The Thetis Complex To enjoy or not to enjoy life; finding the right balance
Didier Pleux is doctor of developmental psychology, clinical psychologist, psychotherapist, and the author of reference for topics in parenting. He is director of the French Institute for Cognitive Therapy. He is the author of several bestselling books, including: De l’enfant roi à l’enfant tyran [From the Child-King to the Child-Tyrant], Exprimer sa colère sans perdre le contrôle [Expressing One’s Anger without Losing Control], Un enfant heureux [A Happy Child], Les Adultes tyrans [Tyrant Adults], Les 10 commandements du bon sens éducatif [The Ten Commandments of Common Sense Parenting], Développer le self-control de son enfant [Helping Your Child Develop Self-Control].
In mythology, Thetis wanted her son, Achilles, to be invulnerable, and so she dipped him into the waters of the Styx. But she neglected his heel which she was holding, and thus contributed to his vulnerability. Out of a desire not to impose constraints on our children, in attempting to spare them unpleasant experiences, we are creating vulnerable, intolerant beings who are in some ways unprepared for life. By wanting always to avoid what is unpleasant, whether as a child, adolescent, or adult, we encourage behaviors of all-powerfulness and intolerance to frustrations that are incompatible with life in society.
How can we achieve a balance between an acceptance of constraints linked to reality and our desire to seek that which we deem desirable? Why is this question so relevant today?
This is the battle that Didier Pleux continues to wage throughout his books. A psychotherapist who listens to his patients and an observer of the pathologies of the ego, he is inspired by real situations to explain the need for moral instruction which leads to fulfilled and well-adapted human beings, both children and adults.