Not always Black and White

I had a memory of seeing Jimmy Saville with his hair dyed Black and White. It now seems a prophetic picture, in the light of the recent allegations about him.His division of his hair into two distinct halves is suggestive of a split in his mind as well as his hair. As if the separate parts of him could not come together. It seems probable that he did not know why his sexual preferences were as they were. Why he preferred young people to adults. We will never know the answer in his case- assuming the stories are true. It seems equally likely that we will never fully understand what motivated his altruism either.

A patient was talking recently about the point of self knowledge. They questioned its value, seeing curiosity about oneself as self indulgent. One simply was what one was. One behaved well or badly and lived with the consequences. I suggested that this left my patent very vulnerable. If they had no understanding of why they behaved in any given way, how could they know how they would behave in similar circumstances again? George Santayana is credited with  saying that “Those who cannot remember the past, are condemned to repeat it.” We do not know why jimmy Saville behaved as he did. It is also highly likely that neither did he, responding simply to drives that he found in himself.Had he been able to understand his past, his future might have been very different.

The psychoanalyst Melanie klein noticed that young children have to separate their Love from their Hate. They create a “good mummy” who is nice, kind and giving and a “bad mummy” who is none of these things. They do this to protect themselves from ambivalence, which Klein suggested would overwhelm them. A sign of emotional maturity is that we know ourselves and can tolerate our shades. I can be both loving and cruel; generous and mean; gentle and vicious. I can make choices because I know I have to. and I know that I can.

The sadness for Jimmy Saville and many another is that they choose to keep themselves hidden from themselves. Thus putting many at risk-not least themselves.Image



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