A couple of the posts I’ve written recently have ended up with me mentioning narcissism. Where does my mind go when I think about that? There’s Narcissus, a figure from a Greek myth. I find the thought of him, transfixed at his reflection and losing the will to live, more like an explosion than an idea. I would – my father was such a narcissist. Can I ever have an ‘idea’ of Narcissus: the silent scene from the myth, of him staring into the water? I always hear noise around him.
I think of people I work with as a psychotherapist who are disgusted by their bodies but who remain just as trapped looking at them, not seeing what I or other people see, stopping eating and slowly dying. I then think of the narcissists I’ve known who lose sight of other people in different ways (in both cases there’s fear of other people) and the angry sound of them colliding with individuals who they won’t truly acknowledge as other people … more as ideas from their own minds: knowable, malleable, useful.
I think of beautiful things, too. The vase of daffodils (narcissus) on a table at work that so surprised me when I saw them. My writing (if ever there was a narcissistic project). My clothes and other people’s clothes. All the colours and shapes in the world, dressing people. I love fashion without looking particularly fashionable.
Fashion is superficial but everything happens on the surface. Without fashion there would be no form to the living world; no attachment to the things we cover ourselves and our environment with. Fashion’s sometimes stupid and the fashion world, having dealt with some of its casualties, often particularly cruel. But there will always be things we consider beautiful, and as a phenomenon fashion will always happen.
How can you keep sane in the face of fashion?
- Don’t wear the same coloured socks and trousers.
- Fashion needs to leave room for movement. If you can’t move freely it’s wrong.
- Fashion should never look down. Fashion must look up, because we are the ideal.
- People criticise fashion and waste their time on money on so many other things.
- Don’t talk about size, talk about how you’re feeling.
I’m dumbfounded when I hear people dismiss telepathy. Freud was very probably a believer. I know many people who’ve spent a lot of their life around people struggling to find words for something that’s often beyond words have a sense that a thought can pass between two people without either of them being particularly conscious of it. In my training as a psychotherapist it was called projective identification, transference, counter-transference … You may know it simply as a feeling you get when you’re with someone ‘noisily quiet’, and after having that feeling something pops into your head and you can’t think where it came from. Look across at your silent friend. Maybe you get a strange sense that she or he is straining to tell you something. You may be about to receive a telepathic message (far more fun than a text, I can tell you, although there’s something uncannily telepathic about what a text message suggests that it doesn’t actually say). So what can I say about telepathy that isn’t too X-Files (although I used to like the X-Files) and doesn’t get too Melanie Klein?
- You won’t find this mentioned on the UKCP or BACP web site but it’s possibly a way of thinking about something that most psychoanalytic psychotherapists engage with every day.
- Strangely being in synch with someone relies on more than guessing. How much of your relationship is telepathic?
- It can all go terribly wrong if you don’t take a lot of time to get to know yourself. Instead of receiving you project: you see someone through the lens of your own emotional circus (like feeling really glum, going to work and thinking ‘God, what a sad bunch’).
- Telepathy isn’t mind-reading. It’s picking up on an unspoken message using my mind, without getting anywhere near the inside of another person’s head.
- Narcissists are not telepathic, they just think they know better than anyone else. Don’t let one fool you that she or he can read your mind. There are some very good mind-guessers.
What do I find funny? Vic Reeves, not Stewart Lee. Jennifer Saunders, not Miranda Hart. I like comedians who aren’t afraid of looking stupid and who don’t look stupid. I’m not fond of clever comedians because they are rarely clever enough to make me either laugh or think (Stewart Lee, Stephen Fry) and I don’t much like irony. I like dry wit or straightforward foolishness, both of which rely on timing and things musicians also know about … something to do with harmony, dissonance and repetition. This isn’t at all a funny post: it’s rather serious. Why am I writing it? That’s something to do with something else I find funny, I imagine … the thought that somehow my mentioning these things in public will make any difference to the world at all, and perhaps lead to there being less Lee and more Reeves, possibly; some kind of butterfly effect beginning on a sofa in Canterbury on a Saturday morning (I wondered what those butterfly lights we bought a few weeks ago would lead to) and ending in another series of House of Fools. l love stupid fantasies played out boldly (Harry Worth). This may be related to me deciding to get a Twitter account, or it might be because Stephen Fry doesn’t have one any more. Continue reading “Funny Thoughts”
I gave a talk yesterday and listened to one by a psychologist – an engaging one, but one who still left me with most of the questions I end up carrying after listening to a psychologist. There are two that tend to recur.
First of all, although she took pains to explain what she saw as the events which had inspired here work (her family history, her personal relationship to the subject she was discussing) I found myself wondering what her enthusiasm left her impatient of, or intolerant of, and why her passionate perspective felt more like an advertisement for looking on the bright side than an exploration of the unknown. Continue reading “Do You feel Lucky?”
Next time you’re feeling anxious, irritated or sad (although it might also do to try and remember this when you’re feeling happy …) notice the way you are sitting, standing or lying. What are you doing in relation to the thing that’s on your mind? If you shift yourself at all, maybe uncrossing your legs or moving your arms, what happens? It may feel unpleasant, in which case go back to how you were! Continue reading “Shifting”