Stories we tell

After his brain tumour was removed, Steve could no longer feel emotion. He could remember what emotions felt like (like a blind person having a mind’s eye) but not feel a response to events now. His wife divorced him.

There is an experiment on responses to risk, in the form of a gambling game. You have a notional $2000 to start with, and can click from a choice of four buttons, which will either add to your fund or deduct from it. Two give small rewards but smaller losses. Two give large rewards but larger losses. It seems like a rational decision, which to click, yet most people will avoid the larger loss buttons before they work out the effects, consciously, and the game is set to give them a gain. (It is notional). Steve, however, could not work it out, and made a loss. Emotional responses to the experience guided most people to a gain, rather than conscious rational calculation.

Yet we state reasons why we take action. I listen to a woman tell me why she does something, and it sounds to me like rationalisation; she is projecting her own discomfort onto other people. I want her to feel safe. She has had a hard time, a blow some would find crushing, and now she is picking up the pieces I want her to feel safe and to trust, so that she can rebuild.

I am thinking of another person who may be projecting and as I type it becomes clearer that I am writing about me. I have a strong aversion to work. I have had some ghastly experiences, so I avoid actions which remind me of them. In that case, I might be better feeling less, so that I could go into the situation which has been so painful in the past- go in, trustingly and openly, rather than fearfully shielding myself from pain, as my fear invites rejection. There is the aversion, not necessarily a good indication of what is a threat, now.

Imagine that everyone in the world wishes you well. Here we are, all doing our best under difficult circumstances, and generally it pleases us to see another succeed. Not everyone, there is envy and jealousy and schadenfreude and people who don’t care at all but it gives most of us all other things being equal a little pleasure to see someone doing well. So those judgmental what will people think voices in my head are wrong- people don’t bother or would rather I succeed, on the whole. “Good for her,” they would say, appreciatively. “It couldn’t happen to a nicer person.”

I went to the tit-squeezer today. Yes, a mammogram. It was painful. I was squeezed between plastic rather than metal, as Josie had said- she complained of the cold, it wasn’t unpleasantly cold- but it pinched. “Stop breathing” said the woman, which though I am attempting to relax and co-operate isn’t easy. It was so uncomfortable that I wondered if she were being hard on me becoz I is trans. Perhaps there is a trade-off between squeezing tightly and getting good clear scans. I hope I don’t get a false positive, though that will change if I get a positive.

All comments welcome.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.