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Tears & rain: our inner emotional weather

Jan's chronic feelings of anxiety and sadness are natural, the product of an intact mood system. In a world in which a child's primary attachment figures – parents – are emotionally unavailable and unable to help when a trusted neighbor turns into an attacker, the mood system is ever forward looking. It assumes that, if the worst has already happened, it can and will happen again. Best to be prepared. Anxious moods scanning for danger (especially in relationships) and sad moods analyzing what was lost and why serve as the last lines of defense against further ruin.

Source - Jonathan Rottenberg, The Depths: The Evolutionary Origins of the Depression Epidemic (Environmental and Psychological Contributions to Depression).

Psychologically speaking, climate and weather are suggestive of mood. We speak, for instance, of one person as having a "sunny" disposition and of another as being "stormy." A malcontented companion may be said to have "rained on our parade," while a lively visitor is celebrated as being "a breath of spring." Clearly, when it comes to the depiction of moods, meteorological, atmospheric, and climatic metaphors immediately suggest themselves. Such associations, no doubt, owe something to the fact that our emotional state can be affected by actual climatic conditions. Gloomy weather can make us gloomy while bright days may lift our spirits.

But there is also a weather that is generated from within ourselves.

It is this inner, emotional weather that we especially have in mind when we speak of moods. Seasonal affective disorder notwithstanding, to understand this kind of weather we must resort to psychology. Bollas has written extensively about moods in relation to what he calls "the psychoanalysis of the unthought known." Moods replicate the known, but as yet unthought, vicissitudes of the not-so-facilitating environments that stymied our development during our formative years. In the case of so-called bad moods this is obvious enough. The rough mental handling we give ourselves in the bad mood may be readily understood as being replicative of the inadequate care we received from our attachment figures during the tenure of our early dependency. It is more difficult, however, to see that our so-called good moods arise from the same background. The key to understanding here is the recognition that all moods are essentially "autistic structures."

We withdraw into moods even as the weather they generate surrounds us.

While the foul weather of a bad mood is indicative of a self-state that recalls the forfeiture of one's spontaneous gesture in the face of an inhospitable familial environment, the fair weather of a good mood is indicative of a self-state in which the impulses, gestures, and desires that had been thwarted are prepossessingly withdrawn into as if into an imperious bubble of stubborn cheerfulness, insistent happiness, and the like. As Bollas puts it:

When a person goes "into" a mood, he becomes that child self who was refused expression in relation to his parents for one reason or another. Consequently, moods are often the existential registers of the moment of a breakdown between a child and his parents, and they partly indicate the parent's own developmental arrest, in that the parent was unable to deal appropriately with the child's particular maturational needs. What had been a self experience in the child, one that could have been integrated into the child's continuing self development, was rejected by the parents, who failed to perform adequately as ordinary "transformational objects," so that a self state was destined to be frozen by the child into what I have called a "conservative object" – subsequently represented only through moods.

Source - Greg Mogenson, Voicing the Weather Oracle. The Dove in the Consulting Room: Hysteria and the Anima in Bollas and Jung (Brunner-Routledge 2003), pp. 121-122.

Art: Namida Ame, 'Tears & Rain'

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