Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Rule of psychological gravity

It occurred to me that if I were going to be reading the sort of psychology that I write, I would only want to do it in small doses, and when in an odd moment – a narrow window – of moody introspective openness. Then, I’d want to go back to my Amazon Prime, Ben ‘n’ Jerry’s, green tea, email, a little news, Amy’s organic macaroni* with an avocado in it. Back, that is, to the merry-go-round of distractive sweets.

Though I know there are pathological hard workers out there, those who must do, achieve and run to feel OK about themselves, I wonder if many more of us adhere to the Rule of Psychological Gravity:

Four paragraphs are better than full articles. Energy bars are better than exercise. Frying is better (faster) than baking. Lying is better than sitting. Listening to music is better than thinking. Procrastinating is better than doing. Unconsciousness is better than awareness.

This binary logic is misleading: I really mean a tumbling domino hierarchy, where

Any contemplated behavior might bring to mind an easier one, and that one considered could be nudged by an even easier one, and on and on. Novel, to short story, to Facebook to tweet, to nap. Stoney’s harsh beer to smooth vanilla porter to marijuana to masturbation and fantasizing.

I work six days a week, and am typically at my office from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. I get into the work deeply. But I’ll admit that many clients have no interest in depth process; rarely do they present as desperate; rarely am I drawn to save their life. Ultimate life-changing work is rare disturbing liqueur – maybe once a month or less. Those clients who need a hug, to collapse in the arms of the first “parent” to see and contain them, don’t want to face that fact and so it doesn’t happen. Therefore much of what I do is like a working vessel sailing in a sea of wide horizon: The boat is circumscribed, but floats in a vista, a turquoise and pretty place.

Is there something about adult nature that prefers some component of anesthesia? This wouldn’t just be regressive, because children usually want more active and exciting fun. More like disengagement, sleep and comfort. Not the instinctual id’s pleasure principle, because I think this gravity is both depressive and pleasure-seeking. If it is depressive, then there is both the “life instinct” and the “death instinct” fused together in the adult psyche that gets up every morning to go to work.

We are certainly an odd contraption. I offer my clients their history, their depth, their colorful seriousness. And I also try to be entertaining, pleasure-giving.

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* Update.  The Pessimistic Shrink is safe from the Amy's macaroni listeria scare that one may read about in today's (3/24/15) news.

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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.