Round Up The Usual Suspects

In one scene from the movie "Casablanca"  a corrupt police captain pretends to be surprised that a crime has been committed and issues orders to "round up the usual suspects" instead of going after the person he knows is the real culprit.

In my Atlanta counseling and psychotherapy practice I occasionally use the phrase "round up the usual suspects" to refer to the tendency of many people to revert to a well-worn set of unhelpful beliefs or emotions when dealing with a difficult situation. 

Maybe one of your "usual suspects" is a nagging inner sense that you are essentially unlovable.  Maybe another of your "usual suspects" is a deep fear that you are going to fail so it's best to not even try.  Or a "usual suspect" could be the assumption that receiving rejection instead of affection is somehow crippling to your self-esteem. 

The point is that we all possess a small handful of relatively stable beliefs and fears that repeatedly appear in a wide variety of different life events. Throughout your life you will experience many variations of those same categories of emotional obstacles that trip you up over and over. These "usual suspects" are always lurking around the shadows of your life, and they often take the blame when things are not going well for you.  In a way, they are excuses that prevent you from acting with courage, compassion and conviction.

What are your usual suspects? And why do you keep rounding them up?


Bill Herring LCSW, CSAT provides psychotherapy and counseling to adults in Atlanta.  Along with his general practice he specializes is helping people deal with sexual issues that conflict with relationships, other values and/or self-control.


Filed under: