please don't leave me
I love you.
I cannot breathe without you.
Never stop loving me.
I don't even know who I am without you.
I need you.
I need you.
We don't like neediness and dependency. Helplessness and weakness threaten us. We seek connections and are ashamed of not being able to be on our own. We get angry with ourselves and with the other for needing them so much.
For decades, psychology perceived the ‘proper developmental direction' as transitioning from symbiosis and dependency to independence. Margaret Mahler (1967) termed this process “separation individuation.” Grow up, stand on your own two feet. Need nobody. Symbiosis and neediness were perceived as signs of weakness and regression. The mature person was by him or herself. Choosing to enter a relationship, but not needing it. Our lives were not dependent on the other person.
During the last three decades, particularly influenced by relational psychoanalysis, something is beginning to change. There is a turn in the way dependency, neediness, and symbiosis are seen. Today, researchers and therapists believe that alongside the dependency-independence developmental axis, there is another one, just as important – from dependency to the capacity to surrender to connection, to need, to form mutual dependency (Benjamin, 1990; Pizer, 2012). The capacity to stand independently is not the only measure of maturity and happiness. I am also required to allow someone else in. Deeply so, under the skin. I am called to need, and be afraid, and connect, and be confused, and get lost.
But even if modern psychology finally validates it, dependency is the scariest and most dangerous and threatening thing in the world. You can die from it, or go crazy. The art in this exhibition was created out
of dependency. And neediness. And a torn heart.