Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner

My Not-Overtly Sordid Past

Originally posted on October 5, 2017

I regret sins of thought (innocent yet toward the dark side). I have had an oppor-tunity to reflect on my youth, where my dark side had its role in my unconscious, pre-conscious, and play. I was outwardly submissive, picked on by my big brother, inwardly a conqueror, reading about conquerors of the past, and drawing sadistic pictures, because drawing ugly is a lot easier than drawing pretty— and I was lazy. I read as a pre-teen about torture, which fascinated me—I’m now ashamed to admit. Then I came to be more conscious that torture hurt! Duh! And I could no longer entertain it.

However, I continued my interest in the history of warfare, battle, armaments— until only a few years ago! Consciousness grows slowly. Now I reject even that. But Hallowe’en is upon us and I’ve been reflecting on what the psychiatrist and ana-lytical psychologist Carl G. Jung called “the Shadow complex,” referring to all the images and thoughts that partake of that which we are afraid of, that which we unconsciously entertain a little, that of which we are ashamed.

Not as bad as ending a sentence with a preposition, which I learned I shouldn’t do—but as Winston Churchill once wrote: “This is the sort of nonsense up with which I will not put!”

Anyway, I am consciously aware of my past torture fantasies as a pre- and early teen, and regret them, and while I was at it, I became aware of the way I uninten-tionally tortured patients during my internship, drawing blood or doing painful procedures. I rationalized rather deeply that I was only doing this to help them, maybe even saving these patients’ lives, but it broke though that defense this morning and I had to face the fact that whatever the rationalization, I tortured a lot of patients in my training. Aughh, regret! I didn’t do it for fun, I must note. But indeed I did it. We no longer accept the Nazi concentration camp officers’ excuse that they were “just following orders,” but that’s what I did.

My intent was to help. That was my conscious purpose. My unconscious repressed that I was hurting them in order to help. I fear some of this dynamic even over-lapped into my practice of psychiatry, alas. The power of defense mechanisms should not be underestimated. So there is a measure of regret about my life, even as for the most part my conscious memories go towards more pleasant memories.


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