We all have a hidden history but as Oscar Pistorius recently discovered, it doesn’t take long for the hidden to be revealed - in fact just a matter of hours.
Oscar Pistorius or ‘Blade runner’, is the world famous paralympian sprinter and until recently, South African sporting icon and darling of big companies with a product to sell. He lived on a high-security estate and was a keen keeper of guns and baseball bats in the cause of his personal safety; and with 15000 murders a year in South Africa, this was not so strange. But now Pistorius himself is held for murder, accused of killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. Her father says, ‘There is no hatred in our hearts.’ His father says, there is ‘zero doubt’ it was a tragic accident.
But accident or not, reaction was instant. Former girlfriends, their mothers and the police queued quickly to describe a different man to the icon, a violent figure who could be overwhelmed by rage; while big companies scuttled faster than rats in a fire to leave his sinking brand. Everyone thinks we’re great until our hidden histories go on the rampage.
Sigmund Freud defined his work as controlling the biological urges of sex and aggression. But by mistake, he didn’t mean to, he stumbled upon something much more healing for the human and that’s two people talking: talk therapy. Above all else, a therapist is a witness to our story, to the power and effects in our behaviour of our hidden history. Here is safe space where denied feelings are allowed to flow through our bodies; and insightful space helping us to notice these emotions and thereby to regulate them better, parent them better; for yes, we’re our only parent now.
Of course our hidden history is much better seen; but how hard this is for the famous. Consider their predicament: most are one-trick ponies who’ve used their trick to maximum effect. Having reached a level of fame, however damaged inside, they begin to believe their own publicity, with a sense of entitlement to the fore. In such a state, instead of acknowledging their hidden history, they’ll want only to hide it. To stay famous, they must become the strangest thing: people against their own truth. The Liberal Democrat politician, Chris Huhne - like 300,000 others every year – has lied about a speeding offence. Why? He was famous enough to see the prize of party leadership before him. Once that dream took hold, the truth and effects of his hidden history became something to avoid.
‘The real loser,’ wrote Pistorius’ mother, who died when he was fifteen, ‘is never the person who crosses the finishing line last. The real loser is the person who sits on the side…doesn’t even to try to compete.’ True - though another type of loser is the one who runs away from themselves and their hidden history. And some run very hard and fast.