I went to the V&A museum the other day. Specifically I went to see the two Rodin sculptures that are here -the Prodigal son and John the Baptist . I know them of old and never cease to be moved by them. The third one I came across by chance. She is called the Frog Princess by Gilbert Bayes and is up in an alcove above the visitor’s heads. I was disappointed by the presentation of the Rodin bronzes. Previously they had their own room which made their impact all the greater. Seeing them amongst a host of other statues took away some of their power. The consolation was finding the Frog Princess who seems to me to epitomise exuberance and joy- in contrast to the Rodin work which seems more serious. Taken together this trio seem to comment on what is often called the human condition. We know of the gravitas that the Baptist represents. One cannot imagine him dancing with the Frog Princess nor being as vulnerable as the Prodigal. John the Baptist stands for strength and certainty. He will remain standing no matter what storms rage around him.
i went to see Rodin. I came away having discovered Bayes’ princess-despite her being less obvious than Rodin. I see this in my therapy room.My patients come in with gravitas, vulnerability, anxiety and so on. The danger is that they forget to look for joy in the more hidden places. (It is an inherent danger of psychoanalytic work that we over emphasise the not-working parts and miss the hidden places of fun, dancing, pleasure and the like. There can be something punitive in psychoanalysis. Or perhaps it suits a certain personality type. I suspect Rodin’s pieces would be drawn to these elements. I can’t quite see the Princess going this way.)
And that is my point here. As therapists we can too easily get caught up in the “serious stuff” of our patients lives. Which is as it should be. But we do ourselves a disservice if we never take time to find the hidden delights such as the Frog Princess.