The Tar Baby.

Brer Fox hated brer Rabbit.

Hated him real bad.

Hated him so much that aaaal he could think about was how to nail ‘ol brer Rabbit.

So he came up with a plan. He would build a baby made of tar, knowing that when brer Rabbit came along his curiosity would get the better of him and he’d stick himself fast.

‘An it would be all over for brer Rabbit.

So he built the baby of tar and turpentine and set him up beside the road waiting for brer Rabbit to come along.

By and by brer Rabbit strolls down the track.


I said, ”Morning…”

”You deaf or jus’ rude?”

Brer Rabbit gets easily riled you see and within a moment he’s steaming at the silent tar baby.

Only a matter of time before he clouts the tar baby and gets his paw caught .

Then he hits him again and, you guessed it, soon he’s completly stuck fast.

Brer Fox rolls out of the bushes killing himself laughing.

”Got you this time brer Rabbit!”

But while he’s rolling about brer Rabbit is thinking fast…

”Oh please, brer Fox, do with me what you will but don’ throw me in the Briar patch!”

”I’m gonna cut you up and boil you for breakfast!”

”Oh, anything, so long as you don’ throw me in the Briar patch!”

”I’m gonna skin you and wear your pelt for a hat!”

”Mercy, just so long as you don’ throw me in the Briar patch.”

”Gonna make your bones into porridge!”

”Anything but the Briar patch!”

Then brer Fox hesitates and muses a bit..

”Tell you what,” he announces triumphantly, ”it’s the Briar patch for you!” an tosses brer Rabbit right in.

Brer Rabbit uses the briars to unstick himself and races off laughing loudly.

”I was born and bred in the Briar patch brer Fox! born and bred!”

Narcissistic Brer Fox also suffers from an obsessive compulsive disorder. His whole meaning-construct is about tormenting brer Rabbit into carrying his inferiority.

Not catching, outwitting and humiliating.

Outwitting brer Rabbit is all he thinks about. His den is a mess, he’s thin and mangy and there’s no sissy Fox on the horizon.

He lies awake at night fantasizing about how he, clever brer Fox, will one day be the talk of the woods. He’s what Nassim Nicholas Talebe would call ‘fragile’, he only has one string to his bow.

And therefore only one way of doing things.

And because he has idealised himself and is unconsciously identified with one aspect of life he is compelled to operate from a highly restricted perspective.

So he reacts rather than responds…

… according to the sole injunction, ‘do whatever hurts brer Rabbit most’, rather than, ‘do what suits me best.’

His compulsive need to enviously attack brer Rabbit robs him of his breakfast.

And because his one and only sacred task is to revenge himself on his dark brother he is unable to self-reflect. There is no inner dialogue whereby I might say to me,

‘hang on a minute, what’s going on here?’

‘Why is brer Rabbit so insistent?’

‘ What is the deal with Rabbits and Briar patches?’

And of course, he unconsciously knows what will happen but is compelled to let it happen because if he finally ate brer Rabbit who would there be to carry all his shit?

Brer Rabbit’s different, he is what Talebe calls ‘anti-fragile’. And that doesn’t just mean he’s tough. It means he has options and thrives on complexity. Brer Rabbit can talk to himself. He’s able to have an inner discussion about the pickle he’s in because he’s not overly identified with just one corner of the psyche.

And so he can play adversity to his advantage.

He’s gained his inner flexibility by having a confrontative encounter with his own shadow symbolised by the tar baby, the dark brother. Its deflating. He has been caught with his pants down after all. But the encounter enriches him by opening up internal channels of communication between I and me.

An’ so he can get outtada pickle.

Brer Fox has less inner dialogue. Being is lodged in this one thing in his life. He is bound to be resistant to change.  By and large, the goal of many helping professions, particularly at the behavioural end of the spectrum, is to ‘relieve’ him of his symptom.

But that’s all he has….

So he hangs on like grim death.

It would be much better, instead of trying to cut the only string he has to his bow, to help him realise that his obsession has to do with the poverty of his inner world. It is about not being fed in some way. He then might let himself be depressed about the limited options this eventuates and see his idealised self-construct as compensation for the restricted way in which he has thus far lived.

And of course if his culture had not been so foolish as to cut itself off from the nourishment of the divine feminine responsible for relatedness then one thin, gloriously idealised slice of life’s pie, will be all you’ll get….

excep’ you not him therapist.

He might then realise that his envy of brer Rabbit is justified. Brer Rabbit really does have greater internal flexibility than brer Fox and actually represents brer Fox’s own potential.

When envy can be named and allowed, it is free to grow into admiration for the other that can then be emulated and alchemicaly transformed into inner possibility.

Brer Fox’s negative transference on Brer rabbit might then be resolved.

‘An so him can find pleasure in tidying him den….spruce him fur…   an’ follow on de trail of sissy Fox.


Published by


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.

Leave a Reply