Thursday 2 September 2010

Lady Macbeth syndrome in continuum

Lady Macbeth washed her hands and rubbed so hard to get rid of her guilt. This washing of hands to get rid of guilt was christened 'Lady Macbeth Syndrome' by clever psychologists. Now this syndrome, I figured could be applied to many other facets in life. Take cutlery and china for example. When I feel quite angry about something, I would like to break cutlery to rid my anger. I picture the object of anger in the innocent cutlery and have this urge to break them into smithereens. But alas! I cannot do that.

But washing of hands is the act that is done more often to rid of something within us. I have seen friends who have done something they should not, take a bath two or three times. A symbolic cleansing of the within through the outside.

Playing football and handling the ball to rid of some pent-up emotion is not new to us. Imagining the ball to be the impossible opponent, one hits the ball so hard that if the ball had a voice, it would have used the foulest expletives.

Now how much relief or succour does this kind of behaviour give us? It helps us vent for some time but does not guarantee the complete wiping of the guilt, anger or thoughts of failure. But in those small actions of ridding ourselves of a particular emotion, we demonstrate that we would indeed like to get rid of something that lies within us but is not good for our well-being. Just that thought will enable us to take further steps in finding a way out. Maybe Lady Macbeth's guilt was so much that she found her own doom. I wish she had waited for the guilt to melt away.

This post is another ramble. I would love to know your thoughts on this expression of the inner mind on external objects.


  1. Hmm.. I do take head baths when I need to clear off my mind. It helps. I don't know how why.. may be it is a satisfaction of getting rid of what you don't want and then you just convince yourself of the pro and cons and say.. I am getting rid of it. Such deep action that I can't really put it in words. It just struck me while I read this. But, ya.. for me its the moment of decision..I need to be in a environment like that.. it makes me think in isolation.Again, I take responsibility to work it out from there on and not leave it at it.

  2. Love the way you tickle my braincells early in the morning dear Susan.;)
    Lets see, I am not sure I wash my hands nor take showers after unpleasant encounters. But I did use to break things. Oh yes, I smashed plates against the wall. Once i threw a very expensive perfume against the bathroom wall. In a split second afterward it felt so good, but in the next second I regretted it very much. It was expensive, my favorite plus I never bought it again after having to endure the stink for months.;)

    Today I get very quickly sad after being angry and I do not feel like being destructive, I mostly feel like trying to escape to that inner place within me where nothing can hurt me.;)

    I hope you will have a great day that doe snot require washing or cutlery breaking.;)

  3. Interesting post yet again! The action of washing hands or breaking an item is to release those pent up negative emotions/energy. Once released the body and mind begins to relax. Unfortunately in this process there is regret (we broke something that was precious or we said something that was hurtful and so on)
    With the help of yoga I now breathe deeply and exhale really slow. I find that very calming and relaxing and there is no regret or hurt.
    Love and Light

  4. the first line of the post reminds me of the character played by Leonarado De caprio in the movie,'The Aviator'.
    We have to vent our feelings somewhere, if its on a thing, its well and good, You can buy it later. If we go on dump our feelings with ourselves, one day it'll burst,like a volcano erupting after years.Breaking or throwing things is far better than this disaster !!

  5. some a symblism of a feeling we can not quite put our hands on...and sometimes when we can not see it we do not trust we make it visible...or we want soemthing else to feel as bad as we do so we are not alone...

  6. Very good points to ponder today. Often times it's the opposite...doing things to bury, hide or numb the pain rather than washing it away.

  7. Sameera:

    Sometimes outward actions help the interiors. When our inner being decides to let go of something, it retorts to something like bathing, crashing or hurling abuses.


    Ah! I love perfumes and my heart went out for that bottle! All of us have our own ways of tackling stuff and that is what makes us unique. Thanks for you kind wishes dear Zuzana. It is only my thesis that is getting on my nerves :)

  8. Savira:

    Yoga and breath control are great things to do when one needs to release pent up emotions. I guess it is time for me to get back to doing yoga!


    Ah, I do remember Aviator. Leonardo was obsessive about cleanliness and that drove him mad. What you have expressed here is very true. Better to vent it out rather than erupt like a volcano one day.

  9. Brian:

    True, we need to make the internal, external. Otherwise it tends to suffocate and burn the insides. Sometimes one needs to feel alive and so the act of breaking/washing/crying.


    Burying can be dangerous as Ingmar said, it can lead to an eruption one day. So one has to let it out through insignificant actions which become tools for bettering ourselves.

    Joy always :)

  10. I found that getting something over and done with as soon as I could was the best way for me to deal with these feelings.
    Bottling them up made me actually feel ill, breaking a plate made me feel better!
    Not that I am usually like that at all. Normally I am the most placid person in the world...but sometimes it is good for you to let that volcano erupt!
    Now I find talking or venting my feelings is better than breaking plates that I know I will regret straight after!

  11. Hey Deborah.. Irfan here...

    Like the article.. something so common isn't it. What i do when i feel all trapped up and irritated is, go find a secluded spot, start punching the walls, kicking the air and shouting out curses... :))) Brings out a great deal of load off me!!!

  12. Well, I guess no matter what method we use to release it, it's good. Guilt is not a usefull emotion. When I can and I'm alone in my car, I... S C R E A M at the top of my lungs. The purpose is purely to release negative emotions, not to blame anyone including myself. Try this. It feels great afterwards.

  13. Heather:

    Your way is one of the best, I reckon. Getting done with it at the earliest otherwise it stagnates and starts emanating stink and unwarranted pressure.


    How nice to see you here. Gosh I remember that Indiblogger meet. How have you been? Finally you decided to comment. Thanks for that. Your system is great but finding a secluded spot calls for some time :) Ha Ha, jokes apart, try deep breathing :) Come by often!

  14. Myrna:

    Any pent-up emotion is hazardous to our well-being. Screaming is favoured by many, I see. Somehow I can't scream, for me it's letting steam of by praying or crying! I do try deep breathing as well :)
    Have a lovely weekend dear Myrna.

  15. A brilliant, psychology-themed post, Susan. And I must say, I have noticed this myself. For instance, when I get particularly angry, I usually grab a piece of paper and pen in a hot fluster and scribble things down, and when things are very disorderly (I have an odd need for perfection and order at all times) I start straightening things up, moving objects into line I would never usually touch.

    The mind is indeed a fascinating thing.

  16. Very well written. I think it's in human psyche that whatever we feel strongly about wants to take a form and come out. Our strong feelings strive to be liberated. Anger, love, hatred, jealousy, curiosity and myriad emotions drive our actions. We can't suppress them for it's our feelings and emotions which make us-the individual self. But we shouldn't let them run amok either for that may ruin us. There's a thin line venting anger and other emotions and not suppressing it. Containment is an art we all should have. Excuse me, enough said I think :)

  17. Well, you thought provoking lady,

    hitting cushions is such a great therapy to get rid of anger... I used to prefer crying; now it seems less likely to happen except at 'period' times...

    When I manage to see the whole house clean and tidy it seems my mind is so too...


    So I believe this is a natural, human (dogs do somehow too...) behaviour so healthy ,necessary, convenient to prevent diseases such as cancer...

    Never swallow your anger,Susan... so if you need to break some cutlery... go do it...buying new stuff is sooooo relaxing too! (LOL)


  18. This Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
    in this world,a means to find some order
    is very close to being insanity's border
    capable of tearing one's life asunder.

    If we trace back OCD can be related to childhood experience and the resultant Belief system that is formed very early in life. When it will surface, is anybody's guess and in most people it might not at all.

  19. Sam:

    Your words are always like a life-force, full of vibrancy and vigour. Thanks for that, Sam. You sound like Di Caprio in "The Aviator."


    Thanks for the visit and the comment. Letting out is the key. If we keep things within, one day it will prove quite fatal to us. You can say how much ever you want. It is a free space :)

  20. Dulce:

    Hitting cushions!!! When I picture myself so, it is so funny! The 'period' times are the times when usually pent up emotions try and fizzle out. I don't much get angry, dear Dulce. I love harmony so anger is a rare feeling, thankfully. But I do nag a lot, which is equally bad :)

    Lots of love to you :)


    The Guessing game is over, then. Nice. Your verses are so cute! They lighten me up. thanks, Govind. Missed them all these days :( Quite true, your last few lines.
    How have you been?

    Joy always.

  21. Crying or a heart to heart conversation with a close friend or a member of my my cope-up mechanism , to deal irritating/frustrating situations Susan. External objects usually are spared the trauma in my case, when angry:D
    Though I am not much of an object breaker , but yeah I tend swear (out loud in my heart hehehe!)and it helps actually!!!! increasing my voice's decible levels also comes in handy ;)

  22. Ruchi:

    It is wonderful how all of us have our own little techniques and methods. Humans are wonderful organisms, you know. Along with time we also realise what we need to sustain this hard life :)

    Thanks for sharing your release-mechanism with us.

    Have a lovely and fruitful weekend :)

    Joy always.

  23. Thank you my dearest Susan :)
    Hope you have a beautiful happy weekend as well!
    lots of love

  24. Deborah,
    Just wanted to inform you that I mentioned you on my blog. Stop by when you can.

    Thanks. Hope you're having a great day.

  25. Yeah!! Deep breathing does a great deal too:))

  26. Ruchi:



    You are very kind. Thanks from the heart. Blessings always.



  27. We all need to vent, no? And we all really have different ways of doing it. I also think our expressions of frustration change depending on the source of the frustration and how powerful it is. I've never been one to break things; I find that futile. Maybe I'm too realistic like that. But I do know that breaking things works perfectly for some. So, to each his/her own. For me, writing is my venting. For another who likes to self-express, maybe painting, drawing. For some, working out, or sports in general. I just think it's important to find out what your preferred mode is, and to use it when you need to (as long as it's safe and doesn't hurt others). Venting is such an important part of purging negativity, how could anyone do without it?

    I loved this post, Susan. It had all the elements I enjoy: Lady MacBeth, psychology, emotion. Perfect!

    Big hugs,

  28. Dear Nevine: I just wait to get your insights on things. It's priceless. Writing does work for me as well. Creativity is the key here. Tears also work for me. Sometimes I just need to shed those tears without any whim or reason.
    Looks like you are quite busy these days. Hope work is not sapping your energy levels. Take care :)

    Joy always :)

  29. Very nice Susan - I have a Hamletian syndrome if I am permitted to say so - I get angry and procrastinate the reaction... I have to learn and kick the 'ball', I guess. LOL ;)

  30. UC:

    Welcome aboard! Lovely to have you join the conversation.

    Whatever the syndrome, life is beautiful and joyous.

    On second thoughts, I guess even I have Hamlet's syndrome!

    Joy always :)



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