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,


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..


…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..


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.


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.

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