Monday, November 19, 2012


This blog is intended for my colleagues to speak about their work.
   I will occasionally write about mine as well, and today would like to share an excerpt of one of my books. Enjoy!
"A large number of people do not seem to be aware that every life is a narrative. It could be said that experiences consist of two steps. In step one you play an active part. You are, so to speak, an actor improvising in a play without a script, for no situations will ever be identical. In step two, you recall and retell what you lived. You do not perform these experiences again for others to watch, so you resort to linguistic and cohesive devices, filling in the gaps caused by forgotten chunks with plausible content to convey meaning. You have now become a narrator. In the long run, because your discourse covers many more subjects than those lying within your direct experience, the time you spend as a narrator exceeds by far the time you spend as an actor.
   A third step indirectly results from the first two. When you interact with others, you will necessarily listen to their narratives. Since gap filling constitutes a fictional resource, it turns out that fiction has caught up with you even if you do not recognize it because it is not encased in a book."
Reading for Personal Development
Bibliotreatment Series
Jorge Pinto Books Inc., New York, N.Y.


  1. I am learning so much from you Marta. Thank you. I do have something to say about what your blog brought to mind for me.

    I do not like to write about war, murder, explosions, gun fighting, etx. I tried several times but could never get past the first paragraph.

    A few years ago a friend of mine gave me a video of the year I was born 1943. I could not wait to watch it because on the cover it advised that it would show all the information on that year. I could hardley wait to get home and play it. I put it in the dvd. I had a nice cup of tea and got comfortable on the sofa to enjoy my birthday present. I will tell you this, almost every single thing on that disk was pictures of WWII, soldiers getting shot and killed, blown up, men without arms and legs. It was horrible. It brought back a fear that has haunted me my whole life, with no apparent reason. While watching it I remembered something. I couldn't have been more than two years old. My sister and I balled up under a small table in our bedroom, blackout shades down and sirens blasting. It was only a drill, but I imagine it happened many times before the war was over. I now know why I can not write or even watch movies or write about anything with that sort of action. I can read mysteries and such but that is my limit. You are right you recall and retell what you lived, but do you think that could leave such a longterm trama on one so young?

  2. Dear Patricia, you need to consider two points here. One is what we call "false memories". It is improbable, though not impossible, that one so young can remember experiences in such vivid detail. When this happens, there may have been some other, more disturbing experience, that was covered up by a memory that didn't directly affect the child at that moment; in this case, the war. What the actual event was might be recovered in therapy.
    The other point is that trauma is composed of two steps. The first does not affect us as something traumatic. When you played the drill, as you called it, you didn't really know what it meant; it was just a game. The second step came when, at some point in your life, you associated the game with the horrors of war. This is when extreme anxiety appears, at the precise moment when we resignify the first experience as something painful, shameful, unbearable. It is then when what we call trauma really sets in.
    I have no way of knowing what it was to you. Still, I am convinced that if you could put your experience down in writing, not as literary piece, but as an "exorcism" if you will, the feeling would be appeased.
    Hope this helps a little, and my wholehearted thanks for sharing this.
    Love you.

  3. Marta, I enjoyed your wrting segment and your response to Pat. I,too have memories--not pleasant--of things that happened to me at three years old and it has affected my entire life. It has caused lifelong anxiety/panic/phobia experiences which prevented me from living my life as I wanted. I once self-hynotized myself and went to the memory to see once and for all what really happened. I was walked, as that three-year-old child toward the room where the memory is fixated and just as I was about to enter, a glass shield dropped down preventing my entering. I realized if my own subconscious was protectingme from seeing it, maybe it was better I didn't. So I tried to just let it go. But you know that the mind never really does that even when it wants to.


  4. Micki, we cannot change memories, but I sincerely think we can stop them from affecting us if we can confront them. Again, it's difficult to discern between genuine memories, false memories, composites, and that gap-filling mentioned in the excerpt.
    I'm awed that you hypnotized yourself. I learnt how to hypnotize others, but the part that never went too well was bringing them back, so I don't do it, just in case.
    Still, perhaps a good hypnotist might take you as far as you wish to go, if you really wish to go there.
    In the meantime, writing is therapeutic, as is reading, and you're a champion at both.
    Perhaps we read so avidly and write so passionately precisely because of such memories.
    I know that I have repressed mine. But there's also the return of the repressed, in symptoms that come uninvited and for which I have no explanation in spite of long years on the couch. Freud said that there are only so many layers you can peel off an onion, which amounted to a confession that the core of neurosis is unreachable. And that's fine, because alternative pathologies are much worse.

  5. Dearest Marta, your words are a lucid, insightful delight. I have never thought of the growth of self-narrative in such a manner before, it presents another perspective that is exquisitely thought-provoking and so beautifully expressed! Ultimately we are all writers of fiction whether aware of it or is just some of us write imagined stories of others as well as narrate our own. Your excerpt above is hauntingly resonant...thank you for sharing.

    1. PJ, thank you so much for your words. I admire you immensely, and your "musings" pierce deep into the web of my thoughts. That you find mine interesting fills me with joy.I trust you'll visit often and contribute to this blog as a distinguished guest.

    2. Thank you Marta for your most kind invitation, I would be honored indeed to be associated with such eloquent and generous-spirited company.

  6. This is a great read Marta. Thought-provoking and that innate sense of getting to the "raw" core of issues that you have... your work always makes me think.

    I too have suffered various traumas through life, and rather than slipping more into the narrative, I've learned to become more of a director. I've progressed much further a lot faster since I've forced myself to take on that role. Can I maintain it? I shall keep directing one day at a time!

    1. Dear Tami, not everyone can be a director, but you are among the privileged who can do it and succeed. Thank you for your encouragement. I trust you will share your excellence here as well, to give us all the pleasure of your thoughts.
      Love you too!

    2. I'm still just learning and pushing myself, but I've made great strides that I'm very proud of! A lot of them have been because of the great people I've been lucky enough to find on my way ;)

    3. Thank you, SpunGlass. Do I know you?
      I could say the same; I learn from the great people that I meet, but I also learn from the nasty sort, who obviously are not here :))

  7. We can't change our past and blaming others or the times we lived in for the bad things that have happened to us only makes us bitter and resentful.
    The answer is to become the narrator (director) of our lives and determine to be happy and a force for good.
    There is no guarantee we will be able to influence the present, or the future, but if we do not make the effort to make this world a better place, then we are sentencing those that come after us to live as miserable, if not more miserable lives, than we are prepared to accept.

    1. TKM, do I know you? It's true that we cannot change the past, but we can change our attitude toward it. This is no easy task, and force of will is not enough. As I see it, until we understand the past it will fester inside us and render useless our efforts toward happiness and good. Just an opinion, of course.
      Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!

  8. Marta, thanks for your wise words, helpful as always. It was a therapist who taught me to self-hypnotize myself. Mostly, I just use a meditation garden full of various animals who represent different parts of my psyche. There is even a duck that comes now and then and says--"Aflak"--humor even in meditation.:) The whippoorwill is there too, the one written about in my memoir. Today I went to the neurologist who was determined to find my source of pain and fatigue throughout my body for the past 10 years and since the tests--as always-came back negative, he will only say I have something but he can't find it. He mentioned post traumatic stress as well, which I would tend to agree if it wasn't so obvious that I have chronic Lyme disease--maybe a combo of the two. He also said something interesting which I had been thinking about myself in a way. He said I may have had something physical in the past that the is causing my mind to send out nerve pain signals. I have been trying to get my brain to heal my body, which it is capable of if I just find the key.

    Hugs, Micki

    1. Dearest Micki, I'm convinced that our brain can both make us ill and heal us. I do hope you can find the key. Such a wonderful person as you are, not to speak of the talented writer, should not remain a prisoner to physical pain. Let me help if you think I can.
      A big hug to you.

    2. Micki,
      I was diagnosed with chronic pain (catch-all in my mind) after suffering nerve damage due to an injury. I did a lot of reading about it and really surprised at how much the brain does beyond our conscious thought if it feels we have faced trauma, even if we're working really hard to get past it.
      Women, and more specifically creatives, have a much more difficult time working through the symptoms of chronic pain.
      Dr. Mailis Gagnon is co-author of a book called "Beyond Pain". It's fairly inexpensive and although I didn't care for the doctor when I saw her, I learned a LOT from her book.
      Wishing you good health and strength!

  9. Hi,
    I like the way you defined the roles or the character of a person's personality. It is when we cross the line and let all three phases come together, in my opinion, that our words become characters and our characters began to talk to us. When we have crossed over this chasm, we have no other option but to write. We have then been chosen to send out a message.

    Reading your first blog posting has helped me to understand what was happening to me when I was a child. Before I had learned to write, I was writing and would corner anyone I could corner, so that I could read my story. No one understood my imagination, and my parents were totally over challenged with such a child as I, and so they discouraged me from thinking that I was a writer.

    Yet, the characters kept popping up, and there was a world in which I lived, at times when I could sneak away and hide, where they became real, and I would write.

    Today, I am doing what I was chosen to do so long ago. I am writing.
    Thank you Sis, for this illuminating article that again opened my eyes to look back on a very small moment of my own life. I see now that that moment in my life was a period of incubation for what was yet to come.

    Love you.

    1. Hi Patti,
      I can understand your parents :) When we are challenged by this kind of child, we wonder, "Where did she come from?!"
      I'm so glad that you persisted, or we would have lost a great talent.
      Thank you for finding my little post helpful. The intention of the series from which it was taken was to offer some insight based on my own experience and thoughts, supported by my career in psychoanalysis.
      Love you bunches.