Psychic Cleavage


I've found the strangest gateway into human consciousness is through life's objects. I was first struck with this avenue "in" after asking my eating disordered clients to free associate on themes like food, abusers' names, body, specific traumas, success... Astonishingly, and without fail, every one of their challenging life themes had a physical counterpart that elicited identical responses.

Most commonly, the words for experiencing abuse were used to describe food (violating, fear, powerless, shameful). Restricting food paralleled an experience of standing up to an abuser (powerful, euphoric, control, strong, free). The body was a projection of the shame that ensued after trauma (unworthy, unlovable, impure, disgusting). 

Unquestionably, this disorder, intended as a distraction from a painful reality, had become a story of their inner pain. The wall built between themselves and scathing self-reflection was a mirror dulled only through objectification. 

The illness lent itself to an observable understanding of humans' concretization of unconscious processes, but, you guessed it, I found the process to be universal. Suddenly the world, and the entirety of its objects, appeared to be a playground for the psyche. 

"Hmmm... What if the world is a mirror for the psyche itself? The somehow functioning yet struggling planet is a metaphor for our adaptable yet not so adaptable physical brains... being overrun with industrialization mimics our technological obsession; pollution (self-loathing and self-neglect) and global warming (emotional dysregulation) the direct consequences of the industrialization (tech obsession). Untouched nature is the long gone ability to just be present and not need anything! The oceans are 100% an analogy for our unexplored traumas that hold deep and poorly understood influence. The sun is our higher being? The stars are our hopes and dreams that turn out to be visions of the past, and somehow used as maps of our futures. Oh yes, and space is clearly death." - a sleepless me

...I digress. 

But in all honesty, I have yet to discover one aspect of object relations that is not directly tied to our inner stories. I might go so far as to say, the wholeness of the human experience includes what is known, and that which is unknown projected onto our surroundings

Maybe that is no revelation, but it becomes bizarre when I think specifically on the use of objects as diversions. I now no longer believe we even can be diverted. I truly think the walls we place between ourselves and life, serve only to enact the very thing we hope to escape. 

Of course, there is no real ability to "make" this point. I want to encourage people to move through their own examinations. I will use myself to demonstrate what this could look like. 

I'm obsessed with space. I've never fully invested in how things are done on earth. I've always been intellectually adrift and trying to make sense of things on the grandest scale. I can't lose sight of the magnitude of what it means to be alive and focus on trivial things.

I might be equally obsessed with rocks. I've often struggled with relationships because I'm too aware of intentions and inauthenticity. I notice this same issue arises when it comes to appreciating art. It is hard for me to free myself into what's being artfully expressed in the same way it is hard for me to genuinely trust verbal expression. My love of the visually stunning can truly be unhinged when I experience a beautiful rock composition.

My apartment is uncluttered. Looking back, I went through massive phases of donating things from my past, and I see now how it correlated with wanting to rid myself of the emotional and mental ties too. From home to home you can see my progression of becoming physically and mentally uncluttered. 

How I eat. Always an unsettling demonstration of my self-worth at any given time. I believe for everyone, how we eat is how we feel about ourselves. It has only been in recent years that I actually invest in the experience of making good food for myself. It is absolutely in proportion to my level of self-compassion and deservingness I've cultivated.

These examples are on the mundane side to demonstrate how little seems to be exempt from this outward mirroring. When we explore things like hoarding, shoplifting, eating disorders, body dysmorphia, gambling, obsessive-compulsive disorder, perfectionism... the points of pain become striking. 

Gambling. I had a client who lost the majority of his life to jail time for drug charges. He was constantly "escaping" his pain by going to the casino. Further exploration revealed this as a sad attempt to get back the life he lost in one sweeping victory. 

Shoplifting. Every client I've had who shoplifts has had a parent who showed love through buying things or abuse through deprivation of things. One might wonder if the shoplifting is paradoxically filling the void this left behind.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. I had an OCD client whose childhood was absolute chaos. Never in a place longer than a year, no authority figure to provide structure or safety, she found hope in numbers. Now fixated on specific numbers, she is absolutely certain there are mathematics that indicate safety. 

This exploration may seem inconsequential to some, but I think this entire phenomenon is quite beautiful. It is as though life wants us to be whole. With so many already denying their humanness, imagine a psyche where this severing was actually possible? It's as though our minds are providing no means of escape and ultimately intending for us to accept all parts of ourselves.

What is life and its objects telling you about healing yet to be done? 

- Samsara 





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