The Kitten that Was Both Dead and Alive

Repressed or altered memories do tend to lie at the root of much neurosis.


I remember a time sitting at home with my family as a child. I was half listening to my mother nagging my father. On and on she went, until suddenly my father, exploded. I don’t mean he literally exploded, with blood and guts everywhere, no, he just snapped and exploded with rage. The problem was, he had a kitten in his lap at the time. He chose to throw this kitten (a little fluffy black thing) across the room. The kitten travelled the whole length of the lounge and landed amongst the curtains. They were green velvet I seem to remember. 

Silence seemed to fill the room . . .

as everyone (myself, three sisters and mother) struggled to process what had just happened. After a moment I jumped up, retrieved an unhurt kitten, (thankfully) and ran up to my room with it in my arms. This is how I remember things although the reality could be very different. * The kitten could have gone through the window, or have been splattered up the wall, who knows? How we remember traumatic events can be distorted by the mind as a means of protecting itself.

Why, you might now ask . . . 

are you currently thinking about, and recounting, this past experience? Well the truth is, it was whilst sitting with my eyes closed, seeking to clear my mind, when I started thinking about what life would be like, without any kind of stimulation. In other words I’m asking: how would we cope if we simply did nothing? How would it be if we just sat and did absolutely nothing? I suppose I’m thinking about how it would be to just sit in solitary confinement, in a room with no view, no books, phones, TV or any kind of stimulation at all. How does the human mind cope with this? 

It’s a certain fact . . . 

that in order to avoid madness, the mind would begin to shut out the external world and drift off into fantasy. The power of imagination would begin to build. In addition to this, it’s quite possible that the periods of time the mind spent coping with no stimulation whatsoever, would lengthen. The periods of blankness would grow. Either this or complete madness I’m sure.

Anyway, this was what I was thinking about when the memory I’ve shared with you surfaced. As someone who worked as an analyst for many years I clearly understand the reasons for this. What prompted it to surface was a similarity between now and then. I could have been stroking a kitten, for example, where as in actual fact, I was pondering on there being nothing to look at out of my lounge window. Bit odd admittedly. 

You see the thing is . . . 

when sitting at home as a child, there was also nothing to look at out of the window, unless you physically got up, and took a look. Another important link is an emotional one; I’ve felt both aggrieved and angry over the past twelve hours or so. Both these emotions were experienced during the traumatic event forty years ago. So we have an emotional link and a physical similarity.

Fortunately for me, and potentially you also now, I’m able to work through this memory and finish some unfinished business; the reason it surfaced is because it’s unfinished. Incidentally, most times, in order to fill in any gaps or repressed memory, we do need to encourage the mind to reveal more. 

Now, I’ll start by asking . . . 

what would cause a grown man, or anyone for that matter, to throw a kitten across a room? Remember he potentially doesn’t know of the consequences to such a reckless act. Would there be anger and rage? I suppose there would, yet what also strikes me now is, IT WAS A FUCKING KITTEN! No amount of anger or rage (whatever you want to call it) would cause me to do this. It is, when you think of it, extraordinary. Because of this, I’m also now aware of the consequences on my mind as a child, and now: confusion.

It remains confusing. In order to clear this up, we must firstly ease the confusion; we do this by understanding it, and secondly, we must seek to soothe the child within the mind. 

So let us continue. It could be that my father forgot he had a kitten in his lap and wasn’t fully awake whilst listening to my mothers nagging. So when he exploded, he just unthinkingly threw what was in his hand, at the time. Another explanation is that he knew throwing the kitten into the curtains would not hurt it and his actions were – an admittedly rather odd – means of stopping the nagging. The one that works best for me though is this: The balance of his mind was disturbed. My father was not of sane mind. He was, and still is, insane. A lack of stimulation will do that to a man I’m sure. 

To finish . . . 

my inner child can be conjured up easily in my mind. It’s very easy for me to sit with him now, stroking the kitten, listening to it purr, as I help him understand the difficulties he faces, living with such a level of insanity, in his household. I explain how he must distance himself from it in order to protect his mind. I teach him techniques in how to achieve this end. My mother was also quite unbalances much of the time and so he must now also understand how to deal with this. In particular, this relates to hearing her screaming, insane voice, as tinnitus in my head. I’ve learnt that this stops during feelings of certainty that my life’s plan is working and I have purpose. My father never had sufficient imagination for this, as such, my mother screamed in exasperation. 

With that now done, my meditation becomes much, much easier. Be well guys and finish that unfinished business now. 

A nights sleep has awarded me the insight that it is unlikely the kitten either ‘splattered’ up the wall or went through a window (not heavy enough). It is worth bearing in mind though, that the force of throwing a kitten, what was some considerable distance, is likely to have broken bones, quite possibly the animals neck.

My mind, in its wisdom, is very likely to of protected me, at such a tender age, by changing how the event was remember. I have experienced this with one particular client in the past who had remembered an incident one way, only to recall a completely different version of events, as an adult, undergoing analysis. Incidentally, understanding and working through the changed version, had the effect of removing a lot of conflict and confusion from my clients mind.

Repressed or altered memories do tend to lie at the root of much neurosis. For me, accepting that the kitten may well have died (and then imaginatively working with my inner child to deal with this, perhaps by giving it a funeral) helps me to distance myself from any anger I’m likely to feel when confused in the future. Indeed, it stands to reason, that confusion over the behaviour of other people, (my neurosis) is less likely to be an issue for me, in the future.

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