Issues of Identity are complex. They demand our attention and dominate our stories. They shape our political debates, and spar in our contending versions of history. They are ever-present and often invisible. Yet they form the very ground of therapy sessions and healing ceremonies. Continue reading
Gregory Bateson was fond of noting that the Map is not the Territory. This is a statement of the obvious, yet it is also a profoundly difficult concept to hold in mind. Over the past few days I have been reminded this, repeatedly.
During this time I have had the privileged of spending time with several good-hearted people who happen to be experiencing chronic, life altering, and possibly life threatening, illnesses. In each case there is a Diagnosis, after which, as if by magic, the person becomes the Illness, or rather, the Illness becomes the Person. Take for instance, Schizophrenia or Congestive Heart Failure. Each diagnosis is made in the presence of a set of Symptoms. In response to those Symptoms medication may be administered. If the Symptoms respond favorably to the medication, the Diagnosis is confirmed. At this juncture, the Patient and the Illness assume a sort of fused Identity. Continue reading