7. Private School Sam

A beginning …..
Sam a private school man presenting with his girlfriend threatening to end their 2 year relationship if he doesn’t speak to someone. He works in the City, and is a Sports Club captain leading a competitve team in a private school sport. He has a full timetable where being productive is essential.

Sam is a charming handsome man with an easy attitude to life: as though nothing bothers him. He is respectful and polite with the smooth presentation. His persona feels like a steel egg. Nothing will touch or reach him. His attendance is poor: he gives notice at the last minute, or DNA. But he still comes with a vague attachment to the therapy. He assumes that I am going to break into the steel egg with heavy gear. He went to private boarding school aged 7 years old all the way through to 18 years old. Then onto a top University where he studied sciences. He recalls his childhood and school experience as good: he can’t complain.

Conversations with Sam are to convince me that his template of control, self discipline, and using himself as a tool of production is the way to go. I agree with him. Not out of technique but authentically agree that these traits have made him successful. These traits are good to have. He is a leader: he dominates and controls. His template is efficient, effective and winning. I have learnt that reassurance of the steel egg is crucial. Any attempt to break in is seen as an attack & defended.

In the room he invites/provokes me into conversations with stories and situations where control, & discipline win the day. I listen: being present and supporting his template. To start we both ignore the elephant in the room – the reason he is coming – his relationship with his girlfriend. The transference is to play me into thinking that all is well, he has no feelings about anything, so we can end. My counter transference is to want to end with him, while feeling seduced, irritated, bored, but in pain. One of my tasks is to hold Sam’s painful feelings he cannot bear. In doing this I show that his feelings are bearable, and that someday he might risk taking them back.

To prevent the taking back Sam controls the session by filling it with stories of the template success sometimes angrily, petulantly, sadly, reluctantly. He wonders what he is doing coming here. Is it productive. At times I feel his fondness for me: that there might be something familiar between us which is both inticing, and revolting.
But he and I still hang on …..

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6. Private School 2

and to continue ……. sitting in front of these lovely private school men is an exercise in an unequal duality. The smooth presentation dominates, an occasional glimpse of the boy behind comes through. Even though the boy is only glimpsed he is perceived as breaking down the smooth presentation. Fear of the boy breaking through initiates therapy to strengthen the smooth presentation.

The wish is for the therapy to maintain the norm. The norm being that the smooth presentation working efficiently, to the point where the private school man operates in similar systems like the City, Legal Professions, Sports clubs etc. When the presentation begins to break down (illustrated in the extreme film American Psycho) the private school man can be driven mad trying to maintain the presentation.

To be presented with the notion that the boy breaking through might be unstoppable is terrifying for the private school man. Sometimes they are not convinced. The smooth presentation remains, and he moves onto other treatmentshoping for a bolster of the smooth presentation.

At the start male discussions around concepts, ideas, knowledge, of different thinkers, approaches, philosophies are discussed. Then narratives around life events, family, partners, then childhood with a sprinkling of feelings emerge.
Long hard dull boring repetitive work. No answers, solutions, actions or behaviours. But a slow noticing of the child behind: leading to a slow reveal where the child can sit alongside the smooth presentation joining up a whole person. Where all parts have legitimacy, and influence. The Magic.

 

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5. Private School

To follow on … Private School Adults especially men can come with this presentation:

1. No choice in going to a school miles away from home as a boarder, or living locally as a day student. Family culture informs the choice without question while both parents and sons can be upset at the break in the relationship. The boarder takes on the education more deeply as he has no respite: so heavily repeats what is learnt & presents in adulthood.
2. A hothouse of wealth, priviledge, success, resources, confidence, excellence, opportunity to people, networks, organisations recognised through contacts and connections. This is all assumed and seen as normal.
3. Students immediately in all aspects of private school life streamed/graded into classes, teams, houses, years, genders, and ages (the year above the year below)
4. An emphasis on sport which highlights the above competitive system. Reslience, fortitude, winning mind set, tolerance of physical and mental pain. An expectation of excellence. Ability to focus, organise, and exploit strengths and weaknesses to achieve results.
5. The forming of a tough false front to bear the above environment to the point where the authentic genuine person is lost to a competitve intense mind set where winning is all.
6. To compensate for a lack of control: the exercion of control particularly around space and time: constant occupation/production is deemed normal. The amount of production is never enough.
7. Intimate relationships regarded as out of control, unreliable feeling so have to be defended against. Ambivalence, avoidance, and withdrawal used to defend against intimacy.
8. A smooth operator presentation which is slick and efficient. Polite, charming, effortless, attractive.

Many people can have these traits in alternative education: but nothing like private schools does it so systemically and with such similar imprinting.
To be continued ………….

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4. Bereavement & Loss

Running a Bereavement & Loss course one of the topics that came up was how in 2024 modern life is set up to be a distraction. There are so many ways to distract from the pain and suffering of human existence. The idea of resolution was entwined in the day. The idea that through self help we can change improve, resolve our issues through attention and will. That we can continue to avoid and deny our demise by religion, reincarnation, that we can be convinced that our ending will not be final. Perhaps we can? But the shock and trauma of bereavement & loss might tell us otherwise?

There appears to be no escape to suffering but we are working on it. There is a dream that technology can save us from the drudgery and the difficulty of life: giving us the time and energy for the things we want to do. Perhaps it can. Limitless lives of comfort.

What about transference? The idea that we are fixed early on to repeat in adult life. We spend our days defending our transference village from figures of pain and suffering trying to get in. The sentries and barbed wire keep the different figures of pain and suffering out with ease. It is the similar and familiar figures that the sentries cannot identify who slip in underneath the wire. These figures silently emerge in the places in our transference village we thought were protected and sacred.

One day we might be able to change our early days through an app so we can choose what is similar and familiar. It could be a game to see how we could fool our natural defenses with no consequences of pain and suffering.
Until then ….

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3. Tatzpitaniyot

The Tatzpitaniyot are the eyes & the ears of the Israeli army on the border with Gaza. Women soldiers of low rank: their job involves studying footage to detect different behaviours, & habits of the local population. They reported different movements, behaviour and predicted that Hamas were organising some sort of attack. They were ignored.

In human behaviour we often think of the message or the messenger. It is an easier focus. Yet as the Israeli army reailsed –  it had fixed Hamas and its threat in a previous time. Hamas was seen as beaten: more politically pragmatic and not capable of pulling off such an organised attack.

In families, adult relationships, friendship groups, & places we assess at our first impression. It takes effort to update, and change our outlook of people and places. Where we first move to: that is our yardstick. After that our impression wishes it would stay as it was in the first place. Adults are seen by families as children with child traits.
Friendships do not like change of roles: and expect you to remain in role like listener, initiator, or peacemaker.

And so it goes. Older workers despair at the younger workers giving up on their ways & principles of their work life. What is an end to older workers is the beginning for new workers. The welfare state fondly remembered by older generations, now more stripped down: becomes the norm for newer generations. In the future there maybe be little NHS for example but newer generations will think nothing of this. THe NHS will not be a part of the start of their experience.

A knowledge of our narratives and how we are biased (brainwashed) is illuminating. What are our judgements and how are they fixed? How do we categorise, & freeze our opinions? To recalibrate is useful if we are not to get stuck in an outdated past time. It can deny us the changing present and future.

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2. Nihilism for Men

Why Nihilism for Men might have its difficulties. Nihilism being the study of how we put meaning to life where there is no meaning. The idea that life is meaningless & absurd and that it is us who have to give life meaning.

Men find meaning in life in group activities so that they can communicate indirectly with each other. When these institutions such as clubs, sport, religious, academic – whatever they may be – are no longer accessible – men suffer.
Men typically do not communicate directly about their feelings: or be vulnerable because they are innately heirarchically organised. Men compete not support.

With the demise of formal institutions modern generations might find Nihilism more attractive to putting meaning to their lives? Rather than being manipulated by hope and optimism by employers Nihilists can reflect freely on themselves with the truth of their own meaning.

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1. Quaker Spices

The 6 Values of the Quaker Movement are:                                       

SIMPLICITY  Kindness Generosity   Spirit over Materialism

PEACE  To live a life to foster communication skills to further ethical growth of the self and others

INTEGRITY  Respect Honesty to the Self and Others

COMMUNITY Create a relationship with the self in relation to the bigger group

EQUALITY   Diversity Race Class Culture Faith

STEWARDSHIP   Of the Earth Climate Change Ecology

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17. L’Inconnu / The Unknowable

2023 is a year of The Unknowable. Nothing seems to make sense. Big stuff with big impact out of our control.
We feel weak vulnerable helpless: lost frightened afraid. Scared to death.

It isn’t helped that 21st Century living demands the knowing of everything. Outside the realm of knowing is a dangerous place. Certainty, Knowledge, The Truth, Being Right, are the cornerstones of modern life. Money, Commerce, Insurance, Busyness conspire to give us the illusion of safety.

The Unknowable: Lost Lonely Longing Confused In Pain Helpless Hopeless are all frightening places to be in the modern world. Deemed unnatural, unhelpful, to be fixed. No wonder our struggles with Mental Health. Freud would call it our avoidance of the inevitability of death.

We have disabled our natural instincts to live in an unsafe world: which is what our psyche is designed to do. Previously in our village what was unknowable was made a ritual to live with. We had a connection to Nature which guided us through the seasons. Oral traditons and tales reassured us of ancestors & their eternal struggle we also suffer. We had a village of support: people of all ages and skills who brought us up. A wisdom of living taken from life experience not knowledge. In a way far more known than in the split off lives we live presently.

To be lost, be wrong, be caught out, be challenged, makes us alive if we can embrace it.

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16. Funky Drummer

Clyde Stubblefield was James Brown’s drummer who created a drum groove sampled many times without getting any credit.
James Brown was a strict band leader – who gave out fines to musicians who did not play right, or turn up in the right kit. Here he is looking nervous under James Brown’s gaze with the second drummer behind looking nervous for him playing Cold Sweat.

His drumming style was deceptively simple which not many drummers can play let alone invent. Credit not given to musicians including musicians of colour is infamous. The bass line of Rappers Delight created by Bernard Edwards which spawned a rap genre is another example.

A Master. Enjoy!

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15. Non Fiction Fiction Speak

Speaking in a non fiction manner is reporting. I woke up, went downstairs, and opened the fridge to find no milk to make a cup of tea: so I had to go out to the corner shop to buy some more. Facts. The bare minimum to get the ideas across in the most succinct way. The way men and women write emails.

To speak in a non fiction way, like a novelist is to add a sensitivity, and feelings to the story.
I woke up, dreaming of a hoilday on the coast where my mother lived, after my Dad had died. I went downstairs ………………………

The challenge is to try and facilitate the person to speak about their childhood as a novelist rather than a narrator. To give a colour and depth to past events. Then they can relive traumatic events, in a safe holding environment as an adult with more power and control. This takes courage and perseverance.

When traumatic events can be re-framed, or re-experienced the feelings can gain an adult perspective and the heat taken out of them. To live a life less affected by the presenting past.

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