Once upon a time, I read a lot of psychoanalysis. I liked especially a form of it called “object relations.” The basic idea is pretty simple; one’s mental health is in part dependent on one’s ability to form strong and stable relations with one’s objects. An object might, for example, be another person, like one’s mother or father, or it might even be an object: like a car. These relations stabilize us in the ongoing flux of experience.
One object relations theorist, the great D.W. Winnicott, wrote about the “mind object” or the mind as object. Took me a while to figure that out because, while most of the objects we attach to are outside us, in some sense, the mind seems to me something inside me. Or maybe I couldn’t figure it out because I didn’t like what he seemed to be saying. Some people, more than others, take their mind as an object. For example, he wonders about people who think about such things as: if a tree falls in the forest and nobody is there to hear it, does it make a sound. I am such a person. I find it hard to believe that there are people who have not taken this question seriously. I am consternated when I think about that. Even though I know many people couldn’t give a hoot about such a question. And many people haven’t even heard this question and have no opinion on it, consequently, whatsoever.
So I am heavily invested, perhaps even over invested, in my mind object. But then I have never claimed to be balanced. It’s just that at this point in my life I find myself more and more troubled by the state of my mind. It ain’t what it used to be. I can’t concentrate all that much anymore, and I forget all sorts of things. And I just can’t “cognate” like I used to. When I was teaching, I would read something, think about it, and write up a whole lecture in my head. I didn’t usually use this lecture, but it was there, if I needed it, but not anymore. I can’t do that. And I used to have some fun at it—at putting those thoughts together in some coherent form—and now that source of fun is gone.
When my mind object was working, I could be my own best company. Now I am rotten company because my mind isn’t working. I start trying to think something and I forget what I am doing. “Words, words, words,” I think. And they don’t add up to anything. I just read an article about how stress can cause the brain to shrink. I think maybe my mind object is shrinking….