We were both listening for the unsaid, the nearly said and the accidentally said. We were both patient and analyst at the same timeby Anna Blundy / December 10, 2015 / Leave a comment
Published in January 2016 issue of Prospect Magazine
A wintry walk. Two black Labradors—one seven years old with an arthritic elbow and a grey beard, the other seven months old, lanky, pantheresque, fluid. A psychoanalyst friend of mine—tweed jacket, walking boots, solidly built, open face. Me, in my dad’s old leather jacket, trying to manage the dogs in a bluster of leaves, dishevelled hair and… is that actually a snowflake?
It ought to be odd stomping around talking about Freud, but it’s Hampstead Heath, so most of the huddled couples straining against the wind in their sensible coats were probably doing the same.
My friend smiled at someone in pink wellies and a Barbour.
“Do you know her?” I asked.
“I’m not sure,” he said. “I have a facial awareness problem.”
“I know two people who have that. Both men and both find it mainly applies to women,” I remembered.
This is true. I was once at a crowded swimming pool with my teenage daughter and one of these men. Half way through our day together he mistook a woman in her thirties for my 13-year-old because of a faintly similar bikini. Much embarrassment.
As we made our way across the semi-frozen mud my friend suggested his problem was a symptom of knowing so many varied women through the school run and the slightly over-enthusiastic middle-class neighbourhood (Kentish Town). I couldn’t help trying a psychoanalytic (ish) interpretation.
“Isn’t it a depressed mum thing? If the face that comes towards you as a baby is sometimes the mummy you know and sometimes seems like someone else, absent or malign, then mightn’t that confusion last a lifetime?”
“Oooh, that’s good,” smiled my friend, mulling over the idea.
“You probably just hate all women,” I suggested.
“I think that may once have been true,”…