The Sweet Wound.

 The greatest obstacle to healing depression is to see it as the enemy. We talk about fighting, combating, struggling with depression. Even ‘having depression’ suggests it intrusively came to you from somewhere else.
In the early days of my training I went to see an analyst and was reeling off my woes and complaints about life.
”At least I’m not depressed,”I said.
‘No,’ he replied, ‘you haven’t got there yet.’
I was shocked.
Depression could be a goal.
The fact is there are lots of things in life to be depressed about. And if we then try and combat it rather than enquiring into its purpose, it entrenches itself.
”What we resist, persists.” CG Jung
Depression is a sign that I has stopped talking with Me. The path between their houses has overgrown. The feeling of social isolation that comes with depression is mirrored on the inside as self estrangement.
Much depression has to do with the issue of authenticity, with whether we are being who we are. If a gap begins to grow between who we really are and who we wish we were then depression will fill that gap.
If we pretend to be what we are not for others in the fruitless and misguided quest to be loved by them, then depression will call our attention to the dissonance between what is actually going on and the new improved version of ourselves we’re trying to sell.
Depression hits particular kinds of people.
Did you notice the aggressive metaphor I just used?
…that I typed, myself, without noticing it until it was sat licking its paws on the screen in front of me.
We’re conditioned to have this combative relationship with depression. Centuries of being great white hunters.
Depression mostly unfolds in particular kinds of people. It’s the underbelly of perfectionism, people pleasing and ‘positive thinking’.
The perfectionists are at war with their shadows, their inadequacies and unevolved aspects.
The people pleasers are at war with their own destinies, so readily derailed by other’s baggage and expectation.
The positive thinkers are at war with anything that isn’t rosy and bright.
Whether its with yourself, your path, or life’s mourning and pain, the insistance on things being other than they are gives rise to depression.
”Our suffering is as much created by our struggling against the circumstances at hand as the circumstances themselves.” M Israel.
If we are living someone else’s life, or someone else’s vision of who we ‘ought’ to be, then depression will ensue. And if we are not living up to our potential on account of its cost to us, it will be all the worse.
”There is a great deal of pain in life and perhaps the only pain that can be avoided is the pain that comes from trying to avoid pain.”  RD Laing
Its big. The US spends an incredible $350 billion a year on medication and therapy for depression. This amount is currently increasing at a rate of 20%.
http://www.healthline.com/health/depression/statistics-infographic
The figures are scary and again its tempting to whip out you sword forgetting that depression has a purpose and failing to notice that it is pointing at something we subscribe to that doesn’t actually feed us or represent us.
Something has to give.
and not this or that but the paradigm itself.
We have a collectively narcissistic vision of ourselves as highly evolved when in fact we are really the creature that has only one of its senses working and thinks itself so grand in the absense of all the others.
This is the characteristic response, the strategy, of the unmothered child, and indeed we’ve had no Queen of Heaven for quite a few millenia now. When Mother is lost the child does not grow, or in only one of its aspects.
The rest of it shuts down and regresses.
So here we are, trashing our play pens.
We fail to grasp the proverbial reality that as we selfishly destroy nature “our outer world”, consequently we destroy “our inner world”, and ourselves as a species. The psychological consequence of this disconnection from nature amputates our soul connection with Mother Earth.
http://www.michaelgeorge.com/app/uploads/2015/03/Civilizations-Disconnect-from-Nature-and-Psyche.pdf
And its a question of more than mere deprivation.
A seven year old proudly announces to mother that he’s made money! Mother asks how and the child explains with great delight that he got it out of mother’s purse but then swopped it for the same amount he’d persuaded his mate Billy to take from his mother’s purse…. so it wasn’t stealing….’
And this is the logic of the economic market in the Western paradigm culminating in banks printing their own money and lending what they don’t have . We call it free enterprise but actually its a way of becoming magic in the absense of magic, the magic of belonging and feeling held by the Universe. A strategy that involves a hiest.
We deal with what feels like abandonment by attributing ourselves with  whatever specialness it takes to gain some additional illicit toe hold on the world. Our deep hungering then justifies whatever follows next, generally an envious attack on the worth and value of others..
This envy creates depression. Its part of the fallout of being so pious and better than everyone else. In order to really buy the shining version of ourselves we have to attribute others with the very fragments of  self most needed to be whole.
We cannot take command of our great battlements without corresponding feelings of having been robbed.

The paradigm itself creates depression.

The monotheistic notion that life always has to be cheerful (could) be instructed by melancholy. We could learn from its qualities and follow its lead, becoming more patient in its presence, lowering our excited expectations, taking a watchful attitude as this soul deals with its fate..” T Moore

The loss of the Principle of Relatedness in our culture means both a loss of the internal cohesion of I and Me and of the bond between ourselves and the external world. This is generally experienced as disconnection, lack of trust and not belonging that then reinforces internal divisions and the feeling of alienation.
The thing is that the creative life also has its gloomy vales.

”Creative people who can’t help but explore other mental territories are at greater risk, just as someone who climbs a mountain is more at risk than someone who just walks along a village lane.” RD Laing

So sometimes it can feel like a choice between the aggravation of refusing to be what we are or the further aggravation of  grasping life’s nettle. It doesn’t seem fair and its not.

”a warring peace, a sweet wound, a mild evil.” R Owen.

If the feelings of being depressed can be honoured as a form of longing then so can the feelings of riding your push bike down Middenmarsh hill with a mouthful of blackberries and chocolate.

based on an extract from my new book, ‘Abundant Delicious’, http://andywhiteblog.com/2016/06/11/abundant-delicio…ot-off-the-press/

 

 

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.