Creative Anxiety and Finding Love.


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.


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.


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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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