Friday 4 June 2010

Desperation and Destruction

The horrific rampage of Derrick Bird in Cumbria is thankfully very rare. It does tell us something about life, intimacy and men.  He was not mentally ill, or schizophrenic or hearing voices commanding him to do this. Something which had been inhibiting him snapped and he put in to motion a sort of plan he had been developing over a long time; to kill himself.  This was a suicide, but on the way he wanted to get his revenge and show his anger and desperation. The largest groups for actual suicide (not suicide attempts) is men in their 50's. Although he was not described as a loner, ( like many of the others who have done similar outrages), it is obvious from the newspaper reports that his relationships had gone wrong; with women, the mother of his second child had left 15 years ago, problems in Thailand in attempts at intimacy and connection with women, possible problems resulting in his leaving work at Sellafield and finally, what was probably the last straw, falling out with some of  his fellow cab-drivers. The issue here is friendships, intimacy and a satisfying sexual and emotional life. This supports men who do not have self-esteem from work achievement. He was described as friendly but I doubt if that is a sign of real closeness. Although this is important for everyone; when men reach their 50's and don't have this for whatever reason, then they often decline into low-level depression or into alcoholism. Several times in China in the last few years men have gone beserk with knives in similar attacks and I expect the general picture was the same.  They often have a feeling of being left out or left behind by life and by progress and with no real intimacy. This is why I work professionally and personally at intimacy and the barriers we create against it.

Tuesday 1 June 2010


Alice Miller died a couple of weeks ago in her 80's. As a psychoanalyst and then as a writer she is best known for her fierce championing of the rights of children and her brilliant books. In her book entitled Breaking Down the Wall of Silence, she looks at the childhood of Hitler, Stalin, and other tyrants and finds there the roots of their later tyranny. To a large extent, the oppression we receive in childhood, is first repressed as a memory and acted out in adult life in the personal and in the social and political realms. Today the actions of Israel in intercepting the convoy for Gaza are in the headlines. All these actions and the decisions around them and all of Israel's policies towards Gaza are done by the children and grandchildren of the Holocaust. It is no wonder, from the perspective of Alice Miller and her lifelong work; that they created in Gaza a giant concentration camp. What we cannot heal; we enact. It is the tragedy of human history. I often feel that the work we do in individual healing is so small compared to the collective trauma, however healing creates a different resonance in the field. I hope the ripples can spread.