The I-Can

The I-Can

1: Do all that you do as well as you can.

2: Do as little as you can.

3: Discover what can means.

 

Effects not Causes

Effects Not Causes

Someone reminded me the other day about the line that Jean Francoise Lyotard took. In fact she’d once found a t-shirt with it summarised on the front (I’d like to know what was on the back): effects not causes.

Psychotherapy becomes a peculiar thing when it is invested in looking for or at causes. It becomes far more speculative than it needs to be.  Whether or not we believe that something might be ‘unconscious’, hopefully we might agree that if something is unconscious it can’t be pointed at.

The best kinds of group

The Best Kinds of Group

The best kinds of group are ones where people who don’t get on have, out of necessity, to find a way of getting on. If they do, when they do, the results can be extraordinary.

Fragmentation worries me. Political parties splintering. Factions forming. Where’s the force to come together, and why would anyone bother to? For some people it is very easy to speak out differently.  Others are easily and cruelly exposed as different. And with this going on, many people are left unable to have their voices heard at all.

Freedom is not a right. I wish it were. Freedom will always be contested.

Lost in Music

Lost in Music

I visited the dentist with someone this morning. The dentist, a large and friendly Rumanian, a slightly shy bear, was playing Vivaldi: no words, not especially what I would listen to, but something about the music filled the room with a feeling of a very special, loving presence. One on the Side of life. No anaesthetic necessary. Pain sounded as if it had been the last thing on Vivaldi’s mind, and maybe he had intended it to be: Vivaldi was never a well man. Listening to his music it seemed to become one of the last on ours; and this was wonderful because I had been at the dentist because the person I was with had been very nervous of having a filling.

Then I went to a cafe for a coffee and nearly drowned in the open sluice of its sound-system: pouring into my ears, my brain, my body, my soul was the terrible liquid sound of macho self-pity, an earnest man singing about the various ways in which life had never gone right for him. I imagine it never will.  There’s sad music and there’s music that makes you sad, neither of which I could do without – but there’s also the kind of thing I finally left the cafe to avoid. Music that grabs you by the throat and drags you down. Angry music that suffocates and traps. Indignant music: hard luck stories that secretly wish hard luck on others, which see luck as a thing to be jealous of.

Be careful what you listen to. It may come true.

Addiction & the Main Lie

Addiction & the Main Lie

If you’re in charge of any failing operation, whether it’s a body that gets deeply unhappy if you don’t give it what it wants (addiction) or a political party whose members expect certain kinds of legislation (Brexit), the only way out seems often to lie. The truth feels impossible.

The main lie about Brexit seems to have involved the choice offered in a referendum where one course of action (to ‘take back control’), to leave the European Union, the more popular one, was a very risky one.  The risks weren’t spelled out or hinted at.

Addiction presents a risky option as one that feels if not safe, then essential. Something numbs a person to the risk in their behaviour … if they don’t get a kick out of the risk. Denial is an art that doesn’t always involve lying, but it generally perverts the truth. We should treat Brexit like an addiction.

Denial

Denial

Denial means less pain and more craving. Less denial means less craving but more pain. An aside: denial is often about not wanting to alienate people around you. Making your pain known can have unpredictable consequences. Being in denial isn’t simply about not wanting to accept what is happening in you, or to you. That’s often far less of a problem, especially to someone who doesn’t like themselves, than to lose the people around them. As an impulse, nurtured during childhood, this kind of fear of abandonment is both very understandable and hard to shift. It is, however, possible to shift.  The craving? That’s the medicine you look for to avoid the pain, and it may come on a plate, wearing clothes, in a bottle, in a bookies, in a syringe, standing next to you even when you and they wish they weren’t … it’s all a kind of addiction.

Intention

Intention

Set your intention: your conscious, voluntary intention, as if you are setting out on some kind of a trip. Whether it’s an Antarctic crossing or a visit to the shops is a matter for your imagination, but if you do, this is something you can come back to with strange effect. I mean, something like this: ‘I am being less defensive.’ Just think that and keep coming back to it, as if you are opening a door onto a room. See what happens.