‘Coming out’ is the colloquial term ascribed to the process of letting ourselves and others know who we are and whom we love. It is a journey in which we grow to love ourselves the way we are and in which we grow to love what we have to offer to the world and what the world has to offer to us.
It is rarely a straightforward process and our immediate environment will undoubtedly have a great impact on how it will unfold. Unfortunately, we might still encounter closed-mindedness and bigotry. Or we ourselves might be too identified with censoring and controlling figures in our lives and develop inhibitions when it comes to expressing our sexual and love life.
It is important to note that sexuality does not confine itself to sex or romance only. Freud viewed what he called ‘libido’ as a psychic energy; a life force which is instrumental in every aspect of our lives. This, for him, included inter alia, the work environment, academia and friendships. It is for that reason that often, in our clinical work, we find that individuals who are struggling to express themselves sexually and romantically also feel that they are not quite where they want to be career wise.
Inhibitions have a conscious element, but they are mostly unconscious to the individual. In our clinical work, we will first encounter the symptoms which manifest in a sense of stagnation, lack of meaningful romantic relationships, dissatisfaction from work and, in some cases, depression and anxiety.
Our job in psychodynamic psychotherapy is to get to the underlying cause of these symptoms. We need to create an environment that will allow the unconscious to resurface thereby ‘unknotting’ the intricate set of identifications and inhibitions that hold us back from realising our full potential.