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Nameless dread

During this time of ‘STAY AT HOME” I feel fortunate that I have a garden and lovely walks nearby. There is no doubt that being out in the open air, helps to calm the anxious mind.  But even so, I periodically feel a surge of emotion which I can only describe as panic and terror accompanied by a sinking feeling in my stomach.   The expression “Nameless Dread’ comes to mind.

This was a term first coined in psychoanalysis by Wilfred Bion. He saw it as a state of meaningless fear which occurs in the infant when the parent fails to contain his or her  experiences, and make them meaningful.  There will be times in every child’s life, when the parent does not manage to translate a frightening new experience into something digestible and understandable.    That is life.  But it can lead to the experience of ‘nameless dread’, which at some primitive level, we all know.

Throughout life, when we are faced with traumatic, unpredictable events, whether they be at a personal or a societal level, our early primitive anxieties can be evoked.  Nameless dread emerges. Currently our sense of a safe and containing world, social system, and cultural milieu, has become damaged. As I said in an earlier blog, the rug has been pulled from beneath out feet.   We are thrown back onto our defences to try and keep the  primitive anxieties at bay. This could be denial (I can socialise freely, it will not affect me) , or for many people, a manic attempt  to understand what defies understanding and find meaning somewhere in the midst of all the chaos.   Just listening to the Today Programme every morning can give you an example of that manic search for meaning.   We look to our government, to the media and to the experts to help us.   But despite all the expert advice  no one is actually going to make this alright.   It seems as if nobody can.  We just have to watch the death rate rising and hope for the levelling off to come sooner rather than later.  What we can do is turn to others for support and succour so that we do not feel so alone with the dread.  Make use of the internet to speak to family, friends. When that is not enough, speak to a counsellor or therapist.


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