Imagine for a moment that you are a fish, in amongst other fish, doing fishy things, just like all the other fish. Then, one day one of your fellow fishy friends starts to behave in way that seems a little odd, out of the ordinary, a bit different. At some point other fish start distancing themselves, tut-tutting, leaving space between themselves and your friend. There’ll be and disapproving looks and the fish-whispering and fishtweeting starts up, and none of it good.
Then your friend starts to behave in decidedly odd ways that, by now, pretty much all the other fishes notice and clearly disapprove of. Your friend is being separated from the shoal, clearly not welcome and all the fish distance themselves more and more, joining with the chorus:
“what’s wrong with you!!?”
“you’re not one of us”
and calling him names
No one is seeing through their own fear,
no one is looking closely enough to sense your friend’s pain,
no one sees the hook on which this odd fish, your friend, is caught.
If they did, then they’d see your friend in great pain
and they’d see them struggling for their life,
whilst everyone else is yelling at them
and calling them names.
and yelling, telling what they need to do
just so they can get back to being undisturbed themselves
-get back to their normal everyday business of being a normal fish.
What if that fish were you?
Karl Menninger often used this metaphor, as captured in the quote below.
It’s been interpreted and turned into a short animation at animatedminds.com.
We love it and added the stills and [abridged] transcript below.
An individual having unusual difficulties in coping with his environment struggles and kicks up the dust, as it were. I have used the figure of a fish caught on a hook: his gyrations must look peculiar to other fish that don’t understand the circumstances; but his splashes are not his affliction, they are his effort to get rid of his affliction and as every fisherman knows these efforts may succeed.
Fish on a hook
There comes a point when my fridge is empty
and I haven’t got any food…
and maybe I haven’t been out for a day or two…
a prisoner who’s moved out into a very hostile area
and er, I dunno how long this is gonna take
and I’m now stuck behind someone trying to gauge:
how long is it gonna be before I get to the counter “
This is just a bloody nightmare!
It’s rather like a fish wriggling at the end of a hook.
Initially one might think:
I think a lot of us are wriggling .
That’s seen as a kind of illness…