12. The English Patient

The English Patient opens and closes with the shot of the desert from a plane loking like the surface of the brain.
The English Patient (Count Almasy) has forgotten his name and identity aka Sam.

The English Patient tells the story from the hot desert of a romance with his friend’s wife Katharine. On their first meeting she mocks the English Patient for his writing with no adjectives. With this comment she sees something familiar: a withdrawn cold man: a template of control, self discipline, and using himself as a tool of production.  And a man looking for some sort of salvation, fixing, completeness by a woman. The empty space that aches to be filled. Katharine appeals to his writing, drawing, singing. They dance.

The English Patient’s unconscious trying to protect him from his fear of Katharine goes into a flght flight response. He fights with her husband trying to expel Katharine from the desert. He refuses her offer of putting her sketches in his notebook. Obligation belies dependence. They flew in by plane with no flight/escape out. He is stuck in the desert with his fear of her. But it is not his fear of Katharine that propels him. But the familiar fear of his own (aka Sam) early trauma attachment with his mother nursed by nannies. A familiar babyhood fear in his preverbal life.

Once the defence is breached in a sandstorm: the fever is in. She is angry with him: for pushing her to this. Women can relate to men as friends more? For the English Patient she is the space filler: the trauma soother: the wound balm. The Supersternal Notch. Katharine declares a love of her husband. The English Patient declares a hatred of ownership: telling her she should forget him – trying to wrestle back cold control after being rebuffed.

Then comes the threat of the love withdrawal. The English Patient becomes desperate, longing for a Katharine the English Patient cannot have: the English Patient becomes unboundaried, angry, vengeful, rude & insulting. Out of character & control such is his fear of returning to the original trauma version of himself.

“I have to teach myself not to read too much into everything. It comes of too long having to read so much into hardly anything at all …..”   The English Patient 2:06:30

Copyright Adrian Scott North London Counsellor Blog 2024
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