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A Very Dangerous Boiler; The Human Mind And The Need For The Private Diary
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A Very Dangerous Boiler; The Human Mind And the Need for the Private Diary

I heard a discussion today about the practice of reading another person's personal diary. It ranged from the reading of children's diaries by their parents to the publication (withou permission) of diaries written during the tragedy of a child going missing with no resolution as of yet to the mystery.

The consensus seems to be that the reading of private material is essentially a life changing event. But why? What is so significant about the reading of what has been written? Surely the very fact that what has been written must mean it was intended to be read at some point, or else why write it?

This line of reasoning basically implies reading and writing are intrinsically linked; and maybe so; however only at the prersonal and private level. If a person writes something down and someone else reads it, then an every day occurrence will be taking place. However just because it is an every day occurrence, does not mean that whatever is written is automatically meant to be read by others.

The writer is the one who owns her writings, often even after they are transferred to the public reading square. Their writings are virtually as private as the words in our heads are are until they are spoken out loud. To a certain degree the invasion of a personal diary is akin to the dream of dictators the world over; that is, the invasion of private citizen's minds.

One of the last great privacies we have are our own, personal journals; the last being our own minds. If there is a social permission to access personal diaries, which is what some of those taking part in the discussion were effectively implying, then the only true privacy we will have is inside our own head and that would be fatal.

Our internal landscape with it's emotional hills and valleys and theoretical labyrinths of imagination is similar to Dr Who's TARDIS. One really ought not to go wandering alone back there.

The personal diary, of whatever form, is one of the ways in which we humans have ensured our contact-point with reality stays in place. It is a habit that has the function of keeping us from becoming lost inside ourselves. If it it is endangered by the public right to pry into personal/private journalism, then we might see an increase in mental dysfunctioning as that particular contact point with reality is deemed unsafe.

Listening to those who had had their diaries and privacy invaded, it seemed as if they were saying what those living in a totalitarian state might say. That is, that they have no safe method of attending to their own mental welfare. Nothing is private; all is public.

In totalitarian states, where privacy is pared back to the inside of one's own skull, paranoia and its resultant mental health problems are rife. This suggests the very real dangers of diminishing the sanctity of the diary or journal.

For those who read other peoples diaries without the permission of the diary writer; I would ask that you ask yourself this question: If you discovered that your thoughts, fantasies, feelings, shames, guilts, humours etc were being listened into - how would feel? Seriously, if someone could even access your thoughts about your menstrual cycles or your deepest political philosophy - how would that be for you?

The practice of reading a personal diary is I suggest part of the psychological make-up of a Tyrant rather than a loving parent or friend.

If one has the capacity to have a personal journal/diary, then one has the capacity to sense that there is a public:private division within us. Often that division is hardened into an inhumane barrier because one does not feel safe enough to express themselves to anyone; just the page.

The Hopi Indians,talk about there sometimes being no more room left in their heads. Diaries let us make room. Take away their sanctity and we might simply see more and more of our heads packed in until they burst.

Moral?: Don't devalue the diary. It is a safety valve for a very dangerous boiler; The Human mind.


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