The Challenge of Gratitude.

Thanksgiving Day 2016.

When patients tell me that they hear voices, I think, ”ah, hope”. Why? Because you can at least address a voice. You can call it out of the shadows and give it an armchair,

or a soapbox  …

an invitation usually grasped with both hands.

Voices have a lot to say and should be taken seriously. Not just acted upon, I hasten to add. The voice that tells you to chop people up with a machete should not be allowed to run the show. But it should still be heard.

The great danger is when there are no inner voices at all, nothing to question, no reflection to be had, no internal conversation. No I to talk to me.

Inner disagreements can’t then be mused over. Values can’t be weighed. And the stuff you’ve swallowed whole in order not to have to chew over its bitterness or its gristle is suddenly masquerading as personal opinion.

So, instead of a latterday Jiminy Cricket sitting on your shoulder telling you how shit you are, you do the job yourself. I’m shit. And because it’s now part of your self structure, you will hang onto that conviction like grim death..

”as though it were something precious.” F Perls.

All the feelings you then need to express to others get destructively turned in on oneself….

and the path is then smoothed between you and whoever has hijacked your life….

”selectively sponsoring the hyperdevelopment of certain mental functions in the child and retarding others.” M Kahn.

It looks great. They are so close, so attentive. But the child…

never gets a chance to develop his own personality, because he is so busy holding down the foreign bodies he has swallowed whole [which] moves the boundary between himself and the rest of the world so far inside that there is almost nothing left.” F Perls.

This leads to dissociative tendencies in the child which allows them…

”to both perceive and deny the character of their early environment.” M Kahn.

Which brings us to Thanksgiving.

It turns out that there really was an occasion in which early settlers sat down with Algonquin people and ate turkey, but for the main part Thanksgiving had a very different meaning…

In 1637 near present day  Groton, Connecticut, over 700 men, women and children of the Pequot Tribe had gathered for their annual Green Corn Festival. In the predawn hours the sleeping Indians were surrounded by English and Dutch mercenaries who ordered them to come outside.  Those who came out were shot or clubbed to death while the terrified women and children who huddled inside the longhouse were burned alive. The next day the governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony declared “A Day Of Thanksgiving”. Susan Bates  http://www.manataka.org/page269.html

Because the special child is treated as though he can do no wrong and because he is permitted to deny reality in the service of a symbiotic omnipotence with the Other personified by parent/church/state, he can effectively do as he pleases and even think of himself as a liberator.

Following an especially successful raid against the Pequot in what is now  Stamford, Connecticut, the churches announced a second day of “thanksgiving” to celebrate victory over the heathen savages.  During the feasting, the hacked off heads of Natives were kicked through the streets like soccer balls.  Even the friendly Wampanoag did not escape the madness. Their chief was beheaded, and his head impaled on a pole in Plymouth, Massachusetts — where it remained on display for 24 years. ibid

This attitude of entitlement is enbodied by endless permission to do as he pleases, rooted in the parent/state’s idolisation that has given the child god-like status in lieu of his own emotional/cognitive innards. His identity is not rooted in himself but rather in a collusive relationship between himself and an all powerful Other.

The killings became more and more frenzied, with days of thanksgiving feasts being held after each successful massacre. George Washington finally suggested that only one day of Thanksgiving per year be set aside instead of celebrating each and every massacre. ibid

Nor will he expect to be called to account or have to explain his actions because of this early bias…

”that he is special, cannot be understood and that communication is futile.” M Khan.

So the upside of this terrible loss of relatedness is that you don’t have to explain or have qualms, or doubts or confusion. You need not contemplate the personal significance or meaning of the word ‘violation’, because you could never do such a thing and therefor you did not. You can rape in the name of love, kill in the name of life and steal in the name of proper government.

Yes, I’m judging. But no more than I judge myself for having been just such a gun toting pioneer myself, attacking peacable people in the name of Progress or believing that the road and rail links into their lands to rip off their resources were for their benefit.

We bought them down from the trees….

so ungrateful

yet for all of that priviledge and wealth, it doesn’t touch the sides on its way down. The gluttonous consumption of land and people, crammed in to try and fill that empty craving maw where the ontological security of being loved for who you are with all you limits, warts and imperfections might be…..

never does what it promises..

and so we need black fridays where we can trample one another to death in the sales for a bargain, the day after being so thankful for all that we have.

and have another desperate go at filling the hole where our own personal destinies might have been.

It’s a loss that makes it difficult…

”to conceive of the other as having a separate, unique mind.” H Meloy.

and so much as their being crushed won’t matter too much, neither can the gratitude be felt that banners the event….

or the cognitive dissonance that our giving of thanks co-incides with the remnants of the Indian Nations being subject to human rights abuses on the last pocket handerchief they are still able to call their own.

 

 

 

The Tin Soldier.

After playtime the one-legged tin soldier had been carelessly left out of the box. He spied a beautiful paper ballerina across the playroom floor and they fell in love. Then the ‘bogey’ jack-in-the-box jumped up and shouted….

”You’ll never have her!”……

In the morning he’s found and put on the window sill where a gust tips him into the street. Two small boys put him in a paper boat and sail him down the gutters. He’s nearly eated by a rat. Then he is swallowed up by a great fish when his little boat takes him onto the river…

As the Fates would have it, Cook just happened to buy that fish from a man who just happened to catch it that morning and so the one-legged tin soldier is miraculously returned.

But then some unknown hand,

maliciously,

casts him into the stove,

where he melts..

though not before a tricksy breeze blows the ballerina in with him.

And so they died.

”If you bring out what is inside you, what is inside you will save you. If you do not bring out what is inside you then what is inside you will destroy you” . Gospel of Thomas

The fact that Cook found a small tin heart in the ashes next morning..

aw.

…was no comfort to anyone.

The Tin Soldier is a story about the deprived child. He was cast in a mould for which there was not enough tin in the spoon that had been melted down to make him and his brothers-in-arms. So he only has one leg.

He hasn’t the sense of being held-in-arms or the sure footedness of the others. He tries to make up for it by being the brightest and shiniest and most magnificent but his repetoire seems to be on a loop and life has a strange way of happening to him. For all his flashiness he doesn’t seem to be in charge of his own ship and is constantly being swept along on a tide of events.

Children who have been cast in a mould become..

”excessively self absorbed and phobic in adolescence. Apathy is one way of controlling it…” M Kahn.

Fate bundles him like tumbleweed. Anything that is not part of the experience of being a tin soldier is left unlived and so the fates brood darker..

and gobble him up.

Despite the romantic sentiment of the two lovers united in death there is encouraged the underlying sense that you shall not participate in your own fate.

”Sentimentality is the underbelly of Fascism.” H Barbara.

Better you stay in the toy box.

Yet there is something that is also inevitable about the deprived child being the one to find a way out of the toybox. His very hunger compells him. Somehow he finds a way. Though he’s used to always having to dig down into himself, it makes him successful  only in so far as he is a creature of his moulding…

”limited to only one choice, divested of, suppressing, or censoring feelings and thoughts. Not acting, not saying….” Clarissa Pinkola Estes.

Without the split off ‘bogey’ part of him represented by the Jack-in-the-box he will never have his true love because relationships will always be kept at the idealised level of persona and shared specialness with both parties pushed into archetypal roles. This leads to a great loss of intimacy.

”Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” CG Jung.

all very dodgy when the Oligarchy needs a war and have the perfect choice of ‘bogey’ to carry all their tin soldiers’ projections.

They say that the Narcissist is motivated by the need to dominate but to what end? The fact that you will invariably come away from the encounter feeling at the least as though someone had just wiped themselves on you is the answer. The Narcissist’s pre-occupation is not ultimately power or admiration but the urgent need to divest himself of his ‘negative’ Jack-in-the-box , relief that can feel like omnipotence.

I once had a client who had committed a terrible crime. Before every session I was consumed with some nameless horror. And afterwards it took a day or so to shake off a terrible feeling of guilt/complicity, as if he had hived off his Conscience and lodged it in my spleen.

but then I realised it was actually the horror of what had been done to him. When he could acknowledge the crime against his own person my symptoms subsided.

Mostly we don’t get past doing unto others.

A great asset to any war effort.

and to personal cohesion.

The victim and the persecutor share something profound. They both know who they are. So which ever way war goes, it’s all good. By chance its good business too. Economically things will look depressed but only for you and me. The gap between rich and poor widens in war. Resources concentrate at the top of the food chain.

And of coure the arms trade is doing very nicely.

1000 billion dollars annually.

Mind you, revenue for the top 100 dealers dipped a bit a few years back by 4%, that’s only 9.6 billion each.

they must have been gutted…

It’s also said that the Narcissist has a big ego. Nothing could be further from the truth. His unacknowledged lack, rooted in the sense that the mould he came from was of more importance than his individuality, compells him to retreat from the soul-making of the world and he just winds up back home without a scratch, like a tomato seed untouched by the gut.

Domination of others serves to hive off inferiority and be a shield to inner emptiness. Its a means to an end. Identity coalesces around something otherwise fragile.

Freud observed that people lose their neuroses in times of war. It does more than focus your mind.

At least until peace breaks out.

In the meantime God is on our side. Alright?

Will he still be on our side when we are victorious?

No, he will chasten us mightily going..

VENGEANCE IS MINE…

and smite us for getting too relaxed, what with having heroically made it through the dust and blood of battle.

Not much incendiary to be nice then is there?

and so the hand of fate tosses him once more into life’s furnace.

The reason there are almost as many veteran loses to suicide as there are to combat is not just out of remorse or protest or PTSD, nor even for failing to ‘readjust’ to a consumer world, nor yet from issues of identity kicked up by the turmoil of battle but from a feeling once its over, of divine abandonment…. and not knowing what life is for..

back in the fire…

And should it dawn upon the mighty who point all those tin soldiers to war that their towering billions are becoming yawnful, that their inner world remains unfed, their soul unclothed, then what better than another conflict to give us all ample reason to go live in our limbic systems for the duration?

back in the fire.

 

In any One Moment…

Athelstan’s wood lies on the Welsh border with Herefordshire, a wild and remote region of the countryside. I was out walking. The track was dry and broad. It was a sunny afternoon in late August. The greenwood had just a hint of Autumn about it and the banks at the side of the path were in full flower.

Suddenly, a voice. It came from a point directly in front of me, a hand’s breadth from my face. It said,  ‘A hundred yards down the track on the left hand side there is a fox asleep underneath a tree.’

.
I was amazed. There was no-one around. I stopped and looked about, leaning heavily on my stick to compensate the sudden feeling of weakness in my legs.

Who had spoken? Where were they? I went over what was said. It had all been so soft, so quiet and yet so utterly matter of fact. The information was clear and undeniable.

I decided to see for myself whether it was true.

As you would..

I mean, if someone said they had a giant caught under a teacup you’d have a peek..

just to see

if you were going mad or not…

So I paced out a hundred yards. To my left a tall, thick bank covered with nettle, beech and old man’s beard. I dug my stick into the hedge, grabbed a branch and hauled myself up, parting the top of it with my free hand and peered over.

.
There, asleep beneath a pine tree, was a young fox.

I was so astonished. I just stood there, all tangled up in the hedge. Struggling to balance, looking down at the fox who gradually got to his feet and, without taking his eyes off me, slowly walked away.

.
I can’t say who was more surprised. The fox must have felt his spot was pretty safe and I suppose I had felt that not too much could intrude on my quiet stroll through the woods. We were both sorely mistaken. But what on earth had happened? I was frankly shocked.

.
I suppose I might have flattered myself with the fantasy that I had had some kind of ‘premonition’ or extra sensory perception of the event except for the fact that it was not my perception at all. The voice was decidedly ‘not me’. And why such a curious piece of information? Why not winning lottery numbers? Or the meaning of life? A really snappy title for my book or the name of my one true love?

.
‘A hundred yards down the track on the left hand side there is a fox asleep underneath a tree.’ It was all so impossible. I stumbled home in a daze.

.
In the months that followed I puzzled over the events of that afternoon endlessly. I couldn’t write. I could scarcely string a sentence together. The whole thing was sending shudders through my world.

.
The more I thought about it the less I knew, the greater seemed the Universe and everything in it. I spent more and more time wandering the hills, wondering and puzzling. I was smart. I could figure it out. But the more I tried the more I failed, the worse I felt, the more puzzled I seemed to become.

.
Then, one day, I was out walking my now habitual ten or fifteen miles when I passed a tiny country chapel set all alone against the foot of a low hill. It was Sunday. There was the sound of an organ and people’s voices. I was desperate for some human company and went in, sitting near the back. It was not particularly because I felt any spiritual impulse to do so. I just wanted a rest and the sense of other folk.

The pastor was speaking, a dull boring man with a droning voice. He went on and on. I didn’t mind. I was happy just to be sat down in company. Then he said, ‘and now I hand over to so-and-so…’ gesturing to the back of the building.

A great bear of a man stood up immediately behind me. He was so close I could smell him. I didn’t turn to look but I could sense his enormous presence.
I cannot remember a single word that he said. All I can recall is that his voice was a sweet fire, a gentle yet heartfelt outpouring of one who had been in the presence of the Mystery, one who had seen and known.

He was everything the pastor was not. His Being vibrated with energy and passion; yet it was all with a quiet sense of having renounced or surrendered himself to something that now inspired his honeyed song.

.
The service was over. I slipped out of the chapel without ever seeing his face. I was turned in on my own excitement. I had no more need to understand what had happened that day in Athelstan’s wood. The fact of it, the sheer wonder at it all was enough. The mystery was the message.

.
In the most playful and mischievous way the voice had said, ‘’I’m not here for you to figure out. Nor am I here to make your life easier. I’m just to be reckoned with or ignored at your peril!’’. I had responded like the pastor, all dried up and boring because I wanted something that I could understand, because I wanted the Unseen to be an object of my inflated consciousness. So I lived with the thin soup of wanting it all worked out which I needed to trade in favour of wonder.

.
The honey-fire giant showed me that being clever about such things is not just a poor substitute for the real thing. It is actually a form of not wanting to know; not wanting to be truly affected by the experience, keeping it all at the level of having an interesting anecdote rather than a transformative kernel of amazement.

I had  to renounce learning for longing, let myself wonder and be comforted by all the things I didn’t understand .

……………………..

this essay is an excerpt from my new book on the Individuation process which you can order here…http://andywhiteblog.com/2016/06/11/abundant-delicio…ot-off-the-press/

Because I’m Not.

A mother is walking down the street with her child. She’s in high gear and the child of three-ish is having to run to keep up. She looks at him with annoyance and says, ‘why are you running?”

The boy, out of breath, replies, ”because I’m not.”

The poor lad cannot face the denial of his reality in her question, the dismissal of his inner world to which the only honest answer is a forbidden, truth telling version of, ‘because you’re in a big bad mood and stomping off…

without looking to see if  I’m left behind….

which can only mean that I’m unimportant enough for running to be necessary or real.

And so the only thing he can do is to deny his own reality. At least there will be  common ground if only on the basis of shared contempt for the child’s point of veiw. This will cost the child his footing. On the pavement and in life.

This boy is not, ‘failing to internalise values’ (Kernberg)

He’s internalising them only too well.

I … am not quite real, but I can run and walk at the same time. Look out everyone it’s the fantastic running/walking boy!

Where adequate treatment fails, double think and Grandiose Self Structures ensue. We can’t be whole for as long as we identify with an expectation to run and walk at the same time.

Otto Kernberg coined the phrase, ‘Grandiose Self Structure’, to describe Narcissism. But his insistance on it having a ‘pathological formation’,  tends to strip it of meaning before we’ve even had a look around.

The problem with calling anything abnormal is that we tend to lose respect for it and forget to ask helpful questions.

and so he has to account for sadism by saying that,

”the infliction of suffering is the child’s attempt to defend against his own helplessness, through the exercise of omnipotent control over another.”            O. Kernberg

No, that’s what kings do.

Not children. y’all confuse’.

In any case, to what end omnipotent control?

The thing about early deprivation is that it urgently needs to split off and project desperation . The child concludes that it is unheld because it is lacking. Moreover, the baseline of how people treat each other, reality itself, is called into question. This is not a good thing. The intrusive dark splinter of not quite being real has to be visited on another.

Whiiich is exactly what we have at the roots of mono-theistic values. A blind eye to the blatant denial of reality that says,

DO AS I SAY ON PAIN OF DEATH..

in one moment and…

DO AS YOU PLEASE SO LONG AS YOU PRAISE ME.

on the other.

…a nudge an’ a wink if ever you should find yourself up against ‘enemies’.

The poor flock are suddenly awash in persecutory anxiety and paranoia in their double/bind situation and are only able to regain their composure by joining Yahweh in his unreality with..

because I’m not..

”I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” St Paul.

and so it begins.

Kohut is unequivocal, Narcissism,

”results from massive shortcomings in mothering.” Kohut.

and even Kernberg will give a bit and refers to incipient..

”intolerable reality in the interpersonal realm.” Kernberg

which i suppose is a sanitised way of talking about the unbearable misery of being a child who is related to in an ideal way or not at all, which is what you get when Mother has had all her spiritual autonomy sucked out of her.

And so the crucial detail is that the Grandiose Self Structure is largely uninhabited….

by any one permanent resident..

though there are tenants who might be aquainted

but not necessarily

in the way you might like.

or that might like you

since keeping up a pretence of occupancy is jolly hard work thankyou very much. I mean, someone has to be in if the bailiffs come around.

and so we pollute because we don’t, and lie and cheat because we never and start wars because we’re not.

People don’t dumb themselves down with the nonsense of being accepted on the basis of rejection unless they have been systematically devalued already, and not in adversity, but by the child’s soul not being welcome enough…

”until he too, loses all sight of it.” Alice Miller.

So paranoid anxiety is an appropriate response to not having sufficient toe hold in the world.

But what about dealing with ‘Because-I’m-Not’ in the flesh? What do you do with a kid who’s too smart to read the instructions at the front of his exam paper? The spouse who turns the Aga oven off in Winter and back on in May? The dismissive colleague…who isn’t.

Psychoanalysis is utterly divided in its opinion. The fact is that if you are just benign he’ll take advantage and if you are too confrontative there will be no safety. So, you do as you would with any kid whose acting out because they’re not getting enough of the good stuff, you pick your battles..

and try to love them at least as much as you hate them.

or walk away.

 

Creative Anxiety and Finding Love.

This,

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h8QmV8wxEeE

is a short video of Andre Rieu playing Sir Anthony Hopkins’ compostion, ‘And the Waltz goes on,’ presented for the first time fifty years after it was initially written. The unfolding story and the lyrical beauty of the music put my more critical faculties on hold but afterwards I wondered…

How is it that an oscar winning knight of the realm takes fifty years to get a piece of music played that rivals Strauss himself…?

You can imagine poets and composers from the four corners throwing their hands up in despair, the collective clang of manuscripts and canvases being binned around the world, the bathroom scramble for something to slit your wrists with afterwards.

Its true that anyone who embarks on some kind of soulful project has first to deal with the Sphinx that presides over the fact that they are liable to die in obscurity. Their treasure may never see the light of day.

And yet, why would we express, or want to, if not from the desire to share and be acknowledged?

The Sioux believe that any big dream or inspiration must always be bought before the tribe for the sake of all concerned and before the person could derive any benefit from it.

”A person who has a vision cannot use the power of it until after they have performed the vision on earth for the people to see.” Black Elk

..and so our potential and sense of self tend to get wrapped up in our soul project, whatever it is, and having it unwitnessed can feel tantamount to being unseen oneself, like an unnoticed child that might then begin to assume she is invisible.

But the tension between wanting to be loved and the lonliness of expression for its own sake can be unbearable..

so just train yoursel’ to get in a box and close the lid from the inside…

Creativity, whether it is witnessed or not, depends upon  considerable anxiety. And shitiness. No one who was entirely comfy ever undertook anything. There has to be some frustration, some grit in the oyster, some sense of being driven.

”Conflict, and the need to overcome it, is a fundamental element in creativeness.” Melanie Klein.

Unfortunately, one of the foundations of our culture’s ‘house of narcissism’ is minimal anxiety, detachment.

”There is a strong negative relationship between “callous unemotional” traits and anxiety (Frick, Lilienfeld, Ellis, Loney and Silverthorn, 1999).

and so for the want of anxiety the hero/ine cannot set fulfil all their adventures or embrace their destiny. The child quickly learns there is no positive re-inforcement for becoming oneself, experienced, not as an idea or a conclusion, but as the gut-stabbing realisation of something so awful that it has to be projected into the future in some frightening yet representational way.

”Catastrophic expectation is a memory.” D Winnicott.

The experience of being anxiously unheld in a tradition that has no divine metaphor for maternal embrace is defensively split off into an immediate future world (knowing what happens next) and even though it may then manifest as persecutory anxiety, better out than in….

but it got a way of making people strange….

One of the jokes Jewish people tell about themselves is that there was a woman whose son was swept away by a freak wave from the end of the pier. As he sank out of sight she cried, ‘oh, is there no-one that will save my son’? And so one brave man takes off his jacket and shoes and dives in. After what seems an age, when all hope is lost, he returns with the young boy in his arms. The mother rushes over, takes one look and says, ‘and his hat?’

The fantasy that life always short changes you can be bent to fit even the most unlikely place you’d expect to see ingratitude. It gives a sense of the insistent need to experience being witheld from as an external reality rather than as earliest internal experience.

The problem is that all this omnipotent ‘knowing what happens next’ kills aliveness and poisons relatedness.

Yet,

if you asked most folk if they’d like a magic wand that could make them fearless, unfettered by worries or concerns, unaffected by the opinions of others, they’d likely jump at the chance…

except that this is the check list for malignant narcissism…..

wot don’t write waltzs.

So the main issue is not really the narcissists out there, or how to deal with them or how you got bruised by one but how we participate in it….

and the eternally fresh underwear of being too cool to have a go or wrestle with some passion.

So paranoia is good for something. There is at least some anxiety about. Some adventure to be had.

Though it might take fifty years to be able to contain its expression or find the inner renegade brave enough to say it out loud.

And for all that, what stayed with me most was not the beauty of the waltz or the struggle for its expression, but the lovelight in his wife’s eyes and the way she leant her cheek on his shoulder.

 

The Vengeful Goddess

Sekhmet is one of the oldest known Egyptian deities. Her name is derived from the Egyptian word “Sekhem” which means “power” or “might”. She is depicted as a lion-headed woman, sometimes with the addition of a sun disc on her head.

Sekhmet was represented by the searing heat of the mid-day sun. She was fierce. She had teeth and claws. She was also the patron of Physicians, and Healers and her priests became known as skilled doctors. So the fearsome deity  was also known as “lady of life”. Above all, she is the protector of Ma’at, balance.

Sekhmet was closely associated with Kingship. She was often described as the mother of Maahes, the lion god who was a patron of the Pharaoh and it is suggested that the Pharaoh himself was conceived by Sekhmet.

According to myth, her father Ra became angry because mankind was not following his laws and preserving Ma’at. He decided to punish mankind by sending Sekhmet, the ‘eye of Ra’, and she began her rampage. The fields ran with human blood. At the sight of the carnage, Ra repented. He ordered her to stop, but she was in a blood lust and would not listen. So Ra poured 7,000 jugs of beer and pomegranate juice (which stained the beer blood red) in her path. She gorged on the “blood” and became so drunk she slept for three days. When she awoke, her blood lust had dissipated, and humanity was saved.

So what was it that pissed Ra off so much?

A bit of imbalanced Ma’at?

Seems a bit extreme.

Except that the imbalance was the loss of Sekmhet herself who shortly afterwards lost her status and her teeth when morphed into the rather more matronly and benign Hathor.

Lion got traded in for cow.

And since the Gods’ vengeance is invariably poetic Ra sent the very force which Humanity had so unwisely ignored to make a point from which it was impossible not to draw certain conclusions.

Your sins of ommision shall also be counted.

To withold is more damning than the sword.

Sekmhet’s fury is at the hybris engendered by depriving the Gods of their just acknowledgement.

When children are treated as idols, ‘special’ kids, little angels, the deprivation is two fold. Firstly the gods are not getting their due, but then neither is the child. Both are robbed of Ma’at. This makes Sekmhet and the child alike detached and vengeful.

The narcissist/psychopathic personality has been called the forgotten wo/man of psychiatry. There is a good reason for this. Psychiatry is focused on symptoms and the narcissist doesn’t have any.

How is that possible?

Because the narcissist’s wounds are about the absence of something essential rather than the presence of something florid or exotic.

Its difficult to spot what isn’t there.

Interestingly Dorland (1974) describes the narcissist/ psychopath as someome who has an anti social personality so the dysfunction is in relatedness…

”never in faults of logical reasoning, verbal confusion or technical delusion but rather in the sharper reality… of feeling behaviour” H. Cleckley.

The Narcissist does not simply disregard the ethical considerations or the rights of others in pursuit of selfish ends that momentarily outweigh his or her value system. What’s under consideration is part of a much more pervasive pattern…

that disregards regardless.

Conscience never really got developed in the first place.

Sekmhet’s altar is empty.

There’s a strong tendency in the literature not to hold parents responsible for their narcissistic progeny….

”I do not believe obvious mistreatment or any simple egregious parental errors can justifiably be held as the cause,..” ibid

and so despite brilliant descriptions of narcissistic enactments in his equally brilliant book, ‘The Mask of Sanity’, Cleckley is left scrabbling about for an explanation.

It being so difficult to spot what doesn’t occur.

Freud probably made the first description of the part played by deprivation.

”The necessary condition….is absence of love and a lack of emotional appreciation …” S. Freud.

I recall a training video on Autism we were shown as students. The young boy was being very badly behaved and kicking the skirting board in the hallway. The narration was focused on his behaviour and the strain on family life….

Unnoticed was what didn’t happen…..

an easy thing to miss…

His Mum was stood there with her arms folded….uninvolved.

even the three tear old sibling was pulling at her skirts as if too say,

‘Come on mum, get involved, be involved.’

I gave my son a massive plane with lights and buzzers for his third birthday. He stepped back a bit when it started going.

”I don’t want it, daddy.”

and for a second I was poised to give him a telling off for his ingratitude.

Did he realise how much I spent on the damn plane?

But then I realised that my gift was over-kill, compensation, the glazed look in his eyes was a mirror of me. I was uninvolved. The whole thing was so big and flashy he couldn’t play with it. He couldn’t hold it. He couldn’t imaginate his own adventure, pre-empted in fantasy by all the various sounds and movements it was already making.

And so I was ashamed.

All I’d given him was a manifesto of my own flashy noisiness which he couldn’t play with.

And so my ‘gift’ was actually an act of theft.

You took his Ma’at.

”Once, only obvious irrationality was regarded as a personality disorder. In fact, many less obvious disorders are more serious and incapacitating than those with gross superficial manifestations that can be readily demonstrated.” Cleckley

In fact, perhaps the delusional or schizophrenic person is a little better adjusted, given that symptoms contain meaning which can come to consciousness. How much more scary than the person who thinks they are Napoleon is the man who knows himself perfectly well but doesn’t care about you or your life as a premise for interaction.

I prefer Napoleon….

..and the paradox that even though it is the quality of a parent’s interaction with  baby that determines baby’s later feeling life and the quality of future relationships or lack of them, so is it true that the epidemic of Narcissism is a collective phenomena, a direct consequence of the loss of the divine feminine.

How shall mother be….. if motherhood can’t be sacred?

Hathor, her sister, and in fact more a new incarnation of Sekhmet, mourns her loss.

Crucially, Hathor is goddess of motherhood and childbirth. If she is grief stricken for the loss of the lion/sun aspect of womanhood what will that bring to the mother/infant relationship?

Bruno Bettleheim, an analyst who spent time in Auschwitz, draws the comparison between concentration camp life and the inner world of the psychopathic child…

”in terms of the shared sense of depersonalisation and deprivation.” B Bettleheim.

Whatever the content of mother’s inner world, baby has a piece. Levy Bruhl originally called it ‘participation mystique’, a pre-verbal shared reality.

”the involvment in his mother’s emotional state is something he cannot separate himself from… he absorbs her psychological state as he absorbs nutrition.” F Ruppert.

If her state is one of being disenfranchised of spiritual worth or divine advocacy, then inner poverty is bound to result.

As is the compensatory gesture of having the child be special, laden down as he is with mother’s unvalued depths…

this dynamic is collective and cumulative.

and so society becomes increasingly self-centred and emotionally shut down…

Buuuut .. ..

thou shalt be more than a little bit depressed.

Wouldn’t it be spiffing if there was some poetic justice, some dark streak of irony in Sekhmet’s vengeance?

After all, the Single System systems have bred a very particular kind of person…

one who experiences the world as un-nourishing..

who doesn’t get told ‘no’..

has a propensity to project the shadow,

who is deadened in feeling…

without which values become a moveable ration pack,

who believes they are special and entitled

and that deep down they are godlike..

or doing God’s work…

with ‘unintegrated aggression’.

and no remorse or conscience….

Sounds like the perfect soldier to me.

Wouldn’t it be fun and clever if Sekhmet, ‘Lady of Pestilence’, then took them all and gave them guns and bombs while she drank her 7,000 jugs of beer and pomegranite juice,

ate nachos…

and just watched from the bleachers while Humanity took up from where she’d left off?

 

 

Narcissism Redeemed.

In 1943 Goebbles commissioned a young writer called Gerhard Burger to write a script for a Nazi propaganda movie. Little did he realize that Burger was in fact the pseudonym of banned and wanted satirist Erich Kestner whose books Goebbles had personally burned only months before….

‘Burger’ wrote ‘Munchhausen’ for Goebbles.

It was a great success.

Did Kastner sell himself out?

I think not.

The story starts as you would expect.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p5Hjj-w8nU8

Munchausen is a golden super warrior, an apotheosis of Man endowed with eternal life. He knows all of Europe’s royalty and has an elite band of faithful servants all gifted with special powers. There are all kinds of heroic shenanigins.

But Kastner threw in an ending so subtle it is almost lost in the sentimentality, a message so understated as to be subliminal.

Munchausen quietly renounces his special powers for the sake of growing old with the one he loves. A much more humble vision than Goebbles  might have intended, in fact something that managed to slide entirely under his radar. The final message of the film was what Kastner wanted it to be.

The way forward is by virtue of ordinariness and love.

Which is how it is with extremism.

And, by extension, anyone else who has ‘the syndrome’.

The so-called Munchausen syndrome is at the more colourful end of the Narcissistic spectrum. From a medical point of veiw it is ‘factitious’ insofar as its seen as just a case of someone wanting attention. But perhaps anyone who wants to be ill really is. The desire to be ill or to have a reason not to go out into the world really is pretty messed up.

It is also rather typical of the ‘puer aeturnus’ archetype that underpins narcissism, a wish to identify with only one tiny, idealised corner of the personality and to present oneself as this superior front to the world from whom admiration and solicitude can then be squeezed in equal measure.

The fact is that many a child laden down with parental expectations and archetypal projections is going to feel as though there is something wrong with them.

“The truth about our childhood is stored up in our body, and although we can repress it, we can never alter it. Someday our body will present its bill, for it is as incorruptible as a child, who, still whole in spirit, will accept no compromises or excuses, and it will not stop tormenting us until we stop evading the truth.” -Alice Miller

If they follow their own destiny they fail in their parent’s eyes. If they let themselves remain co-opted they betray their own destiny.

Such a conflict is bound to  end up in A+E.

Real or imagined….

”The gods have become diseases, producing curious specimins for the doctor’s consulting room.” CG Jung.

It’s easy to critisize the arrogant narcissist as a malingerer, as someone living a provisional life, refusing to put down roots in the real world, a Dorian Grey with

”too great a dependence on the Mother.” Mats Winther.

It would be better to ask how that dependence has been fostered. If a child is  covertly handed the responsibility of providing their parent with meaning then there will indeed be much hovering and disengagment from life in respect of such a sacred task.

It’s precisely such a child’s prescribed role to wait in the wings of  parental  ambition and to appear, saviour like, at just the right moment.

There’s no real getting on with your own life.

And you’ll feel as sick as a dog.

The modern rendering of the story…    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mdtJG1p7FP8

shows the situation more clearly and gives us the resolution to the situation. The Baron’s identification with his superiority has created terrible inner conflict with the shadow,  the less than noble side of his personality. This is personified (as it is today) by ‘The Turk’, a Muslim Pasha with a taste for sado-masochism and decapitation who beseiges the city.

Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow.. T S Eliot

Munchausen’s inner world has become so devoid of ordinary ideosyncratic material that he is compelled to identify with extreme, opposing roles in order to know himself. Even Catherine the Great is not sufficiently his equal.

”He becomes collectivized from within. The greater the identification with the youthful god, the less individuality although he feels so special.” ML von Franz.

This polarisation is hard work. So is covering over his inner emptiness given that his specially endowed servants are all captured or dispersed. The town’s regular troops are not fighting back because it is Wednesday. Ie his defences have regressed to autistic levels of functioning and so we find Munchausen depleted and close to death.

Narcissism in ourselves masquerades as self worth yet we see it clearly enough  in others to find it annoying. We forget the deprivation behind it, how it feels to be secretly running on empty all the time. We fail to ask what all this grandeur is compensating for or what kind of world the child was raised in.

The term ‘Symbiotic Omnipotence’,

http://andywhiteblog.com/2015/11/08/symbiotic-omnipotence/

is useful in developing some compassion for otherwise noxious people because it describes how cumulative trauma to the sacred feminine over generations has had a serious impact on the experience of childhood.

”The danger for the modern child is that his mother is invariably a dissatisfied woman.” S de Beauvoir.

Millenia of spiritual repression has taught women to be secret with their inner world. For as long as baby’s ‘primary process thinking’ is predominant..

when he’s little..

yes, thankyou..

he participates in that secret and is bound to be imbued with its archetypal power, dominated in fact by something he’s unconsciously identified with, he must be the one to save the day.

From fear she conceals her deepest longings her greatest value, her soul, in her child, her golden redeemer, the gifted god-child…

that cannot help ignore the human clay of need and dependence; made all the more difficult to spot because the child in the equation seems to gain from the situation with..

”enhanced effectiveness of each type of functioning in the total personality.’ M. Khan

..the super-charged buzz of redemptive power, the hopes, the dreams….

and so..

“there readily develops a covertly arrogant mysteriously concocted pseudo superiority and false knowledge.” K. Horney.

…..represented by the special and bizzare powers of Munchausen’s now scattered servants.

He is saved from Death only by the anger and determination of a small child who needs closure on his story.

This is the sorcery of literature. We are healed by our stories.

— Terre Tempest Williams

To recover, to tell the story, Munchausen must first find his servants. He needs the inner resources, the different perspectives, of I and me. The problem is that they are all so imbued with magical specialness that they have come to various bad ends, like  famous gunslingers that every punk kid wants to take down. Bertholde, the world’s fastest runner, has to be rescued from the Moon King, the masculine aspect of his Mother who keeps his potential trapped.

Gaining the freedom of his valet Bertholde has divine consequences. They are all tipped headlong into Vulcan’s underground forge where Munchausen meets and courts Venus. His valuing of the clumsy, gauche part of himself, his risking himself for the sake of relatedness, evokes a response from the divine feminine who is now clearly looking out for him.

But it seems it is ‘too little too late’. They are all swallowed up by a sea monster and taken down into the depths.

”Clearly they have been overpowered by the unconscious and are helplessly abandoned, volunteering to die in order to begat a new and fruitful life in that region of the psyche which has hitherto lain fallow…” CG Jung.

Munchausen must renounce the project to redeem others and get on with the process of redeeming himself. The search for his servants, the functional and unique components of his own personality is a ‘night sea journey’, a braving of the depths of himself in order to find new zest for life.

As you might expect, the servants Gustavo of great hearing, Adolphus of accurate sight and Albrect of fantastic strength are also in the fish, though they have lost their special powers. With suffering they have become ordinary. There is genuine compassion and fellow feeling between them despite their ‘failure’ to uphold the shining maternal ideal handed down to them and this acceptance of themselves and of one another precipitates their escape.

Their mutuality, their single-heartedness, conjours Munchausen’s horse Bucephalus to appear, instinctive martial energy (Bucephalus belonged to Alexander the Great), a symbol of dynamic transformation that orchestrates their escape.

The personality fears that to renounce the shared specialness of Symbiotic Omnipotence is to lose all love and belonging. In fact it is to find it. They experience that love can survive ordinariness.

In fact, that’s what it depends on.

 

 

 

Symbiotic Omnipotence.

There were five brothers, all of whom had an extra-ordinary ability. One could swallow the sea, one had an iron neck, one had stretchy legs, one could not be burned and the last could hold his breath indefinitely.

So the one who could swallow the sea was on his way to market with some lovely fish when a young boy asks him the secret of his success. The first brother shows him how he swallows the sea, leaving the fish stranded.

Off runs the boy from one fascinating thing to another. The first brother tries to call him back but is still holding in the sea which is getting…

heavier…..

and heavier.

Swallow the Sea eventually has to pour the sea all back out.

The young boy is drowned…..

overwhelmed by archetypal contents that do not belong to him…

The first brother is condemned to the axeman…

but he begs leave to visit his poor mother and swops places with Iron Neck whose head won’t be chopped.

So they try to drown him but he swops places with Stretchy Legs who can reach the bottom.

Then they try to burn him but Can’t be Burnt just laughs and calls for more wood.

Then they try to smother Hold his Breath in cream…..

What a wonder! He must be favoured by the Gods and therefore innocent!

And so the five brothers and their Mother all lived together happily for many years.

But he wasn’t innocent.

And you can bet it wasn’t happy.

The ordinary boy who unselfconsciously followed his own interest along the sea bed was killed….

negligently killed.

And so it is that there is a terrible price to be paid for being special. The curious, spontaneous child who can be as amused by a starfish as a merri-go-round is dead.

And the five special brothers might get fed to the hilt and sleep like angels, but they will never be free to leave or find wives of their own….

a tight orbit..

”around ‘planet mother’, on which we can never land, so we live in Never-never land.’  Dale Mathers.

Symbiotic Omnipotence is like being joined at the hip with a power that is simultaneously trying to eat you.

So when someone’s niggly narcissism is getting on your nerves remember that what you’re witnessing is only one half of a double act under which the present protagonist is fighting a rear-guard action…….

”So, what did you want to do this afternoon?”

Fait accompli  hangs in the air like a toxic cloud.  The six year old doesn’t know about verb tenses or implication. He just knows that whatever he had in mind will now no longer be possible..

and wasn’t ever possible.

The decision has already been made.

Pictures will be taken. It will be special. Money will be spent and a careful tally kept. You will have everything..

and nothing.

”When I was just a little boy, I asked my Mother, what shall I be?                            Will I be handsome, will I be rich…?

Join me in my world. Let me sit on your lap and cuddle up while we imaginate together about all the adventures my fate holds in store so that I can gain perspective, contain the anxiety of separation and the lonliness of life’s road.

Whatever will be will be, the future’s not ours to see, Que sera sera.

Don’t be ridiculous. Not yours to see, nor yours to shape.  Are you not content with all your special gifts? You who know the wild soul of the Hills, who understands the voice of the wind in the pine trees….?

…and so we find the child in class who can’t concentrate because what is maths to the mystical interpreter of the wind?

…the child who feels destroyed because he doesn’t actually know the answer to everything and is therefor clearly a dunce..

…the child who can never find his stuff because its just so irrelevant next to the holy quest of embodying Mother’s highest value.

…the child in a rage because his friend has other friends…..

…the child consumed with apathy because he’s had to leave his destiny behind in a ditch…..

And if everything on the surface is so wonderful and has to be kept so, then getting to know your way around ordinary stuff like how to lose your temper can’t be done.

”Unless anger or rage can be voiced, it becomes difficult to manage extreme feelings. The child has no way of learning to control his aggressive emotions unless he is able to experience them himself.” Asha Phillips

Mother refrains from addressing the less than wonderful qualities in the child, which leaves them free floating and liable to enactment or symptomatic expression..

Freud went to see his mother Amalie every Sunday, always bringing flowers, delighting in her praise, making much of her devotion….

”but he had stomach ache every time.” Sophie Freud.

Symbiotic omnipotence is a twilight world where what you see is not what you get and things don’t mean what they say on the tin.

The easiest thing to do is let yourself be carried along in a way that…

”enables a person to both perceive and deny [reality]”. M. Kahn

useful, say, if you had some command codes and a red telephone. Or had to make a call as to which way the Belgrano was pointing, or had any qualms about lending money you didn’t actually have, but would have once the loan is repaid with interest.

In other words Symbiotic Omnipotence is perfectly adapted to create Empires,to crush people with impunity and send young men who believe entirely in their immortality and holy purpose….

to their deaths.

Rememberance Sunday 2015.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Golden Child.

Stanford University professor David Rosenhan and some of his students decided to see what would happen if they feigned hearing voices to gain admission to  hospital, but then behaved completely normally once they were inside.

http://www.bonkersinstitute.org/rosenhan.html

Their ordinary behaviour was interpreted as schizophrenic in all but one case. Note taking was described by staff as, ‘engaging in writing behaviour.’

”Given that the patient is in the hospital, he must be psychologically disturbed. And given that he is disturbed, continuous writing must be behavioral manifestation of that disturbance, perhaps a subset of the compulsive behaviors that are sometimes correlated with schizophrenia.” D. Rosenhan.

All the students were compelled to admit that they had mental illnesses and take antipsychotic drugs as a condition of their release.

Once the cat was out of the bag, one peeved hospital administration challenged Rosenhan to send them more pseudopatients which they would then detect and unmask, so to speak.

Rosenhan agreed.

Over the next weeks the hospital identified 20% of their admissions as Rosenhan ‘fakes’…..

but Rosenhan had sent no-one there…..

booyakasha….!

Our ‘guilty until proven innocent’, model of sanity, is rooted in Freud’s Drive Conflict theory, the jewel in the crown of Western Civilisation’s war of attrition against the Principle of Relatedness.

Drive Conflict theory eroded the significance of Mother, and common sense, to such a point that the quality of interaction with baby now became a factor that was secondary to the child’s inherent constitution.

cut to the chase, mon.

People no longer affect one another. You hurt yourself because you are weak and stupid. As for Mother…

DON’T SPEAK HER NAME…

We will no longer speak Her name. In fact we will refer only to her ‘object-relations’.

Mother doesn’t get front billing in early life… just a part of her, nor will she play much part,

or have any responsibility for how screwed up you are.

and that is the official theory, mon.

”..it was regarded as almost outside the proper interest of an analyst to give systematic attention to a person’s real experiences.” J Bowlby.

What this means for’ mad’ and ‘sane’ alike is that there is no legitimate suffering in life. Psychoanalysis’ central theory places itself outside the vales of sympathy and compassion required to heal grief, trauma and tragedy. To heal, the wound must first be given legitimacy, and second, meaning.

”My argument with psychoanalysis is the preconception that suffering is a mistake, or a sign of weakness, when in fact, possibly the greatest truths we know have come out of people’s suffering.” Arthur Miller.

There is a line in Sophocles’,  ‘Oedipus Rex’, sung by the chorus and therefore almost certainly the philosopher’s own personal perspective on life..

”Life becomes death longing, if all longing else be vain”. Sophocles.

It means that life is not worth living for its own sake. Freud said that the purpose of his method was to return people to ordinary misery. Ordinary misery is not enough. There has to be involvement in life beyond individual gain and measure for it to be meaningful. There has to be connectedness with one another and meaning afforded to legitimate suffering.

Not to have this is worse than death.

The Divine Feminine is the keeper of such truths.

Without sufficient representation of Her in our lives we need a host of back up theories about the inevitablity of our isolation and how it is somehow intrinsic to experience. In fact it is a collective mallaise caused by the devaluation of the Goddess.

..and produces what Masud Khan calls ‘symbiotic omnipotence,” a mood of inertia, helpless dependence, and emotional manipulation in people….

”whose outward lives looked okay but who were empty inside.” Dale Mathers.

Here’s how it works…

The depleted mother tries to compensate for the absence of a sacred vessel for motherhood by idolising the child.

actively discouraging..

”the perception of others as valuable or nourishing, through subtle collusion and indulgences”.  M. Khan

and keeping it from the real world.

She hides her sacred heart in her child. The child gets to be ‘special’, but carry’s this great burden of archetypal expectation, almost as a redeemer….. expected to do miracles… but denigrated like a demon when it all goes wrong…

”such a maternal relationship leads to dissociations…” M. Kahn.

The child can’t integrate his own personality. He’s been inappropriatley seduced into propping up something that is not his task to shoulder. His specialness is in exchange for mother’s use of him as a repository for all the archetypal material she’s been schooled to disown from her own soul. In the process he gets turned into a kind of golden idol..

”that we can then worship and adore so we have the illusion that everything is wonderful but actually have no real contact at all..” D. Mathers.

it’s a horribly split reality that leads to all kinds of superior, narcissistic behaviour and feelings of pathological entitlement on the one hand and worthlessness on the other.

The scary thing is that Yahweh’s Covenant with his  people ticks all the boxes for Symbiotic Omnipotence.

Exclusive attachment,

THOU SHALT HAVE NO OTHER GODS BUT ME..

active discouragement of other influences,

THOU SHALT NOT MAKE IDOLS

shared specialness,

THOU SHALT BE AS A BRIDE UNTO ME

poor communication,

BURN THEM ALL,

”failure to integrate aggression,” M. Kahn

BURN THEM ALL.

and prohibitive harmony…

BURN THEM ALL.

Kahn’s prognosis is poor…

”with maturity they became even more isolated, suffering a pervasive mood of diffuse anxiousness and apprehension.” Kahn

being special is a con.

”Always remember that you are absolutely unique, just like everyone else.” Margaret Mead.

The healing here is not particularly in any moral outrage that one might have in what being special pans out to be but in the longing and incompleteness at back of it all…

because that longing and incompleteness is another way of talking about love.

which is why longing has such great power in it.

The Abraham Complex.

Armed with assurances from Western officials my father took his family to live in a war zone. Despite the fact that there had been a guerrila war going on for seven years and you had to go everywhere in armed convoys it was quite safe…

…and thus emboldened with the spirit of cognitive dissonance that conquors people for their own good and will risk their own family to do it, my father sallied forth into a fray…

that had nothing to do with him…

apparently.

”We are most powerfully driven by that with which we are unconsciously identified. Transformation begins with doing deliberatly what you used to do without noticing” C Schwartz.

I spent years wondering why any one man would place his family in harms way, confusing myself by looking for something of which he might have been conscious…

for the sake of a petty administrative desk job.

When i say, ‘harm’s way’, it was more than the armed convoys. It was also the grenade screens on the windows, emergency drills and standing guard over your schoolmates at night armed with a bolt action lee-enfield .303s before you were old enough to shave.

The Rule of Intentionality says that what pans out must have had quite some drive behind it to get there…

…and the principle of Occam’s Razor says that the simplest answer is usually the right one even if it seems unlikely.

You might say that a man given the chance to play god over others might be seduced by the power of it all to the extent that the jeopardy of life was somehow worth it…

but it was even waaay more than that…

more than lack of care..

or the need to dominate and control.

No-one goies easily to war without a belly full of aggression and narcissistic entitlement, unconsciously looking for an outlet or a lifestyle that allowed, that wanted, the enactment of pent up violence.

and the sacrifice being made was not to king and country, it was at an altar presided over by something distinctly more zealous.

In my post on synchronicity..

(http://andywhiteblog.com/2015/10/25/synchronicity-…h-the-numinous/)

I described how traumas can be passed in minute detail from one generation to another with the story of how my father sent me to school under precisely the same circumstances as himself all the way down to being mocked for having clumpy boots.

That which has had to be traumatically hidden, repressed, crops up in future generations, preserving in sometimes great detail the content of the original experience.

Children really do carry the sins of the fathers , unresolved and unconscious material, passed down the generations like a hot potato.

Sometimes what we’re trying to work through has less to do with us than we think.

Sometimes the untold story that hampers our tread is a personal one. That’s bad enough. But then there are the untold story of the family and the community, which are more dangerous still.

The return of the repressed then comes armed with archetypal overtones. Fragments of story will be lived out, not from the ideosyncratic details of individual life but from the common storehouse of the collective psyche, from the figures of myth and legend themselves, complete with the psychological intensity that belongs with the timeless.

”We think we can congratulate ourselves on having already reached such a pinnacle of clarity, imagining that we have left these phantasmal gods behind. But what we have left behind are only verbal spectres, not the psychic facts. We are still as much possessed by [them] as if they were Olympians…” CG Jung

The denied Jewish ancestry in my family rubbed my father’s nose in the fact by turning him into an Old Testament prophet. A bit of poetic justice maybe but hell for everyone else. He was seized daily with wild domestic enthusiasms at home and proclaiming Policy to the great unwashed at work.

”The gods have become …disorders [letting] loose psychic epidemics on the world.” CG Jung

My father was most dangerous in his incarnation asAbraham.

because I was his Isaac…

An’ Isaac got a knife put to his throat…

So I was called out to die quite a few times, and die I nearly did.

Nor was the Abraham/Isaac component of our relationship confined to my being sent to fight in a special forces unit against overwhelming numbers. When the war refused to consume me he bought me an old wreck described by the only mechanic ever to take a look at it as ‘a death trap’. It was entirely unroad worthy, illegal and I was unliscenced.

”You’ll pick it up as you go along”

Nor was his sacrificial intent so subtly enacted.

As a child my bedroom contained the unusual luxury of bare electric cables snaking from the wall, the bite of which could hurl you right across it. Further cables adorned the walls outside, rubbing bare in the wind and electrifying the window frames when it rained along with any water that might pool on the window sill.

”His dissociative tendencies are actual psychic personalities possessing a differential reality.”  CG Jung.

But there’s no sacrifial stone quite like Fireforce.

On the outside you seem like immortal angels of death, armed to the teeth in choppers that were part dragonfly, droning the countryside in packs at 150mph.

But actually your gonna die.

Knife bein’ sharpen’ mon.

One way or another.

I hurt my back in a para jump. My lieutenant was a decent bloke. ”We’ll take you off first wave choppers.” Within minutes of my substitution the choppers were called out. The one I would have been riding in got hit by a SAM 7 half an hour later.

Everyone died.

My unit was eventually disbanded because there were so few of us left in it. No-one would join because no-one lasted very long. We were jinxes. Strangely, once we were divvied up amongst the other troops our status changed. We became talismen, touchstones of survival who could tell you it was by their great skills and magic as warriors that they lived. The mystery of the bullet-avoiding techniques could be graciously passed on over a game of cards or a pint of beer.

We played a lot of cards..

and drank a lot of beer.

In fact we white boys were neither heroes nor villains. We were sacrificial offerings at Mammon’s altar, no less than the Inca’s sacrificing their children to the gods with the exception that the Incas were conscious of what they were doing. We deem them savage whilst unmindfully doing the same, and sending our own youth to Abraham’s’s knife in unwitting allegience to the dark face of God who casts a blind eye to our greed in exchange for our children.