Paul Cockayne – 07791 970406 – firstname.lastname@example.org
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Losing what? One’s train of thought? One’s temper? The plot?
When I think about people “losing it” I suppose I think first of people getting angry, and in particular, people getting irrationally angry; people whose reactions to events are quite out of proportion to what has happened. Road rage springs to mind as a common example.
Jealousy is another good example, I think. Fits of jealousy can lead to people losing it – I remember a client who cut up all her cheating partner’s clothes, and I remember (and still cringe at) the story of John and Lorena Bobbitt.
I think, too, about toddlers having tantrums because they can’t get their own way; throwing their toys out of the pram; breaking down in tears; drumming their feet on the floor.
In our day-to-day lives we experience emotions constantly, but usually at a low level. We have a filtering mechanism that keeps our emotions under control, so that in general, they do not gush out in an uncontrolled way. We may show happiness with a flicker of a smile, annoyance with a frown, shock with a raised eyebrow, but it will much rarer for us to jump for joy, fly into a rage, or scream with fright. In general, we check our emotions before letting them out. Some people do this a lot more than others of course. Some “wear their heart on their sleeve”. Others are “cold fish”.
When we “lose it” I think that what happens is that this filtering mechanism breaks down. The emotions are too strong for the filter, and they break through, like a river bursting its banks. Will lose the ability to reason; conventions of social behaviour are forgotten; we act in irrational ways.
This broad idea of “losing it” applies to various situations, I think. It’s broader than a child’s (or adult’s) tantrum. Anxiety attacks happen for the same reasons, I think. The emotion is too great for the filter. And so too for the addict. The need for the next fix is so burning that the addict will do anything to get it, and this applies not just to drug dependencies but to other forms of addiction such as gambling, pornography or the many other things that people can find themselves dependent upon.
The situations vary, the reactions vary, the emotions vary – jealousy; injustice; fear; loss, and many others. But what links these situations is that the feelings have gone very deep – they have hurt and I think that is because they have connected in some way with our childhood experience. The feelings we have now have touched on – subconsciously awakened – emotions we had as a child. It’s like a chain reaction and at the end of the chain we react in a childlike way, with anger, or tears, or panic, for example. We forget we are an adult. We lose it.