In one of my favourite memoirs on mental illness, Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen, the author talks about this idea that her experiences participating in psychoanalysis felt like “messing about in the shadows.” This has always sounded very profound to me.
It’s a reference to Plato, who believed that everything in life is a shadow of its true form or “essence.” (I’m no expert on Plato, so please correct me if my understanding is wrong!) Basically, Susanna felt that psychoanalysis never truly got down to what the real issues were–which is a feeling I can relate to as an introvert who likes to think a lot. This is something I’ve been contemplating lately, and so I’m writing out my thoughts here.
I like my alone time, to go over the events of the day, to consider my future plans, to sort out any problems I’m currently experiencing. But sometimes I feel like I don’t get much further than thinking. I have all of these dreams for the future… to move to the big city, to start a meaningful career, to read the many books I have lying around my room that I bought with good intentions… but a lot of my time is spent working, and wasting time on the internet, and dreaming up more things that I want to do–instead of doing anything concrete so I can move forward.
Is this just an introvert thing? I don’t think so, since everyone is capable of wasting time. But I do think that it plays out differently for us because we often do a lot of our thinking in our heads… whereas extroverts are more likely to bounce their ideas around with others. And while I consider myself a pretty thorough thinker, I know that there’s a lot I can’t figure out on my own since I’m limited to my perspective.
Everyone is limited to their own perspective, and often we can be quick to reject anything that doesn’t fit with our own point of view. But there’s so much that can be missed out on if one only sticks to their own shadows.
So, maybe what I’m trying to get at in this ramble is that we should do stuff. Like, concrete stuff. I mean, I’m no psychology major, but I’m pretty sure that psychoanalysis is a two-way street–you have to do something with whatever you’ve learned about yourself.
What do you think? Does any of this make any sense? 🙂