Tag Archives: Vulnerability

Psychoanalysis As Archaeology in Penny Dreadful

14 May

Dedicated to O…

Freud famously described psychoanalysis as archaeology, the unearthing of meaning layered deep beneath an “expanse of ruins.

In television and movies it’s closer to a detective story.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/28/arts/television/28stan.html

Penny Dreadful Dr Seward & Vanessa Ives

In their first meeting, Vanessa Ives {Eva Green} and Dr.Seward {Patti LuPone} explore the intimate relationship between {potential} patient and psychologist.

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This brilliant scene from Penny Dreadful illustrates how a alienist/psychologist/therapist/psychiatrist excavates the truth through words, gestures/body language, actions, etc. Although it is the first time that Vanessa Ives and Dr.Seward meet, the alienist sets her boundaries. Since it is a preliminary consultation, she has to assess if Vanessa will be her patient {“if I take your case”}. 

Vanessa’s gestures are psychoanalyzed {why are you scratching your hand? Why were you doing that?}. Vanessa replies shyly that she had an itch. Dr.Seward says “no, you didn’t” with conviction. To Dr.Seward, the scratching of the hand is not as it appears; it connotes nervousness/anxiety. Every gesture speaks volumes to the alienist/psychologist/psychiatrist

Vanessa sees Dr.Seward’s observations as a challenge. She says, “this is a challenge. You’ll see if I am worthy of study.” Her astute observations about Dr.Seward’s criteria are accurate. Through prelimiary psychoanalysis, the therapist is trying to assess if Vanessa is worthy of her time, energy and talents. Is she worth having as a patient?

Dr.Seward warns Vanessa, “I am not your friend or your priest or your husband. I am your doctor. You come to me to get better because you are ill- no other reason. Do you understand that?” She sets her professional boundaries clearly. The purpose of therapy is to heal Vanessa of her illness.

Dr.Seward’s compassion shines through despite her tough demeanor. She asks Vanessa, do you understand that you are ill- not bad, not unworthy- just ill? Depression often tricks a person into thinking that they are unworthy. It tells many lies. The therapist must convince the patient of their depressed state instead of internalizing a depressed identity.

She resassures Vanessa that there are “no emotions unwelcome in this room.” Vanessa is encouraged to release her emotions because it is cathartic to do so. Dr.Seward is also communicating to Vanessa that she will not be judged. She is free to speak and express herself as necessary. She also warns her, “if this process doesn’t appeal to you, the door is there.” It almost sounds like she is testing Vanessa or interrogating her at times.

The turning point is when Vanessa takes control of the narrative. She says with a smile, “you don’t want me to leave…because I scratch my hand. You find that telling…those phobias that interest you.” She assures the doctor that she might interest her as a patient. Vanessa notes that Dr.Seward doesn’t need the ten shillings but she does need interesting people to collect. Dr.Seward disagree with her by saying that she takes patients on to cure them. Vanessa asks, what the difference is between collecting and curing?

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This scene is when Dr.Seward really showcases her talents as the skilled alienist. She ends her analsysis with the metaphor of the ouroboros. {The snake eating its tail is a symbol of infinity}. In essence, Dr.Seward is telling Vanessa that she is trapped in an endless cycle of unhappiness as she constantly tortures herself.

12 Monkeys End At The Beginning

The ouroboros from the 12 Monkeys television series from Syfy

Dr. Seward (to Vanessa Ives):

“I already know what’s wrong with you.

You’re unhappy. You’re isolated.

You think you’re the cause of this unhappiness and are unworthy of affection so you’ve few friends.

Recently you lost something you think very important- your lover, your faith, your family, or all three.

You blame yourself for this, so it makes you neurotic and you don’t sleep and don’t eat anything healthy anyway.

You used to take care of your appearance, but you’ve lost interest in that, so you avoid mirrors.

Sunlight bothers you, so you avoid that too, about which you’re guilty because you think it’s unhealthy and even immoral not to like the sun.

You’re not a woman of convention or you wouldn’t be here, but you like to pretend you are so people don’t notice you.

But you sometimes like that as well, and can dress to draw the eye. But then you think the men who look at you are fools, or worse, to be taken in by such an obvious outward show.

So, instead you’re drawn to dark, complicated, impossible men, assuring your own unhappiness and isolation because, after all, you’re happiest alone.

But not even then because you can’t stop thinking about what you’ve lost, again, for which you blame yourself.

So the cycle goes on, the snake eating its own tail.”

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I highly recommend watching Penny Dreadful.

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These scenes convey the brilliant acting of Eva Green, Patti LuPone and the work of the creative teams behind Penny Dreadful. It also highlights the emancipating insight that one can gain from psychotherapy. I have been in psychotherapy and it is one of the best decisions I have made. The internal work is so challenging and often painful but it is worth it in terms of healing, personal development, self-discovery, growth, etc. I highly recommend it.

The key is being ready to open yourself up to examine your memory palace/the locked rooms in your mind and finding the right alienist/psychologist/therapist for you.

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P.s. I plan to do posts about the television shows Penny Dreadful; 12 Monkeys; the alienist; etc.

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Further Research…

Penny DreadfulPenny Dreadful’s Internet Movie Database Page

Eva Green..Eva Green’s Internet Movie Database Page

Patti LuPonePatti LuPone’s Internet Movie Database Page

12 Monkeys12 Monkey’s Internet Movie Database Page

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Peace & Psychoanalytic Love,

V.

The Art of Listening In HBO’s In Treatment…

12 May

Listening is truly a lost art.

In Treatment Dr Paul Weston's Hand Gestures

How often do you encounter people in life that you can tell are obviously not listening? It is the most common experience.

Sadly, it has become rare when someone actually listens to you and values what you have to say. 

In Treatment Talk To Me

In Treatment was a half an hour drama on HBO that starred Gabriel Byrne. The show was about the art of listening, psychotherapy, dysfunctions, neuroses, ethics, fears, self-sabotage, mental illness, relationships, conflict, trauma, pain, suffering, healing, resilience, etc.

Compassion and humanity are at the root of psychotherapy and In Treatment respectively. They speak about the deep need to be listened to without judgment. I have a great respect for psychology. It was one of my areas of study and I have intuitively known it is my vocation since childhood.

In treatment was even studied in universities at the time {I am not sure if it still is}. Counselling psychology students discussed in treatment in classes. Its pedagogical purpose was to teach students how to live their potential as psychologist and to help their clients heal.

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In Treatment is like a prism that reflects the spectrum of humanity.

It can be Shakespearean in its dramatic storylines, intimate revelations and profound intellectual discussions.

{Side note: this is Paul’s wave machine in the introduction}.

It is a cerebral show that dives deep into the Alice in wonderland rabbit hole of the psyche. In treatment relies heavily on the art of acting. Gabriel and the rest of the cast really shine in this thirty-minute drama. The skilled actors play off the script, each other, emotions and body language. They have no special effects to rely on- just their acting skills. {Side note: Gabriel won a golden globe for his performance. Many other actors and the show itself were nominated for numerous awards}.

Gabriel’s character is the compassionate Dr.Paul Weston.

He is the wounded healer, secret keeper, listener, teacher and psychologist.

In Treatment He's Listening

Psychotherapy is based on trust and vulnerability- spiritual and emotional nakedness. There is a strong emotional connection between Paul and all of his patients. First, he has to earn their trust and convince them to trust him and open up.

He must analyze their issues beneath the masks they wear.

He has to discern the truth from lies, distortions and projections.

All of his patients have complex problems and dysfunctional patterns of behaviour.

Some are based on the complexities of being in a relationship and sharing a life with someone despite conflicting personalities or desires. With Jake and Amy, Paul is a mediator between them. He uses conflict resolution, helps them clarify their real issues/emotions and helps them decide on their course of action.

Others are more individual problems with roots in childhood.

Regardless of how the trauma manifests itself, what is evident is that Paul is responsible for his patients.

In some cases, he is the only person that his patients have to rely on. 

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In treatment examines many themes. One is the issue of transference.

Transference can happen in the therapeutic process. The psychologist has to maintain their boundaries and respect their professional code of ethics.

How do you treat a patient that thinks they are in love with you?

What if they insist on their declarations of love?

What if they play mind games and employ manipulation?

How do navigate that?

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Intergenerational trauma is another topic that is examined in the show.

Alex is not even aware of the impact of how his father murdered his grandfather traumatized him. He is also not conscious of how his childhood and his father’s toxic masculinity traumatized him.

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How do you deal with the emotional impact of listening to people’s problems all day?

Many psychologists go to their own psychologist for therapy and to consult about their patients. Paul goes to Gina for this purpose. Their relationship is quite strained but he desperately needs that outlet.

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Some quotes from this video stood out to me in particular…

“It is hard to see so many people in pain and not be able to do anything to help them in some way.” -Paul

“Maybe helping is easier than feeling the pain.” -Laura

I can attest to this feeling of helplessness. It is very painful for me to see or know that someone is in pain without being able to do anything to ease their suffering.

Laura’s observation has some merit. Sometimes it is easier to help than feel. Sometimes it just hurts too much.

“We are not Gods, we can’t save anybody.” -Gina

Gina’s statement is true.

We cannot save anybody.

We can only help them to save themselves.

“It is possible to live in a world where people panic, where people let each other down, where they disappoint each other but still help each other out.” -Paul

I think this is the most realistic observation.

It is still possible to help each other despite our flaws and limitations.

Paul asks Alex where he wants his therapy to lead him. He answers painfully, “some place where I feel less shitty about myself.”

There is something in Blair Underwood’s voice when he says “some place where I feel less shitty about myself.” We can all relate to this sentiment.

“I thought that is what we are on the earth for- to help each other- to step up to the plate when somebody needs us.” -Paul

I have to agree with Paul.

I think it is noble to derive your life’s purpose from altruism and compassion.

Finding meaning in helping others is something I can deeply relate to.

“There are other places where you can feel safe and here in this room is one of those places.” -Paul

The therapist’s office is like a sanctuary from the chaos of the world.

Paul really wants to help his patients find their own answers to enlighten themselves, empower themselves and solve their problems.

With Sophie, Paul wanted her to have her own epiphanies.

In this scene, Sophie has empowered herself enough to confront her father on his abandonment and absence as a father.

Paul’s role is not to be the judge but to guide them to reconnect and re-establish their relationship. The journey is painful but worthwhile.

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Paul’s observations/analysis is incisive.

He really gets to the root of his patient’s suffering.

{It reminds me of Robin Williams’ character the psychologist Sean McGuire in Goodwill Hunting}.

His patients always challenge him and often test his boundaries.

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It should be noted that Paul has his own problems to contend with.

I think it is vital to observe that psychologists are human and imperfect. They have to deal with their own life and its challenges while trying to help others heal and figure out their life’s labyrinth.

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Happy birthday to Gabriel Byrne today!!!

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Further Research

Gabriel Byrnehttps://www.byrneholics.com/

Gabriel Byrne’s Internet Movie Database Page

In TreatmentIn Treatment’s Internet Movie Database Page

In Treatment’s HBO Page

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Have you watched In Treatment?

What did you think?

You can watch it on HBO’s website {for a price}.

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Rest in peace to Irrfan Khan who recently died {April 29th, 2020}.

He brilliantly played Sunil in the third season.

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Peace & Compassion,

-V.

Stream of Consciousness Reflections…Spiritual Nakedness

3 Jan

How do you know if someone is enamoured with your soul- your essence?

How can you get to a place where you can drop all masks/pretenses?

How to get to a place of vulnerability- spiritual nakedness that is beyond sex/sexuality, ego/narcissism and identity?

Where is the path to get there?

Will you walk it even if you find it?

{It takes a great deal of courage and maturity to walk this path}.

How does one get to that place of spiritual humility?

-V.

Compassionate Love Illuminates The Darkest Parts Of Your Soul…

Reflection for today…Soulful Gaze -Henry David Thoureau

6 Aug

“Could a greater miracle take place

than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant?”

-Henry David Thoreau

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OS0Tg0IjCp4

Marina Abramovic and Ulay started an intense love story in the 70s, performing art out of the van they lived in. When they felt the relationship had run its course, they decided to walk the Great Wall of China, each from one end, meeting for one last hug in the middle and never seeing each other again. at her 2010 MoMa retrospective Marina performed ‘The Artist Is Present’ as part of the show, a minute of silence with each stranger who sat in front of her. Ulay arrived without her knowing it.”

Soulful Gaze Between Performance Artists Marina Abramović & Ulay…

A Soulful Touch...

 A Soulful Touch…

Ulay’s Eyes Reveal A Love Remembered…

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They say that the eyes are the mirrors of the soul but what about the heart?

The eyes reveal the heart’s hidden desires and suffering.

Marina’s Tears Reveal A Love Never Forgotten…

Please enjoy Touched by Vast…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8S_R13jV11Q

“Touched
You say that I am too
So much of what you say is true
I’ll never find someone quite like you
Again
I’ll never find someone quite like you
Like you

The razors and the dying roses plead
I don’t leave you alone
The demi-gods and hungry ghosts of God
God knows I’m not at home

I’ll never find someone quite like you
Again
I’ll never find someone quite like you
Again

I, I looked into your eyes and saw
A world that does not exist
I looked into your eyes and saw
A world I wish I was in

I’ll never find someone quite as touched
As you
I’ll never love someone quite the way that I
Loved you.”

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Did Marina’s and Ulay’s performance bring you to tears?

It brought me to tears because it reminds us that we are so vulnerable and emotional- so utterly human.

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For more information…

Henry David Thoreau…http://www.walden.org/thoreau

Marina Abramović …http://www.marinaabramovicinstitute.org/

http://marinafilm.com/about-marina-abramovic

VAST…http://vast.me/

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Peace & Namaste…

Reflection for today…Pain is Meant To Wake Us Up- Jim Morrison

8 Dec

People are afraid of themselves, of their own reality;

their feelings most of all.

People talk about how great love is, but that’s bullshit.

Love hurts.

Feelings are disturbing.

People are taught that pain is evil and dangerous.

How can they deal with love if they’re afraid to feel?

Pain is meant to wake us up.

People try to hide their pain. But they’re wrong.

Pain is something to carry, like a radio.

You feel your strength in the experience of pain.

It’s all in how you carry it.

That’s what matters. Pain is a feeling.

Your feelings are a part of you. Your own reality.

If you feel ashamed of them, and hide them, you’re letting society destroy your reality.

You should stand up for your right to feel your pain.”

Jim Morrison

{These pictures will be featured on an up-coming post discussing the social construction of masculinity and subversive crying}.

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Today is Jim Morrison’s birthday.

Happy Birthday Jim!

You always lit our intellectual and creative fires.

Love is Just A Bloodsport- Sneaker Pimps

20 Jun

There is something about listening to Sneaker Pimp’s Bloodsport that does something to me.

Chris Corner‘s angelic and seductive voice is so hypnotic.

The thesis of the song is that love is just a blood sport.”

Almost every one of us has been in a romantic situation where we have felt like we have gotten beat up emotionally, spiritually, psychologically and metaphorically; hence the bloodsport analogy.

{Other times perhaps we may have been the one instigating the fight}.

It seems as though when you become vulnerable, many times you are hurt.

One thing that I say all the time is that people often mistake kindness for weakness.

In this case, people can mistake love for foolishness and weakness.

For this reason, people tend to put up walls, put on masks and have metaphorical knives up their sleeves to protect themselves from getting hurt. These same walls that protect you can eventually become a prison so you become mindful of how thick your walls are and of who you allow in.

It reminds me of one of my favourite Rumi quotes. {I have had this as my email signature for years and it is still there}.

“Your task is not to seek for love,

but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself

that you have built against it.”

-Rumi

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So one day you let the walls down and let someone in…

It is so beautiful when love is intimate, passionate, gentle and kind.

This is the utopian version of love- a compassionate union of souls; the type of love that Rumi wrote poems about- friendship set on fire- intimacy at its most pure, most spiritual and its best.

Spiritual Reflection Lovers

What Are You But My Spiritual Reflection???

The truth is that as much as all of us want that type of love, we don’t always find it because it is so elusive and rare.

Most are not ready or brave enough for true intimacy- to open one’s soul to another- to be spiritually naked without any armour…to risk really getting hurt while loving.

As a friend always used to say,

“If you risk nothing,

you risk everything.”

The question is…are you willing to risk everything?

Love isn’t a blood sport.

Is it?

What do you think?

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Bloodsport Lyrics:

I want to be a kid again
Come down having Sunday best
See me staying home bunking school
Knowing wrong from right just rules

I wish I’d never seen your face
Better done wonder phase
I need an echo, not your praise
Straying from the god you nailed

My mother, my mother, my mother never told
My mother, my mother, my mother never told me
Love is just a bloodsport
Love is just a bloodsport

‘Cause love is just a bloodsport
Love is just a bloodsport

Sex and love is not a game
A game is something you can win
Maybe something kind of fun
‘Cause love is just a bloodsport, son

My mother, my mother, my mother never told
My mother, my mother, my mother never told me

Never told me
Never told me

‘Cause love is just a bloodsport
Love is just a bloodsport
‘Cause love is just a bloodsport
Love is just a bloodsport

‘Cause love is just a bloodsport
Love is just a bloodsport
‘Cause love is just a bloodsport
Love is just a bloodsport

“Bloodsport” as written by Steve Strange, Rusty Egan, Billy Currie, Midge Ure, John Mcgeogh, David Tomlinson, Barry Adamson, Liam Coverdale-howe,, Chris Corner, Ian Pickering
Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Universal Music Publishing Group, EMI Music Publishing

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For more information…

Chris Corner…http://iamxmusic.com

Reflection for Today…To Love At All Is To Be Vulnerable -C.S. Lewis‏

22 Jan

“To love at all is to be vulnerable.
Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung
and possibly be broken.

If you want to make sure of keeping it intact,
you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal.
Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries;
avoid all entanglements;
lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness.
But in that casket — safe, dark, motionless, airless — it will change.
It will not be broken;
it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.
The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy,
is damnation.
 
The only place outside of Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.

-C.S. Lewis
The Four Loves

Exotic beauty Sherilyn Fenn looks into your soul…

Can you really be vulnerable in order to love?

Can you really be spiritually naked and intimate with another’s soul?

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Peace & Namaste…