Posted by Dr. Vollmer on November 22, 2013
After writing about Marty, https://shirahvollmermd.wordpress.com/2013/11/21/spice-it-up/, I began to think about ennui, the feeling of having a perfectly fine life, and yet, lacking excitement. Is ennui or boredom a euphemism for depression? I wonder. Is boredom a shameful feeling for the affluent, who often say “I have nothing to complain about,” suggesting that they have a lot to complain about, but they are ashamed. The protest suggests the difficulty with the topic of complaining, rather than the lack of difficulties in life. In the cartoon above, the little boy wants to blame, or project his ennui as someone else’s fault, which is funny, but often true, both in childhood and in adulthood.
“I think you are bored,” I tell Marty, as he agonizes over his next camera purchase. My hunch is that the agony over the camera serves to create an arc of excitement, where there is build-up, followed by the purchase, thereby leading to a sense of relief that the task is complete. This arc production makes me think that he is searching for other, perhaps more stimulating arcs, where he needs to anticipate and get excited, followed by an action, followed by relief. This is the arc which often draws folks to marathons and triathlons. The focal point of the arc serves to combat ennui. Marty does not have a subjective experience of ennui, and yet his language and his sense of frustration makes me think about ennui. Boredom, like all difficult feelings, are an opportunity for growth and exploration. If Marty could connect with feelings of ennui, then he would have a more direct solution to his feelings. He would be charged to find new, and as per Jon, deeper ways of connecting with his life. However, if Marty denies feeling of boredom, because that feels shameful or not how he wants to see himself, then he is left with feelings which remain vague and confusing for him. The boring patient, which Marty is not, is often bored himself, and so my boredom is a hint to this feeling. In Marty’s case, his words do not seem to match his feelings, and so he invites an exploration as to what those feelings are. Ennui is just a guess, but one worth playing with.