Thursday, October 10, 2013

The molecular mess, part two

Talking about the molecular mess of human psychological nature is not an infinite regress but an ultimately useless regress, because we are led to see that the adult stands with his head in the fog and his feet rooted in a childhood that never healed.  I firmly believe that were we to simply let ourselves feel – that is, sense what the body knows – down through our defenses to our beginnings, we’d know that part of our soul remains in the prison-crib of unmet needs.  Fortunately, the human spirit soars anyway, and the fraction of our atom core that was born positive lets us see and love even so.  But there is that impossibility, that paradox of stuckness and soaring that makes our life ultimately absurd.

As previous posts suggest, our thinking both saves and imprisons us.  To feel fully is to fall into our early self that, incompetent and wounded, could not hold itself together.  You may want to doubt that, but why else would so many come to therapy for help with their emotions yet run away from them into rationalizations and countless words?  Psychologists have seen how people run and avoid their real self, often forever. 

“All knowledge above the abyss is the knowledge of avoidance.” (Vereshack, on-line therapy book).

“Every child has a legitimate need to be noticed, understood, taken seriously, and respected by his mother.  In the first weeks and months of life he needs to have the mother at his disposal, must be able to avail himself of her and be mirrored by her.  This is beautifully illustrated in one of Donald Winnicott’s images: the mother gazes at the baby in her arms, and the baby gazes at his mother’s face and finds himself therein . . . provided that the mother is really looking at the unique, small, helpless being and not projecting her own expectations, fears, and plans for the child.  In that case, the child would not find himself in his mother’s face, but rather the mother’s own projections.  This child would remain without a mirror, and for the rest of his life would be seeking this mirror in vain.”  (The Drama of the Gifted Child, Alice Miller, p. 27, 1997.)

To embody injury, presence and escape at once is “messy,” confusing.  It makes all the gravitas about “being in the here and now” nonsense.  We are not in the now: Our presence – an eyeball – floats on an ocean of injury and escape.  I look at a rose and see my missed childhood.  You watch a child and are angry at her because you were never a child.  (You admit this to no one.)  I pet a cat with extra affection but she is bothered, sensing that the caressing is for me not for her.  His alcohol is the breast, “immersion” in something beautiful*; her chocolate is love, being held.  I walk in a pretty fall day and see the weight of fifty-five years.

In therapy, all this is known but most is ignored in service of the client’s presenting need.  Few come to therapy to regress, and none to feel absurd.  Imagine, though, that you do sit and “let your hair down” and sense the disquiet of the lost ocean within, and it is not a good feeling.  Wouldn’t it be nice to know that I see you?


* Karen B. Walant, Creating the Capacity for Attachment – Treating Addictions and the Alienated Self, 1995.

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Comments are welcome, but I'd suggest you first read "Feeling-centered therapy" and "Ocean and boat" for a basic introduction to my kind of theory and therapy.