Friday, 29 July 2011

Dignity – who needs it?

One of the many reasons I like drama therapy is that it is fun. There's no sense of therapist superiority. The person doing the work controls all aspects.
The license to be the child they want to be, to access play, ideas, fantasy is their choice.
Children do not have the constraints that adults learn to place on themselves but when adults attempt to play they can often trip themselves up. What do I look like? Will people think I'm silly?
A colleague told me of some relatives who were distressed that someone, an older person, was allowed to leave still wearing tiger facepaint. The person was very happy being a powerful tiger but for the family it was not dignified.
As adults we live every day with the judgements we place on ourselves as well as those others may make. They do have a place in life in the sense that knowing of such judgements may well influence our choices such as not drinking and driving, avoiding theft or violence not just because they are morally wrong but because people will not value us. Sadly this doesn't work for some. But these judgements can also stop us from simpler, harmless pleasures and things that may improve our whole lives.
When someone older loses their original sense of self it is bewildering and scary for them and their family and friends. Part of the individual's anxiety is a response to that shown to them by the people around them. If they find a medium that gives them joy and confidence surely we can accept this and not keep referring back to the dignity and style of someone who sadly no longer exists despite their physical presence. Of course this is hard but with people who see the benefits of drama therapy the transition is much easier.
We mourn the loss of the person we knew but at least can see the existing person is happy and having some fun.
If the way for this is by accessing play, so be it. What is wrong in something that all children embrace. We all have those memories. Just because the outward appearance is of a mature adult does not mean we should be denied ways that are effective and give happiness.
There is not a lot of dignity in misery. There is much more in the look of pleasure when the pirate chief takes the treasure galleon and sails into the sunset.
So heave ho me hearties – I may look daft to you but its' my ship and I've got the gold, jewels and a crew ready to make you walk the plank if you don't join in. And there are sharks in my ocean.
Still want your dignity?

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