“To enter the world of a child (or a cat) the least you must do is sit down on the ground without interrupting the child in whatever he is doing, and wait for him to notice you. It will then be the child who makes contact with you, and you (being older, and I hope not older in vain) with your higher intelligence will be able to understand his needs and his interests, which are by no means confined to the bottle and the potty. He is trying to understand the world he is living in, he is groping his way ahead from one experience to the next, always curious and wanting to know everything.”more info
source: Design as Art (New York: Penguin Modern Classics, 2008), 93.
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“One day when I got home at Fourteen Wright Street, Judy opened the door and looked so stricken that I said, ‘Judy, what’s happened? Has Tom Jones died?’ That was our cat. She said, ‘No, but Volta Hall has had a heart attack and died.’ I suppose this is one of the most terrifying blows life has to offer: when your psychiatrist disappears. Within the next two days I wrote an elegy for Volta Hall which is in the Collected Poems and in which the repeated line is, ‘Now the long lucid listening is done.’ I sent this to his widow with a bunch of violets. There was no reply. I thought perhaps there is an unwritten rule that the wife of a psychiatrist does not make contact with a patient even after he himself has died. So I thought no more about it. About ten years later I had a note from her asking if she could come to see me. She came and told me that I would never know what that poem had meant, that she could give it to her children so they could see what her husband and their father had been for so many patients and what he was in himself. She also came—and this touched me deeply—to ask my blessing on her remarriage, as though I was speaking, in a way, for Volta. ‘Of course,’ I said, ‘that’s what he would want.’
You never know, when you send out a bird with an olive branch in its beak, whether it will come back or not.”
source: Encore: A Journal of the Eightieth Year (New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1993), 130–31.
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“The continue to deny the significance of barely perceptible childhood abuses was to manifest the same robust and foolhardy common sense which had once led our ancestors to scoff at the notion that there might be deadly colonies of microorganisms thriving in drops of saliva no larger than pinheads.”more info
source: The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work (New York: Pantheon, 2009), 122.
“Therapy, you might say, became a kind of release valve for my life; it gave me a place to say the things I could say nowhere else, express the feelings that would be laughed at or frowned upon in the outside world — and in so doing helped to alleviate the insistent pressure of my darker thoughts.”more info
source: “My Life in Therapy,” The New York Times, August 4, 2010.
medium: magazine article
“If people were to bring their marriages in for a checkup on an annual basis, would that provide the same sort of benefit that a physical health checkup would provide?”more info
source: “Seeking to Pre-empt Marital Strife,” by Tara Parker-Pope, Well Blog, The New York Times, June 28, 2010.
“Happiness is not something that happens. It is not the result of good fortune or random chance. It is not something that money can buy or power command. It does not depend on outside events, but, rather, on how we interpret them. Happiness, in fact, is a condition that must be prepared for, cultivated, and defended privately by each person. People who learn to control inner experience will be able to determine the quality of their lives, which is as close as any of us can come to being happy.”more info
source: Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience (New York: Harper Perennial, 2008), 2.
medium: nonfiction (psychology/self-help)
“Psycho-therapy is rather amazing—something like stirring up the bottom of an aquarium—chunks of the past coming up at unfamiliar angles, distinct and then indistinct.”more info
source: letter to Elizabeth Bishop, dated November 18, 1949, in Words in Air: The Complete Correspondence Between Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010), 92.
“I put my faith in therapy as others do in religion, or philosophy.”more info
source: The Diary of Anaïs Nin (Vol 7, 1966–1974) (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1980), 175.
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notes: Nin wrote these words in a letter to a reader in winter 1970–1971
“Analogies, it is true, decide nothing, but they can make one feel more at home.”more info
source: “The Dissection of the Psychical Personality,” New Introductory Lectures on Psycho-Analysis (New York: W. W. Norton, 1965), 90.
“If psychoanalysis is going to divest me of all decoration, costume, adornment, flavor, characteristic, then what will be left?”more info
source: The Diary of Anaïs Nin (Vol. 1 1931–1934) (New York: The Swallow Press, 1966), 119.
“I should add…that just as it is important to avoid trivial conversation, it is important to avoid bad company. By bad company I do not refer only to people who are vicious and destructive; one should avoid their company because their orbit is poisonous and depressing. I mean also the company of zombies, of people whose soul is dead, although their body is alive, of people whose thoughts and conversation are trivial; who chatter instead of talk, and who assert cliché opinions instead of thinking.”more info
source: The Art of Loving (New York: Perennial Library, 1974), 95–96.
“To get up at a regular hour, to devote a regular amount of time during the day to activities such as meditating, reading, listening to music, walking; not to indulge, at least not beyond a certain minimum, in escapist activities like mystery stories and movies, not to overeat or overdrink are some obvious and rudimentary rules. It is essential, however, that discipline should not be practiced like a rule imposed on oneself from the outside, but that it becomes an expression of one’s own will; that it is felt as pleasant, and that one slowly accustoms oneself to a kind of behavior which one would eventually miss, if one stopped practicing it.”more info