Sunday, 14 July 2013

Masks and Personality

Dean at the Psychiatric Hospital: Act I Scene 2

I am still here with Dean and I am watching the various masks of his personality emerge in relationship with the masks (representing archetypal patterns of behaviour) others are wearing. 

In early theatrical productions masks were used to depict the different ‘persona’ portrayed by the players. As such this represented a pretence, not the true character of the person.  Nowadays the term persona has lost its connotation of pretence and illusion and has come to symbolize the individual’s observable or explicit personality traits.

            Our inner mental states can show up in the world as other people, and some of us end up caring for or getting entangled with our various selves through other people. It is a salutary lesson for the healer, teacher or caregiver, in their various guises, to identify their own wounded soul in another person, or group of people, or section of society. So our masks wear us and, they turn up in the world wearing other people!

            In his assignation with the Underworld of psychiatry, or perhaps bedlam, Dean is very much in Victim mode, he is being persecuted. The Advocate has shown up, but he is not of much direct help. He stands on the sidelines supporting as best as he can. Then a Mediator turns up and her name is Amari. She and the Victim are about to meet up with the Caregiver.

            Dean’s medication is to be administered by his NHS care-coordinator. She is accompanied by a male who she introduces as a student who is going to observe; maybe. Caregiver has bad news. Her manager has vetoed the purchase of a laptop as replacement for one which was apparently destroyed by another patient when Dean was resident in the hospital. There has been quite a bit of too-ing and fro-ing about this, via several phone calls and at least two face-to-face conversations. And here is the reversal.

            Needless to say, Dean goes ballistic. The Avenger comes on stream, big time; he is outraged at yet further evidence of Victim’s persecution. The Avenger roars his frustration and threatens to sue the hospital. The Caregiver, clearly on Dean’s side but obviously overruled by her Manager, begins to suggest a way round this.

            Dean is beyond hearing; he is in the grip of a persecution complex. Avenger is now leaning forward in full flow.

            The tension coming from the alleged student observer person is palpable; he’s probably a G4S escort (G4S faces damages claim over killing of Jimmy Mubenga) supposedly versed in appropriate restraint methods.

            Jesus, is this paranoia or what? Still, in the current climate of righteously indignant xenophobia (fear of other) especially towards all deemed to be Muslim, anything is possible. We have also awoken to the fact that some Muslims are black (white too, but we won’t worry about that for now; it’s a fact that causes cognitive dissonance – a level of anxiety that occurs when you deny a truth that contradicts what you believe). So, I rule nothing out.

It’s time for the Mediator to intervene.

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