Counselling, Mindfullness, Psychoanalysis, Psychotherapy, Reflective Practice, Spirituality, The Inner World, Ways of Being

The Late Quartet Cont’d

Last week I wrote about the film from which this image is taken-The Late Quartet.I picked up on the theme of the tension between a life that is tightly scripted (Daniel) and one that is lived less rigidly scripted (Robert). In the film both men add immeasurably to to the richness of the Quartet and its music. Indeed it is the tension between these two men that produces much of the music’s beauty and excitement. So long as Paul is also present, this tension is held and channelled creatively.

It is interesting to read the two accounts of succession of the son from his father in both Freud and in Winnicott. In simplistic terms Freud’s view is that the only way in which the son will inherit the kingship is by killing the father. For Winnicott, the way is gentler. At an agreed time the Father stands down and gives the son his blessing and the crown. This tension is seen at a societal level in politics, monarchy and corporations. Who will take over power and how? Is it more satisfying to kill for power or to have it handed to one?

There has  been talk today of how much time nurses are having to spend on paperwork that takes them away from the clinical area. Whenever I teach Post Registration nurses I am always struck by their high levels of paranoid anxiety. The fantasy is “If I don’t do X,Y and Z my manager will punish me.” Whether this is factually true is not as important as the fantasy itself. The feeling is that they are not managed by people who are sympathetic and supportive but are driven by managers who are in their turn driven. Far from motivating lazy staff to meet high standards this mindset means that the rule becomes “What gets measured gets delivered”. Thus if paperwork is measured, then the paperwork gets done.

How do these two themes run togther-harassed nurses and two different musicians playing styles? It seems to me they both epitomise the difficulty of holding two different ways of Being in creative tension. Rather like Cain and Abel. Can both brother’s contribution be acceptable or must one kill off the other?

I find a similar tension in  the faith community. My early choice of Christian belief was an attempt at Fundamentalism- this choice echoes Jung’s maxim that there is no illness that is not, at heart, a failed attempt at a cure. Fundamentalism was my attempt at a cure for uncertainty, anxiety and lack of direction. (I both was and was not a good fundamentalist!) Thirty years later and I am slowly trying to find my back to some kind of spirituality that works with me-rather than whipping me like a slave driver. This quote sums things up well “God is in the world, or nowhere, creating continually in us and around us. The creative principle is everywhere, in animate and so-called inanimate matter, in  the ether, water, earth, human hearts. But this creation is a creative process, and ” the process is itself the actuality” since no sooner than you arrive you start on a fresh journey…”

I find that most encouraging since the work of creation necessarily holds both Structure and Chaos; Light and Dark; Life and Death; Paperwork and Nursing. T.S.Eliot put it this way “We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all  our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”lastquartet


One thought on “The Late Quartet Cont’d

  1. Joy Little says:

    A very interesting and thought provoking read. I can Identify with that extreme tension of wanting to support and be proactive with patients, but then finding ways to keep the ward manager happy What is thought provoking for me is how am I going to be comfortable and accept the tension if my future ward manager is not patient-centered. I will be reading this article again. Thank you Joy little PG Diploma student in mental health nursing.


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