Paranoia and Parapraxis.

Once upon a time there lived a poor couple whose greatest wish was to have a child….

From a small upstairs window in their little cottage, where they could see over a high wall and into a wonderful garden owned by an Enchantress in which there were all manner of exotic and magical plants, the woman spied a great clump of Rampion growing. Rampion is famed for it’s fertile properties and  she set her heart upon having some. So she persuaded her husband to clamber over the wall in dead of night and fetch her a bit.

..which he did.

and the next night too… and the night after that..

..getting quite blase now about his habitual stroll through this strange garden by moonlight to collect Rampion.

Until one evening, in a twinkling, the Enchantress has planted herself in his path, way bigger than he imagined with purple tendrils of electricity snaking about her fingertips.

‘What are you doing’? she asks, in a voice silky with impending malice..

”Er, sorry your Enchantress-ship. I was collecting Rampion for my wife who wishes to conceive a child. Please don’t turn me into anything nasty.”

The Enchantress pondered for a moment, ‘very well, but when the child is born it will be mine,” and then she vanished in a thunder clap leaving the poor man clutching his Rampion and quaking in his boots. On the day the child was born the Enchantress appeared as if by magic and scooped the babe up, ‘I will call her Rapunzel after the Rampion,’ she said and then they were gone..

To say that the Enchantress was an over-protective mother doesn’t quite do justice to her determination that Rapunzel be sequestered from the world. She built a tower in the forest without doors and Locked Rapunzel Up. Occasionally the Enchantress would arrive with supplies and command Rupunzel to lower her lengthy tresses for her to climb up..

‘Rapunzel, Rapunzel let down your golden hair..’

One day the local Prince is riding by and sees all this happening. He’s a tad curious and go’s over to the tower once the Enchantress is gone…

‘Rapunzel, Rapunzel let down your golden hair..’

So, he climbs up and they fall in love… as you might expect. But what happens next is not so expected…

One day the Enchantress visits and as she’s climbing over the balcony Rapunzel inadvertantly blurts, ‘ oh, you are so much more heavy than the Prince,’ and before she realizes it the truth is out. The enraged Enchantress cuts off Rapunzel’s tresses and banishes her to a filthy hovel in some farflung desert place. Then she lies in wait for the Prince.

Slips of the tongue, or ‘paraparaxis’, meaning ‘beyond what is acceptable’, in Greek, can get you into a world of trouble.  The problem with slips of the tongue is that they have a nasty habit of outing unacceptable truths. Its as if the Truth is just busting to find expression. The more unacceptable that Truth is the harder it will push for the light.

which is all very well. But to the person who’s just outed themselves its like having an inner traitor.

My most cringe-worthy slip of the tongue was in the library,  wanting to borrow a reference copy of the ‘Writers and Artists Year Book. The librarian was very attractive and scantily clad in summer heat. I tried my best to ignore the fact, not least of all because a gaggle of old ladies in the doorway were looking me up and down as if to say, ‘we know what you’re thinking you filthy little man..’

So I was on my best behaviour, and doing my utmost to be polite..

‘Good afternoon, do you have a copy of the Writer’s and Arse Tits Year Book?

which brings us to the next order of business, Paranoia. Something Unknown is Doing I Don’t Know What… and it doesn’t seem to have the interests of polite society on its agenda…

The Prince climbs up Rapunzel’s severed locks only to find the Enchantress at the top who wants very much to scrag him. Only by throwing himself from the tower is he saved, though he loses his eyes to the thorny thicket surrounding the tower on his way down.

Paranoia is when you think something is going on but its not. We overlay reality with our own inner pallette to the point that what gets painted is really rather different from what is actually there. The Prince thinks he’s getting Rapunzel but has to deal with the Enchantress instead…

a common male complaint.

He’s bound to feel that some wicked will is working against him. We’re all conditioned by experience to expect the world to respond to us in a particular way. Survival depends on learning who we are from our environment and living up to its expectations even if they are not good for us.

”Instictive forces do not reason. They assume, from the immense weight of their experience,.. that it will serve the individual well to be stabilized according to  initial experience.’. Jean Liedloff.

What this means is that..

‘the design of each individual is a reflection of the experience it expects to encounter… defined by the circumstances to which its antecedents had adapted.” ibid

So the boy who was humiliated by his mother, says to himself que sera sera, this is how it is. He adapts and expects to be humiliated by Life. He will even engineer it if he can, because survival means integrating Expectations, even if that expectation is that you are stupid and will fail.

‘Not so easily do we forget what we learned with our Mother’s milk’. Dostoevsky

The prejudices and assumptions we all have about life serve to create a seamless fit between the peculiarities of childhood and the objective face of a wider and untested Universe later on. Confronting your own paranoia, realising that how things were needn’t be how they are, is a huge wake up that can rob a person of their usual perceptual ability symbolised by the Prince’s blinding.

When I was a kid there was always a sense of something amiss at home that I couldn’t name until one day my father put his hand on my mother’s shoulder and she involuntarily shuddered with disgust. I was shocked. My first thought was, ‘what else is it that I cannot see.” And even though it was disorienting and painful, I grew.

because the painful thing was at least real.

‘Loosening and even fragmenting the internal psychic environment. . . is the ground for the birth and development of higher psychic structure. Disintegration is the basis of developmental thrust upward, the creation of new evolutionary dynamics and the movement of the personality to a higher level.’ Dabrowski

So the prince has to wander blindly about the  kingdom like a beggar until one day, deo concedente, by the will of the gods, he finds Rapunzel in her desert hovel. She recognizes him straight away, embraces him and her hot tears fall upon his eyes which are then restored.

Love heals all wounds.

Both Rapunzel’s parapraxis, which caused so much trouble, and the Prince’s paranoia…more trouble, ultimately serve the individuation of both and bring them together in a very human way unencumbered by the ivory towered inflation of their first encounter.

So slips of the tongue, though embarrassing, serve to bring unconscious material within reach of consciousness; and paranoia, though uncomfortable, helps to air the gap between what we think is happening and what is actually going on whilst continuously encountering the Unknown and being bent into interesting shapes by it.

 

Published by

andywhite

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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