Psychic Death and Me

So my bartender and I spent part of the session shooting the breeze about the election. My bartender always starts with an ice breaker of this type before he drills down into the nitty-gritty, I think to get a bead on my actual emotional/mental state. Anyways, along the way we talked about psychic death.

In one of the Writewell Academy lectures, Jennifer Crusie talks about what a protagonist (or antagonist, for that matter) wants should be something that, if they don’t obtain it, will cause them to die a psychic death. By which she means the destruction of one or more core identities of a person.

For instance, my core identity for a very long time was that of my company. Because they rescued me from a life of running from my parents, I treated them as a sort of family and protector. Worked for quite a few years in the motivation department—and then it all went to hell when I could no longer handle the on-call. Or rather, it was descending gradually into hell, I was just in denial about it for so long because, well, identity with company.

Now I no longer have that identity. It crumbled away in emotional fire and torment, and now I think know what she means by “psychic death”. It’s sure not fun, but in the end I think I’m a stronger person for it—more independent, less inclined to cringe in favor of my company.

Death is the door to new beginnings. Well, at least the metaphorical kind of death. Jury’s still out on the physical kind, at least for me.

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2 thoughts on “Psychic Death and Me

  1. I like to think of that kind of thing as a metamorphosis, like with butterflies: not death, but a state change. This is partly because death is scary and absolute, and partly because the preparation for metamorphosis involves the caterpillar, in the cocoon, melting into a puddle before reforming. Sometimes when I feel like I’m having a meltdown it helps to remember that melting down can be a constructive thing.

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