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Perspective: Repressed By The Watchbird

Munro Leaf

When I was nine years old, my parents signed me up for a little child’s magazine called The Weekly Reader, which included a weekly cartoon with three frames.

In frame one was a caption that said, “This is a Pig Pen,” with a drawing of a filthy, unkempt kid. Frame Two: “This is the Watchbird watching the Pig Pen.” This was a drawing of an owl-like fowl with huge glasses on, looking down in frowning disapprobation at the Pig Pen Kid. Frame Three: “This is the Watchbird watching you. Are you a Pig Pen?”

It went on like this every week, except that sometimes the Watchbird was watching a Bully and at other times a Spoil Sport. Sometimes the Watchbird observed a Whiner and at other times a Cheater.

From these weekly exposures, I concluded two things. First, I knew that my parents were very much on the side of the Watchbird. Second, I knew that being a Pig Pen, Bully, Whiner, Cheater, and/or Spoil Sport came rather naturally to me as a nine-year old. In fact, I loved being all those things.

I now realize that I was an ego caught between my instincts, what Freud called the id, and my moral enforcers, or what Freud called the superego. Freud said egos so trapped often end up in a mess and need psychotherapy. My parents let the Weekly Reader expire and forgot to renew it.

Whew! That was a close one.

This is Tom McBride; that’s my Perspective.

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