Forgive My Blog

...true or not true?

The Hunger Games is, among other things, a healing story (a story about psychological healing).

In the last film, Peter, who has been brainwashed, can’t tell the difference between his real memories and those that have been added. And he asks “how do you cope with this kind of problem?” and Katniss says just to ask someone else who isn’t suffering the same affliction. Good advice. So then, for the rest of the film, he occasionally describes a memory of something from the past and then asks “real or not real?” and Katniss would answer.

To me this is such an elegant remedy for many mentally ill states. The mentally ill person is already aware that their perception is unreliable and simply posits a theory and trusts their saner companion to check the theory.

This is in contrast to a more dependent relationship in which the person in the mentally ill state keeps asking, for example “do you hate me?” and then not believing the answer, so that they have to keep asking again and again, and their saner companion is constantly trying to reassure them - essentially at war with their mental illness.

Overcoming mentally ill states requires willingness to question our perceptions. If we’re not willing to do that, how can we expect others to help us?

“Real or not real?” makes sense when your actual memories have been altered, or you’re hallucinating. But for many things, it’s just a matter of feelings. We all come up with stories about what people think and feel about us. If we are in some mental affliction then those stories can be very far from the truth. For this kind of perceptual error I prefer “true or not true?”


person in mentally ill state: you’re angry with me - true or not true?
person in mentally well state: not true.

me: I don’t think this post comes across well. I don’t think you will like it. True or not true?

meta comment

This post was written while in a mentally ill state. It probably shows.


Q: How do I find a sane person?
A: well, they don’t have to be sane in every way, they just need to be able to see what you can’t see. Practically any human with senses will do.

Q: what do you mean “true”?
A: oh no, you must be a student of A Course In Miracles. I’m not talking about that kind of truth. I mean personal, subjective truth, i.e. helpful fiction. If you want to put this in an ACIM context then it’s “You hate me. Is this story helpful or unhelpful?”

Q (more of a comment really): I don’t find this easy to relate to.
A (response): if you’ve not experienced this kind of mental illness then the need for this kind of practice is likely to be mysterious to you.