Madness, Psychoanalysis, Psychosis, Reflective Practice, The Inner World, The unconscious, Ways of Being

Who’s burning?

I was listening to a programme on the radio recently. A fireman was describing the management of a major fire that took a week to bring under control .He commented that there was nothing one could do immediately except to keep on working towards the centre of the blaze. When they got this far, they could “solve” the source of the problem which in this case was thought to be arson .Someone had set a blaze around a large number of  gas cylinders. The individual responsible was never found.

I began to think if this was a good analogy for some  our political fires. China, Iran ,Iraq, Korea, Syria, Libya, Sudan to name a few. Then add ISIS, Al Qaida, Boko Haram the Muslim Brotherhood and any other terrorist / freedom fighters groups throughout history. All have lit fires that have caused havoc. Used up resources. Put innocent people at risk.  Killed the firefighters. Any fire can be managed in some way. It is either extinguished or contained until it burns itself out. Either needs a good deal of skill,patience and the right equipment. Sometimes the cause is known. Sometimes, in the case of arson, the perpetrator is never known. All that remains is the evidence of their work.

There are links between childhood sexual abuse and arson. (Although to state the obvious, not all arsonists have been sexually abused and not all those who have been abused become arsonists.) But there is a connection. The raging fire outside reflecting the blazing anger inside.In clinical work it can take a long time to get to the blazing  fire at the heart of some patients. One spends a lot of time and energy damping down the peripheral rage in order to get to the core blaze. (Which is where places  like Broadmoor do such brilliant work .They take the time to get to the core of the conflagration. An average stay is six years during which time a great deal of firefighting goes on until the central fire is extinguished.)

Groups like Al Qaida, the IRA, Islamic State and all the similar groups around the world seem to be on fire. They demand to be  heard. They demand attention. Regardless of what damage they cause to gat this attention. Governments, individuals, communities spend a great deal of time, money, energy and resources trying to either extinguish the blaze or contain it in some way. Sometimes, like arson, the perpetrator is known. Sometimes not.

Whenever I hear of the latest bombing, explosion beheading etc I wonder at the rage being expressed .Why are these people so angry? What has happened to leave them feeling so disenfranchised? Psychohistorians suggest that Hitler hated his father but could never allow himself to know this. His mother was his true love. Here, it is suggested, was the genesis of his pathology. His love of the motherland was both a projection of his love for his mother and of his hatred of his father. To exalt the mother was to simultaneously denigrate the father.

It would make a fascinating piece of work to do a similar analysis of some of our contemporary Hitlers .What unconscious conflicts are being acted out? And,who lit the fuse that caused the explosion? ( The Tom Cruise film “Minority Report” deals with how it might work if one could foresee a crime before it is committed. If we had foreseen what hitler would set in motion, what might we have done? How many fires might have been stopped if we could genetically screen potential arsonists-both on a local scale and a global one?)

Or as Henry V cries “Oh God, that one might read the book of fate. And see the revolution of the times…”


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