What haunts you?

poetix

we murder to dissect
Most people are haunted by something. In some cases it has a name and a face; in others, it's nameless and faceless, known only by the occasions in which it seems to loom over events.

I'm haunted by some lost people - not dead, as far as I know, but I don't know whether they're dead or alive and have seemingly no way of finding out. The internet knows nothing of them. They might be out there somewhere or they might not. A few years ago I bumped into one of them on the escalators coming out of the Northern Line at Euston. That really was like seeing a ghost. Not lost loves necessarily, but unfinished stories. People who slipped out of my life when I was young and went through bouts of depression and withdrawal and simply fell out of contact with them. People who might remember parts of my own past that I've forgotten, or that have become vague and confused over time.

If it weren't for the internet - its promise that everything is addressable, everything and everyone can be found - such absences might not seem so absurd and unbearable. There are plenty of people from my childhood who can be found without any trouble at all on Facebook, whom I've no interest in talking to at all.
 

luka

Well-known member
Staff member
There was a period of my life which changed me irreparably. It started with my dad dying unexpectedly and relatively young and I suPpose you could bookend it with Mark Fisher's suicide. In between those two events a friend I had known since primary school went mad and eventually murdered his mother and tried to kill a stranger and got a 22 year sentence as a result. When the police caught him he bit off his own finger. That is really the event that haunts me more than any other. I came very close to believing in the devil as a result. There's cctv footage that was released of him on the run and it's very very scary indeed. He looks like a puppet. His normal ego has been ejected and somethjng else is driving him.

The whole period leading up to he murder was was very stressful and strange too. There's lots of other stuff that happened in the same period. All very harrowing and all of it left a mark.
 

luka

Well-known member
Staff member
One of the many things which haunted my father was having given some acid to a friend who never came down and was consigned to a mental hospital for the rest of his life. The murder and imprisonmemt was a kind of gristly reenactment of that episode. A family curse. This wasn't a trip he'd never come down from but the skunk we smoked and the psychedelics we took must have played their part in unmooring him.
 

luka

Well-known member
Staff member
It's the Ultimate nightmare isn't it. Coming to only to find you've committed some unspeakable atrocity. The sheer fact that it can happen is terrifying.
 

version

Who loves ya, baby?
Those stories about PCP have always freaked me out, people blacking out and going on a rampage.

On April 10, 2002, 28-year-old Singleton murdered Tynisha Ysais in her apartment in Los Angeles, California.[2][3]

The victim was found in her apartment by a friend. Her chest had been torn open and a three-inch blade was found broken off in her scapula. Teeth marks were found on her face and on her lungs, which had been torn from her chest. An eyewitness reported that, when Singleton was picked up by police, he was naked, covered in blood, standing in the middle of the street, and staring at the sky.[3] A medical examination performed shortly after his capture found human flesh in his stomach that was not his own. The victim's boyfriend said she and the aspiring rapper used PCP the day before the alleged murder took place


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Lurch#Murder_and_lawsuit
 

poetix

we murder to dissect
It was a common experience in my parents' generation to lose friends to schizophrenia or psychosis triggered by LSD - the phrase "acid casualty" dates from then. The person is still there, but the personality is fragmented.

When I went off to university, my mum had two worries about what might happen to me. The first was that I might get recruited by a cult, and the second was that I might have some sort of schizophrenic breakdown. Neither befell me, happily.

I had always assumed I was too much of a cunt to be recruited by a cult, but now I think that's not at all how it works. Truculence and individualism don't protect you. The ones who fall really hard for it are precisely the "nonconformists" who insist on the integrity of their own worldview no matter what anybody else thinks. It's just that their own worldview is the cult's worldview, now.

I do wonder what the psychic life of ex-cultists is like. They must miss it, on some level. I'm skeptical that you can ever entirely unpick the tissue of rationalisations that cult membership requires you to develop. Even if people know that the central premise of the cult was a total lie, it must be very difficult to re-evaluate everything in the light of that understanding. Maybe they just overwrite those rationalisations with new, more socially acceptable, ones.

In the event, my major mental health issue has been burnout, which in retrospect was apparent from my teens - every couple of months I'd become non-functional for a bit, then pick myself up again and keep going. It looks a bit like cyclic depression, but I think it's more autism-spectrum related, something to do with the strain of managing social demands that leave you feeling constantly cornered and skinless "sheathe- and shelterless" as Hopkins put it. My mum reminded me that the chaplain at university once sent me home for a week because apparently I was "overheating" - I have no memory of this, but it seems plausible.

It may be that my personality is quite robust - less in the sense of being an impregnable fortress, more in the sense of having some antifragility built in. It takes a lot to move the needle, and it seldom moves very far. I used to make a lot of fuss about radical breaks in one's worldview, moments of shattering discontinuity, but I'm less and less sure that I've ever really experienced such a thing. I have the strong feeling of having always having had the strong feeling of always having been me, modulo some superficial permutations of outlook. Whether that predicts anything, when it comes to pharmacologically or change-of-circumstance induced reversals of personality, I don't know. But it doesn't seem like I'm at risk of going suddenly doo-lally any time soon.
 

poetix

we murder to dissect
Probably the most dramatic shift in personality I've witnessed up close, come to think of it, was my ex-wife's. She lost her mother and grandmother within a year of each other, which really knocked out some foundations. Developed a passionate obsession with a Christian woman who, seeing her looking distressed on the school run, offered to pray with her in the street - this led in due course to a conversion from very church-skeptical agnosticism to full adult baptism, the shining highlight of which for her was this woman's laying-on-of-hands. Politically, she shifted very rapidly to the right, becoming more and more concerned with respectability as a value. Where once we'd argued about the merits of selective education - with me arguing that perhaps nerds like me might benefit from being educated with other nerds like me, and her vigorously defending the comprehensive ideal - she now wanted to send our son to a private school. It was very much as if some part of her late Telegraph-reading Tory grandmother (who in spite of these propensities also had a fair sense of humour) had taken up residence in her own worldview - not exactly spiritual possession, but a sort of partial appropriation of the other person's outlook, a way of holding on to part of them for safety. More and more she wanted me and our children to perform a sort of idealised family life which bore no resemblance to the (mostly very happy) family life I'd experienced as a child - none of us were having it, and all of our relationships with her splintered over time.
 
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