Category Archives: Therapy

Fawlty Rage

Conniption – Word of the Day

The wonderful thing about comedy, especially satire, is that it tells the story of what is really going on inside. Take this scene from Fawlty Towers. John Cleese in conniptions, ranting at his car which has broken down (because he hasn’t had it serviced, he’s been avoiding the responsibility – which is a major theme in the show) and he, naturally,  blames the car. It speaks to the times we have been frustrated with our car or similar object. Computer perhaps? It reminds us that we sometimes internally rant, we might also mentally pick up a branch and thrash the car, threatening it to get it to start. We might not physically do it but we think it, well, some of us might, and that’s why satire is so funny, we know it.

One of the main points of Fawlty Towers is that Cleese’s character Basil is constantly feeling victimised, or frustrated, by others. His blind spot is that he cannot see that it is his own behaviour that is his downfall, not the behaviour of others. His lack of attention to detail, his choice of builder, his innability to get the car serviced on time, his failure to prepare for a health inspection and etc. etc. The show was also an outworking of the therapeutic relationship between John Cleese and his therapist Robin Skynner (1922 – 2000). Skynner was a family therapist and specialised in communication process, Fawlty Towers deals with communication issues in a number of relationships, and looks at self deception, as well as our unwillingness to deal with our own stuff.

Conniptions, rage, hissy fits, whatever, we deceive ourselves if we don’t look deeper and own the roots of our frustration or anger. Why beat the car if we’ve failed to take it to the dealer for its scheduled service? Why blame others when the fault lies with ourselves? (Of course there are a number of well honed answers and a body of research to answer those question) The beginning of conniptions is the time to take stock and attend before damage is done to a relationship, or the car,  besides, beating the car verbally or physically (or a person, heaven forbid!) won’t work. Dealing with our own stuff does actually  work.

the wind buffets
branches madly flail about
but stillness bears fruit

©Paul Cannon

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Filed under Haiku, life, mindfulness, psychology, self-development, Therapy

3 Day Quote Challenge – Day Three

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Viktor E. Frankl, neurologist, psychiatrist, author, holocaust survivor. Frankl was the founder of  Logotherapy (Existential analysis). Frankl, a keen observer of human behaviour, and especially his own (much of his reflection came out of the camp life) wrote:

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”

I love this quote because it is so encouraging, we are not disempowered by circumstance or situation, only by our own refusal to engage with change. Frankl had to adapt rapidly to the life in the SS camps. First he was sent to Theresienstadt Ghetto in (the then) Czechoslovakia. He was later moved to Auschwitz in Poland, and then to Kaufering (a satelite of Dachau), and then to the labour camp at Dachau in Germany. He worked in camp clinics to help give fellow prisoners mental health tools for survival, and he helped newcomers get over the shock. thus, challenge to change was in his own experience.

Again, thank you for the nomination Soul Write Empire

Rules:

Thank the nominating blogger.

Post three quotes (one per day)

Nominate three bloggers each day, today’s nominations:

sumiswu8

Rohit Sahu

A Voice From Iran

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Filed under life, mindfulness, psychology, quote, self-development, Therapy

Frigid or Just Unheard?

via Daily Prompt: Frigid

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Photo: http://www.cleverdicc.com

 

There is such a confusion and misrepresentation around this word, instead of being an adjective, it has become a poisonous weapon.

Frigid was, in my learning and memory, principally a word to describe extreme cold. It described being out in the snow, or the wind chill factor in winter, or the bodily reaction to cold water. Who could forget the US giant Frigidaire and the heavy marketing of the 70s and 80s across the world? Their campaign aimed at Australia was one of turning extreme heat successfully in cool temps.

Somewhere, sometime, someone in history used the word frigid to describe women who weren’t deemed sexually responsive. Nothing, I note about men, though if you are keen you eventually find the references to men as frigid as well, but historically it has been used to describe women, because, well, only women could be dysfunctional – as if the planet were so bifurcated, ridiculous thought, but purely old school male thinking. The word was used in the sense that the woman was icy, frosty, frozen shut, cold hearted, incapable of warm response, and so on.

What it denies, is the reality, like all cheap put-downs. A woman, or man, who is (possibly) unresponsive may well be just exhausted. They may be lacking empathy, warmth, connection, romance, validation, equality. They may feel used, objectified, enslaved, robotic. They could well be feeling taken for granted, or stuck in a rut. There is no end to the possibility of why anyone might be (mis)judged as frigid. Australian academic Jill Matthews in her seminal work “Good and Mad Women” shows how women who failed to live up to male or societal (thus male) expectations were deemed mad, and some (too many) were incarcerated in institutions for the mentally ill, and in recent history!

Researcher and therapist John Gottman makes it clear that through his institute’s research over three decades, they have discovered that the real key to any problem is communication. Trivial as that may sound, I believe that in a non-defensive and mindful moment you will find that to be true, if you reflect openly you will know that it comes down how you perceive, how you think, how you respond, often without reference to the other. Gary Chapman, another therapist founded his focussed work on love language and communication which became his best seller “The Five Love Languages.” Clearly, communication is the centre of relational issues, not “I’m right, you’re wrong” or “You need fixing, but I’m good.” To call someone frigid is to hide behind a projection, an intent to wound or put down, a way of controlling another, a way of making oneself look good by comparison (the death of most relationships). It is an avoidance of one’s own part in relationship at the expense of the other, and in some cases becomes abusive.

The upshot of research is that most men don’t listen, I mean really listen, that active listening. If it comes down to sex, and it doesn’t really, solely sit there, it goes back to expectations, often unrealistic and selfish expectations.

Watch your expectations! Don’t hide your own shortcomings behind the other, and check your communication skills.

Just to give you an insight into Gottman’s insightful work:

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Filed under life, love, mindfulness, psychology, Science, self-development, Sex, Therapy