The original wisdom of Gregory Bateson

Way back in my early 20s, when my children suffered from their decidedly ambivalent mother, I came across Gregory Bateson’s phrase, “double bind.” Actually, I’m not sure it was his original phrase, but the example he used to illustrate the concept riveted me. Imagine, he said (and I paraphrase), a mother who verbally invites her child to come into her arms, even holds her arms out to receive his little body; but her own body is instinctively stealing itself against contact, drawing away.

That is exactly how I felt when my children were small. Of course, I hated feeling that way, and felt horribly guilty. Not until I was in my late 30s did I even begin the process of healing that division within myself — by learning how to mother “Orphan Annie” first. (Not that I “blame” my own mother for not being able to mother me. She couldn’t. She was paralyzed by fear as a (temporary) “war widow” during World War II.) And not until I was 45 years old, did my grown sons and I get back together — or maybe I should say, did we begin the process of getting together in full for the very first time. Our healing journey continues.

Yes, in my youth, I was a living suffering example of Gregory Bateson’s wise comment:


Even now, at 72, remnants of this internal division remain. I find intimacy difficult. Charles Eisenstein is right: Just like oligarchs at every level, I tend to want to control people.

Here’s a trailer. This is one movie I’m going to watch in full.

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