Navigating life with a neurodivergent mind can feel like wandering through a maze with hidden walls. As Jenara Nerenberg says in “Divergent Mind,” we’re constantly battling for understanding and acceptance in a world that doesn’t quite seem built for us. Self-psychology, at its core, is about understanding our inner selves and how our social needs shape our development.
So, let’s think about self-psychology as a flashlight shedding light on the essential components we need for a healthy sense of self: mirroring, idealization, and twinship. Let’s break down these three essential concepts further:
- Mirroring: This occurs when someone reflects our emotions and experiences to us, validating our feelings and fostering self-worth. For neurodivergent individuals, having people who genuinely see and understand us without judgment or expectation is crucial. Mirroring provides a space for authentic connection and self-affirmation.
- Idealization: As we grow, we look up to others as role models, which helps us create a sense of self based on the positive traits we admire in them. For neurodivergent individuals, finding role models who embrace their unique strengths and challenges can be empowering. Identifying with these individuals can help us build a healthy self-image, recognize our potential and embrace our differences.
- Twinship: This refers to finding a sense of belonging and understanding through connections with others who share similar experiences. Twinships can be a powerful force in our lives, providing validation, camaraderie, and support. For neurodivergent people, finding a community of like-minded individuals can be transformative in self-acceptance and growth.
In her book “The Body is Not an Apology,” Sonya Renee Taylor’s highlights the impact of societal messages on our self-perception, especially when it comes to our bodies and minds. We are often bombarded with messages that dictate how we should look, feel, and behave, leading us to internalize these expectations and feel compelled to apologize for any perceived deviations. Taylor suggests that engaging in unapologetic inquiry, a process of questioning and challenging these messages can help us break free from the constraints they impose on our lives.
By embracing radical self-love, we learn to accept and appreciate ourselves as we are without seeking validation from societal norms. Taylor argues that when we stop apologizing for our differences and focus on meeting our social needs, we create space for growth, healing, and a more profound connection to ourselves and others. This process fosters a sense of self-worth that no longer relies on external approval but is rooted in a deep understanding and love for our unique experiences and identities. In turn, this radical self-love empowers us to create more inclusive and supportive communities where everyone can flourish without the pressure to conform to limiting societal expectations.
Social Perspective on Neurodivergence
Nick Walker’s social perspective on neurodivergence, as presented in “Neuroqueer Heresies,” offers a fresh and empowering way of viewing our experiences. He argues that society’s structures, norms, and expectations often create barriers that disable neurodivergent individuals rather than our neurodivergence, causing inherent limitations. By focusing on how social factors contribute to our challenges, we can begin by addressing the real sources of our difficulties and work towards a more inclusive world.
This social perspective challenges the medical model, which often labels us as disordered or impaired. Instead, it emphasizes that neurodivergent people have diverse ways of thinking, processing, and experiencing the world. Recognizing the systemic barriers that hinder our full participation in society can help us advocate for change and create environments that better support our needs. It shifts the responsibility from the individual to the collective, urging us to create a more equitable and understanding world for all neurodivergent individuals.
Embracing this social perspective on neurodivergence allows us to recognize the unique strengths and gifts that come with our varied cognitive experiences. It promotes a sense of unity and advocacy, empowering us to work together towards a more inclusive society that celebrates neurodiversity in all its forms.
Harnessing the Power of Self-Psychology and Group Therapy
Both Sonya Renee Taylor’s and Nick Walker’s perspectives emphasize the importance of interconnectedness and the social environment in shaping our experiences. While Taylor focuses on the mind-body connection and the power of nurturing relationships, Walker highlights the need for a more inclusive society that recognizes and values neurodiversity. Together, these perspectives encourage us to build a world where all individuals can thrive, regardless of their neurodivergence, by fostering strong connections and dismantling systemic barriers that hinder our growth and well-being. Self-psychology points the way to our particular relational needs that need to be fostered and nourished for neurodivergent folks to form a healthy sense of self.
This is where group therapy comes into play—a space where we can connect, share, and learn from each other’s experiences. By nourishing ourselves with mirroring, idealization, and twinship in community with other neurospicy folks, we can grow stronger and more resilient. Group therapy offers a supportive environment where we can work together to develop a healthy sense of self and foster meaningful connections.
Through self-psychology and the power of group therapy, we can nurture our true selves and create a more fulfilling life that embraces our unique gifts and experiences. This is where you’ll find the center of you.
Embark on a Journey of Growth and Self-Discovery
If you’re seeking a supportive and nurturing environment to work through personal challenges, consider joining our unique group therapy program. Laura Bruco, MSW is an experienced and compassionate psychotherapist who can guide you towards a more meaningful understanding of yourself.
Embrace the power of collective support, gain valuable insights, and develop new coping strategies. Together, we can embark on a journey of healing and transformation. Book a consultation to explore the benefits of group therapy.