Monday, March 23, 2009

The Power of Suggestion

1. My friend was telling me a story the other night that made me wonder--it was about a woman who was terrified of flying. She had repeated nightmares of planes going down, herself beating on the escape door, the wind gushing in and sucking her out to the open sky. Finally, when she was in her mid-forties or so, she had to take a business trip. And sure enough, the plane ran into trouble and managed an emergency landing . . .

No, the exit doors were not opened, but the experience came close to replicating the dream. The woman said she should never have given voice to her fears, her nightmares . . .

2. My devout Catholic friend tells me you must never be too happy. Never too sad. And never-ever give voice to your happiness. Or to your sorrows. Because soon, God will punish you for being too happy. And you know what He did to Job.

(Sometimes she says this differently. She says--soon the other foot will fall. Just as night follows day and . . . Now that is a little easier to hear.)

It's an odd thing, but for no religious reasons, I share her fears. I am always afraid to say life is good, or to brag of good news. And I feel ungrateful saying life is bad.

But do I think as she does? That words are somehow like curses?

3. I have another friend who was always afraid her husband would leave her for some young sweet thing. For years she told me this fear. For years I saw her as so happy happy in her marriage. And her husband, too. Yeah, well, you know how this goes. We all do.

But what I wonder is, was it the power of suggestion? Or did she know something. If a man is repeatedly told, one day he will leave, does it become a prophecy?

2 comments:

amberbromer said...

this is an interesting topic to me. i've always believed in the power of the tongue. you know, sylvia plath believed that she conjured up the woman her husband cheated on her with. she was constantly worried and scared it would happen and it did. but who knows, maybe the reason she always worried is because she knew deep down that ted was really an ass hole. anyways, i grew up in a Pentecostal church. There was always talk of "speaking things into existence" or speaking blessings and curses over people. now there are a lot of things i don't agree with in the church but for some reason the power of the tongue has always stuck with me. some might call me superstitious. i call it women's intuition.

Lyle Daggett said...

Although I'm not religious in any sense, the questions you raise here bring to mind something from somewhere in the Gnostic Gospels, where Jesus is reported to say (to someone or ones), "If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you fail to bring forth what is within you, what you fail to bring forth will destroy you."

One need not be religious, I think, to respond to the sense of this. I believe that what we say carries only a human power, and is not insurmountable. If our words take on the power of suggestion, they remain only our words. We have the power, then, to say other words, and suggest other things. What we have made, we can remake.

As if to emphasize the point, word verification is "sproopik".