Monday, May 28, 2012

how could you?

The struggle we undergo to remain faithful to someone we love is little better than infidelity.
~ La Rochefoucauld

An affair is a symptom of a marriage that is not working. There may not be enough intimacy, affection or sex, communication may have broken down or a baby or child may be taking up a lot of time and attention. In all cases, at least one of the partners is not satisfied. Usually it is the person who has the most trouble asserting themselves in the marriage.

The guilt around having an affair, even just the thought of having an affair, often eclipses this reality. Guilt is in fact why needs may have gone unmet in the first place: you feel badly about having them and don't assert yourself until it is too late. That is why your partner is shocked to learn of your infidelity. “I had no idea you weren't happy”, he tells you, “why didn't you say something?”

Infidelity is often attributed to moral depravity in the face of temptation and its antidote to the exercise of self-restraint. But is that what holds a marriage together? Is that love? I like to quote Spinoza on the subject. He defines love first and foremost as joy but “with the accompanying idea of an external cause”.

Fidelity is really all about mutual satisfaction.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

mental anorexia

Parental over-protectiveness can become overbearing.  It can quash the process of separation and differentiation which, like birth, are necessary for a child to come into her own.    

If a child cannot successfully individuate, the child’s will goes underground and may seek expression in deviant or self-destructive ways.

Anorexia is an example of this.  

The refusal to eat harks back to the rejection of the breast and the impulse to self-wean.   When a parent’s need to nurture trumps a child’s need for independence, the child has no recourse but to reject the food of love.  This can be transposed to social expectations and can manifest, for example, as the refusal to swallow Mom and Dad’s rules.

This kind of refusal is more common than anorexia in boys, possibly because boys differentiate from their mothers earlier at the level of their bodies.  Just like anorexia, however, the more a parent tries to cajole a child with preaching and sermonizing and speeching and yelling, the more the child resists being nurtured and controlled.  

Success usually only comes after failure.  That is why an anorexic girl is often cured by hospitalization, and a delinquent boy by school failure.  Unprotected by his parents from the consequences of his actions, a child is finally free to find the motivation from within.