I am approaching the juncture in writing my memoir where I will begin “killing my darlings” – writer talk for removing from the book gems initially included but upon further reflection, no longer work. Sometimes it’s really painful to let go of what seemed like a perfect fit.

When I found a quote from Sigmund Freud that described how psychoanalytic treatment was like a game of chess, I was thrilled. He wrote that only the opening and closing moves of either endeavor can be described and as for the rest he said, “no generalization is possible owing to the complexity and multiplicity of configurations possible.”*

At the time I discovered this gem, I was in the middle of attempting to describe my psychoanalytic sessions, in other words, to do the very thing Freud deemed impossible.

My editor questioned this quote. Was it helpful? It compared psychoanalysis to a game and besides, was an entirely different metaphor than we were using. Whoa I thought – what a good point! Any process that attempts to change your way of being in the world is not a game.

While games can be difficult, usually we play games for fun and relaxation. Being in therapy or analysis is not for fun or relaxing as is evident if you have ever been in therapy. I am trusting my editor’s sense this quote does not fit in my memoir about my sometimes grueling experience in psychoanalysis.

But I still love the quote so decided to share with you! Does it make sense to you? Can you think of other things in life that we know how they start and how they end but are difficult to describe in the middle?

Our current pandemic situation is not like that. We aren’t certain where or even when COVAD-19 started and we most definitely don’t know when it will end. The most we can say is that we are in the complexity part.

Perhaps a message for us, whether we are playing a complex game like chess or participating in therapy or trying to get through the pandemic, is that if we want to win or make changes or stay healthy, we will need to pay attention. Pay attention to our feelings and honor them and express them. Pay attention to our loved ones and stay in touch with them. Pay attention to our self and give our bodies good food and enough movement.

Anxiety makes paying attention difficult but knowing we are in this together helps. What are you paying attention to these days. I have been trying to set limited goals for each day and trying to remember Jennifer Louden’s idea of conditions of enoughness. Jen writes about this in her new book, Why Bother? You can find it wherever books are sold. I’m eagerly awaiting my copy!

CLUE: Before you get out of bed, stick your arms and legs up in the air and circle them around. There are two names for this activity, either Tipped Turtle or Dead Bug. Choose one. Let me know your preferred name and how this helps get your body moving or not.

* Quote found in Andre Green, Key Ideas for a Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 2005.


4 Responses

  1. Tipped turtle. Not sure that I’m paying attention to anything in particular. But I do make note of who’s not wearing a mask in the grocery store. Maybe life is like a chess game, you know the beginning and the final result, but the possibilities of life seem endless.

    • Hi Nolan. I think of you when I’m trying to stand on one foot while brushing my teeth and wonder if you
      are still trying. It is difficult for me, some nights more than others, but I keep trying.

      Yes, life could be compared to a chess game – I like that. The possibilities are indeed endless!

      Thanks for reading and commenting. So good to hear from you!

  2. HI Nicky!

    I agree with your editor! While life can be fun–hopefully it is much of the time–I think the notion of “game” trivializes life and the decisions and choices we make. Not that we need to take ourselves so seriously all the time, but I don’t think “game” fits–and when I think of games, I think of the goal of winning and of the possibility of losing and I hate to think of life in those terms.

    So interesting to learn that Freud put it that way.

    Sooooo happy about your progress with the book! Can’t wait to read it!!

    • Thanks Diane for your comment! I think it is so strange that I didn’t think at all
      about the implications of comparing analysis to a game. I guess that’s why we have

      Hope you are well and writing!

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