By Yvonne Poulson
Key Themes: head injury, separation from parents, dyspraxia, mania, autobiography, author born in 1929
Experiencing a car accident and suffering a head injury as a baby lead Yvonne to develop various illnesses including dyspraxia and lead her to develop the belief that she was being punished by God for being a quarter German. Only now has Yvonne managed to put all the pieces back together and come to terms with her illnesses and the trauma she had suffered. This is a strong and emotional yet influential autobiography. It has helped Yvonne put her traumas behind her, she hopes it will help somebody else to do the same.
About the Author
Yvonne Poulson was born Yvonne Forster in July 1929 in Chingford, near Epping Forest, Essex. In 1936 she was sent to a Montessori boarding school and spent her childhood moving between various schools. She got married in 1950 and became Yvonne Poulson, she has three children. In 1964 Yvonne was divorced and now lives in a sheltered housing unit for the elderly in Dulwich. She wrote her book ‘Mind Boggled’ in response to a book given to her in the street by an evangelist called, ‘You Are What You Read’. After working in theatre, print processing, graphics, art therapy and survivors poetry, Yvonne now belongs to Community Building in Britain (CBiB) and takes part in various Council Forums, she has four grandchildren and, in her spare time, paints trees. It is now accepted that her illnesses (various diagnoses) stem from her childhood injury and separation from her parents. She finds renewed hope in the Chipmunka initiative.
THE UNEXPECTED IS MINDBOGGLING AT ANY AGE?
That stifling adult construct that looks like an overwhelming horror story was the product of my child’s eye view, the unschooled eye. That eye may still be brought into service to check the sources of fear and confusion, the model of omnipotent protection, and the real likelihood of disaster. In fear and trembling it may be necessary to demolish many tried and tested devices for maintaining public order (at great expense), and my own particular illusion of security. I have written at length about my perceptions of what it is to be a human baby, child and adolescent.
I have seen how distortions arise in early experience. I am assuming it is the child who is still scared, perhaps because I had a glimpse of the world through my grandchild’s eyes again. I am about to discover that it is the ageing adult who is scared now at the return of physical dependence. I am not the only one: it is the human predicament. Many valued writers and speakers are MindBoggled by the stressful complications we have devised to tease vulnerable untrained minds.
There is still a division between those who distrust the intellect and look to feelings and intuition as a guide: and those who press forward in the belief that when we can explain and redesign everything we will ‘get it right’. I attributed basic mistakes to my malfunctioning intellect; now I discover it merely overlooked blips in a history of distorted perceptions and concepts, within and without. Most of us have made our way through shared emotional and psychological disturbances, both patients and practitioners. I intend to take on board that an accurately modelled reconstruction, the ever changing felt flow of ongoing events, and the disconcerting dance of one into and around the other, are all part of our reality.
Can I use it to manage our social relationships effectively, with more love and clearer communication? Gary Zukav makes a neat comment on reality in his book ‘The Dancing Wu Li Masters’. First he quotes Al Huang, the Tai Chi Master who created the metaphor of the Wu Li, “Sooner or later we reach a dead end when we talk”. He says, “He could as well have said that sooner or later we go round in circles when we talk as that is one kind of dead end.” (I have always thought that we go round in spirals; the next round will inevitably be in a different context) Then he says: – “Reality is what we take to be true. What we take to be true is what we believe. What we believe is based upon our perceptions. What we perceive depends upon what we look for. What we look for depends upon what we think. What we think depends upon what we perceive. What we perceive determines what we believe. What we believe determines what we take to be true. What we take to be true is our reality.”
This summarises the processes that have caused me so much difficulty as I have worked my way through so many unrealistic expectations all round. It does also occur to me increasingly frequently that my anger and horrors about the ECT and its effect on my memory is another of those paradoxical experiences in which, if both pre ECT and post ECT states had been talked about and worked on it could have been converted into a blessing. I now want to bring the convulsion driven, anxious, rigid semi-person together with the flaccid recluse stuck in her head in the hope we can be either or both people at will according to the demands of the occasion. It is very peaceful to be free of the threat of (or perhaps temptation to invite) induced convulsion if I let my coping procedures lapse for too long.
The sense of purpose that threat conferred was illusory, unless escaping the threat of punishment is a valid motive? ECT punishment is man’s idea, inflicted whether or no any external spiritual influence has any part in its administration. Therefore the childhood Bogey has lost its mystical quality, along with any possibility of it being a helper in disguise; unless, of course, punishment and convalescence are recreated from the union of shock and peace into the kind of personalised friends a child imagines. Talk treatments usually explain psychological mechanisms but seldom give access to the emotional states that gave rise to them. Whenever memory of a spiritual high, however ill founded, shines into the landscape I am reminded that in my old age I almost long to be MindBoggled again. The thought of being sucked into a state in which I am not responsible for myself, and am taken over, now speaks of liberation rather than the possession I feared when younger. But that is because I no longer believe there is ‘somewhere else’; or a lost part of myself that can create an alternative way of life: therefore whoever tells me they can cope with things the way they are – and the many different ideas about ‘what is’ – offers respite to a weary wanderer. One of the ‘therapies’ I bumped into was polarity therapy. I did not study the theory as I sensed another knot approaching, but I observed it in progress and saw this ‘either/or’ opposition played out as if in an intimate relationship.
At that time I could not imagine any resolution; it seemed like a very good way to get a client hooked and dependent, as did psychoanalysis and counselling. I had not then encountered addictions and twelve step groups. I was so fearful of dependence I could not differentiate between dependence on and enabling by professionals, friends, or spiritual disciplines. I am still unsure how trust and interdependence works, how it is to be won, and how it can be protected from abuse. There is not much time left! Do you get the feeling we have come full circle in the concept of sickness and healing? It is one spectrum with radiance at one pole, and the dying of the light at the other. OK, so it’s a cop out if I don’t know how to operate on an inflamed appendix, mend a broken bone or reconnect a severed nerve.
Even so, those skills do not deal with the aftermath of loss of function, invasion, and the recurrence of powerlessness; any nurse knows that. Nurses and specialists aren’t exclusively Radiant; practitioners can be drawn towards the dying pole by weariness, poor practices and ignorant suspicion. Many touch techniques carry pleasurable human contact as well as manipulation of energy currents and patterns (see Acupuncture, Shiatsu and Reiki): control of breath and balance increases awareness and sensitivity (Yoga & Tai Chi), Reflexology uses neural connections via the feet, Indian head massage via head and ears, and floating in salt water works for some people. Drumming, singing and dancing grace both parties and wakes; and costumes of every kind are part of childhood play and adult celebration.