Do what works as opposed to doing what feels right.

Accept you DPD and stay engaged with life.

Be willing to endure and accept DPD emotional pain and continue living your life.”


“Conclusion please.”

“To fight DPD you need to Let Go and live alongside it.

You will recover from feelings of detachment by surrendering to your strange feelings. Stop focusing on how weird you feel and “Live Your Life.”

“So, you’re telling me to pay NO attention to my strange feelings and just get on with my life no matter how I feel.”

“That’s right. Trust in you body’s natural healing system.

Stop caring, stop watching, stop analyzing and ACCEPT how you feel without question. Then the DPD will fade away.”

“Thank you for being my Listener Helper.”

“You’re welcome, Jim. I will leave you with this:

You have been hitting your broken arm each day with a hammer and it is STILL BROKEN! It will mend itself when you STOP hitting it!”

A Better World: In the Past, In the Present, or in the Future?

The world of the Past… 50—60 years ago.

We would play outside all day without fear.

We would have quiet family dinners where we talked about our day.

We enjoyed radio and used our imagination when listening to stories.

Early TV had no sex and much less violence.

Family would live close by.

Police used to walk the streets and check that doors were locked.

We had fewer material possessions but we were happy in our simple life.

There was more discipline in the home which taught children values.

There was respect for elders.

We played softball in the park, played hide and seek, marbles and built go- carts from old wooden boxes.

Life was harder because there were less labor-saving devices but people were genuinely happy on the whole.


The world in the Present…

A look at the recent headlines and you would conclude that things are pretty bad.

You would be pushed to pessimism.

And yet the optimists say that we live in the best of times, poverty has fallen and we have more labor-saving devices now.

But in these hyper info times we seem to be addicted to bad news which leads us to believe things are worse than they are.

The optimists say since things have been improving there is no reason why they won’t continue to improve.

But why assume that? It’s not feasible to predict future results by past performance.


What about the Future? Will it be better or worse?

You get different answers from Pessimists, from Optimists and from Realists!

An optimist would say the world will get better because we will get new technologies that will help us do things easier. Robots with artificial intelligence will do our work.

A pessimist would say the world will NOT get better because basic human nature is evil. Humans are predators, we eat meat and we have an instinct that enables people to kill. So we destroy our environment and create wars. Humans are evil and un-empathetic to each other. The world will NOT get better because human nature will NOT change!

A realist would say that you have to look on both sides, negative and positive.

Hopefully education will be the answer for future generations to make better decisions and be more tolerant in their views. Then humanity will continue to grow powerful and more civilized. But there is a lot of work to do if we are to make things better.


So lets look at human nature , is it good or bad?

Is man capable of making a better world?

Man can be very good or very bad. Man is caring at times and creative, but also man is a manipulator, exploiter, abuser and a killer.


So what’s the answer?

We need to prepare to cope with bad events and confront our own destructiveness. Hopefully we will become wiser and better prepared to cope with life and build a better world.


In approaching the topic of a “Better World” we talked about Realism, Optimism and Pessimism, lets examine these:

Pro Realist:

Assuming and expecting something that is NOT real is living in an imaginary world.

Being realistic allows a person to make decisions based on fact not on false hopes.

Being optimistic is narrowing your mind because you only see one side of an issue.

Realism sees both sides, negative and positive.

Realists are more well adjusted than optimists and they are more objective and unbiased.

Pro Optimist:

They say that optimists live healthier lives and have more hope and faith.

They say we need some optimism to live life enjoyably.

Optimism gives us determination and perseverance.


A Pessimist looks on the negative side of things. This creates anxiety.


In conclusion:

The world of the future is in for rapid change. Science is delving more into A.I. and robots. Will this threaten our own human nature?

No, it won’t. Since the beginning of time, humans have had the ability to pull through the worst situations.

Are we in for big changes?

Yes, we are, BUT these changes will bring forth a better world, hopefully.

New technologies will alter human life, BUT, human nature will always have a place in our world, because we have moral principles that we have set. Our values and morals will control change.