Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Hold everyone's hand

I just saw a television commercial advertising human goodness and loving-kindness. It was a big hospital system’s public service sales pitch. An infant stands up, seeming to want out of her crib. Dad redeposits her prone. She comes back to the rail but this time he climbs into the crib and they fall asleep together. We see many of these warmth lessons – Olympics brother- and sisterhood, pets forlorn or rescued, young teen advising his mom: “No kissing on the first date,” children holding hands, standing together, old folks thrilled with their caregivers.

These commercials, Scrooge-ishly, annoy me. It’s not just because they are artificial sweeteners – people are more layered than these moments. It’s not just that I don’t like the U.S. economy telling us what’s good. It’s that I don’t like society telling me anything. I don’t like society assuming we’re all connected.

I am, I suppose, insular in a way.

Does anyone else feel nagged by this fallacy? I already have enough of being forced into the same leaky PT boat by disturbed Captain Trump. My good is my own treasure. It’s not generic. It doesn’t send waves of golden meaning into other people’s lives. Not only is it quiet: It is unknown to others.

Whose self-medication is this? Who decided we’re all one? Maybe this honey in the air doesn’t actually turn people’s lives, but I think there is an implicit – very subliminal, a real collective unconscious – feeling or assumption in people’s brains that we’re all in this together. And that idea or feeling must take over true individuality. It prevents our knowing that while we can talk to others, our words end up not truly blending into the alien soil of their lives. Their lives are their own. After the cradle, just before the grave.

Yes, there are still times in my life when I’ve wanted that bond with another, where one exists yet fuses with the other. There are times in my therapies when I’ve offered to be a client’s home, her eternal parent to go to. I may get a few calls over the months post-termination. But then it stops: Everyone wants to be freer than that, despite their need and their loneliness.

1 comment:

  1. I find it helpful to remind one’s self that these advertisements are largely performed by actors and actresses,(ie it's a false glow) so each one is merely a performance. I do think, though that collectively they do alienate us from being real (if one merely absorbs, without observing) because, as you will know very well in your practice, it’s only truth (“feeling truth") that heals and that gets in to the core. And there is so little of that publically distributed. Publically, we live on the surface of life. I guess that’s why we need Psychologists and Psychiatrists!!

    Bob Dylan – “advertising signs, they con
    You into thinking you’re the one
    That can do what’s never been done
    That can win what’s never been won
    Meantime, life outside goes on
    All around you......”

    The loneliness of living inside one’s own skin. At best, we can get used to that.


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.