Hiding and Seeking

I’m not done yet with referencing articles about psychological treatments. This time I will be quoting an article from June 30th. In this article, the therapist argues that many times a patient’s trauma stems from generations of family members having been mistreated. To a great extent this psychologist hesitates to condemn any parent because of the way he or she treats their children. They may simply be carrying on the patterns of horrible parenting they were subjected to as children.

Although I have some trouble exonerating parents entirely, and we would certainly have to know whether they themselves had similarly bad parenting, this position sounds very close to the damage that occurs in families where alcoholism or abuse of all kinds can be traced back for generations. It’s well accepted that children learn patterns of behavior by what they experience in the home, and that genetic traits are hard to fight.

According to this article, a mother’s behavior toward her child that includes shaming may be an indication that she was once shamed by her parents. Oddly enough, the one thing the mother and child share is the shaming they’ve both suffered through. But that does not bring them together in any way.

The reason this therapist refers to the game of hide and seek is that children may hide their feelings yet wish to have them uncovered. If no one tries to unearth what those feelings are, the children are apt to withdraw in the belief that no one cares. According to this therapist, “we all need to hide sometimes. We need to go into the private space of our mind and take measure of our thoughts. We need to enter this space so we can reflect. And then, having done so, we long to be discovered by someone who’s looking, someone who really wants to find us. If we never have our feelings known and accepted by the people who are important to us, then hiding is no game; it’s a way of life.

It is “‘joy to be hidden,’ the pediatrician and psychoanalyst D.W. Winnicott once wrote, ‘but disaster not to be found.’” (Yes, D. W. Winnicott again.)

What this article leads me to think is that even as an adult, we want someone to seek to determine what our feelings and inner thoughts are, and when that doesn’t happen, we withdraw again. In the case of Martin Ellingham (or Louisa, for that matter), childhood has inclined him to be protective of his inner thoughts and feelings. Now that he’s married, he continues to safeguard himself even though he would really like to know that his feelings are important enough for someone to want to draw them out.

That is the dilemma for Louisa. How much pressure should anyone put on a spouse to share his/her inner thoughts? How hard is it to drop one’s own protective barriers and express those innermost feelings, perhaps leaving oneself exposed or probing too deeply into one’s partner’s emotions?

Originally posted 2015-07-17 11:11:07.

7 thoughts on “Hiding and Seeking

  1. Santa Traugott

    There’s a very telling moment in S5E1 that illustrates Louisa’s dilemma in this respect. When Martin learns of Joan’s death, he is clearly stunned. Many have taken issue with Louisa’s interaction with Martin here: basically, she makes no move to bridge the physical distance between them, but just simply says, “Oh, Martin, I’m so sorry.” People seem to think that she should have rushed over to hug him or comfort him. My take on this has always been that she knows intuitively that Martin needs that space, that he would shrink away from any such gesture on Louisa’s part. He is, to me anyway, quite literally giving off signals that say, don’t make this worse for me by getting emotional.

    But this article suggests that perhaps Martin would have been grateful to have been pressed a little more to share his emotional reactions — if done carefully enough, with respect for his need to open on his own schedule.

    I guess one could also make the case that she didn’t get the balance right in S6, where she might well have averted the crisis between them by appropriate probing about what was going on with him.

    BTW, and FWIW, my experience has definitely been that childhood abuse and neglect resounds through the generations. Badly parented people have difficulty meeting the emotional needs of their children, or worse, expect their children to meet their emotional needs. It’s easy to be angry with abusive parents, but one has to be able to see the wounded child inside, in order to make any progress at all.

  2. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    I am with you again on the way Louisa reacts to Martin upon hearing of Joan’s death. She can certainly tell that he is emotional but she is in the difficult position of having Penhale there and of just having gotten back from the hospital with the baby. Their relationship is still rocky at this point and she has to be operating on tenterhooks. He offered to drive her home, but he wasn’t the nicest about her job or the baby’s name. Now they’re at her house and stunned by the news. Both of them are upset and Penhale is babbling on. At least she tells Joe they’ll let him know if they need him, and he leaves.

    I think there’s a much stronger case to be made about her wilingness to probe more in S6. At that point they’ve been together longer and have decided to marry after several months following the expressions of love once they retrieved JH. She can see Martin is deteriorating. I have to guess they chose to have Louisa illustrate her own limitations when it comes to being married. As you know, I think they took the whole situation down a darker path than necessary or than was consistent with the show. Her behavior is no better than his in that regard. They both are hard to reach by the end of S6 and could use a sign of concern from someone who cares. For Martin Ruth is a good person to turn to. She may be the only one Louisa has too.

  3. Linda D.

    I have wondered if Martin’s mother came from a traumatic background. She seems to have chosen a man who had questionable morals and habits and when she felt him slipping away from their marriage, she chose to blame her only child for the problems. He was a cad who treated her abysmally and clearly had no interest in wither his wife or his son. I have trouble understanding how any mother could treat her own flesh and blood so badly but we know that it happens frequently. We wish for the cycle to be broken but it rarely happens. Both Martin and Louisa BOTH had a troubling relationship with parents and as a result, have a tough time giving each other what they need to heal and move forward. Her anger and frustration with his inability to share his feelings cloud her ability to see what he needs most and to give it to him. He is so messed up in his own head, that he can’t offer her anything, even though he regrets his non-action after the fact.

  4. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Although I doubt Margaret’s childhood was ever a part of her character’s backstory, we are speculating that a woman who is such a poor parent may have been a product of poor parenting herself. It’s one of those ideas we just float out here for our own enjoyment from proposing ideas.

    Until S6 the frequent miscommunications between Martin and Louisa were great sources of humor. When they were laden with heavy baggage, the relationship suffered and so did the humor. I’m glad to read that there will be more humor in S7. I’m going to guess there will also be more tender moments.

    Just to keep people from giving up on me, I want to say I have been doing lots of reading and preparing for a new post that I hope I can publish by the end of the weekend. I’m definitely looking forward to the start of S7 so that I can have more material to work with.

  5. Linda

    That’s a very good point Karen – about how the mis-communications and weird interactions, which once were funny, became painful when their baggage was revealed (to us). This totally changed the “flavour” of the show and NOT in a good way. It probably ensured longevity for the show as the problems between Martin and Louisa require serious and time consuming intervention. Things could not just continue with “mini rows” and Martin running into doors. I just think the pendulum swung too far to the dark side leaving us bereft and bewildered. I have yet to conclude that Series 7 is going to be lighter but we can hope. Now that it seems there may be a Series 8, they have more time to “fix” things between M and L which seems reasonable considering the seriousness of their issues.

  6. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    I think they can do whatever necessary to “fix” this marriage without having an S8. Where did you see there might be another series? To my point of view, the way to redeem the disaster of S6 is to bring the show back to its previous comedic level while addressing some of the serious problems in Martin and Louisa’s marriage. We are not going to get, nor would we want, too much counseling and constant conversing about difficulties. They need to make some headway yet remain humorous and fairly light.

    I plan to publish my next post very soon. I’m having a few problems with formatting.

  7. Linda D.

    I’ve seen the information S 8 in a couple of places. Apparently, it has been confirmed. I could be wrong and I will to find out where I read that. I agree that a return to humour and lightness is really important. We won’t have long to wait to see!

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