Ian Weinberg in Writers, Human Resources Professionals, English Developer and facilitator of neuromodulation program. Practicing neurosurgeon. • Netcare Linksfield Hospital Nov 28, 2018 · 4 min read · 2.0K

Harry, Sally and Fay

Harry, Sally and Fay

We are, each one of us, the products of our nurture environments and the narrative which followed thereafter. I would suggest that the way each of us perceives ourselves determines how we relate to others and to the environment. In support of this suggestion, I invite you to explore the life narrative of three individuals.

Harry the Heavy

Harry was born to parents who were distracted by the need to be accepted and praised by their environment. The result was that mom who was the primary caregiver, was not always immediately available for Harry’s needs. Harry’s inborn needs included feeds to appease hunger and a consequent descent in blood glucose levels, as well as a frequent hug and rub. When deprived of these needs, Harry was left hanging out in the wilderness. Fearful, Harry would need to muster some appropriate behavior in order to attract mom’s attention and have his needs met. Ultimately this was forthcoming, albeit with the required amount of application and effort. Harry’s early narrative therefore incorporated the perception that life is tough. But you get rewarded if you put your shoulder to the wheel. Additionally and as important, your needs will only be met if you’re recognized.

In time Harry the kid would morph into Harry the Heavy. And predictably, Harry the Heavy would imbibe all the same traits: Harry would pursue his needs with an insatiable appetite. Harry would need to be recognized, respected and adored in all situations to ensure that Harry’s needs were promptly met. Any obstacle in the way of Harry’s pursuit would be aggressively dealt with. Obviously Harry would not just be insensitive to the needs of others, he would actually be unaware that others had any needs! Harry would be driven by the call sign – What’s; In; It; For; Me.

Strange as it may seem, Harry would perceive himself as a fearful individual that risked being ignored and having needs left wanting. Consequently Harry’s authentic view of himself would reflect how others reacted to him. Thus if others recognized and respected him, Harry would feel good about himself. Likewise if Harry received rewards and accolades, he would feel safe with renewed optimism. But if he was disliked or challenged, Harry would become angry with Harry (and with the world) and in extreme cases, would become self-destructive and ultimately ineffective. It is true to say that Harry’s entire perception would be filtered through the narrow aperture of Harry’s needs.

Sally the Sufferer

Sally was born to a mom who was either totally preoccupied with surviving or wracked with personal suffering (or both) to the extent that much of Sally’s needs were not even perceived, let alone appeased. Thus not only did Sally experience the pain of real hunger, Sally was also left wanting for any demonstrable gesture of warmth and love. In spite of all her efforts to gain recognition for her needs, she remained severely deprived. Consequently Sally’s early narrative incorporated the belief that it was futile to expect the experience of any meaningful appeasement of needs and gratification no matter how much energy was expended in seeking recognition. It was inevitable that Sally would perceive the environment as a hostile and uncaring place. She was low on hopefulness and distrusted the environment that had abandoned her. As a result of her extreme deprivation Sally believed that she was less important than others and so developed a compromised self-esteem. In order to survive these trauma’s Sally was forced to suppress her emotions of suffering. Ultimately most of her emotions were suppressed.

On occasions when Sally observed others apparently having fun and enjoying life, she began to question why others were favored while she was left to suffer. This would sow the seeds for the possibility of vengeful hostility in which she would experience some personal gratification when observing the suffering of others.

To obtain some degree of personal gratification Sally would amuse herself alone with items in her immediate environment. On occasions she would form imaginary relationships with creations of her own imagination. In extreme situations Sally would live most of her life in Sally’s virtual world. In the virtual compensatory world Sally would sometimes spend hours reading, writing, painting or engaging with musical instruments if these were available. The result was that Sally would develop talents.

Eventually Sally would mature into an ever-suffering adult. She would venture through life with a feeling of anhedonia (the inability to experience happiness), hopeless-helplessness and distrust. The combination of distrust and the intrinsic suppression of emotions would preclude Sally from forming meaningful relationships. Self-esteem issues would always plague Sally such that loneliness would be a frequent accompaniment. Sally still lived in her imaginary world with all her virtual friends. She often spoke to them, especially about her sadness and pain.

If Sally had developed talents, these would provide a degree of compensation in terms of gratification. However due to her compromised self-esteem, Sally would never recognize her talents as having any value.

Irrespective of how the environment perceived her, it was Sally’s perception that she was less important and less valued than others. That it was her lot to suffer and /or to serve the needs of others who were more important or more valued than her. Her distrust was such that she would not expose her feelings to others for fear of being hurt. She was however very sensitive to the hurt and pain in other sufferers.

There was however also a dark side to Sally. It was related to an old question which she posed in her early childhood: 'Why should I be the only one to suffer?' Flowing from this Sally on occasions experienced some gratification on witnessing the suffering of others, more especially in those who had been unkind to her. In extreme situations Sally would contribute to an eventual unfortunate consequence in these individuals. It could also be said that Sally often found herself in a caregiver capacity not only because she was sensitive to the suffering in others but also because she derived some gratification in the recognition that others were suffering more than her. But she was also drawn to the caregiver role out of a sense of guilt that others were suffering more than she was.

Fay the Facilitator

Fay was born to a caregiver who promptly took care of her needs. There was more than adequate nurture and caring such that Fay’s needs were never an issue. As a consequence, Fay was free to engage with her world in an expansive way. The engagement led to a lively curiosity which further spurred on her engagement. Fay developed an appreciation for the way things were as well as an awareness born out of a non-judgemental sensitivity to the way of things. Ultimately this would give rise to confidence and trust.

Fay would evolve into an adult and carry these traits to fruition. Her engagement with the extended environment would be characterized by one born out of a non-judgemental sensitivity to the essence of individual entities. This would translate into a greater awareness of the environment and non-judgemental inclusiveness. Fay derived personal gratification from expanding her own engagement and subsequent enhanced clarity as well as from mentoring others in order to enhance their respective clarity and sensitivity.

Fay recognized the need to exercise an initiative when required, in order to realize her aspirations. She did not however require reward or achievement as an endorsement of her own self-worth. Her contributions were directed to the whole and secondarily derived gratification from the successful collective rather than from a self-interest based initiative in which she would derive personal gratification at the expense of others.

Fay perceived herself as a facilitator and mentor who was ever curious. A self-confident individual she was driven to contribute value - to make things better than they were before she engaged with them. She remained both inspired and an inspiration, deriving gratification from an evolving self and environment.

If truth be told, we’ve all got varying proportions of Harry, Sally and Fay in our individual subjectivity. There are those in whom the predominant traits are clearly identifiable and hence the Harry, Sally or Fay in their subjectivity become apparent. But having said this, there are also specific events and situations in the course of life where prevailing factors may elicit the Harry, Sally or Fay traits within us.

Obviously there are those traits which predispose to personal gratification and success while others detract from this. It raises the question of intervention and change and indeed the capacity for change. Suffice to say that the capacity for change is a direct reflection of that potential within our subjectivity together with the degree of dis-ease that we experience on engaging with the extended environment.

Copyright reserved – Ian Weinberg 2018

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Praveen Raj Gullepalli Dec 1, 2018 · #27

#25 Dear Doc, the objectified concept of Heaven and Hell, which is actually more of an account of matters good and bad / right or wrong kept by the Observer - is a common phenomena across many faiths over the world. I have personally come to believe that the Observer in us is who judges ultimately as our entire life rewinds internally on the mindscreen before shutdown. It is that Overself/Overmind/Observer/Eternal Witness who decides the next life according to the balance of deeds and outcomes.

Of course there are many in the recent part of our present civilisation who do not believe in reincarnation, but most of us here in this country do. An interesting perspective all said :)

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Ken Boddie Dec 1, 2018 · #26

#21 Understandable, Ian, that not only your age, but I suspect your profession, should make you ‘oldies’ risk averse (and I speak from the personal experience of being more conservative as the decades roll by). After all we all know that you medics have to bury your mistakes. 🤣
Perhaps the more life throws at us, and the more confronted we are with the consequences of our past errors and even flippancies, the more conservative we become? I know that when I was practicing project management (rather than following my present more relaxed teaching, mentoring and system improvement role) I would often solicit younger staff members to initiate proposal and tendering submissions as a sure way to reduce the price and increase the chances of winning competitive jobs. Often our various negatives experiences across the decades can produce a plethora of ‘what ifs’ and can hence negatively impact our risk management.

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Ian Weinberg Nov 30, 2018 · #25

#24 Praveen, you referred in one of your comments to the 'observer' (it was in one of my other uploads). I recall having written about this concept in the past but it seems to have gotten lost in process. I think it's a very important and profound concept. We all develop an awareness of self and of the environment and while we as subjective beings become distorted in our perception due to our limiting beliefs, linked fragments of objectivity play to us in the background as a running commentary. This I believe is the 'observer' - quietly sitting upon our shoulder incorporating the footnotes of all that has been experienced. Ultimately, if we become brutally honest with ourselves, we allow the 'observer' to become our mentor as we continue to live out our subjectivity - with the possibility of the information contained in the 'observer' becoming integrated with our subjectivity and 'objectifying' it.

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Praveen Raj Gullepalli Nov 30, 2018 · #24

#22 Thank you for reminding us of that aspect Doc. I wanted to mention those ''moments'' but honestly lost it in the flow.

Those ''Zen'' or ''Bardo'' moments for sure yes. But what struck me first - and what I wanted to also mention - were those insidious, stealthy, unusual prompts - whether visual, auditory, sensory, olfactory - thrust upon us unexpectedly, that tend to stay with us seemingly forever, having re-conditioned/reprogrammed us into fear, loathing, lust, or disgust, in a fleeting moment. But the ramifications can be felt through life's key moments, swaying our decisions and affecting our choices. Only a lasting and positive subsequent Bardo / Zen experience or two have the power to overwrite / change these value precedents.

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Ian Weinberg Nov 30, 2018 · #23

#18 Valid stuff @Randall Burns and I agree. There's always exceptions to the rules. One example that comes to mind was a real life occurrence where a kid from a great nurture background inherited a real monster of a pre-grade teacher who assured little Johnny that he was useless and wouldn't amount to anything in life. Johnny grew up with a seriously compromised self-esteem and it was only in later psycho-analysis that the memory of the teacher was de-suppressed into consciousness (had been hitherto suppressed due to its toxicity). This example was referenced when I did an NLP course several years ago. Also, a study done on the emotions of identical twins (fMRI study done by one of my buddies in Toronto) showed radically differing levels of anxiety between the first and second born twins. One of the theories proposed was that after the first was born, the twin awaiting birth received a bolus of cortisol from a stressed mom which sensitized the amygdala of the twin setting up the scene for later anxiety!

Ian Weinberg Nov 30, 2018 · #22

#20 This is a most valuable review of the subject @Praveen Raj Gullepalli and I thank you. I guess there's one more element that should be mentioned (if it hasn't already been stated or implied) and that is that a sudden, unexpected event or series of fortuitous events resulting in a 'shock and awe' rapture and change. While it could still be argued that the effect of such an environmental prompt would still require the receptivity in personal subjectivity, a really dramatic event may well act as a heated crucible, breaking down old beliefs and forging new one's - a kind of intense, instantaneous and comprehensive neuroplasticity!

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Ian Weinberg Nov 30, 2018 · #21

#19 That's an interesting point @Ken Boddie I was introflecting with some aging surgical colleagues (we're all at about the same age of immaturity!) . At this stage of the game we all tend to stay within our comfort zones/safe space. It's not only that we're risk averse but the thought of being put out and inconvenienced by any untoward consequence keeps us very much in safe predictable territory. The result is that we are far less inclined to start doing a new procedure or change how we do current procedures at this stage. I guess that this could be interpreted as increasing inertia against change/progress. Having said that, If I were my own patient to be operated on by me I would choose the procedure that I'm most familiar and experienced with and have the most confidence in, rather than apply some new high tech approach.

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Praveen Raj Gullepalli Nov 30, 2018 · #20

True Doc. The early formative years hold the key to the future. Apathy, cruelty, poverty, neglect...all play a key role in the shaping of the mould/character. Like Thomas Hardy contends through some of his characters - Character is Destiny.

But there is still something deeper that escapes the attention of the objective seekers of truth who fail to acknowledge intuition and congenital affinity. That's another story altogether anyway.

As Jack indicated, environment is a great contributor - it is like the second skin that envelopes the primary conditioning layer. As Gert hints there definitely is something that is passed on - the code to creating the hardware environment is what i think it is. 'Trading Places' mentioned by Randy is an unforgettable movie indeed with some highly entertaining role exchange drama in it. Ken mentioned the desire to change. There is potential to change in a healthy person (prolonged addiction to any mind altering/mood altering substance destroys neural pathways for good), IF he or she really wants to or is receptive to it.

Coming to prenatal conditioning Doc, a lot of folks believe that exposing the growing baby to soothing uplifting classical music, complex mantras and intonation of literature, even different languages, with the Mother maintaining composure throughout (and not having to go through traumatic situations) and consuming wholesome natural foods - would help deliver highly intelligent and cognitive children. Only time will tell :)

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