08 December 2015

For Amy

Oldest daughter has passed her licensing exam as a social worker. I am thrilled. All of the anxieties and insecurities that studying for the test called up are now put to rest temporarily¾alas, there are an infinite variety of licensing exams we must continue to take throughout our lives¾ but for now the immediate is now the past. And oldest daughter steps further into responsible adulthood (?) and maturity. Kurt Vonnetgut once said that maturity is a disease for which laughter is the only cure, if laughter can be said to cure anything. I hope neither of my children will ever achieve that maturity that contains not the possibility of laughter and not a little insanity. As Winnicott said, “We are poor indeed if we are only sane.” I would wish complete sanity on no one—and have perhaps never known it myself.
     And so this movement of the daughter throws me into some depression. Winnicott (again and still) asserts that depression occurs when the individual knows that he “has an inside,” and has the capacity to endure (to suffer through) and to contain the strains and stresses that arise in the personal inner psychic reality” as a product of living in this world. I think what Winnicott refers to here is the occurrence in depression in the shift in the forces that give structure to the ego-¾to the self¾and which then  threaten the stability of the individual. But depression, Winnicott argues, may be understood as a sign of health because depression indicates that the ego is not ‘disrupted,’ and may soon again be a sum. “Depression coming on, continuing and lifting, indicates that the ego structure has held over a phase of crisis. This is a triumph of integration.” I have hope.
     Depression arises, says Winnicott, with a new experience of destructiveness and of destructive ideas that accompany loving, and along with loving the feelings of hate. These new experiences require a reassessment by the individual of the interplay of forces and objects that constitute the inner reality of the individual at any one time.” The threat that the individual experiences, of course, is of disintegration: the coming apart of the ego, of the Self. Depression that lifts signals the survival of the Self in its new dynamics.
     With the children’s movement into adulthood (whatever that might be, in truth, I really don’t know with any certainty) I am required to reassess the interplay of forces and objects that constitute my inner reality because in their growths the children have established, indeed demand, different relationships with me and require of me different attitudes, needs, and responses. I love them yet, but the love contains necessary elements of hate.  I am no longer what I once was but am not yet sure who I am still to be. I am depressed.
     Winnicott says the best thing the analyst could do for the depressed person is to tolerate the depression until it spontaneously lifts, which is to say, I think, to assure the depressed person (in this case, c’est moi!) it will spontaneously lift and only that experience will feel right.


Post a Comment

<< Home