So recently I read ‘The psychology of the girl with the dragon tattoo’. This book captured my interest for a number of reasons. Not only is Lisbeth Salander one of my favourite characters, but I found it really fascinating to hear from experts on what they have to say about her character and mental health.
For anyone who has not read or heard of this thriller series, firstly you must have been living under a rock! The first book follows the Mikael Blomkvist (a one respected financial journalist) trying to resurrect his reputation, by investigating the mysterious unresolved disappearance of a teenage girl. He enlists the help of an investigator, Lisbeth Salander (The girl with the dragon tattoo).
Lisbeth Salander is a very complex and interesting character. She is a considered a ‘misunderstood genius with authority issues’. Anyone who has read the books knows that Lisbeth is a force to be reckoned with. Abused, traumatised and considered a psychopathic or autistic, Lisbeth Salander is one of the most complex and psychologically interesting characters of the twenty first century. While the Millennium series is astounding, and perhaps one of the most well regarded thriller series of the modern literature, I am not here to give you a book review – although I urge people who love thrillers and characters who always do the unexpected to read this series!
I want to talk about a few of the ideas spoken of in ‘The psychology of the girl with the dragon tattoo’. One chapter, written by Prudence Gourguechon, spoke of Lisbeth’s struggle with intimacy and her desire for emotional isolation. Gourguechon comments that isolation is needed in order to maintain and authenticate each individual’s sense of self. This idea comes from the British Paediatrician and Psychoanalyst D. W. Winnicott.
Every individual has a ‘true self’ which requires a degree of isolation in order to maintain this state. Individuals can also achieve this by ‘being alone with others’, as exemplified by the image of a couple, on a Sunday morning, each reading the paper in comfortable silence. This isolation or alone-ness allows individuals a sense of “going on being, that is essential to psychic equilibrium” and promotes healthy development.
For Lisbeth, the only way she can come to terms with her intimacy issues, and allow herself to become close to someone, is to find someone who doesn’t infringe on her need for isolation. She forms strong relationships with individuals who allow her to have her privacy and indulge her desire for alone-ness.
I think this is true of a lot of people, and it is what we all need to find. We need to allow ourselves to be alone, to become and maintain our true selves. Time alone, whether it be in the shower, out on a dog walk, in your room watching Netflix or reading a good book, this time is so important. According to Psychology today, being alone allows you to drop your ‘social guard’, to feel introspective and to gather our thoughts about ourselves without influence from others.
I have had a few people comment to me that I spend quite a lot of time alone, or that I am very independent. This is not a bad thing, even if people make it out to be. Social isolation can be voluntary, enjoyable, healthy and useful. Being alone can allow ourselves to become comfortable with ourselves, comfortable with our own space, learn to keep ourselves entertained and to not always rely on others.
If you are feeling like you aren’t getting enough time to be quiet and think, or feel a bit unlike yourself, then give yourself an evening to yourself. Do something relaxing and allow yourself time to be completely alone.
Being alone does not need to be lonely.
Love Em x
Ps. Here is a photo of one of my drawings from my life drawing class last night – my alone time.
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