Morgan Meis on the core dilemmas explored in folklore:
The feeling we get from hearing or telling the story of Poor Heinrich is that there is something tremendously important and tremendously difficult at stake in surrendering ourselves to another human being. This surrender has the capacity both to destroy us and to redeem us. We hate to be compelled to surrender any aspect of ourselves to other people.
And yet, we suffer terribly when we refuse to open up the boundaries of our selves to the impact of other selves. In acts of surrender we often are brought to the realization that we neither control nor fully understand the boundaries of the self anyway. This realization is both terrifying and liberating. It cannot be faced. It must be faced.
“ The worst thing you do when you think is lie — you can make up reasons that are not true for the things that you did, and what you’re trying to do as a creative person is surprise yourself — find out who you really are, and try not to lie, try to tell the truth all the time. And the only way to do this is by being very active and very emotional, and get it out of yourself — making things that you hate and things that you love, you write about these then, intensely. When it’s over, then you can think about it; then you can look, it works or it doesn’t work, something is missing here. And, if something is missing, then you go back and reemotionalize that part, so it’s all of a piece.
But thinking is to be a corrective in our life — it’s not supposed to be a center of our life. Living is supposed to be the center of our life, being is supposed to be the center — with correctives around, which hold us like the skin holds our blood and our flesh in. But our skin is not a way of life — the way of living is the blood pumping through our veins, the ability to sense and to feel and to know. And the intellect doesn’t help you very much there — you should get on with the business of living.
“ I have noticed that when all the lights are on, people tend to talk about what they are doing – their outer lives. Sitting round in candlelight or firelight, people start to talk about how they are feeling – their inner lives. They speak subjectively, they argue less, there are longer pauses. To sit alone without any electric light is curiously creative. I have my best ideas at dawn or at nightfall, but not if I switch on the lights – then I start thinking about projects, deadlines, demands, and the shadows and shapes of the house become objects, not suggestions, things that need to done, not a background to thought.
“ Most people think that shadows follow, precede, or surround beings or objects. The truth is that they also surround words, ideas, desires, deeds, impulses and memories.
“ I like to see people reunited, I like to see people run to each other, I like the kissing and the crying, I like the impatience, the stories that the mouth can’t tell fast enough, the ears that aren’t big enough, the eyes that can’t take in all of the change, I like the hugging, the bringing together, the end of missing someone.
“ Literally, psychologist means ‘one who studies the soul’, we think of it as a scary word in our harsh-sounding, Germanic language, but it actually means something really beautiful. I also like that it is ambiguous as to whether it’s me studying my own soul, or yours, or you studying my soul, or me asking you to study your own. It’s like a big impossible object that goes around and around.
“The theme of art is the theme of life itself. This artificial distinction between artists and human beings is precisely what we are all suffering from. An artist is only someone unrolling and digging out and excavating the areas normally accessible to normal people everywhere, and exhibiting them as a sort of scarecrow to show people what can be done with themselves.”
In an article for The American Scholar, T. M. Luhrmann presents a new understanding for how to deal with disturbing voices:
“Voices arise when the person is confronted with overwhelming emotional trauma he cannot handle,” Marius Romme explained as he strode across the stage at the Maastricht conference. “We know this.” It is generally agreed that the concept of dissociation was coined by Pierre Janet, as the 19th century turned into the 20th, to describe a disruption in the normally integrated processes of identity, memory, and consciousness.
If it is true that distressing auditory hallucinations are the dissociative consequences of trauma, the implications are enormous. Dissociative disorder has a positive prognosis, one of the most positive in the realm of psychiatric disease, whereas schizophrenia is often thought to have the worst. Dissociative disorder is understood to be a reaction to events in the world; schizophrenia is usually imagined as a largely inherited vulnerability. Dissociation is best treated with therapy and interaction; schizophrenia is assumed to require medication, often heavy. The new way of thinking opens the possibility that people do not hear voices because they are crazy, but that their apparent craziness may be the result of the brain-numbing chaos that can result from hearing voices. It suggests that we can help by teaching people to cope with their voices, rather than viewing the voices as evidence of organic damnation.
“ Doubt comes in at the window when inquiry is denied at the door.
“Roughly, for me, the principal fact of life is the free mind. For good and evil, man is a free creative spirit. This produces the very queer world we live in, a world in continuous creation and therefore continuous change and insecurity. A perpetually new and lively world, but a dangerous one, full of tragedy and injustice. A world in everlasting conflict between the new idea and the old allegiances, new arts and new inventions against the old establishment.”
"Suleika Jaouad was a senior at Princeton when I was a sophomore. I didn’t know her — she was two years older, and intimidatingly beautiful. After graduation, she moved abroad. Then she was diagnosed with leukemia. Since the end of last year, Suleika has been writing a column for The New York Times’s “Well” blog. With frank insights and tremendous eloquence, Suleika tackles a series of tough topics, from managing pain during chemotherapy, to navigating relationships made complicated by cancer (for example, her brother becoming her bone-marrow donor). Her articles, as well the series of video clips which accompany them, offer an affecting glimpse of what it means to be a young person wrestling with cancer.” —Alyssa Loh
“ Perhaps that is the real challenge of psychiatric care: to hold up a picture of what language actually is. Where communication is broken, dysfunctional, turned back on itself, persons are trapped; care for persons is care for their language, listening to the worlds they inhabit (to their souls) so as to engage them with other worlds — neither reductively or collusively.
“ Were we incapable of empathy – of putting ourselves in the position of others and seeing that their suffering is like our own – then ethical reasoning would lead nowhere. If emotion without reason is blind, then reason without emotion is impotent.
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