Anxiety haiku

November 22, 2016

Feeling anxious today. So to take my mind off my tax return (which won’t load because of all the other last-minuters) I’m googling anxiety haikus instead.

Love this site (The Haiku Diaries) – and their take on the election too. (“I won’t normalise the flim-flam man today”).

My rather feeble effort:

My quickening pulse

is making me uneasy.

Bloody tax return.

**

And then something completely different. A picture (borrowed from Flickr – littlekiss photography) of Cherry Blossom Rain. Ah, smell the sweet air.

cherry-blossom-rain


Moving on: we shall overcomb

November 16, 2016

we-shall-overcomb

Feeling more hopeful today. I was reading my chapter for psychology group on Thurs night and I came across this:

As Freud first noted, patients tend unreflectively to believe that experience is explained by events and circumstance and are oblivious to the role played by the unconscious in how events are being processed. Analysts, especially those who lend themselves to sustained immersion in their patients’ experience, also tend to become similarly trapped in its content. Such entrapment blinds the analyst to the shifting of affect states and subjective realities that is occurring beyond the focus of their eyes. (Brandchaft, p.132)

Why is that hopeful? Because it says that while the content remains the same, the affect is different. Trump is still Trump but the emotions that we have about him and what he means for America are changing.

  • Trump was anti-Establishment but now he is becoming the Establishment.
  • Trump was angry opposition. Now he is the leader-elect of the government and he will need to be more considered and less impulsive.

Many Americans (and non-Americans) believed that Trump couldn’t really win. That he was un-electable. Certainly unfit to be President. Now we know that he is electable. We also under-estimated the resistance that people have to a strong woman leader.

There was a lovely quote in an article (perhaps the Washington Post or the Observer) that said “we sent you a lifeboat but you complained that it was a pink lifeboat. You wanted a blue lifeboat”. Clinton was just unpalatable to so many people, even though she was way more qualified to do the job, way more moderate and considered in everything she does. Yes, she stuffed up with her email server and she made other mistakes in her 30 years of public service, but those pale against what Trump has done, and said.

Trump’s words against ethnic minorities, against foreigners, against women, against the disabled etc. will take years to dissipate. I suppose the Trump supporters will say that Hillary’s words were also hurtful, but I can’t think of a single instance in which Hillary’s words have inflamed people to go and hurt others, or destroy property. Hillary was unpalatable because she was the ultimate Washington insider, she was a strong woman, and the change she wanted wasn’t the change that half of America wanted.

But time moves on. People move on. Our emotions move on. I’m feeling more hopeful today. If it’s 4 years or 8 years, the Trump presidency will end. Americans will learn major lessons from this. One of them will be that for the Democrats to re-take the White House, they need to focus on the “blue wall” and forget about trying to turn red states blue. Texas go blue in my lifetime? Fuhgeddaboutit.

Also, I’ve noticed a shift in how people view Trump. The victorious Trump is quieter, he still seems slightly in shock that he actually won. And while he is still Trump (he can’t change that) the hopeful part of me thinks that he can’t do that much damage, surely?

Also, there’s solidarity in opposition. Just being moderate, open-minded, interested in preserving the planet seem like acts of protest. Suddenly it seems that the most minor of details, like listening to someone like Natalie Merchant (I recommend The End as a beautifully lyrical, haunting song) is an act of hope. We shall overcomb indeed!

Postscript: Excellent article from Psych Central on dealing with the post-election blues can be found here


Learning from The Donald

September 21, 2016

Fascinating article on the upcoming Clinton vs Trump debate at The Atlantic (http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/10/who-will-win/497561/).

hilary-vs-donald

I was feeling quite anxious about the upcoming US presidential election but on reading this I feel a  bit more reassured. Trump does worry me, but if you look more closely at his body language and his statements there’s a pattern there – of domination, bullying etc. He is powerful because his message (both verbally and physically) is often very simple. James Fallows shows in this article how Hillary can win the debates (and by extension the election).

More broadly it also got me thinking about how I relate to bullies. How I am intimidated by them, how they get under my skin, how I get rattled and irritated. But I also started thinking about how I relate to dominance in general – whether it be a dominant male boss or a controlling parent! And when my partner is dominant and controlling, do I sometimes feel intimidated and annoyed as well? What about using our own dominance, and learning from the bullies (without being insensitive though)?

What I also found interesting was seeing the narrow band that dominant women have to operate in . It’s easy for Hillary to fall into the trap of being too shrill or harsh. She’s much better (and more effective) when she’s powerful AND relaxed. When she’s able to joke – and also deliver some put-down lines at the same time. Thanks James Fallows for a stimulating article. I’ll report back here after the debate on the 26th.


On reading and not writing

August 30, 2016

I’d sort of given up on blogging, since life was just too hectic and I wasn’t finding time to do anything much at all. But then I found that life without blogging was not necessarily more productive than life with blogging. So I’ve decided to start again. Even if it’s just a way of checking in and saying “this is what I’m reading and not writing”. So to make it sort of easier to write, I’m doing a Q&A.

Q: What are you reading at the moment?

winnicott A: I’m reading Winnicott by Adam Phillips. I’m enjoying it but it’s definitely harder to read this on Kindle. I lose the thread and it takes days to pick it up again. I’m interested in Winnicott because he’s more hopeful than Freud or Klein. He was also one of the first clinicians to stress the primary importance of the mother-infant relationship. He says there’s no such thing as a baby, only a baby in relationship with its primary caregiver.

He stresses the importance of playing, of creativity, of holding (physical and emotional), and of transitional objects. He’s interested in aggression, in real and false selves, and in many other things as well. I just wish that I had more time to read and think.

I’m also reading “Towards an Emancipatory Psychoanalysis: Brandchaft’s Intersubjective Vision”. brandchaftIt’s long, it’s good, it’s dense. I’m reading this for our self-psychology reading group, and so it’s one chapter a month. I’m also reading this electronically since the physical copy was very expensive. Even with the pound taking a slight dip with Brexit fears, books are still outrageously expensive.

I need to find a good novel to read. Maybe a re-read. The last novel I read was “The Little Paris Bookshop” which was good but not great. I always feel a little guilty saying that. Is it me? Is it the book? A combination of the two? Seeing a Goodreads rating of below four stars also tends to make me think that it’s not just me.

 

Q: What are you writing at the moment, if anything?

A: I tend to write a lot of concussion reports since it’s rugby season. To be honest, I really dislike them. I write the minutes of meetings. I write off and on in my journals (both electronic and book-form).

Q: What would you like to write?

A: I would like to write some sort of memoir, but I know that that’s not possible at the moment for a number of reasons. Firstly, I could never bring myself to write about my family knowing that they might read it. And secondly, I need to work on my writing fitness.

Just today I thought that I would like to write about my mother. It’s a difficult topic but it just feels right. For a long while I thought I should write about my dad. Since he is the more well-known of the two (famous even, one might say). Sons writing about their fathers seems more logical, right? But actually the more difficult story would be the more interesting one. But I can’t write about it here. Part of me thinks that I would have nothing to say. But I know that’s not true. I also have a whole drawer full of journals which I could trawl through. *sigh* It’s complicated.

And you? What are you reading at the moment? And writing?


Homophobia, Islamophobia and toxic masculinity

June 15, 2016

Orlando news collage

I’ve been so shocked by the tragic events in Orlando (the mass shooting at an LGBT club in Florida on Sat night) that I’ve been reading obsessively to try and get a handle on how to think about these events. I’ve watched the vigils on TV and I’ve read the updates and the opinion pieces and the analyses. How can such a terrible thing happen? What motivates someone to such hate and violence? What can society do to prevent such atrocities?

There are many themes which are emerging: the radicalisation of marginalised American Muslims; the dangerous mix of homophobia, mental instability and ‘toxic masculinity‘. The possibility that Mateen himself was struggling with a gay identity. The shocking lack of gun control in America. As more evidence emerges I’ll see what the psychologists have to say. For now I think the most powerful research comes from Sarah Lyons-Badilla, a social psychologist who has researched radicalisation in America.

If I was a journalist I’d want to interview the local Muslim authorities about what they teach their followers about tolerance and diversity. Is there tolerance or acceptance of different ways of life from those permitted in Islamic scriptures? I guess, as with Christianity, it really depends who you ask. I’m sure the media could do more to publicise the views of liberal Muslims (athough the cynic in me asks why they would do that if sensationalism is more profitable).

 

 

 


The mind of Donald Trump

May 25, 2016

The mind of Donald Trump

Interesting article. Dan McAdams, a psychology professor at Northwestern University, has crafted a detailed psychological portrait of Donald Trump, the reality-TV star and real-estate mogul who would be US President.

 He looks at Trump in terms of the Big Five of Personality Variables:

Extroversion: gregariousness, social dominance, enthusiasm, reward-seeking behavior

Neuroticism: anxiety, emotional instability, depressive tendencies, negative emotions

Conscientiousness: industriousness, discipline, rule abidance, organization

Agreeableness: warmth, care for others, altruism, compassion, modesty

Openness: curiosity, unconventionality, imagination, receptivity to new ideas

 

How does Trump stack up? High extraversion plus “off-the-chart low agreeableness”.

“People low in agreeableness are described as callous, rude, arrogant, and lacking in empathy.”

“Anger can fuel malice, but it can also motivate social dominance, stoking a desire to win the adoration of others. Combined with a considerable gift for humor (which may also be aggressive), anger lies at the heart of Trump’s charisma. And anger permeates his political rhetoric.”

A tendency to lie and distort.

Fascinating comparison with Andrew Jackson (who was the source of the donkey as the symbol of the Democratic Party). Similar populist appeal and driving personality. Brashness and anger.

Authoritarianism (associated with prejudice towards minorities or outgroups)

Disgust

A textbook case of narcissism

Archetypal warrior

But what is the purpose of fighting to win? Make America Great Again, says the Trump slogan. But what does that mean?

Great conclusion: “It is always Donald Trump playing Donald Trump, fighting to win, but never knowing why.”

 


Strange dreams and other things

April 25, 2016

My alarm went off at 5.50am. I turned it off and went back to sleep. T-bird gave my back a half kick. In my dream I was very intrigued to see how the plot would develop. I can’t remember the details but I was in some kind of difficult situation involving two women. Was I married to one and had made some kind of promise to the other? What made it more bizarre was that I knew this was the plot of some book. I had even asked the opinion of the most writerly blogging friend I knew. Lilian had agreed with the reviewer (but whether this comment was positive or negative I couldn’t remember).

The first woman had arrived from somewhere it seems. Maybe she had come to stay for a week? She met the second woman who I can only assume was my girlfriend. Woman #2  felt bad because  #1 had clearly been led to believe that we would have some kind of relationship, and she didn’t feel able to tell her the truth. I remember at some level thinking that these two women would be very annoyed to hear that I was actually married!

Woman #2 helped #1 with some kind of spell, which would need to be undone when woman #2 and I got together. Very complicated.

At which point L came to wake me to tell me that I had over-slept and that I would need to get a move on to get to work on time.

Bizarre. What did it all mean? One association that I have is with “Forty Seven Roses” in which Peter Sheridan writes about his dad who, while being married to Peter’s mother, managed to have a largely long-distance relationship with a previous girlfriend.

Needless to say I don’t have a girlfriend. I suppose the Jungians would say something about masculine and feminine selves. Maybe my feminine self has different aspects to her.

**

Other than that, I can report :

  1. T-bird is almost two. Loopsie is five. T-bird is quite good at the ‘terrible two’s” and at other times is sweetness and light. She charms strangers in shopping centres. She blows kisses at everyone in her little play-group. Her favourite activity is running around the house.
  1. I did a Resilience talk to our staff, and now feel heartily sick of the topic.
  1. I am endeavouring to read more novels written by women this year. I have just started “Station Eleven” by Emily St John Mandel. I have also just finished “Rembrandt’s Mirror” by Kim Devereux.
  1. I have also just started “Cloudstreet” by Tim Winton. We’ll see which novel wins.
  1. Not much else. Parenting. School. More school. Family. Back ache. The weather. And no blogging. Plenty of coffee though. Ho hum. I hope that life is more scintillating where you are.