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.

 

Narcissism and the Bottomless Pit.

In thirty years of practice as a psychotherapist I never came across an indigenous person with a Narcissistic Personality Disorder. The reason is that native people generally have a way of raising their kids that is  radically different to parents in the ‘civilised’ West.

This does not mean that Western women are bad mothers, but that they have to contend with a split reality endemic in our culture that makes it difficult for baby to cross certain developmental thresholds.

On the one hand the child, as depicted in the majority of psychoanalytic literature, is a voracious power hungry little monster who battles mother for dominance and has to be brought to heel at all costs.

”Babies have become a sort of enemy to be vanquished by mother…on the premise that every effort should be made to force baby to conform when it ’causes’ work and ‘wastes’ time.’ J. Liedloff

On the other hand, and by way of compensation, we have the effusive and liberal face of Dr Spock, whose sales of his book ‘Baby and Childcare’, come second only to the Bible on the best seller list. Spock advocated ‘childcentric’ households which effectively have children ruling the roost. Detractors claim he cultivated Narcissism in millions as the most trusted name in childcare and parenting since 1940 and even hold him personally responsible for the moral decline of  western culture.

”When a society becomes out of control, it is because its members elevate self-indulgence and lack self-control…and [have] come to see gratification as a right.” R. Bradley.
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 These radically polarised veiws of parenting presented by Freud and Spock, often operating without reference to one another under the same roof, have something strangely in common. Both the liberal, anti-authoritarian mandate of currying entitlement in children and the cold hearted philosophy of ‘you did it to yourself’ inherent in Freudian theory, marginalised the fact that women have been having babies for seven million years without the input of opinionated men in lab coats.
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 Both men’ knew better’ than the feminine soul. To the extent that these theories were imposed upon women’s natural instincts, their innate knowing, their connection to their own mothers and to the Divine Feminine that presided over childbirth and motherhood, so too was their role undermined, ancient wisdom eroded and intrinsic understanding of what was right and proper, subverted and injured.
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So whilst it may be true that excessive permissiveness fosters narcissistic tendencies and a sense of entitlement, it is also the case that narcissistic wounds are inevitable when the bond between mother and child is intruded upon by someone who thinks they know better than Nature herself, irrespective of the received ‘wisdom’ under consideration.
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You’re probably familiar with the educational maxim ‘would you teach a fish to climb a tree?’ but we forget that its even more undermining to teach a fish to swim.
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A centiped was happy, quite!
Until a toad in fun
Said, ‘pray which leg follows which?
This raised her doubts to such a pitch
She fell exhausted in a ditch,
Not knowing how to run.
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“If we have learnt certain [things] so that they have sunk below the level of conscious control, then if we try to follow them consciously we very often interfere with them so badly that we stop them”. Carl Popper.
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It follows that if mother has it instilled in her that she doesn’t know her job  without instruction from a clipboard wielding MD then baby will be similarly confused and struggle with developmental tasks, understandably preferring the relative safety of remaining partly fused with mother in a state of  ‘symbiotic omnipotence’. (M. Kahn).
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This interupts the process of separation and healthy growth, preventing the child from crossing the threshold associated with ‘symbol formation’. This is significant because it is symbol formation that is responsible for the experience of others as persons in their own right, and for the development of values associated with feelings about others having their own purpose and destiny. The child can get eternally caught  in the concrete thinking of symbolic equations where, for instance, worth is measured in terms of money,  loveability in terms of sexual conquest, power in terms of domination of others, all the things we recognise as symptoms of NPD.
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‘No-one loves me, because you don’t wipe my chin.’ Liedloff.
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The figurative representation of ideas, conflicts or wishes cannot be experienced and so metaphorical notions of honour, faithfullness, duty, empathy and so on remain conceptual ideas rather than lived and experienced realities…
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”from which intellectualism is only to ready to emancipate itself.” C.G. Jung
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This is most obvious in our relationships because Narcissism does not really experience the Other as such. Their humanity remains conceptual. The notion that others have equal rights is an abstract idea to be rationally concluded without actually being lived.
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Racism and sexism are the most common outcome of such a mind set, but the irony is that the Narcissist has equal trouble conceiving of ‘his own’ in fully human terms unless they remain entirely joined at the hip. Humanity is not experienced, it is deduced, much as Socrates ‘worked out’ that one day he would die.
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‘Socrates is a man. Men are mortal. Therefor Socrates will die.’
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On the basis of such abstract deduction ordinary instinctual care for one another is occluded. One’s own self barely exists in its own right, how shall another fare any better?
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The developmental threshold of symbol formation affords not only the recognition of the otherness of the Other, it also affords value and significance to the otherness of oneself, in other words to the fantasies, intuitions and aspirations emerging from the archetypal layers of the psyche that take over the job of feeding the child, as it were, from within.
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This leads to a lack of faith, not only in others but towards life itself which cannot be trusted to provide. The child becomes a consumer…
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‘clinging to objects and people, investing them with magical powers, ferocious in [the] demand to possess and control.” Liedloff
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Asking Narcissism to share is thus experienced as an attack on all that is holy because money and resources have been imbued with a kind of spiritual manna. Losing hegemony over it is tantamount to desecration. The paranoid tendency of the Narcissist  is not simply that someone is out to get him, but that all he holds sacred is under attack.
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And so the predominant experience of life is one of being a victim, no matter how much one has, nor how much there is available. It is like being a planet without a sun, or worse, having a black hole to revolve around which threatens to drain and crush at every turn. Without the inner ‘other’, there is nothing to mediate the dark forces of the cosmos.
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”Our connection with a sacred centre [gives] a sense of real existence that counters the terror of chaos and nothingness, helps [a person] find their bearings and makes order of the Universe’. Bizint
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Since what we cannot integrate is invariably projected it will seem to those who stub their toe on at the threshold of symbol formation that some illegitimate other has stolen the key to happiness. He lives, not only in a state of lack but as if his divine inheritance is being withheld. And because he’s in the bind of having to deny what he needs, his lack and being witheld from is acted out in the world, which perhaps explains the conundrum of how it is possible for the richest and greatest nation in the world to sweep one of its most powerful men to high office on the shirt tails of the  slogan, ‘make America great again’, as though it were a mere dispossesed guttersnipe on the fringes of the stage.

Attack on the Child.

In order to understand the pathological need for wealth, fame and consumption that typifies Western Culture, we need to look further than mere greed. Having the moral high ground is not enough. You might still miss what’s so interesting about wanting more than you need….

The Rule of Intention says that the way things pan out has to do with the intentions of those who are involved.  If children in their millions are starving then someone is witholding the spoon. If thousands have no education then that’s by design. If families are living on the streets someone put them there.

So then what does it mean that we collectively aspire to more than we need? Why is it that we regard excessive consumption differently from obesity? You’d be shocked if a person’s goal was to gain a hundred pounds…

and yet

”We are screwing the planet to make solar powered bathroom thermometers and desktop crazy golfers.” G Monbiot.

Are we then simply diplaying our wealth? Is there some arcane connection between wanton destruction and attractiveness? I think not, but whatever the answer it  lies deeper than our greed or stupidity.

Symptoms of dis-ease are never arbitrary or simply unfortunate. They are the unconscious expression of something yet to be named. There is hidden meaning in desperately pursuing stuff you don’t actually need, stuff whose production enslaves and destroys into the bargain. Calling it addiction doesn’t quite work either, despite the added caveat to greed that there is more at work than mere self indulgence.

Believing we can convert the rhythms of work into cash so that real life might then begin may feel worth the price to be paid by aliveness, but what many of us do in our leisure time is just more of the very same consuming of life from which we most need to a break. In our millions we become even further absorbed…..

”in the electronic reproduction of life, the passive consumption of the twittering screen.” A Watts.

So we save up for our hols, to get away from it all, when proper enjoyment can get under way, only to find that it too is also somehow pasteurised, with boxes to tick and schedules to fill. Been there, done that…  We wait to be amused, wonder what’s  next and if we’ve had our money’s worth.

All of which..

”gives rise to a culture devoted not to survival but to the actual destruction of life.” ibid

So is our devouring of life a form of collective suicide, a Chomskian rushing to the precipice?

No, its scarier than that.

It is an attack, not just upon ourselves, but on our children. The planet that their parents are pillaging is, after all, their inheritance. The spiritual malaise and attendant acting out of the developed world is far greater, far more malicious, than mere apathy, denial or disinterest.

”Once you have excluded the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” Sherlock Holmes.

If we want to understand consumerism and its attended ravaging of the planet we need to ask what it is that people are really hoping for with the must-have item on their bucket list. Irrespective of its concretisation, the new car, the fancy vacation, the latest gadgetry, what people seem to be striving for is a sense of worth, of being safe and held and fed.

Collectively we are seeking the in-arms experience of infancy which, as a culture, we have simply not yet had.

‘When the expected does not take place, corrective or compensatory tendencies make an effort to restore stability.’ J. Liedloff.

Consumerism is a parody of contented infant satiation. We want life dribbling down our chin. We want to be in the ‘lap of luxury’. We want the safety of maternal embrace whose alternative is the poor substitute of being gripped by her dark and compulsive sister, (mater)ialism.

‘The infant (like the guru) lives in the eternal now, in a state of bliss; the infant out of arms is in a state of longing, the bleakness of an empty Universe. Want is all there is..’ ibid

Amassing the unnecessary to the detriment of  life on Earth looks entirely crazy until we consider it in a symbolic light, the unfulfilled need of a culture seeped in denial about what is truly indispensible. Mother.

This denial reaches its acme in psychoanalytic theory with Freud’s Drive Conflict theory which entirely marginalises Mother as relevant to baby’s health or illness.

According to this theory dis-ease is not down to how we are treated, whether we are held and loved, but on dysfunctional ‘object relations’. You did it to yourself, a doctrine of victim blaming that also constitutes the final eradication of Mother’s relevance to life. In thirty years I have never found Freud to use the word ‘mother’ even once.

This denigration of life’s most important role impoverishes our entire culture but it does far more and has consequences you might not have considered.

Not only does the dominant form of spirituality in Western Culture fail to nourish, but our anxious preoccupation with and eternal focus on the future with its promise of salvation…at some point…does have the appeal  that the indiscretions of today may be swept under the carpet, but in the process of ducking conscience we are also bound to be gripped with envious spoiling for those who are able to be in the moment where real life happens, where all bliss, joy, gratitude and celebration are to be found.

Much of the West’s ferocious subjugation of the ‘childlike’ third world has to do with this same improbable truth, that we envy them. Despite their poverty they seem to have something we do not, a living for today where the real riches of life are to be found. And so they are happy. For all our wealth and power in the West we are miserable. Our worrying about tomorrow means we cannot  enjoy our mountain of stuff  today because all enjoyment is Now.

I once asked an African man on a dusty savannah roadside in tropical heat when the bus he was waiting for would arrive. ‘Today”, he answered contentedly.  By contrast and half a world away, commuters on Stuttgart railway station platform follow the digital clock ticking over, . At the exact same moment they all look in disappointed unison at their watches and turn to stare down the track as if they were practicing impatience for a show.

Our collective obsession with time and tommorow means that the aliveness gets sucked out of today.  We become chorus lines to celebrity others whose lives have somehow become more real than our own. The togetherness, the gratitude for simply being alive can’t be entered into and like the uninvited guest, ‘Now’ turns cold, vengeful and wooden.

”Unlived life will not sit idly on the shelf, it will turn round and bite you.” M.L. von Franz.

If a sense of Self that transcends self-interest can’t be embodied it will be projected. The recipients will invariably be the next generation who are as yet untutored in guilt, whose feeling of belonging has yet to be eroded, who have yet to know alienation.

and who are handy…

The child..

‘will arouse certain longings in the adult. . . longings which relate
to the unfulfilled desires and needs of those parts of the personality
which have been blotted out. . .’ C. G. Jung.

Whilst we idealise, cosset and run around endlessly with compensatory gestures of slavish devotion,  so too do we silently envy and spoil. The secret bit about narcissistic brats is that they were made that way by parents who first loaded them down with not only their own unfulfilled expectations but with all the potentialities in today that we can’t shoulder for the sake of insuring ourselves against tommorow.

The horror of growing old and dying without first having properly lived is all too much and become split in our affections.

I will pat you on the head whilst I poison your earth.

My father personally favoured random electrocution as a means to express his envious grievance at my blossoming youth. Bare mains wires ran down the walls both inside and outside my room. They would set window frames and brickwork alive, especially when it rained. You might say that most parents are not so pathological and yet the quest for more than you need means you have to go out and take it off someone else, perpetual warmongering for which youth in their millions are most necessary.

I once spent three days as part of a tiny force of  green berets sitting under a tree waiting for the go ahead to take on 300 defected enemy soldiers who’d changed their mind and taken their new commander hostage as a prelude to melting back into the bush with shiny new G3 semi automatics. We all knew it was a suicide mission should the order finally came through, but the predominant feeling amongst us was one of quiet acceptance, the calm of sacrificial beasts under a stone knife, as though fulfilling some preordained narrative.

Saturn is eating his children.

Behind closed doors it’s usually less flamboyant than electrified bedrooms or going to live in a war zone but after three decades of being a psychotherapist I have to say that everyone who ever came to see me had the same issue. Their true self had been attacked and their destinies subverted by someone they were entitled to trust.

Which is why having more than you need is a form of poison. Its not just greedy. It’s a blow aimed at those who would be better stewards of this earth than ourselves, our children.

this article contains excerpts from my new book ‘Abundant Delicious.. on attaining your heart’s desire’. http://andywhiteblog.com/2016/06/11/abundant-delicio…ot-off-the-press/

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monkey Business.

When I was a kid growing up in Zambia we used to go visit a local zoo/nature reserve outside Lusaka called ‘Mundawanga’. I privately called it ‘Mundawanka’ because the Vervet monkeys were always masturating…

and would look you bang in the eye while they were at it.

There were a dozen or so males of various ages in a cage the size of your living room, all with their dicks out…..

all day…

every day.

In their cramped and unnatural captivity, all pressed together in a space not suitable territory for one, they had found a neurotic solution to their claustrophobic situation. After all, as every good Vervet knows, the correct behaviour when encounetring someone having a wank is not to encroach. Leave them alone and let them get on with it.

Space and separation…

which is good..

But rubbing yourself raw…

not good.

The monkeys were also great thieves. Loss of territory had led to loss of honour, relatedness and rules of engagement. Everyone was fair game.  Woe betide any young child with a bar of Aero who thinks he can go put his fingers through the mesh and hang on the wire cage. They know about pockets and will fleece you something rotten.

The Single System system, concentrated power in concentrated space, is just like that monkey cage. They all have their dicks out and will rob you in a heartbeat.

Concentrated power in concentrated space breeds paranoia throughout the cage and the need for space which, barring despair, only compulsive behaviour will give you.

Back in the day, some Pacific Islanders ritually killed their kings once in a while. Any one who wanted to be king could nominate themselves. One would be chosen and for a year he would enjoy all kinds of inflated priviledges and being above the law…..

until your twelve months is up.

Then you get handed a sharp knife. Sometimes you get to have sex at the shaky end of a log pile.

And then they start over..

which seems like a very sensible thing to do.

Culturally, the killing of the king brought fruitfullness to the land and life to the people. Psychologically, it induced an encounter with the archetype of Kingship itself, for anyone can step forward. It would be both terrifying in its awesome power and seduction, overwhelming with its fantasy of limitless possibility, acrid with the fumes of death…

…like Galadriel’s encounter with the Ring.

which is why we prefer the Single System system whether its skull cap or dog collar. We can depend upon it to help us suppress our experience of numinosity for the sake of our ontological security.

‘Religion is a defense against the experience of god.’ CG Jung.

We need our all-powerful and oppressive Caesars who constantly behave as though they were above the law, like Gods, so that we need not differentiate too closely between what to render to one and what to render to the other. We do this despite the loss to our own inner journeying and the raw rub of eternally marking time that this will cost us.

It is our version of the Vervet’s neurotic solution. The loss of inner creative space that is the price of abdicating a personal relationship with Psyche leads to endless masturbation, thievery and the kind of frenetic apathy, the aggrieved restlessness that is the curse of any child who is both intruded upon by a parent/state/zoo keeper whilst simultaneously being abandoned by it….

the monkey in the equation develops a quite understandable conscientious objection to reality.

Any moment that might still retain a bit of it must be evaded with all speed..

‘and so he mounts his horse and gallops furiously in every direction… ruthless in the destruction of potentials that must mature in their own form and season..’ F Wickes.

The effect on relatedness and creativity is catastrophic….

I once lived in a tiny English village in which there was a little old lady with a title and a massive house. She had been raised in a cage even more gilded than mine. Her capacity for relatedness was shot to pieces. She was a millionaire but the neighbour’s kids had to pay to use her tennis court. I fixed her flat tyre for which she immediately thrust a bottle of wine at me, unable to bear the bonds of simple co-operation. I had to be paid off directly.

Her grasp of other’s needs was catastrophically warped. A local man found a disraught motorist at the side of the narrow lane that wound steeply up through the village. He was clearly distressed.

‘Are you all right?’

”No, I broke down at the foot of the hill but a little old lady offered to tow me up.”

‘Oh dear, you didn’t accept?’

”Yes.”

‘Much damage?’

…..  All the energy that might have gone into something nourishing builds up and turns back on whatever, or whoever, is handy. The dissociated potential has grown horns and a tail. Genuine feeling or inspiration gets dumbed down into moods, knee jerk reactions and wild low gear ratios.

though the smooth and satisfied surface of the inner millpond that is the inheritance of God’s chosen people remains unruffled.

But without being affect-ed, there is no affect-ion.

No being rooted in love.

and so we too become masturbating monkeys having passed up…

‘the troublesome germ of individual king/queen ship.’ F Wickes.

Around about the time that humanity started caging monkeys they also started caging kids.

sacrificial dormitories.

Mine really did have cages on the windows. Grenade screens. Our pre-eminence as the kids of the White elite rulers made attack from African terrorists (people who didn’t like us taking over their country) a very real threat. I spent many a night standing guard over other sleeping teens, armed with a lee-enfield .303 rifle and listening for any sound.

Bling has this tradition of sending the kids away, as a display of wealth and obeisance to the centralised power. The very real suffering involved propitiates the Gods and eases parental paths to greatness.

Children become fetishistic objects sacrificed on the altar of Bling. Inner Nobility is projected onto glittering others and then chased after. And you do it yourself. You buy into it. I remember my initial pride and the look in people’s eyes when I told them where I went to school. The lurch of respect, the sage nodding, the rush of power whilst simultaneously knowing, completely and entirely, that it was a crock of shit.

where we wanked and stole.

If not each other’s stuff then each other’s pride and dignity, tutored in deception and some being more equal than others.

We think we’re a child friendly society but along with the chihuahua…

”we have the fairly universal civilised belief that a child’s impulses need to be curbed in order to make him social.” J. Liedloff.

This is germane even at the liberal end of the spectrum. We have the basic..

”assumption that the child has an antisocial nature, in need of manipulation to become socially acceptable.” ibid

When this fails, Freud’s infantile sexuality theory sets the seal on the stupid thing breaking itself. Parental influence and cages are written out of the equation. The Church loves it because it chimes so well with original sin. And so for the first time in two thousand years Church and Science agree on something.

You are the bad seed.

So that’s how you will grow.

But not as fast as we can build correctional facilities to house yo’ ass.

 

 

 

Loss and Shame .

The bottomless, shameful pit

of the unmothered child,

trying to claw whatever he can to staunch his wound…..

seemed to me to be best expressed recently by the aside in some article I read that Donald Trump had claimed to own 9 billion when he only had 4.

Only 4 billion?!

For shame!

And suddenly despite every fibre of your body screaming out against it you start feeling sorry for the man.

Only 4 billion..what an embarrassing out, dude.

His ability to make people sorry for him and the dramatic style employed by the man are narcissistically generated strategies of defence against shame or the prospect of shame. Like the flares released by fighter jets to put incoming missiles off the scent.

Problem is those flares are only partially effective..

and so you have to take evasive manouveres

alla time..

Shame is very different from Guilt. Guilt is about what you have done, so it can be atoned in some way. There’s always some possibility of redemption.

But developmentally deeper and more ancient than the Guilt and Atonement story is The Story of Shame and for feeling bad about what you Are, let alone whatever it was you did.

The Gnostics preserved some ancient fragments of the pre-biblical Myth of Sophia. They are an allegory of the degradation of the Goddess.

”She fell into the hands of bad men who passed her between them. Some raped her. Others seduced her with gifts. She became a prostitute. Overcome with shame she no longer dared to leave her abusers.” The Exegesis of the Soul

When the sacred feminine at the back of mothering ceases to be collectively honoured, what will the way she holds her child communicate to that infant?
What a baby experiences of its mother is what baby takes itself to be. If the mirror is  seen ‘through a glass darkly’ then what can baby make of its own reality?

The dishonour to the feminine becomes baby’s dishonour. His shame.

An’ yo 4 billion will NEVER be enough.

Balint calls it ‘the basic fault’. This gives rise to RD Laing’s ‘Divided Self’ or Lacan’s, ‘paranoid alienation’ all of which needs soothing with Winnicott’s ‘transitional objects’.
But not all cultures experience this. Liedloff (1986) describes the child rearing  of the Yekuana Indians in Venezuela and notes,

‘they grow up not experiencing any gap or having any empty space in themselves. They do not spend their entire lives, (as we do) trying to prove they exist or making up for the missing sense of self.’
Crucially for the Yekuana, Wanadi, the sky God, has a good relationship with his consort, the Goddess of the Nadir who lives in the bowels of the earth. She is symbolised as a four headed snake crowned with horns. Four-foldness represents wholeness. As snake she is eternally self replenishing and her horns denote divine power.

This earth goddess animates Nature.  The Yekuana  experience all acts of Nature as participating in the body of the Goddess. Motherhood and being with children is a sacred communion with Nadir. And so they do not experience paranoid alienation.
We are tempted to describe certain phenomena, alienation, paranoid anxiety, anomie, bad breasts and the like as though they were of universal significance rather than the culturally specific expression of something now passed out of memory but still so faithfully acted out over time they seem intrinsic to human nature.

In my view they are  outcome of  deep and profound spiritual loss. Yahweh  banishes Hokmah/Sophia  from the divine stage just after the time of Solomon (3000BC) and this is the last time in Judeo-Christian literature that we hear of Her without the new bride’s curses being thrown at her heels.

Given Her place in our imagination for the eighty thousand years or more before that and we’re scarcely over blowing our noses.

Of course the stamping of  ash and bone into the sacred places to eternally desecrate them was a bit unfortunate.

And the, you know, all the hacking down of stuff.

Yes, and the, you know..

killings

We are the children of cosmic divorce who now live with daddy. We don’t see mummy anymore. And nor do we have feelings about it.

But we do hit each other a lot..

and break each other ‘tings..
At the same time as Yahweh was tipping Sophia/Hokmah into the sea the Assyrian God Marduk slays the Goddess Tiamat and the Sumerian Enlil deposes the goddess Nammu. It happened so long ago we are only dimly aware of it, but like the early and forgotten traumas of our own individual childhoods we still collectively experience the consequences at a symptomatic, visceral level. We collectively mistrust the body and demonise the instincts formerly championed by Sophia/Hokmah.

Henri Wallon uses the term ‘confiscation’ (Wallon 1949) to describe the emptiness that seems to be, from a western point of view, an intrinsic part of the developmental process from true to false self that is a substantial region in the underbelly of western civilisation. Confiscation implies that something once present has been lost or taken away and indeed it has. Baby has yet to learn of Yahweh’s divine truculence but soon gets wind from the non verbal cues of shame and rejection intruded in mother. And like all babies he holds himself responsible for the split he experiences in mother and begins to identify with her  humiliation.

Confiscation is the felt result. ‘The loss which lies at the heart of confiscation’, says Berman (1989), ‘is no small matter. It amounts to a revolution of consciousness the crucial feature of which is the decision to mistrust the evidence of our senses.’ ie Nature.
Baby renounces the body as a way of knowing herself, sacrificing her own capacity to apprehend reality for one now rooted in shame.

With the loss of the continuum  to the divine feminine, not only is the Universe suddenly unsafe but we ourselves cease to experience ourselves as trustworthy and have to compensate for it to the point of parody.

 

The Continuum Concept.

Jean Liedloff wrote a great book called, ‘The Continuum Concept’. She describes in detail the process by which we lose our connection to Nature.

The Continuum, based on instinct and rooted in the body, has been interrupted.

Babies are born with inherant expectations.

top of the list….

that the mother/baby continuum is sacred…

but it ain’t… no mo’

”When the expected does not take place, corrective or compensatory tendencies make an effort to restore balance.”

Like Gilgamesh building de Mother’s bones into him walls….

which just makes things worse because those compensatory gestures have to run forever in order to maintain equilibrium..

which mean that…

”deprivation… will be maintained indiscriminantly as part of development. Instictive forces do not reason. They assume that it will serve the individual to be stabilised according to initial experience.”

that not a good thing…

Not if baby’s experience is that access to mother is restricted…

By her ‘avin no place of honour.

”…a mindless terror of silence. The motionlessness. He screams. Afire from head to foot with want, with desire, with intolerable impatience… He listens.. he opens and closes his fist. He rolls his head from side to side. Nothing helps, it is unbearable.”

Could we compare the experiences of the infant state, Israel?

Being lost in the Desert….

crying into the wilderness…   rending  garments and gnashing teath…with tears and lamentations and ‘wherefore art thou…..?’

For the first time people want borders on their land and start to fight over it, not because there’s not enough to go around but because a defuse panic of disenfranchisment is sweeping consciousness with the absence of Mum. The land is now a part-object, the down graded receptacle for the experience of the divine feminine, and land-to-have rather than Nature-who-provides.

Suddenly there’s a limit on plenty.

If  the Principle of Relatedness is repressed, all kinds of ontological insecurities will rush to the surface. And though, ostensibly, the person has become perhaps more competent and single minded, underneath they are clingy, vulnerable and controlling. The need for ownership it generates and the use of people as a means to an end can never be sated because the maw it is being used to fill is not of this world.

And the danger is not simply that I immediatly make war on my neighbour. That is the least of my worries. No, it’s that I’m liable to go to war with myself.

Capacity to hold together in times of stress -reduced.

Capacity for inner conflict resolution -reduced.

Capacity to use reason -reduced.

Compassion for self -reduced.

Of course we’re anxious. The inner facets of our psyches are actually less well hinged together than they might be. We need therapists like no other culture. Western Civilization is ontologically riven in its foundations. A fault line that gives rise to the eternal nameless anxiety of our age. Something isn’t quite right. A vague apprehension of having lost… something. An emptiness.

The perennial issues bought to the consulting room, though each is unique in its content, all have the grey tolling of self-estrangement, the anxiety of being un-held by the universe, the unnamed longing and creeping depression that was never supposed to be part of priviledge.

What we’re suffering from is a kind of divine homesickness, of redeeming the dark brother and revaluing the Mother, of really feeling in its proper context what we’re missing…

so that it can be different……

But we don’t because then we’d see who we are and have to act accordingly.

Which is tough..

and so we pretend its not a big deal.

back inna soup.

”The most common form of despair is not being who you are.” S. Kierkegaard.

Not knowing who you are is a lesser demon, one that can almost be house trained by comparison.

We can try to shore up not being who we are, but it takes increasing effort, lashings of co-dependence and covert agreement to a sado-masochistic arrangement thereafter….

which can be useful.

excuse me…?

If a person can’t be clear about who they are, if the temenos created by the Great Mother in which autonomy can safely be explored without loss is then cracked, and I can’t talk to me very well without turning into bits on the kitchen floor..

then definite roles and rules are life-savers.

Hurting and being hurt is predicated on someone-hurting and someone-else-being-hurt….. so the collusive blancmange of  the Mutual Admiration Society needn’t swallow you up.

Everyone knows where they are…

Me Tarzan on steroids

… you Jane on valium, and a little love is allowed into play..

Wha..?

Sure, when everyone is really clear about their roles, as limiting as they might be then anxiety is quelled because everyone knows what the rules are. And when anxiety is quelled a little love might be allowed. Its constricted somewhat but still a creative solution to the problem of how to be together without getting devoured.

I’m not into allat kinky stuff man.

S/M is rarely found at the flamboyant end of the scale. It has a mundane cousin far more common or garden. Circles of domestic spite, dumping and guilt tripping, that serve without fail to create difference and sharply defined identities. Doesn’t really matter what it is , so long as you’re being can be reconfirmed for the umpteenth time.. and if relatedness has to be sacrificed on the altar of ontological security…..

You wonder why the masochist stays, forgetting how much identity and emotion there is in being done to with a clean conscience.