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,


in one moment and…


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.


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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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