Sung Yu-mi is a graduate of Ewha College of Medicine and is currently working as a psychiatrist at Gwanghwamun Yonsei Feel Mental Health Clinic. Sung’s book, “Thought you were my friend,” which was published this year, has been one of the top 20 best-selling books for two weeks. Even by mid-August over 30 Ewha students are waiting in line to read its electronic version via Ewha Womans University Library.
According to Sung, the idea of a “friend” in the book is broader than how it is commonly accepted.
“The focal point of this book, friends, includes everybody close to you including acquaintances and family,” Sung said.
Sung explained tactics to work upon tricky relationships. The first is to use “time-outs” to examine one’s emotions and to analyze the relationships as types.
The term time-out means to remove oneself from a triggering situation. Through a time-out, one can earn time to think over the conflicting emotions. She asserted not even anger should be neglected.
“When facing somebody, noticing whether I’m either irritated or annoyed is important,” Sung said.
Furthermore, Sung mentioned in her book that it is helpful to understand the type of relationship. In comprehending how the “types” are set, understanding the theoretical basis of the book can be helpful.
“My book adopts Martin Buber’s idea of ‘I and Thou’” Sung said.
In “I and Thou” Martin Buber articulates two modes for a person to engage with the world: “experience” and “encounter”. The two modes are differentiated by how “I” treat the counterpart. Based on the attitude of “I”, the counterpart is either named “you” or “it”. “Experience” is a mode of I-it, while “encounter” is a mode of I-you. By “I”, “you” is considered an equivalently complex being that “I” shares an actively participated relationship. In contrary, “I” evaluates “it” as in worth and value, treating the counterpart like an inanimate object. Sung advised in the book to check whether it is “experience” or “encounter” the counterpart is deeming the relationship between her or him and I. She explained who treat me as “it” should be “it” to me as well.
“Many times people mistake “it” as “I” and feel frustrated,” Sung commented.
Lastly, Sung highlighted the importance of devising the best way to express what they felt to the other person.
“Suppressing emotions is certainly unhealthy. But letting out emotions without ruminating is not a good choice,” Sung said.
Sung advised that one set a time difference between the moment of feeling and expressing. She pointed out that it will enable one to involve more rational thinking. Sung rephrased the process as having “dwee-ggeut” or holding grudges.
“When I tell people to live holding grudges, I mean they should constantly attempt to think over situations and their emotions following it,” Sung commented.
Sung mentioned that she hoped people would be able to reconstruct healthy relationships through her book.
“Experiencing well-built relationship is very important. That is the leap. Because treating relationship is different from curing cancer. Cutting it all out is not the ultimate solution,” Sung said.
Ending the interview, Sung shared what she hoped the readers would earn from “Thought you were my friend.”
“You might not be able to resolve all conflicts via this book. What I want is to encourage people to continue to make an effort by letting them know there are methods that can be used,” Sung said.