I am reading a non-fiction book about a serial killer in Italy called "The Monster of Florence." Its a page turner but I was stopped dead in the middle of a page when I came to this paragraph. Its the words of a psychoanalyst monk describing neurosis. Maybe some of the most powerful words I've ever read on the topic. Its also coming towards the end of my internship as I've just started working with couples in distress and young Vets returning from Iraq & Afgahnistan. These words resonate deep within me as capturing a deep truth about what it means to be human.
"There is no longer true communication among us, because our very language is sick, and the sickness of our discourse carries us inevitably to sickness in our bodies, to neurosis, if not finally to mental illness."
"When I can no longer communicate with speech, I will speak with sickness. My symptoms are given life. These symptoms express the need for my soul to make itself heard but cannot, because I don't have the words, and because those who should listen cannot get beyond the sound of their own voices. The language of sickness is the most difficult to interpret. It is an extreme form of blackmail which defies all our efforts to pay it off and send it away. It is a final attempt at communication."
"Mental illness lies at the very end of the struggle to be heard. It is the last refuge of a desperate soul who has finally understood that no one is listening or ever will listen. Madness is the renunciation of all efforts to be understood. It is one unending scream of pain and need into the absolute silence and indifference of society. It is a cry without an echo."
This week my eyes filled with tears as I listened to a Vet share something with me he had never told anyone his entire adult life. In fact I still feel them as I write this. He's been locked in a prison of this secret, in solitary confinement. And without words his soul has screamed out in confusing ways. Confusing to himself and others. And together for a moment we opened that world and found words and tears. Tears from a long time ago.