Deprivation and Specialness.

When I was at the age that the male neo-cortex starts limbering up for a series of initiatory wilderness trials I was sent instead to the Optometrist for a series of eye tests.

Though, granted, they were conducted in grand style.

Supposedly I had some kind of rare condition.

I was special.

and destined to be the smartypants in the dorm of my new school for the extra-special.

but some quietly devious sprite in me was wise to all this  compensatory drama.

My eyes were fine.

I was being sent away and so as it didn’t look like abandonment there had to be a fanfare.

and Appointments.

The Unreality of it all scared the hell out of me.

So I lost the totemic specs as soon as circumstances permitted..

a brief affair..

now overshadowed by the new question,

‘why has no-one said anything?’

How is it possible that I could be dragged umpteen times to the Opticians, having in-depth instruction about rare conditions and eye charts and clamps, and lens machines like some extra from Edward Scissorhands….

Strip lighting, squinting, grinding glass….

…and the crowning glory, a monstrous pair of tortoise shell rimmed jamjar bottoms with silver lightning strikes up in the corners, a demented owl doing Dame Edna impressions for spare change..

”He’ll have those ones.”

how is it possible that after all that…

nobody says anything when the damn things disappear?

It’s too crazy. Everyone joins in the narcissistic fantasy that I must have had some miraculous cure.

which made it crazier still.

A reprieve from that which never was…

the whole thing was a drama to try and plug a gushing wound of parental failure and disconnection, the means to demonstrate something to the world rather than to fulfil a real need in the child, an exercise in emotional fraud laid bare when the miracle glasses are lost and nobody notices…

and somewhere, so far off I hid them from my own memory of hiding them, the special tortoise shell specs languish. In some dark hollow. Cobwebbed and woodloused.  The lightning strikes buzz intermittently.

You will often find with emotional deprivation that the child has some supposed malady in which the parent invests great attention.

and then none.

intimacy downgraded to the to-do list where anxious fussing can parade as care.

It looks so much like loving concern at the time. But there’s something forced and frenetic about it. The kid is passive, busy fulfilling expectations to be faulty and getting attention the only way he knows.

by going along with it.

Its not all bad.

You get to be special.

Your parent gets to be an expert in the subject.

They start action groups.

I knew a woman who was determined that her child’s legs weren’t growing properly. She took him to the Podiatrist over and again. He needed calipers. Can’t you see how he walks?

The boy was a bit pidgeon toed. But hold.. what light from yonder window breaks? What shoes does he wear?


She wouldn’t buy him his own boots. He had to wear wellies that were 5 sizes too big. Of course he walked like a duck. Given an alternate environment the boy is running interschools cross countries within a term…

though he came close to being intrusively ‘hobbled’ whilst clutching the booby prize of his rare condition.

I taught a class for several semesters where more than half the kids had some kind of diagnosis of ADHD or some fancy name on the autistic spectrum. Bad seed. The scary thing was not the narcissistic little monsters themselves but how good and pure and spiritual their parents all proved to be.

Parents who were sooo good and sooo pure that someone had to be designated with the family shit..

sacrificed in fact.

and then compensated for it all with some kind of negative attention that further damned them with their awful specialness.

You may not like them and send yourself to sleep with all the things you’d like to say and do in vengeance for the cold heartedness and cruelty of the narcissist in your life. But they have already paid for their sins.

Narcissists are raised in veal crates.

My analyst, Dreyer Kruger told me I was autistic in our first session….

…which is Narcissism in its Sunday best with golfing two-tones and cleats. The words bounce slowly across the table like fumbled ice cubes doubling for dice in a crap game.

No I’m not…

I just spent three tours of duty getting shot at ….

once, whilst dangling from the hand strap of a Fireforce chopper taking evasive action from angry men with rockets and machine guns.

It wasn’t meant for the job.

angular momentum adds weight to a body…

And I was supposed to be inside the vehicle.

The hand strap was grey..

made of some kind of polymerised plastic….

Hanging in space forever.

….with fine runnels for extra grip….

Ground where sky should be.

….grooved in the grey, just in case your hands get a bit sweaty with the horror of how special you have still become….

Legs dangling, wind screaming, guns roaring, waiting for the hit.


But, autistic, hey? That sounds like a juicy bit of negative specialness. I’ll take it.

Don’t kid yourself. It just means you grew up against the odds in soil that could not sustain you.

for which you got a badge..

of non-calorific merit.


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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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