Why babies cry and why we feel lonely at dusk. Once upon a time, long ago, the first human was born. Of two parents, one male one female. Or should that be, one female one male. That very first human was born maybe only a few seconds before another one elsewhere appeared, but s/he would be the first of the new species homo sapiens. The mother would have given birth naturally and breastfed and would have been protective of her baby, otherwise it would not have survived. Did she love it? Well, we imagine so for although she had no such word, the release of the chemical oxytocin, a powerful surge released during natural birth and then through breastfeeding and touch, would have bonded her to her baby, and baby to her. In those days, babies stuck close to their mothers for fear of predators. At sunset all members of the small group would gather, and in time light a fire, because the nights were cold, and predators were on the prowl, especially for the one separated from the group, who were easy prey. Since that time, homo sapiens becomes fearful when alone, especially as night starts to fall, and looks for a communal fire to join; a place of both protection and communion. Many people believe this is why babies still cry ‘ for no reason’, and stop the moment that they are safe on a familiar grown up’s body. To be left behind, even more so with a nomadic tribe, would mean certain death. Most adults know this and use the threat of ‘ leaving behind’ as a trump card. So here we are, biologically programmed for security vs danger, acceptance vs rejection. It is no wonder that the famous developmental psychologist, Erik Erikson, believed that the very foundation of the psychological structure of homo sapiens has to do with trust vs distrust. Will someone come if I cry? Will I get enough food to grow? Will I be kept warm when it is cold and placed in the shade when it is hot? Will I be safe from predators? Will I be welcomed and accepted into this community? The important question preceding all these questions: if this is not also true for my mother, then it will not be true for me either.

Theft

Theft

 I hear the child’s voice and then I see them. The mother is crisply urban. With platinum white hair expensively snipped to look boyish, her heals go clickety clack on the glossy tiled floors of the shopping mall. “We forgot to pay for it.” The little girl, all pink, is clutching a Barbie book in her left hand. Her voice rings out, as she looks up at her mother. Mother grasps her right hand tighter, clickety clack she is walking faster, pulling the little girl behind her. I keep on looking at them, not because I care about the theft, but because I care about the little girl, who is flailing behind, the same pinched look of the mother now in her face.

That night I wonder, is the joy of getting something for nothing more than the joy of a book or looking up to your mother? I also wonder about my own ambivalence. I do not really care that they stole that much (it is Barbie after all, such a contaminated symbol, does she not deserve to be stolen?) If it was Winnie-the-Pooh or Alice in Wonderland, would I not have been outraged? Is that not why we have become who we are now: too much Barbie and too little Pooh bear?

Mostly my heart breaks for the little girl who, in order to stay connected to her mother, will have to take on her mother’s moral code which, as in the mother, will result in the same pinched expression on her face.

 

 

What is happening to therapy?

This is the post excerpt.

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I have been trying, this past ten years or so, to do therapy without using any jargon. No words such as depression or bipolar,  nothing like inner child or soul or inner critic or sentences like, “You can be anything you like”,  or  ” Do whatever feels right for you.” To be frank, I disliked all of that anyway. It sounded like brainwashing combined with  wishful thinking, and who knows,  is any of that “true” at all?

So, I try to stick to ordinary verbs – doing words – and adjectives. If you push “Depression” out of the room, longing and sadness will usually take its place. Tell me about your longing and your grief. We can talk about that. And tell me about your loss of power too.

Yesterday I was at a creative workshop. A lovely older woman, a teacher of English, spoke about her agony when having to take big decisions as she does not trust herself, and she is sad about a life that is lacking in joy.  “It is because of the lack of love in your life” , a successful therapist replied. “Yes”, the teacher responded, agony on her face, “that is exactly what I don’t have.”

Here is my take on it: When you are a small child,  you will explore. You will do your best to discover things and to have joy.  You will only be stopped for three main reasons: 1) Absence of opportunity (a barren environment) 2) Rigid rules and boundaries (don’t make a mess, be clean, be tidy, be dutiful) and/or 3) Overprotection.

When you are an adult, you cannot wait for trust and love to be there before you begin to explore and to experience joy.  You cannot waste more time mourning for what you do  and did not have. You may have to wait for ever and then more if you want to have  before you begin living. You begin by risking, by taking chances, by taking a walk on the wild side. You will learn to trust and to love once you are out there –