Saturday, December 17, 2011

The End of the World: Woody Allen and Me!

In May 1994 I was administered a battery of psychological tests by The George Washington University Medical Center Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. Among the tests I took was The Worst Possible Concept Drawing.

The intern who administered the testing asked me to create a drawing that depicted what I considered to be the worst possible concept that I could imagine. I drew a picture of an exploding sun whose rays appeared to envelop and destroy the Earth. I titled the drawing “The Death of Optimism,” and explained that the picture was intended to depict my belief that as long as there is life there is hope, and that the destruction of the Earth and of life itself would be for me the worst possible concept since it would mean the end of hope, or “optimism,” itself.

The intern described the drawing as follows: "His Worst Possible Concept drawing which he entitled as 'The Destruction of Optimism' is of an enormous and ominous sun setting the world ablaze and destroying it. This drawing is indicative of a person who feels lost and burdened. There is an evocative quality to his drawing which suggests that he may indeed be at the brink of despair and is fighting off feelings of destructive aggression."

I have a whimsical association to the Woody Allen movie, Annie Hall -- one of my all-time favorite movies.   In the film, Woody Allen portrays Alvy Singer, a neurotic comedian, attempting to maintain a relationship with the seemingly ditzy but exuberant Annie. The film chronicles their relationship over several years, intercut with various imaginary trips into each other's history.  

In the first flashback showing Alvy as a child, we learn he was raised in Brooklyn; his father's occupation was operating a bumper cars concession and the family home was located below the Thunderbolt roller coaster on Coney Island.  The young Alvy is overwhelmed by the futility of life -- rationalizing his preoccupation with life's meaninglessness on the grounds that the universe is coming apart.  Neurotics are always overwhelmed by cosmic concerns that are only symbolically related to their true, more mundane, fears.

1 comment:

Gary Freedman said...

Yu Ling Han: Dr. Fabian, my test subject discloses a lot of destructive aggression in his "worst possible concept" drawing.

Dr. Fabian: If he's Jewish, it means he's probably a guilt-ridden neurotic. If he's a gentile -- we could be dealing with a serial killer.