I have No Neck

Now I’m standing on the floor. My head seems to be separated from my body (there is no neck). It’s not connected to whatever. The head feels as if consisting of a swarm of particles, drifting apart horizontally in all directions around. When it is needed to focus, I grab these particles together, hoping they will fit in the right places again. When I have the feeling I don’t get them collected in the right positions again, I am faced with difficulties in balance, coordination, and talking.

Do you know the meaning of:
– having no neck
– a head that has no connection
– a head consisting of a swarm of particles, drifting apart

Addendum: “this morning I realized it’s not my head that’s apart from my body, my brains are able to move away and back the way I wrote above.”

When analysing metaphors it can be very easy to miss the obvious cues and focus on the more esoteric aspects. The first thing that catches my attention is the opening descriptor, “I’m standing on the floor.” It is important to notice what is missing here – context. I ought to also point out that prefix of the word “now”.

Part of me would want to ask the Clean Language question of, “…and then what happens?” but that would take us into a different area of exploration.

So it sounds like the person is grounded, but she doesn’t know where she stands. Either that or she does not care to tell us where she stands. As a result, how can we know where she stands relative to us, or where we may stand relative to her?

This is an issue about relationships and relating. So, if I were seeing her face-to-face as a client I’d need to be watching for subtle clues as to the type of relationship she is trying to create and match this against the context of the relationship we’d actually be having.

A really obvious example of the kind of thing is the patient who thinks of his cardiac surgeon as his friend and calls him “mate” in front of the assembled entourage during a ward round. There’s an obvious mismatch between context and outward relating from the patient. The surgeon may or may not reciprocate.

In less obvious situations we may get some very subtle signs that are easy to miss. For example, in some family gatherings the family members make lots of upbeat and positive noises to each other and as a result, everyone is satisfied that this is a functional family. But in that upbeat noise, there may be no meaningful communication expressed whatsoever. Any attempt to pass meaningful communication is matched with tension and discomfort.

As a result, the family all tacitly and non-verbally agree to collectively only exchange upbeat noises in order to keep one another at a safe emotional distance. Yet the family narrative is, “we are a very close and happy family” which is collectively agreed upon, yet individually disputed by almost every family member when in private.

This would be easily missed by any casual observer, which is why what-is-not-communicated can be as important as what-is-communicated.

The next thing that stands out for me is that of strategy. Grabbing at particles to try and put them back in their place. There’s a thing about moving particles, in that they tend to be very difficult to grab. Even if they could be grabbed, getting a whole swarm of them back to where they began seems like an impossible task.

So I am left wondering about the wisdom of such an endeavour, some might say it’s a little bit of a brainless thing to do. Yet the failure to do so is met with some unpleasant physiological responses.

Even if they could be grabbed, getting a whole swarm of them back to where they began seems like an impossible task. So I am left wondering about the wisdom of such an endeavour, some might say it’s a little bit of a brainless thing to do. Yet the failure to do so is met with some unpleasant physiological responses.

So this brings us to some possible boundary violations of metaphor. Clearly, her brains do not swarm about like particles, her head is not disconnected from her body, and having met the speaker of the metaphor, I can confirm she really does possess a neck.

Thus we have a boundary violation of associated identity – “I see myself…”

So I ask myself, how does she see herself? What does she see?

She sees herself as detached, her brain/mind/self in tiny pieces that don’t fit together. No matter how she tries, she (her self) doesn’t fit in. This lack of fit affects her good standing and her communication.

What we can be sure with such a boundary violation category is that how she sees herself may mismatch how others see her.

So, what we have so far is:

– she is grounded
– she doesn’t know, or fails to communicate, where she stands
– she sees herself as basically brainless
– she is not her true self
– I don’t know how to relate to her
– she relates to herself by trying to grasp ahold of her parts of herself to put herself back into the right place

And all this happens why? Because she needs to focus.

Yet focussing is what we do with our eyes. Sometimes we need to look closely at our thoughts, so we bring them into focus. This is a relationship between how we see and the distance of what we look at.

So, back to that first line again, “Now I’m standing on the floor.”

Now we can consider this line with a different set of filters, we can take a closer look at it. Personally, I’d meta-model with, “So what? Why should **I** care that you are standing on the floor?” and really insist on an answer and a discussion about it. This would both begin to open up the unspoken context, but also enable me to begin to rationalise my own relationship to all this.

 

 

 

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