Tuesday, 17 January 2012


The title of this post is a bit misleading but then so is feigning despair.  This is the second interesting phone call I had today.  I have a friend of a friend who has taken to phoning me a lot.  She is very distressed.  Her life is in ruins and she is alcoholic.  She doesn't know me or my name and I don't know who she is so I am talking about this in confidence because it is the behaviour of humans that I am interested in.

Initially she is very distressed and wants someone to talk to.  I am perfectly happy to be that person whilst I have the spare time.  But it doesn't take her long to start trying to get me to support her views so that she feels stronger in asserting them over others.  That description is brief and seemingly heartless but it is what is going on.

She does have some very significant damage as a result of events in her life.  The problem is that in order to "comply" with the cultural framework that she conformed to as a child in order to survive she cannot allow herself to "feel" the pain.  I think this can be said of most people to some degree.

So she perceives events around her now as being devastating and unjust.  She doesn't understand why people are so cruel.  She feels ashamed and disgusted with herself for her laziness, her alcoholism, her inability to ever wash or clean her teeth and generally is so harsh in her judgement of herself that she is destroying her life.

She phones me up saying she has had her benefits stopped and she is beside herself with fear and distress.  I make the mistake of suggesting that they don't have the right to stop her benefits and she should write to them to that effect.  At this point she coldly announces that she has to go to bed and puts the phone down... but it didn't go down.  I was left hanging on to the phone listening to her shouting and screaming at her husband.

But I know what is going on and it is extraordinarily difficult.  Many of us (probably most) are brought up in a judgemental controlling environment.  We are assured that if we comply we will be alright.  The more intelligent of us begin to realise that there is something self-contradictory about the moral structure.  It doesn't take a lot of "intelligence" to realise that beating a child with a stick to teach them that beating people is "bad" is fundamentally and inescapably contradictory.

However, if we were fool enough to "play the game" in order to survive then we are necessarily treating ourselves the same way.  Some people simply take on board the compliance mantle and become authoritarian gits, some simply accept the mistake of landing in a pile of shit and some are mortally offended at the shit that we have been placed in for someone else's benefit.

At this point it becomes war.  An internal war.  To do anything about the injustice one must survive and to survive one must "play the game". so we begin to hate ourselves.  It is brinkmanship in the extreme.  Can we comply enough to survive whilst retaining our internal self respect.  Can we be compassionate enough to ourselves to forgive us for "playing the game" to survive.  Are we risking becoming like "them" and once we can survive we will continue to "play" the same game.  It is hell in here.

My friend of a friend is currently trying to get me to support her view that "they" are bad and should be condemned in the same way she feels they have unjustly condemned her.  So all I can do is listen and sympathise but it won't be long now before she threatens me with her own suicide.  I have no problem with that because I respect her right to make her own decisions about her own life.  Unsympathetic though that would seem to the more "sentimental" amongst us it is because at the moment she is trying to solicit me to be on her oppressors side.  She is trying to get me to agree with her judgemental attitude.  She is feigning her distress to achieve a goal.  She is externalising her feelings and can see no other way because she has to behave this way to survive.  The lessons were learnt at a very impressionably age and there is only one way out: to feel the pain.  But she won't do that for a while yet.

What a convoluted bunch of psycho-biological-blobs we are.

1 comment:

  1. For what it's worth I'd say one thing to her and then change my number...

    "You live, you die..the bit in between is called life..ENJOY"

    ..then it's her call...and, in the nicest possible way...DILLIGAF?