The Spirit of Geometry. Who should soothe?

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In my clinic, no other image has generated more emotion, more discussion and yielded greater personal insight for my clients than this piece of surreal art by Belgian artist René Magritte. Curiously named “The spirit of Geometry” (1937), Magritte denied that it had anything to do with him and his upbringing but some have disputed this.

René’s own mother suffered from depression throughout his childhood. One cold morning, when René was 14, she slipped out of the family home and drowned herself.

It must have been a terrible blow to a sensitive and intelligent teenager. His role, in so far as the image suggests, may have been to soothe his mother. But this is a doomed situation. It is a role he was neither equipped for, or had the authority to implement. Worse still, it opens up an opportunity for the Heart to be broken.

No child should have to undertake the responsibility of regulating the emotions of a parent. It simply isn’t their job.

Dr Jonathan Andrews MAPS

Clinical Psychologist

Brisbane, Australia

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