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

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.




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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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