My memoir and the theory behind it

An interview with Allan Shore


His training as a psychoanalyst was critical in highlighting the importance of the relationship between the mother and the infant. But there was a struggle within psychoanalysis – in particular between Anna Freud and Melanie Klein – about how much was really a creation of the infants mind., a phantasy. Bowlby began to fervently argue and bring in data from other disciplines to show that the real relationship, that the real events, not only were there but they were indelibly and permanently shaped there in a way that would affect the way that the personality would develop over the lifespan.  [EMPHASIS MINE]

This is precisely what I was interested in studying when I wrote my memoir!



Shamanistic subjectivity does not imply being out of control

If one considers the three tier system posited by the shamanistic world view, which can be seen to have rough correlation with Paul MacLean’s TRIUNE BRAIN (as a loose theoretical construct, rather than as necessarily a scientific one), one can theorize both the possibility of ascent and descent from the here and now of everyday bodily awareness.

Either one ascends by detaching from the body (and from the immediacy of its emotional needs) or one descends still more deeply into the inner structures of bodily drives and dispositions (most conventionally called ‘the unconscious’).

The term, “dissociation”, which involves, in one instance, transcendence (moving away from the body without losing the existence of the body) or, alternatively descending more deeply into it (without losing the possibility of returning to normal consciousness of bodily states within the here and now) does not, therefore, imply emotionalism.

Rather, it implies obtaining a distance from oneself, through experiencing doubling (involving the body as it understands historical time and place, along with one’s state of experiential ascent or descent in relation to the body).

The lizard brain, and ideologies as political functions that stem from intolerable anxiety

Unless my studies have deceived me, our collective and individual intolerable anxieties are the progenitors of morality. Of course, viewed on an individual level, we all have different breaking points, different points whereupon anxiety becomes intolerable — and we have different experiences, too, some bound to impress upon us a feeling that they are more or less tolerable that others.

Morality, however, tends not to be so much individually determined as it is conventionally instituted by various arms of society, governing social order. Convention thus creates “fault lines“, or, if you prefer, predetermined ‘paths of least resistance’ within society, through which collective and individual anxieties can be discharged.

Convention has developed a system of patriarchy, which may have had practical value in earlier times, in terms of co-ordinating a division of labour based on gender lines. These days, there is little need for such a system,of gendered division of labor  — nonetheless gender ideologies still prevail and there are still those who get to pull the strings, and those who must dance — patriarchy now fulfils a role of permitting those who have the greater share of power to discharge their anxieties. Of course others will have to pay for proclivities of those who cannot tolerate a higher level of anxiety than they are used to.

Those whose nervous systems are relatively delicate will break-out in a fit of moral fervor after a very low level of outside stimulation. Others will be different and make a few guarded remarks only at the highest levels of anxiety whilst they seek to manage reality’s effects.

Interesting how most modern day “Nietzscheans” choose to be insulated by patriarchy’s little moral buffer, finding automatic reprieve from social anxiety through embracing a conventionalised system of morality aimed against women. I’m sure they feel no anxiety at all, because it is already pre-emptively dealt with for them, thanks to the predominant value systems of Judeo-Christianity that are, fortuitously for them, ready to be invoked. Yet one doesn’t admire these latter day patriarchs for their particular mode of anxiety reduction.



1) It isn’t wrong or even a sign of weakness to experience anxiety. It’s what you do or do not do with that sensation that is telling.

2) It’s not necessarily wrong or a sign of weakness to go to war if someone is constantly infringing on your space, which causes you ongoing anxiety. It is the best management of anxiety, sometimes, to use your nervous energy to defend your mind and body. Just don’t do it in a way that pretends you are doing something different — i.e. domestic abuse is a sign of inner weakness, so don’t abuse others just because you are anxious.