One of the prerequisites to that must be the creation of
a forum where people can feel "safe enough" to interact (I am not talking
about cotton wool). I'm also afraid the only folks who can define "safe enough"
are those who are enough in touch with their own vulnerability to recognize
when they do/don't feel safe.
What do you want to feel safe from?
If we want to think about, explore, learn more about these aspects of our behavior, an "arena of safety" (Sandler, I think) must be created from which this work can be done.
I also want to comment on safety. If you aren't comfortable online then you are going about it the wrong way. If you feel threatened by words over a wire then how do you cope in life with all the rough edges from cabbies to rude waitresses and bureaucratic red tape?
. I don't think I am particularly weak. I do think that I am very accustomed to paying attention to the subtleties of what feels safe and what does not.. . . What is with this "get tough" attitude whenever safety is mentioned? Is it not possible to at least think about the meaning of safety?
where I feel safe, the people break a sweat when they work, talk loud and are more likely to have an arrest record than a graduate degree.. . . I am a large man and I do not feel safe around small children. I fear that I may hurt them by word or action. I feel similarly unsafe around cultured elderly women. . . . .safe for me is the rough and tumble of touch football in the rain, a place where people can laugh and argue, reserving the serene moments of friendship and support for when the game is over and everyone is exhausted.
I haven't seen people here who want to abuse other members of the list. We are different people with different backgrounds, so there will be some jostling. But a safe place is where one can say what is on one's mind. I would like this list to be a place like that.
By far, Lurker's hold the safest position (no negative's intended) in a mailing list such as this (this is elementary).
Winnicott (another British analyst who worked at about the same time as Bion) talked about the idea of a "good enough" mother, meaning mothers had to steer a course between being overly inattentive and too intrusive. I've always liked the idea of "good enough" and find myself applying it to other things, like "safe enough" on this list. (Winnicott also talks about "ordinary maternal hate" -- he would have been troubled if there was no room for "rough and tumble" too.) We do have to be able to say what we feel, to speak freely
Can we be aware that "safe" may mean different things for different people? Surely -- even more because of our diversity -- this business of providing a "safe enough" environment for our work together needs just a little thought?
So IMHO you can not define 'safety'. It's a FEELING. You FEEL safe and that is comforting. Why does a child feel save? Isn't this the KNOWLEDGE and the experience that he will be comforted in cases he will hurt hemself ??? It is not ONLY the environment he is in!
Certain members of the group must, at certain times, weave and repair the safety net. Others may then take dangerous leaps, and test the waters and even risk (sometimes for the first time) their most dreaded tactics -the one's that have always alienated others - and find to their surprise, delight and long-sought- for-relief that this particular group can handle it without utterly rejecting them (again). Hence, Harpies become Muses.
a lot of people reacted pretty negatively to my earlier attempts to say safety was important and needed thinking about, but recently several people have said they could see what I was talking about. .
Although we don't have formal "rules", it does seem to me that we have been developing some mutual understanding and respect for one another in a pretty human and humane way, that we are learning ways to sort out our differences, that we are learning to work together.
It's natural for some personalities to have more anxiety over a lack of structure in the forum than others.
Earlier I wondered if the openness of the 'net might make it unsafe here, too unsafe to do work on group relations work. I still worry about that
I remember a time on this list when Harriet was talking about safety (where is Harriet?), and I thought she was full of shit. After a month or so went by, I came not only to understand what she was talking about, but also to feel the same(?) thing.
We do seem to have become polarized with two competing notions of what's proper and 'safe':
Having people around with views so different from my own makes the room feel safe. (You know, if you can be a strange as you are then I feel safe being as odd as I am.)
What I've seen since my arrival is that someone will let something personal slip out, everyone will clam up for a while to "let it pass", and then move on to something else. Is this what it's all about? Are we to remain in the "safe zone"?
people actually don't feel safe enough to deal with the emotional aspects of our interaction. In fact, my noticing that people react to the emotional tone rather than words is another aspect of the same dynamic.
I come from a fairly rough part of town. Harriet and I came to a deal a while back. I complained that I felt unsafe in the cozy little emotionally supportive nursery that (I felt) she was building to keep us all warm and protected. It made me feel like a bull in a china shop. I agreed that if she had a china shop, I would stay out of it. She agreed that if I stood still, she wouldn't build a china shop around me.
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