Shirah Vollmer MD

The Musings of Dr. Vollmer

The Fog Rolls In: The Fog Rolls Out

Posted by Dr. Vollmer on June 5, 2012

Clarity of thought, like so many mental states, is not a constant. One minute, one feels understanding and coherence, and the next minute, without obvious change in circumstance, one feels confused and bewildered. I have come to call this dynamic, “the fog rolls in and the fog rolls out.” Merna, twenty-five, knows that if she calls her ex-boyfriend that she will end up in pain and bitterness. She knows this because this has been the pattern for the last three years. Yet, in moments, she seems to “forget” that and  call Leo, at all hours of the day or night. At first the conversation is exciting, but then as time goes on, she feels demeaned and unimportant. “Why do you think you called him?” I ask, trying to get Merna to reflect on what interfered with her better judgment. “I was bored,” she said quickly. As the session proceeded, she then told me that her girlfriend just got engaged, in a flat tone, as if she had no feelings about that. “Maybe your friend’s engagement made you feel scared and lonely. Maybe that was a trigger for you in that you felt alone and so you had to call Leo, even though in a different state of mind, you would know that downstream from that phone call you would be left feeling bereft.” I say, helping Merna see how a change in her feeling state could cause the fog to roll in. “Well, that is possible,” Merna replied, astonishing me at her openness to consider that her friend’s engagement was a trigger. In the past, Merna would dismiss my ideas as “preposterous.” “The fog is out this morning as you recognize that you put yourself in harm’s way.” I say, highlighting that with the light of day, without the emotional wound-the fear of being alone-her brain works in a different fashion. Like the weather, thinking and behavior are changing states, subject to forces that we struggle to understand.

4 Responses to “The Fog Rolls In: The Fog Rolls Out”

  1. Jon said

    Your graphic and your notion about fog brings to mind the great A Cappella group The Bobs. Their song from there Weather Cycle, Welcome to My Fog, is there Bay Area homage to weather and mental confusion. (Incidentally, their LA Song from the Weather Cycle, Santa Ana Woman, is a great version of A Cappella Noir.) For those readers (most, I would guess, they perform to a niche market) innocent of the Bobs and their music, I suggest they search out their work. As a teaser, here are the lyrics to the song…

    Welcome to my fog
    There’s room for you to come right in
    Welcome to my fog
    I guess

    Welcome to my fog
    Just take my hand and be my friend
    Welcome to my fog
    I guess

    When I was very young and still in school
    The teacher would call on me and I wouldn’t know what to do
    So I would say….What?
    And gee, she’d never call on me again

    When I go for a drive I feel lucky to be alive
    The air feels so good coming off of the hood
    And I don’t go very fast–I want it to last
    And strangely enough, it does

    Welcome to my fog
    There’s room for you to come right in
    Welcome to my fog
    I guess

    The only sound that I can hear
    Is when you’re yelling in my ear
    (Hey you!)
    Hey Me?

    Welcome to my fog
    There’s room for you to come right in
    Welcome to my fog
    I guess

  2. Shirah said

    Wow, Jon. Thanks so much.

  3. Shelly said

    Is it not often true of ourselves that we are blind to our own motivations behind our behaviors? That we can only look backwards, in hindsight and say we should have bevel a certain way or refrained from doing something? I understand that perhaps if Merna recognizes a similar feeling in the future, she could perhaps recognize that she felt scared and lonely from her friend’s engagement and not felt tempted to call Leo, but by pointing out the behavior after the fact is the only way to learn.

    • Shirah said

      Yes, we are sometimes blind to our own motivations, but this blindness is not absolute, but rather relative to our mood states. I am particularly interested in the shifting nature of one’s clarity of thought and motivation. The idea of “learning” is that the better Merna understands her mood states and how that certain mood states be a trigger for self-destructive behavior, the better decisions she will be able to make in critical times of her life. Thanks.

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