Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Burn Out

Monday, July 14, 2014 - 4:35 p.m. - in the mill

Despite my attachment to stuff, my claimed materialism, a double life would have allowed me to become a primatologist, or behavior specialist, or anthropologist, ethnologist perhaps. Life in all its forms is fascinating, ultimately it is what I am passionate about, in the matter I look for it.
My readings regularly orient towards these subjects, Social Sciences and Humanities in the broadest sense, I dig with delight and bulimia most often in these matters too. My training as a nurse completed my knowledge, directing them to the Care and research on what makes the characteristics of humankind. Recently reading an essay by Frans de Waal, The Age of Empathy, my questions about how we solve the confrontation with suffering, find partially answer.
Ambient aggressiveness of our societies raises me questioning. My job as a nurse brings me to move permanently in the urban stream, I am exposed to human interactions, I see them or myself am an actress. Several times a day, the penetration in the privacy of patients in their homes, in their shelters, is unavoidable to perform my care. We see twenty patients a day, some of them are care for several years, others occasionally, we have on average two or three non-regular and new patients per week whose duration of treatment varies from a single visit to a daily passage during one, two, sometimes six months. The universe in which I enter are different such as identities, the antithesis of each other more often.
Why is  the aggressiveness  a so frequent response to suffering? By dint of observations, one recognizes several ways to manage great pains, moral or physical (usually they are accompanied). Besides this aggressiveness manner of dilution wich has the disadvantage of hitting around itself to diverse and varying degrees , selfdestruction is at least as common.
Destroying only oneself in appearance , it certainly limits agressiveness discharges , but what weighs on others because of this progressive destruction of the person is frightening because the ultimate answer to that paroxysmal pain is a suicide, with small fire or large.
Other ways, anesthésia drug or symbolic , ensure to dry the source, analgesics containing more or lower doses, powerfull sedatives, to refuse any sensorial solicitation, close the curtains, curl up under the duvet, falling asleep or get in catatonia, swallow a dose of lethargy, narcotics regressions, multi television daily screenings extended, whatever the way to escape from this exact opposite direction of which is extreme pain ... Some paths require original motivation, the most often unconscious, necessarily: sublimation, creative bend, visual contemplation, hearing or intellectual, frenzy work, learn, fill, escape, again. It's not in every case about constructions but leaks, sidelining,  distancing. Why do we borrow a solution or another, is this about ease, resources, choices, control, lucidity?
Frans de Waal demonstrates that animal survival (and human) depends on cooperation and that evolution has endowed us with emotions to strengthen it. Attachment he said, has for us incredible survival value and is constructed first by a synchronization of body, mimetic contagion that allows the transmission of mood, expresses and reinforces the links, allows the identification and self-awareness and weld the communities. See suffer someone close or with whom we cooperate hurts. A sense of compassion (a soldier hugged another in her arms), the emotions of others awaken our own emotions and induces answer.
It is to believe that nature has provided our organization with a simple behavioral rule "If you feel the suffering of others, go to it and establishes the contact."  Do good, help and relieve others, comfort him, give solace, produces pleasure. Trust allows to expose ourselves to danger in assuming that others will not profit of it, it is certainly a wonderful feeling.
Mimicry, contagion, dedication, compassion, empathy, reassurance, trust, mutual support, collaboration. His nuanced demonstration, illustrated by examples galvanized me.


During my reading, I was thinking of a painting by William Bouguereau The First Kiss. It shows two angels embraced and the kiss of the little boy to the girl child. Find this reproduction in my pictures collection was quick. I am particularly sensitive to these representations of tenderness and sweetness (earlier, they also occur in Boucher, and Louise Vigee-Lebrun). In my memory the girl showed a melancholic emotion, a mixture of sadness and anger, sulkiness, a kind of impasse turned on itself and the cherub despite this repulsive emotion seemed to have no other purpose than exit the little girl out of this state, pull her towards something else, another depth, the only answer being a feeling at least as strong as the displayed on  the kid and even that would go further than the distress since it would dare to go the look in his abyss.

I know we can not save everyone. In my job, it is important to be aware of, you can not recover your next too deep at risk of falling into precipices, Primo Levi spoke of those who had given up in Survival In Auschwitz, in the camps it would be better, to survive, to depart from them. Compassion and empathy have limits that it is dangerous to test, it happens sometimes.

Last summer, two food patrol to homeless people in the streets of Paris reminds me that empathy should remain a force, if it weakens becomes ineffective. It was a voluntary activity which the need is still unclear to me to this day . I don't have excessive naivety about the motivations that lead me to help my fellow man. My belief is that you cure yourself by curing another or believing to.
During two patrols, meet these people, mostly men, confronted me, for some, to their renunciation. A darkened part of myself, a very remote area emerges at this point for a whole lot of reasons, a unavowable part like this insecurity, this detachment, that distance. I thought of Primo Levi, what happens in your mind is the opposite of what these people need, it's not they who must attract you, but it is you who has to help them out of their condition. I did not insist, against my will, you can't be effective on all grounds.
The desire to give up has got a phenomenal power, almost pleasant aspiration, irresistible one would think, self-destructive response, not the right. I use the above mentioned methods, sublimation, contemplation, diverse and varied studies and of course work, nurse touring, 24 to 24  I know how to do that. I have kept from my youth this sentence from Montesquieu to my mind: The study was for me the sovereign remedy against dislikes of life, never having a grief that one hour of reading has removed to me. It almost always works, with the necessary concentration.
Delicate moments, homeless, end of life patients, evolving chronic and disabling diseases, compassion and empathy to the maximum, too far, where we are not supposed to go, caught up, recoilless, no more distance, we said we will accompany them to the end. Why? This is what asks around me my family, my son. Because sometimes you can not retreat, when someone gives you confidence, you do not have  the right to betray, and we are professionals. Frans de Waal explains that the effects of trust are what eventually build a society, a community, a sense of it. One does not betray the hopes of someone, a patient, a wife, their children. They asked us to be there, we went.

The limit reached, there is a balance point where several passages unlock themselves, the good and the worst, falling or victory, let it go or mobilize the last sources of energy that allow mastery, curiosity is probably the most decisive, one way or the other, we must choose a direction.
What I learned in the book and found in the reproduction of Bouguereau is the meaning of this compassion. Love is certainly not free as it seeks to bring back the same feeling in a probable goal of survival, and indeed causes it - the girl's cheeks turn pink and show his excitement, I forgot this aspect before seeing the picture. Find faith in this love is not a difficult path, nor renunciation. Understanding the reasons for its actions does not diminish the intensity of the emotion felt.
The kiss of the angel is probably not disinterested, what is important is the goal attained, looking at this painting sweetness fills me, I experience what Frans de Waal is spoken about, a contagion. See what is expressed gives me trust and faith in the human soul, in me. I found the ultimate answer to suffering, the best, the only one worthwhile, this response motivates my work, even my existence. I probably will not go back to a homeless patrol, though I really in a great desire, I can not possibly stay nurse all the time, although sometimes I feel like it too. The important thing is probably to increase choices and issues, renunciations, dilutions, sharing, compassions, contagions, tracks that I have not found I will invent them. And wanting to believe based on what everyone knows on the other, that all will end well.

myriam eyann


Frans de Waal , The Age of Empathy
The Crown publishing group, New York, 2009

I borrow from Joan Didion, in The Year of magical thinking (2005) the expressions narcotics regressions and exact opposite direction

William Bouguereau, french painter, 1825 - 1905

Le premier baiser (the first Kiss)
William Bouguereau

Here the original french sentences of
Montesquieu, French political thinker (1689 - 1755)
L'étude a été pour moi le souverain remède contre les dégoûts de la vie, n'ayant jamais eu de chagrin qu'une heure de lecture ne m'ait ôté.

About these patrols I wrote a text online here (in french only)

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