Written by Philippa Perry

Lifestyle

The meanings of boredom

Continuing her series exploring the meaning of things, psychotherapist Philippa Perry turns her attention to boredom, in many of its forms.

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I was a bored child. Apparently only unintelligent people got bored, the bright and gifted are so interested in something, anything, that boredom doesn’t get a grip.

So I learnt to keep feelings of tedium quiet and berate myself for my dull stupidity.

I’ve moved on from such dogma and now see boredom as encompassing a broader spectrum, on which you will find the following:

Disconnection Boredom: There’s a type of boredom which borders on depression when you’re seemingly unable to make any sort of connection. You feel like a worn out bit of Velcro with no hooks to grab hold of anything meaningful.

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Existential Boredom: You may feel the existential void if you don’t automatically turn to Facebook, the television or drink when you’ve finished work and instead allow yourself the experience of directionless emptiness – this type of boredom creates the space essential to any sort of creativity.

Trapped Boredom: This may be experienced when choice is taken away. When you’re stuck in a broken down train, or have to do a boring task, or you’re waiting for hours at the bedside of a dying loved-one.

 

Apparently only unintelligent people got bored, the bright and gifted are so interested in something, anything, that boredom doesn’t get a grip.

 

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Defensive Boredom: Is the latter sort of boredom a type of defence? A defence that allows you to maximise the boredom to minimise the crisis. Defensive boredom may be felt as a sort of covering emotion when it’s safer to be bored than allow the anger, upset or vulnerability to surface.

Boredom is often part of the process of change. The cure for ennui is connection – to another person or to people, to an idea, to an action, or to your own experience of yourself.

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Written by Philippa Perry

White middle-class-aged woman psychotherapist, author, journalist, occasional broadcaster. Likes watching telly, tweeting, eating and lying down. Great hair.