Tag Archives: Barbara Taylor

The patient attacks the work she is doing with her psychoanalyst

[ Suddenly V seems to have had it with me.] Dreams! I have tried and tried to show you how this works, how the mind works. But you don’t want to learn anything; you just want to go on hating me, attacking our work here, attacking yourself. I don’t know what to do; I don’t know how to help you.

He draws breath and stops abruptly. I go cold.

I don’t remember the rest of the session. Afterwards I staggered to Pine Street and collapsed on to the old sofa. My heart was beating so fast that I felt dizzy. A fish tank stood on a stand next to the sofa. I lay for a long time watching the little fishes circling near the water surface. Slowly my heart beat steadied and I  felt myself sinking into reverie.

A sudden jolt. I sat up.

A movement, a shift . . .  My heart began to thud.

A Tension, a movement . . .  I felt myself go rigid, I stopped breathing, my heart was thundering.

A movement, a release . . .

My mind opened, and my neglected dream rushed in. A flood of memories, images, sounds: blue dress, sky-blue, the sky  outside V’s window, an open window, shouting below the window, a woman is shouting . . . On and on they came, wave after wave . . .

Excitement cascaded through me. My dream! The dream that I had lugged to V tight-wrapped like a Dead Sea scroll, for him to read the hieroglyphs, as I had brought all my dreams to him over the years . . . It was mine, my living creation! My mind was a flow, a mnemonic tide, awash with vitality. I throbbed all over with the thrill of it.

I jumped up and grabbed a piece of scrap paper from the table and wrote everything down. I was panting with emotion. WhenI finished I collapsed back on the sofa. Sensations were hurtling around inside me; I couldn’t stay still. I got up and moved over to a chair on the other side of the  fish tank. ‘You all right, Barbara?’ a voice said, but I couldn’t reply.

I sat and watched the fish. Slowly my mind quieted. A goldfish peered out at me.

Then an image took shape in front of me, so corny that it made me grin. My face, V’s face, separate but overlapping, floating above the fish tank like a Valentine hologram. There he was, there I was, there  we were – ‘working together’. Look at us!

Joy flooded me. I was so delighted, so happy, I had to share this with someone. I rushed over to Gladys and told her all about it. ‘Sounds nice,’ she said bemusedly.

Barbara Taylor, The Last Asylum : A Memoir of Madness in Our Times, Penguin Books 2014, pp. 218-220

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People need other people

‘People need other people. True independence — for everyone, well or ill — is rooted in social connection; without this it is mere isolation and loneliness.This deep need for connectedness is insufficiently acknowledged throughout the whole of our society, not just in the case of people with mental disorders. But the lack  of it hits the mentally  ill especially hard since it is so often failures of social connection, particularly in early life, that cause such disorders in the first place.’

Barbara Taylor, The Last Asylum: A Memoir of Madness in Our Times 

 

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