“… the delight a billiard ball might take in its own roundness…”

From The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge (1910), by Rainer Maria Rilke:

“…the very worst happened, and I lost all sense of myself: I simply ceased to exist. For a second, I felt an indescribable, poignant and futile longing for myself, and then He was the only one who remained: there was nothing but Him.

I ran. But now He was the one who was running. He bumped into everything; He was unfamiliar with the house, and did not know which way to turn; He made it down a flight of stairs, and in the passage He stumbled over someone who disentangled herself and called out. A door opened, a number of people emerged from it; oh, oh, what a relief it was to recognise them. That was Sieversen, dear Sieversen, and the housemaid, and the butler; this was the decisive moment. But they did not dash over to the rescue; their cruelty was boundless. They stood and laughed: my God, they simply stood there and laughed. I was crying, but the mask prevented the tears from flowing out, and instead they ran down my face inside it, and dried, and ran and dried again…”

From Wikipedia:

French philosopher and psychologist Pierre Janet (1859–1947) is considered to be the author of the concept of dissociation. Contrary to some conceptions of dissociation, Janet did not believe that dissociation was a psychological defense.

Psychological defense mechanisms belong to Freud’s theory of psychoanalysis, not to Janetian psychology.”

Stephen Hebron writes at bl.uk:

“…Keats recognised the chameleon aspect of his own nature. He would watch sparrows from his window and pick about with them in the gravel. He would imagine the delight a billiard ball might take in its own roundness, in its smooth, rapid motion. More dramatically, he told Woodhouse how, in a room full of people, he would quickly be ‘annihilated’ by the different identities pressing upon him. But that was the nature of poets, of the men of genius Keats habitually measured himself against. He told his friend Benjamin Bailey on 27 November 1817:

In passing however I must say one thing that has pressed upon me lately and increased my Humility and capability of submission, and that is this truth – Men of Genius are great as certain ethereal Chemicals operating on the Mass of neutral intellect – but they have not any individuality, any determined Character.

First among these men of genius, for Keats, was Shakespeare, who possessed negative capability ‘so enormously’. When he was beginning his first long poem, Endymion, on the Isle of Wight in 1817, Keats imagined Shakespeare as the genius presiding over him. The thoughts on literature which he shared in his letters are always deeply interesting, but their power also comes from their urgency, an urgency derived from the single-minded dedication with which Keats pursued his ambition to become a great poet.”


“Abstract: The term “chameleon” was first used in the seventeenth century by Sydenham to describe a patient with a protean semiology. We report a single case of “chameleon” syndrome that challenges the current international criteria for somatoform disorders, dissociative amnesia, and Ganser syndrome. The florid symptoms were as follows: anterograde and retrograde amnesia (including semantic, episodic, and procedural deficits), loss of identity, atypical neuropsychological impairment (approximate answers), left sensitive and motor deficit, and left pseudochoreoathetosis movement disorders. Additional behavioral disorders included the following: anxiety, clouded consciousness, hallucinations, and “belle indifference”. A single photon emission computed tomography examination showed bilateral temporal, frontal and a right caudate (in the head of the caudate nucleus) hypoperfusion concordant with a common mechanism of repression in these disorders.”



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