April 16, 2015

Writing-to-heal. "Me, Myself and I" does NOT mean you're a narcissist!


Woman Baking Bread by Jean Francois Millet 

"Narcissism was unrelated to use of first-person singular pronouns...This consistent near-zero effect has important implications for making inferences about narcissism from pronoun use and prompts questions about why I-talk tends to be strongly perceived as an indicator of narcissism..." ~Narcissism and the Use of Personal Pronouns Revisited

Thank goodness new research debunks the idea that I-Talk is an effective way to spot narcissists. In my experience as a writer and a reader, integrating the whole of our lives is a collaborative work between me, myself and I.


Writing-To-Heal

You know how it is when the baking powder wasn't integrated in the batter and the biscuits didn't rise because you neglected little clumps on the bottom of the bowl? That's how I feel about writing-to-heal. I had to scrape the bowl to integrate the whole, paying attention to bits-and-pieces that could, if ignored, prevent me from rising in the midlife oven. The joke in our family is that God opens ovens when we're in our fifties and what we see is what we get. Sunken biscuits anyone? Word to the wise: don't wait for retirement to work on yourself because you won't remember where you put the baking powder. I've seen enough flat biscuits to appreciate the importance of conscious and deliberate integration.

Making Connections Through Writing

Writing connected me to people who didn't think me strange for admitting I had stared at the kitchen wall for two hours the day before. "Yea, that's what I did yesterday, too!" someone wrote back. "I stared at the yellow wallpaper 'til the kids came home." Writing rewarded my uneasy self-disclosure with other people's uneasy self-disclosure and as a result, we felt better together. Maybe staring at walls is normal behavior when the home we call self has fallen apart? Maybe I needed reassurance the walls were still there, thus the staring. I also needed to find people who were, like me, overwhelmed by irreparable losses. Feeling disconnected from my lovable self (what is wrong with me?) and disconnected from other people (what is wrong with you, CZ?) created a despair that's unfathomable to me now. My life is peaceful today, hopeful and loving. I don't stare at walls or feel powerless to manage my life. I resolve unanticipated problems of which there have been plenty since my divorce. But I am not overwhelmed by my problems, undone by my losses, or taxed beyond my ability to cope. I am strong enough, smart enough and gosh darn it people like me

Writing pulled me together and pulled people toward me. Writing became a powerful tool for making sense of confusing experiences stuffed like odd-and-ends in hidden closets because as most foolhardy adults believe: we were "over it." Remembering painful experiences exposes raw wounds and it's miserable, of that there is no doubt since plenty of people never open locked closets. But those same revisited experiences also reveal our strengths. Becoming aware of our strengths is part of a healing process. Reconnecting lost parts of ourselves will allow us to rise in the heat of personal crisis.
"The formation of a narrative is critical and is an indicator of good mental and physical health. Ongoing studies suggest that writing serves the function of organizing complex emotional experiences." (Pennebaker)
My cyber-journey began with my first written words on a NPD message board: "I am not a replaceable object. I am a human being and I am acutely perceptive!" That and less-than-one-hundred but more-than-ten me, myself and I's. If someone were counting my first person pronouns, they might assume me to be not-so-cutely narcissistic; and yes, that is how most of us view frequent self-referencing. Now that the narcissism pejorative has entered the general lexicon, people are counting "Me, Myself and I"s" as proof of a writer's narcissism.

When we don't want to hear someone's message, it's temptingly easy to stop listening and start counting "I's". So the idea that narcissistic women talk too much about themselves prompted me to write about my experience with the "I"; what I've witnessed when people began using "I" to understand themselves, to connect with others, to process the shame and blame of a narcissistic relationship. 

We de-spy-z Too Many I's 

About a decade ago, one of many articles suggested CEOs could be diagnosed by counting self-referential pronouns. (Chatterjee) An earlier article in 1988 suggested a similar thing (Raskin). People latched onto this supposedly clever idea as if it were foolproof and why not? It was easy. But ya gotta wonder about people counting "I's" in speeches which looks more like confirmation bias to me, than a reliable diagnosis.  In the spirit of democracy, anyone could do it and for the average citizen with little to no power or money in the bank, counting "I's" reinforced preferred beliefs. Ten "I's" and anything a CEO or politician said could be dismissed because you know. Narcissist.

And So: People Feared Writing "I"

I was heavily engaged in writing on NPD message boards, a form of anonymous journaling allowing writers to talk about things they probably shouldn't face-to-face. The empathic exchange between forum members was deeply healing for me and I could express my anger and fury without being shushed by gender police. It was obvious to me how uncomfortable women were when using lots of I's in their messages. For example, a personal friend posted this message in 2007:
"Eventually I will need to move in order to care for myself, but I don't have to think about that today. Today I am thinking about starting up a sewing binge because that is what I do best. The floors will be filthy from threads and scraps and the newspapers won't be picked up or the dishes done.  But I will accomplish something of value, and boy, will I be happy! I definitely feel I have been freed in order to do something that suits me better and benefits others in a real manner.   
And please don't count the "I's" in this message, because I am only talking about myself, not others.  There is nothing wrong with that when you are healing." 
Notice her movement out of loss into creativity, self-care and hope. Connecting, in my view, her past self with her new self in the present. Her expression was one of healthy integration post-trauma and yet she feared being criticized by those who were more busy counting "I's" than recognizing her transition. I quickly responded:
"People can be judgmental when a woman is talking about herself. But when her identity has been shattered, it is imperative for her to use the capital "I" as many times as necessary in order to know what SHE thinks, why she thinks it, who SHE is, and how her new Self connects to her former self. Think of the "I" as a bridge to an integrated self. Ten lashes with a wet noodle to any woman or man who worries s/he's a narcissist for having done so. 
It's very important in a process of self-reclamation, that we use the letter I unashamedly and without reservation. Self-disclosure is not a narcissistic act." 
As readers can surmise from our exchange, "I-talk" research had had a chilling effect. Calling people narcissists because of their "I-talk" may have been a backlash against breaking the No Talk Rule, and silencing their truth---a truth narcissistic families would rather not be told. Since it was extremely easy to spot narcissists by counting first person pronouns, non-narcissistic people constructed awkward sentences, more like bullet points than an embodied and honest narrative. Research validates what writers know: it's the emotional embodiment of a constructed narrative that heals the wounded heart.

Another cyberpeer was so obviously concerned people would think she was a narcissist, that she omitted first person references. "Went to the lawyer with my soon-to-be-ex" she wrote, "Hate this process." And I would think to myself, "Who? Who went to the lawyer and who hates this process? You?" An intentional omission of me, myself and I escalated in people's stories after cyberbullies collected pronouns to discredit someone they didn't like, and had perhaps been offended by.

My anxiety was elevated for sure because I was talking more about me, myself and I than had ever been socially appropriate. My stomach twisted in knots when too many "I's" leaped off the page like God's forsaken thunderbolts. I was breaking the No Talk Rule, particularly for a woman who was not supposed to talk too much about herself. Writing family anecdotes as if her life were important enough to share, harrumph! I think everyone's life is worth writing about, by the way. Some people are not inclined to write, identifying with writers whose life experiences reflect their own. We speak for ourselves by claiming "I" and our individual experiences tie us to others who read their story in our words.

In a dumbed-down "Spotting Narcissists" climate, self-disclosure became an intentional process, requiring nerves of steel to keep from deleting messages. I felt worse after clicking 'publish' because saying things we're not supposed to say invites high anxiety for a long visit. Relief came days later if I didn't take back my words. Keeping my words as is, also helped me learn to live with my regrets rather than stuff them in closets and lock the door.

Narcissists are unlikely to self-disclose so counting pronouns is no way to spot a narcissist. You must pay attention to content. 

Using "I" is Healing

I began focusing on my reactions after writing an emotional message in comparison to an informative message about a specific topic. Writing about theoretical concepts and statistical data facilitated learning but clicking "send" didn't threaten my certainty. If I wrote about my feelings, thoughts and actions, that was different and it increased my uncertainty. I'd sit and stew before publishing. I'd proof-read ten times, pondering whether or not I was self-critical enough for public consumption. You know how it is for women who talk too much about themselves.

I discovered overtime that using "I" was healing. Talking about me, myself and I was healing. Putting my experience into words using metaphors both mixed and dubious, was healing. (You never forget your first critic suggesting the metaphor police follow you around the Internet, ha! I have a couple of critics who oughta try using "I" rather than implementing so many "You's". So there).

Even with the occasional critic flaunting their literary proficiency, putting words to emotional trauma is healing. "I did this," and "I felt that"; "I think this and I believe that." At a certain point in this writing-to-heal process, I noticed my online friends, the ones who were directly referring to themselves, were healing, too. They were getting better with every message, reconnecting to the whole of their life and to me at the same time. We have remained steadfast friends for a decade and why not? I know who they are to the core of their being because they offered an invitation for intimacy that was heartily accepted and reciprocated.

I began to understand that the self-disclosing "I" contained the power to heal.



Ask James Pennebaker: "Who Uses I?"

According to Dr. Pennebaker's research, most of us believe self-centered, self-important and power hungry people refer to themselves with first-person pronouns. If you think that too, you'd be wrong. High status people use "I" words the least. People of lower status use "I" words more frequently. People in pain, depressed people, people who are paying close attention to themselves use "I". Women use "I" more frequently than men because we are relationship-oriented, not because we're narcissistic! Think about why so many of us are writing about narcissism---we are disconnected, suffering extreme losses, very often depressed and in desperate need of understanding. We are acutely attuned to ourselves as human beings when we are suffering.

Pennebaker also says that people using "I" are more honest than people who don't use "I". Liars and manipulators distance themselves from the "I". It's the Mistakes were Made phenomenon utilized by shifty people evading responsibility.  An honest person will sorrowfully admit, "I made a mistake." These are the people we can trust. Don't expect "I made a mistake" to be part of a narcissist's story. They tend to deflect personal responsibility by blaming others. And let's be serious---manipulative people know it isn't cool to create suspicion by using too many "I's".




Why the "I"?

In my writing-to-heal experience, "I" invites relationship, hoping for reciprocal sharing. People of good will listen for self-disclosure as an invitation to an intimate connection. It's been my experience also that writers using "I" are better listeners because they are curious about other people and they care enough to share their lives with others, too. That's the opposite of what many of us believe about "I-talk", isn't it?

If you are obsessed with spotting narcissism through first person pronouns, look for an omission of "I's" in someone's writing. (It's not a sure sign of narcissism, however). Notice whether or not your "I's" are being reciprocated by their "I's". And if you aren't interested in their story, perhaps you're overwhelmed. Pathological relationships tax our ability to cope and sometimes we can't absorb what people are sharing. Stay focused on yourself and keep using first person pronouns. Remember to have self-compassion during this preliminary phase of self-preoccupation. That Too Shall Pass---even faster if you have a few "I-talking" friends.

Before diagnosing anyone (including yourself) as a narcissist, ask yourself: "Is that person using "I" to share their life with others? Are they using "I" to understand themselves better, to take responsibility for their behavior, to forge relationship through the discovery of common bonds?"

P.S.: Sometimes a person is too broken to risk criticism and that is something to remember when writing-to-heal on anonymous websites. Not everyone values I-filled narratives. Any website encouraging people to write about their personal lives, Must Have a Moderator protecting the sanctity of the healing work being done. If you are not inclined to journal on message boards and blogs, keep a private journal. I-writing has the power to transform our lives.


Resources

American Psychological Association. Research Debunks Commonly Held Belief About Narcissism

Carey, Angela L. et al. 2015. Narcissism and the Use of Personal Pronouns Revisited 



Pennebaker, James W. and Janel D. Seagal. 1999 Forming a story: the Health Benefits of Writing a Narrative "These findings suggest that the formation of a narrative is critical and is an indicator of good mental and physical health. Ongoing studies suggest that writing serves the function of organizing complex emotional experiences."

Pennebaker at the Austin Forum on YouTube: Part one   Part two   Part three   Part four

Raskin R. & Shaw. 1988. Narcissism and the Use of Personal Pronouns. (abstract)



26 comments:

  1. I-writing - love it! This post is delicious - or rather, I think this post is delicious! It's so, so true - now that I'm more self-aware, self-caring, self-accepting, and heading (I hope) toward self-loving, I use the "I word more - I WANT people to know who I am and what I think and feel because I long for healthy reciprocal relationships. Thanks for this post - it's given me more to mull!

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    1. Hi Pearl! I was hoping someone would be willing to "break bread" with me over this topic. It's been mulling in the back of my mind for awhile now. I was thrilled to put this piece together once there was enough research to validate my experience. This fear of too many "I's" has been easier to spot now that online communication has become part of our lives. It would be interesting to know if there's a difference between the spoken and written "I." There may not be. We just notice it more in a text.

      I'm so glad you enjoyed this post---it was a delight to write having watched so many of my cyber-friends increase the use of "I" without fear or shame. And I loved your comment using all those capital "I's"!!! It made my heart leap with joy. ha! I want to know you, too!

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  2. I did not know about the I-word/narcissist faux connection. What I noticed in my own writing was that I often avoided "I" because I wasn't allowed to be an "I." Being an "I" was selfish, self-centered, egocentric. "I" was an extension of "them." They owned me, so I couldn't really own myself.

    When I started writing my blog, I struggled with using "I." I was in transition. I began to realize that when I used "I" I was owning what I was saying. I said it. I did it. I thought it. I felt it. Me, not them. ME. I wasn't foisting it off on someone else, distancing myself from whatever it was. I accepted responsibility for my feelings, my thoughts, and my actions by using "I." I'm the one who must do the work to change. How could I if I wasn't accountable to myself?

    Great post!

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    1. And Great Comment! Thanks for that! Keeping a blog tracks our progress which is validating because you don't notice yourself changing overtime. If we go back and read our early entries, we realize the work we're doing is Paying Off. There's movement and change which is important to know because recovery work is not for the faint of heart. And it's not exactly like we have a cheerleading section shouting "go for it!" from the grandstands.

      Most of the time, we're being discouraged from doing this work, especially when it involves the s-a-c-r-e-d family. Differentiation is a threat to family members. The dynamics are so complex that I stand in awe of every ACoN becoming who s/he really is. The backlash can be crushing and I don't think people recognize the courage it takes to individuate from the narcissistic family. Sometimes people fold in the pressure...but maybe not forever. I've seen people (including myself) make starts and jumps here-and-there until they had enough self-confidence to endure the rejection (and in some cases: abuse).

      Hugs,
      CZ

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    2. Hi Judy and CZ,
      I feel very similar to what you wrote, Judy.
      xx

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  3. " It's the Mistakes were Made phenomenon utilized by shifty people evading responsibility. " This totally cracked me up, because it reminded me so much of the way my father and my brother communicate: always as if what they say has nothing to do with them.

    There isn't such a thing as a single feature that identifies a narcissist. IF ONLY it were that easy. For children of narcissists, learning to speak in I, me and myself terms is paramount so they can separate from the FOO (blob) and become their own autonomous person. It's the only way to disentangle oneself from the enmeshment.

    Hugs,
    Kara xx

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    1. Once you learn about evasive language, you can't Unhear It. The book, "Mistakes were Made" by Dr. Carol Tavris opened my ears and I can pick up on this manipulative tactic quickly now.It's especially prevalent with politicians and celebrities but regular nobodies do it, too. I am guessing that narcissists would excel in the non-apology because most people-of-good-will like ourselves, would HEAR apology in their words. Then we'd wonder why there wasn't any change, remorse or regret. Or we'd suddenly realize "we" had been included as being equally at fault when they were using their high-minded language to place blame on everyone. It's kinda sneaky because saying, "I made a mistake" is a simple sentence without any confusion. Saying "Mistakes were made" sets the brain on fire, waxing philosophical about mistake making, of which we all do.

      We have to get smarter about the way people communicate. I think many of us ARE doing exactly that, investing enormous amounts of time into understanding ourselves and healthy relationships. I know that I feel much more confident about creating healthy relationships today.

      Hugs,
      CZ

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  4. Dear CZ, the pc language police are truely amazing - horning in on personal blogs and telling the writers they ought to cut down on "I"s like models deal with calories. Come to think of it, think I will mix up a batch of chocolate-chip muffins - I have plenty of baking soda ;)

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    1. Pass some of those chocolate chip muffins my way, please, Sue!

      When a woman tells her story, too many "I's" makes her a narcissist. When a man tells his story, lots of "I's" makes him a hero. ha! Pay attention to the writer's sex and see if you notice a bias in the blogosphere, too!

      Hugs,
      CZ

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    2. I hadn't realized the sex bias in writing. I'm going to pay attention to that.

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  5. What a great corrective to this mistaken calculus of pronoun policing! "Research validates what writers know: it's the emotional embodiment of a constructed narrative that heals the wounded heart."
    I remember noting how my mother would leave out "I": "Worked in garden today; looking forward to flowers coming up. Otherwise, not much happening." It was a form of absence, an adult lifetime of these "I-less" communications that signaled only a repellant (and obvious)effort to sound nonchalant. Eventually I recognized disengagement as her dominant emotional syntax. As with anything, it's the context in which the "I" appears; its relevance to a narrative; and if it's an effort to get at the truth of one's own experience, using "I" is a form of intimacy and trust, a gift to readers. Thank you for this; I think that there's been a serious misunderstanding of what narcissism is and isn't, and the pronoun counting has played a big role in that. An important essay here. love you, CS

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    1. Hi CS! You've validated every point in my essay, thank you. Love you back, CZ

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  6. Hi CZ,
    Great post! I struggle with using "I". I was really poor at communicating. I didn't know how to communicate my story and not because I didn't understand language but also I didn't really know myself, my feelings, opinions. When I started to become more self-aware, I realized that communication isn't about using the right words, it is about sharing what you really think and feel. The 'right' words come when the integration happens.

    Recently (in the last two years), I started to use "I feel" and "I think" with my friends. And communicating in this manner isn't well received. I noticed that I open myself up to a lot of criticism and invalidation. I think in the blogosphere I began to learn how to handle it. When it came to the interactions with my friends, it was more difficult to handle.

    I find your words comforting because I am ashamed at how poorly I communicate in my social interactions and knowing this is part of the process helps me be kinder to myself as I continue to heal.

    Hugs,
    TR

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    1. Dear TR,

      You are so right about communication being about "sharing" ourselves with others. I appreciate the way you put that because I have talked to people with flowery language ("silver lips") and realize later on, that they didn't tell me anything personal themselves and yet, I had the impression we had made a connection. After becoming involved in a few relationships like that, I started listening for a Real Person communicating feelings, thoughts and behaviors.

      It might be frowned on (in some cultures especially) for a woman to use "I feel" and "I think" because it makes a statement. It says she is an autonomous being---not an adornment or an object without any thoughts of her own. Maybe for some people who weren't raised in a repressive environment with stiff gender rules for women, they learned who they were and what they thought at an early age. It took me a while to embody my body---to distinguish myself as separate from my family and my spouse. I think that for some of us, we "learn" this behavior and it's not indicative of a fragile self necessarily. We need time to break the old rules preventing our individuation and then we need time practicing being ourselves.

      I'm not suggesting 'my' process is the same as everyone else's, but this is how its been for me. The blogosphere has been enormously helpful post-divorce as I was then free to discover "me, myself and I" without a spouse. Writing has encouraged a deeper self-awareness and talking with cyber-friends has pushed me out of my shell during times when I would have crawled back under the covers. It's been an intentional process, pushing myself to "get to know people" on the web and share my life with them as they share theirs. This has helped me in all my relationships.

      We have to be kind to ourselves, TR. It's a small miracle that we are willing to do this work, to look at ourselves and try to be the best person we can be, despite our upbringing, despite our shortcomings. I have met some wonderful people in cyberspace who struggle with the same problems as myself. This has been extraordinarily comforting. <3

      Hugs,
      CZ

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    2. That is an excellent point, using "I" is frowned upon in the Indian culture in which I grew up in. When I asserted myself, it was called 'selfish'. There are common speech patterns in my family and I hadn't considered the 'culture' aspect before.
      Thank you for your continuous compassionate words. It helps me through the process. xxTR

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  7. Since my rebirth about three years ago I went all the way back to childhood. Learning how to I, learning how to No, learning how to think I Me My first. Would this work for ME! Its also a restructure of my brain/thought process. I was so used to being a Tool, a person to fill in a hole/role in some persons life. Its quite reaffirming.

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    1. What a lovely comment! Thank you for that!

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  8. Another great post, CZBZ. I have a few thoughts:

    Interesting that you use the phrase "hidden closets" to describe the family secrets and repressed feelings. I've used the concept of "opening the cellar door" - similar, but with a more ominous feel. For me, the goal is to have the celler door unlocked, so that one has access to that part of one's self. One can make use of that past in many different ways - blog about it, re-create one's narrative, use it to handle relationships better, ignore it, whatever. For me the goal is freedom to use the past as I want.

    About the use of "I". When I was studying writing, I pored over the books of readability expert Rudolf Flesch. He was a great chamption of using the pronouns I, you and we.
    http://www.readabilityformulas.com/articles/in-praise-of-personal-pronouns.php

    So, in addition to the personal benefit of pronouns, it improves one's writing.

    Lastly, I think there is a reason why using "I" has a bad reputation. It all depends on how you use it. When one is speaking honestly and with consideration, using "I" has all the advantages that you mention.

    However, "I's are also used when one is bragging, building up a (false) image, and ignoring the person one is talking to.

    Just counting "I's" is not enough to tell the difference between narcissism and authenticity! For me, the judge of last resort is the gut. Do I feel boredom and nausea? Or do I feel more alive and open?

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    1. Hi Unknown,

      Cellar doors sound ominous. They suggest a basement room where skeletons hide behind stone walls. Leaving the cellar door unlocked would take nerves of steel and a pure heart. I love it---and by the way, did you know the most beautiful phrase in the English language is purported to be "cellar door"?

      Thanks also for the Flesch link! I have not studied writing but went with my gut, recognizing what methods were useful in my recovery and which ones weren't. Since most people growing up in narcissistic families (or staying in a long-term narcissistic relationship) don't know themselves very well, each opinion---each "I" statement--each vignette brought me closer to knowing my self.

      Additionally, using a first person singular pronoun allowed other people to speak for themselves. Sometimes the "we" pronoun feels enmeshing to people who grew up with narcissistic parents. Being "me, myself and I" is a victory for an ACoN. Feeling comfortable within the inclusive "we", is another victory. ;-)

      Gut feelings can distinguish the difference between narcissism and authenticity, I agree! But getting to the point we even recognize our feelings takes work. Accepting our feelings without reacting, takes practice (mindfulness).

      Listening to our feelings (intuition) is essential to living a healthy and peaceful life. Emotional intelligence has been undervalued in our society and many of us have felt alienated from our selves. You know, those scary feelings behind cellar doors? Which makes me wonder if people who don't have access to their feelings, are more inclined to "count I's"?

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    2. Thank you, CZBZ for the insightful response. It's wonderful to be able to talk to you and others, without having to *explain* about PDs. (By the way, this is "bart" - I forgot to sign the comment.)

      That's right about "cellar door" sounding lovely! You also are right about "cellar doors" being ominous - several degrees darker and more intense than "hidden closets." Some experiences are more appropriate for blogging about than others.

      If you ever take requests for columns.... I wonder if you have any thoughts on the far side of healing? Once one has gotten out of the bad situations and has understood them, what next? What are the strengths and talents one has developed?

      For example: persistence in difficult situations, tools for understanding manipulative people, capacity for intimacy.

      There must be a recompense for all the problems one has gone through! ;-0

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    3. Hi Bart! I thought it was you! ;-P

      I recently watched a most marvelous film with great psychological satisfaction. It's called Babadouk and you'll see why I mentioned it to you if you watch the film. You must watch to the very end however! Don't let the fact that it's "horror" scare you---it's a marvelous probing into the depths of human psychology.

      I like your idea about "the far side of healing." What gains are there? Or are there any? Do we only learn about pathology so we can insult other people or boot 'em to the curb? Your idea has been brewing in my mind and I will be happy to spend some time writing about what strengths and talents are gained by immersing ourselves in this work.

      There is great recompense for all the problems we've gone though! Great idea and thank you so much!

      Hugs,
      CZ

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    4. Wow, we watched "Babadouk" and you're right, CZ. It has emotional truths that are very hard to accept. A haunting film ... in a good way. For me it has particular meaning, even beyond the "cellar" image. The only think I might add is that happy endings like the one in the film don't usually happen in real life. The more typical outcomes are pain, confusion, denial, co-dependent patterns ... ugh! I prefer the ending in the movie!

      About the far side of healing, I think I've sought out examples of people who have come through bad events with increased sympathy and insights. Eleanor Roosevelt comes to mind, with her lonely, unloved childhood, but growing to become a gentle champion of the poor and oppressed. Another one is the nature writer Sally Carrighar, who grew up with a nightmare mother and an understandable distrust of relationships ... she turned her sympathies towards animals. ("Home to the Wilderness" is her autobiography).

      One of the metaphors I like best is from critic Edmund Wilson in his book "The Wound and the Bow." A website says: "The Philoctetes myth reappears in a book by Edmund Wilson called The Wound and the Bow: Seven Studies in Literature. Wilson modernizes the story, tying the wound to psychic trauma and the bow to the healing power of insight. And so the creative personality is the one who uses art as a way of transcending trauma. The artist chooses the road of insight over that of pathology."
      http://philoctetes.org/story_of_philoctetes/

      Thanks for your personal responses, CZ. They mean a lot!

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  9. The use of "I" can also be very unselfish. It can be meant to indicate that while "I" feel and think something, "you" may legitimately feel and think something else. Saying "I", leaves room for others to exist apart from you.

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    1. Nice comment, anonymous! Sorry for missing your reply last autumn!

      Hugs,
      CZ

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  10. http://pessimisticshrink.blogspot.com/2013/10/normal-0-false-false-false-en-us-x-none_20.html. Relative of narcissism.

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    1. Very interesting article on "solipsism", thanks for the link. :)

      I've heard people refer to solipsism in relation to narcissism without understanding the distinction between "talking about oneself" as distinct from-yet connected to-others; and "talking about oneself" as the center of all that exists.

      I think for many of us, (certainly for myself) this "omission" of our participation as individuals in the relationship, was interpreted as a peculiar style of communication with someone who needed our validation and encouragement. Or maybe sometimes: we should work harder and do more because our efforts up to that point, didn't merit notice. ha!

      Hugs,
      CZ

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