Friday, 25 July 2008

Various thoughts

"I AM"

This caught my eye the other day - orange's latest advertising campaign based on the lines such as " It’s the people we meet and the experiences we share that make us who we are."

This is a model of identity that is created socially - neither nature, or strictly speaking, nurture. It's also a model that suggests our personality is continually developing, shaping and being shaped, by our experiences and our choices.

No more "Give me a child when he is 7 and I will show you the man." You might give someone the man at 37 and still not see the 47 years old.


Part of the poem about my people (below) is about introversion. It's something that's fascinated me since I saw the lemon experiment on television programme. Suddenly the thought that I'm someone that reacts very strongly to the presence of other people made sense of a lot of things for me. It doesn't worry me to think that introversion is a given in my personality, though I think that it's partly the way I have adapted to being an introvert in a world of extroverts that has made me who I am.

I can't help but think that we'll discover more of these genetically coded fundamental brain reactions, that while they don't define our personalities, may well underpin their development.


Here's Darian Leader on identification.
"At the simplest level identification means that we become like another person.... most of the time (identifications) take place outside conscious awareness. We become like others without knowing it.... Children will identify with aspects of their parents from the very start.... as their identity is forged different traits are borrowed from their parents.... A further kind of identification occurs at the moments when an intense emotional relationship is broken or put in question... the child may start to adopt some trait or behavioural detail of a precisely the parent who disappointed them. The pain of disappointment is dealt with by incorporating some aspect of the other person themselves.... Analysts have shown that if an illness appears in different generations of the same family, identifications may be the underlying mechanism.... Children don't just inherit their parents' genes they inherit their parents.


Also from the same book
"Study after study has claimed that the fewer one's social relationships, the shorter one's life expectancy and the more devastating the impact of infectious diseases.... One of the first and most famous large-scale investigations of this phenomenom was known as the Roseto study. This time in Pennsylvania had a population of around 1600 and was founded in the late ninetheeth century by immigrants from Roseto Val Fortore in Southern Italiy.... The death rate from myocardial infarction was only half that of the neighbouring towns or the US in general. Yet their diet wasn't particularly healthy, their cholesterol was about the same as their neighbours and they smoked a fair bit. But what struck the researchers was the cohesiveness of the comunity.... If it wasn't the diet of the smoking the answer seemed to lie in the organisation of social bonds...
"Studies of the eldery, for example, made the surprising finding that the amount of contact with the rest of the family is far less imporatnt than the expectation that someone is there for them. Knowing that family members are contactable and available my matter more in many instances that actually receiving regular visits. What we mean by 'other people' can thus include their physical or their potential presence."

When I read this I thought of my conversation with Jeanette and her suggestion that in searching for their ancestors people might be replacing a cohesiveness missing from modern life. Could it be that the idea of the ancestors they discover (or in fact create) was as therapeutic as any real people in their lives (and possibly a lot less annoying... )

I notice I've been using these two terms pretty much interchangeably. I'll straighten that out at some point. But I think what this shows is that for me, they are more or less the same thing. Who I am is the sum total of what I do, what I think, how I feel.

No comments: