Attachment and Separation

I’m walking along a level suburban street. The intersecting roads all run up a steep hill. As I approach a cross roads there comes a young mom flying down the slope on her bike with her 2/3 year old in the basket up front.

The kid’s making the best of it but her tight knuckles give the game away. Her shrill voice belays the underlying anxiety. ‘Mom, if we crash, all I’ll do is…’ and then they were gone.

The kid has reached the outer limits of play. It’s stopped being fun. The child’s status has shifted from Mom-joining-daughter’s world  to Daughter-having-to-join-Mom in her world. She loses both mother’s containment and the resource of mother processing her fear for her in the process.

So she compensates with a grandiose fantasy that if mummy should suddenly become dysfunctional, or break, or run into the back of a taxi she could still mange very well by… swooping around the lampost… or flying up into the sky… or something else equally heroic.

She has to attribute super hero status if not godlikeness to herself in order to manage fear the management of which is normally Mother’s department.

Bit by bit, if we’re lucky, ego consolidates itself slowly out of the primordial identification with mother/world but only if its safe enough. If life itself is a white knuckle ride then we are  bound to remain in part fusion with  the Self in order to magically handle our situation. Many an obsessive ritual has its roots in the  numinous  word or gesture that somehow has the power to shore up selfhood.

I have to find a way to remain in this exalted state of extreme self belief because no-one is going to catch me when I surely fall.

I have to identify with the most enduring structures in the psyche to remain safe.

If that means depersonalising you in the process, well, you too can use the magic shield of Captain America or the Silver Surfer’s board to help yourself.

A lack of reliable resources has the child tunneling in to its own archetypal grain store and unconsciously feeding itself with stuff that it would normaly take many years to access and digest. The narcissistic are often precocious as a result.

I should know, I was reading Tolkein at 9.

Separation from our parents is one of the great thresholds of life. But how do you do that if you’re so insufficiently attached in the first place that you’ve had to grow wings or x-ray vision or ESP to compensate the fact? And what would it take for those amulets to be traded in for.. ordinariness and vulnerablity? Who would do such a dumb thing?


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Psychotherapist/writer/artist/ author of, 'Going Mad to Stay Sane', a psychology of self-destructiveness, about to come into its third edition. Soon to be printed for the first time, 'Abundant Delicious.. the Secret and the Mystery', described by activist Satish Kumar as, ' A Tao of the Soul'. This book documents the archetypal country through which the process of individuation occurs and looks at the trials and tribulations we might expect on the way. In the meantime..... Narcissisim is the issue of our age. This blog looks at how it operates, how it can damage and how we may still fruit despite it.

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