Sunday, October 6, 2013

The molecular mess (a messy introduction)

The DSM-IV describes the Schizoid Personality as a rock, an island: cold, alone, not interested in social relationships, unmoved by either compliments or criticism.  But researchers who have intensively studied this personality (Fairbairn, Guntrip, Klein and others) show the exact opposite is true: A schizoid deeply craves the friendship / love bond but must run away from core fears of dehumanization and exploitation.

Alice Miller believes that “. . . grandiosity is the defense against depression, and depression is the defense against the deep pain over the loss of the self that results from denial.”  Depression is the ice that encases the fire of pain and the light of the true self.

I have seen many intellectual types who are children in their development and in their emotions.  In fact, most intellectuals who come to therapy are still children.  This may be clearest in the borderline young women with their volumes of purple journals and poetry; in the mother who blogs psychology but who is as blind and distant as a rock, an island.  (She journalized pertly about her daughter who was “in the loony bin again.”)  It’s true in countless pontificators whose thinking is the apotheosizing of an attitude.  It’s the chemical engineer dragged, at his request, home from the bar by his wife; the young man writing a novel who wants his homicidal father to finally be nice to him.

It’s impossible to define the molecular mess because its nature is, as far as I understand, the actual molecular complexity of brain and psyche.  It undermines all diagnostic labels, and almost all understandings about ourselves.  “Frustration” is anger and hurt: one thing.  A man can love life and want to die, at the same time.  That is, he can need to, but not want to.  Masterson (The Search for the Real Self) describes how Jean-Paul Sartre’s philosophy of existentialism was the ideational child of his childhood history.  “Because the adults in his family did not acknowledge and support Sartre’s emerging self, he had to create it by himself.  As a result, he assumed all human beings had to develop a real self without help, in a void, totally alone.”  Janov (if I remember correctly) notes that many PhD candidates drop out just before completing their program: Success would be wrong.  A fourth-grader’s home life is sad and terrible and his grades plummet: Failure would be right.  It respects his pain.

Narcissism is a glorious shell that surrounds emptiness, and emptiness comes from years of heavy, substantial loss.  Our raging is our crying, and our crying – a thousand miles under the surface – is . . .

“She straightens baby’s undershirt and covers him with an embroidered sheet and a blanket bearing his initials.  She notes them with satisfaction.  Nothing has been spared in perfecting the baby’s room, though she and her young husband cannot yet afford all the furniture they have planned for the rest of the house.  She bends to kiss the infant’s silky cheek and moves toward the door as the first agonized shriek shakes his body.

“Softly, she closes the door.  She has declared war upon him.  Her will must prevail over his.  Through the door she hears what sounds like someone being tortured.  Her continuum recognizes it as such.  Nature does not make clear signals that someone is being tortured unless it is the case.  It is precisely as serious as it sounds” (Jean Liedloff, The Continuum Concept, pg. 63).

How do we even know what we are that needs help?  How can a therapist?

We must all give it some time.  This is no ten easy lessons.

1 comment:

  1. Such rich, heady stuff! Well done, pessimist! It is always interesting, the profession, no matter how it makes us feel. Thank you for sharing. I'll link over here.


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.