Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The building of a personality

I came across this blog written by an unnamed writer now in his sixties who, from what I have read so far, reminds me very much of Harry Haller, the protagonist of Steppenwolf. In his introductory post he writes about the process of renewal. Below is just an extract from a blog post. You can find out more at Sky Blue Cure.

From Death to Life: A Story of Personality Reconstruction
Is it still I, who there past all recognition burn?
Memories I do not seize and bring inside.
O life! O living! O to be outside!
And I in flames. And no one here who knows me.

Rainer Maria Rilke

This story has been written primarily for a few close friends although all readers are welcome.

Given the nature of the stigma associated with emotional illness, the pharmaceutical bias of the medical establishment and the vast misunderstanding of emotional functions in popular culture it is unlikely that this message would be accepted or even be of interest to most people.

At least the record is made, for my satisfaction , that someone like myself did exist and did transform in an age where this process is relatively unsought and unknown.

I was sick and then I was cured. I was emotionally ill until I was thirty. I was made ill by the psychological abuses of both my family and the larger social world. At the age of thirty my personality changed, I was totally reconstructed. I changed it with help and guidance. The difference in my two lives, my two personalities, before and after, is virtually the difference of life and death. Prior to my change, I was barely emotionally alive yet I did experience states of extreme fear, depression and anxiety. I was able to think and function to some extent but mostly lived either in a state of deadness or extreme emotional agitation. I could not emotionally react in a natural way and so had to avoid most situations that caused emotion. I could not direct my actions or my life to any cause or interaction with others. I could not progress or grow in almost any way. My current personality is as fully emotionally alive with a full emotional range and I have no social fears or anxieties.

Previously, I was emotionally repressed. I was as if dead, yet I suffered greatly as if in an unending nightmare which I could not understand. My conception of myself now is that I somehow died or was murdered as a small child and lived on drifting as a frightened ghost, a dead person yet alive and dreaming a nightmare, a somnambulist, a recording machine that recorded events but could not participate in them. From emotional repression I deteriorated over the years into a fractured personality. I have no sense of "break" from my two personalities, I have always felt a continual flow of self, yet my current self is my full self and I regard my previous self as my dead self. I remember my past before age 30, It was "I" but then again it was "Not-I". I live now with a strange dichotomy of memories and feelings about who I am. This also makes me a person who is able to draw on opposite types of behaviour to use at I will.

After I changed, over time I realized that I was not the same person. At first, I had thought I was simply "more" than I was previously but I came to realize that I was not only "more" but I was "different". If I had met my previous personality, I wouldn't have liked much about him and I don't suppose he did like himself much either. That's as it should be.

Our unnamed writer echos Hermann Hesse, who wrote "Not everyone is allotted the chance to become a personality; most remain types, and never experience the rigor of becoming an individual. But those who do so inevitably discover that these struggles bring them into conflict with the normal life of average people and the traditional values and bourgeois conventions that they uphold."


  1. Very, very interesting blog. Thanks for drawing attention to it!

    Anyhow, my sixth sense for bs found the following in this entry.

    "Henry said he could help anyone except a person who was not having psychotic experience. If a person was having psychotic experience they could not be reached by ordinary conversation words and experiences, They had to become non-psychotic before they could benefit from therapy as he knew it. But that means he believed he could help all those who were motivated to come ask seek help regardless of their biochemical or genetic inheritance. I believe this to be true at least for the majority of people i.e. that bioenergetics activity, or simply the way a person expresses themselves and along with guidance how to use their emotions can cure most people and make them self-sufficient."

    This, of course, is Henry Fenigstein's (whom, btw, my sixth sense for bs also traced something a little disturbing about -- never mind) opinion more than that it is the blog author's, who obviously was not labelled "psychotic", which also the mention of "reconstructing" a personality signals to me. People labelled with "psychosis"/"sz" usually don't reconstruct, but construct, as there is nothing to reconstruct. People labelled with "depression", "bipolar", "anxiety", etc. reconstruct. Otherwise, except for a few differences like the one mentioned above, I really can relate to much of what the blog author writes.

    I left a comment at the entry about therapy, but it hasn't appeared yet. The blog unfortunately looks a little abandoned.

  2. I think the blog author makes many good points, such as this one:

    This kind of psychotherapy is not rocket science: guide someone to experience and express repressed anger and then help them deal with the results in relationships. It’s a simple process, there is no need to call in Einstein. It’s a natural process. Yet this simple thing seems unknown in mass culture.

    I searched for help in society for all those years without success. I was involved with many institutions and people supposedly in the helping profession. None of them could recognize a simple case of emotional repression nor understand what is necessary to be done. I couldn’t help myself, I was the repressed, I was lost. In common popular culture and the ordinary people I met it seems to be that those things which obvious to an exploratory mind are obscure and mysterious to them.


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