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From Chris Wayan's journal 1997/8/23

Flipping through Nancy Friday's My Mother, My Self, I find a disturbing description of men from boundaryless families. (Well, that isn't quite what my notes say. I wrote "of me from boundaryless families". Freud would love it!) Such people (she assumes they're all men; ha!) settle for bland relationships, differences smoothed over, harmony at all costs, sex deferred or on the back burner, their own preferences generally muted 'for the good of the relationship.'

Her model of the stages 'we' go through to autonomy annoys me. She describes the average as if it's universal: "At 18 months to three years, a child learns to say NO," and so on. At that age I was reading basic astronomy, having shamanic visions, and learned how to strap someone in for electroshock.

Friday's Freudianism annoys me too. So deterministic! If mom didn't give you an essential, you hunt for it forever, in others. Come on! Some things can be found inside, in nature, in retraining and conscious choice. You may start out with bad or missing parts, but you build yourself. Or don't.

Still, Friday may use Freudian language, but the heart of her model is the choice of comfort over individuation, and that's an ongoing decision that can be changed. At least sometimes; during the years I had chronic illness, I felt I had little choice: stress made my symptoms worse. Sickness was a cop holding me in my old family pattern: change involving conflict just wasn't safe.

But now that I'm physically stronger, those cautious habits remain--peace at any price. And peace at any price doesn't lead to happiness, or growth.

In fact, peace at any price doesn't even lead to peace.

LISTS AND LINKS: gender issues - therapy - love - initiative vs passivity - individuation vs conformity - child prodigies - inheritances - recovering from abuse - environmental illness (EI) and its effects - rants - a dream inspired by Nancy Friday - a 1995 trance-painting anticipating Friday's point: Wolfwall

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