COMMENT

Oscar Zoroaster Phadrig Isaac Norman Henkle Emmannuel Ambroise Diggs is also known as the great and terrible supreme ruler of the kingdom, the ferocious and majestical Wizard of Oz.

Believing he is the only man capable of solving their problems, Dorothy and her friends (the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion) travel to the Emerald City to see him. Oz is very reluctant to meet them, but eventually each is granted an audience, one by one. In each of these occasions, the Wizard appears in a different form, once as a giant head, once as a beautiful fairy, once as a ball of fire, and once as a horrible monster. Eventually, it is revealed that Oz is actually none of these things, but rather an ordinary conman from Omaha, Nebraska, who has been using a lot of elaborate magic tricks and props to make himself seem "great and powerful."

I was reminded of this story when we saw behind the curtain of potential Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh this week. His persona – he was in consideration for the most powerful job in the land because he was supposedly a cool, rational thinker – was revealed to be a chimera, a magic trick.

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The curtain was pulled back to reveal a petulant, maudlin, sentimental fool. ("My daddy's diary…")

At the end of the hearing we may not have learnt whether Justice Brett Kavanagh was guilty of the attack on Christine Blasey Ford when they were both at high school but we did learn something. Justice Kavanaugh revealed how brittle, fragile and vulnerable these pillars of our establishment really are. Beneath the surface of the patrician intellect there lurks a dirty secret: murderous, narcissistic rage.

To recap: Dr Ford gave dignified, considered testimony to the Senate Judicial Committee that she was 100 per cent certain Brett Kavanagh had sexually attacked her at a party at high school, and put his hand over her mouth when she tried to scream. She was controlled, polite. She admitted she was terrified.

Then Judge Kavanagh gave testimony which was a howl of emotional incontinence; he wept, he sneered, he spluttered. He denied he was a sloppy drunk but we could see for ourselves he was a sloppy thinker. Under pressure he regressed to a state of unadulterated childlike instinct. ("I hate you!" my son says when I take his computer away and his face goes a similar shade of puce.)

The New York Times described Judge Kavanaugh's fury with distaste: "A primal scream for threatened white male privilege." The Atlantic called it "A grotesque display of patriarchal resentment."

But there can be gold hiding in the dark. Maybe by revealing this shadow part of himself, Brett Kavanaugh also offered us a valuable insight into men like him.

He gave us a powerful exhortation to knock those pompous off their pedestals, to stop worshipping them for their vapid frat boy achievements. ("I was number one in the class. I was captain of the varsity basketball team.")

It turns out Kavanaugh, and others of his ilk, have their own mental health challenges.

Although his accuser was the one who had been to a therapist to talk about her trauma, it was Kavanaugh who was revealed in the hearing to be the more disordered personality. Ford demonstrated a self-regulation, she managed her painful emotions, and Kavanaugh did not.

Instead his defences came down and we got a glimpse into his unfiltred internal reality; What we saw was someone who has been a product of privilege so rarefied, so entitled, that he has never had the requirement to examine or reckon with his less worthy parts. He has been able to get far in his life by using "the defence of not knowing."

In his book The Examined Life, psychotherapist Stephen Grosz uses the phrase "the bigger the front the bigger the back" to explain the unconscious strategy we use to get rid of self-knowledge we're unable to bear. Typically, we want to see ourselves as good, and so we put those aspects of ourselves that we find shameful into another person or group. Psychotherapists understand splitting: for the rest of us, we continue to be shocked – shocked!- by someone whose shop-window appears functioning and successful, but their disowned "back" is revealed to be the complete opposite.

We still work under the assumption that if someone is a "good" person they could not have done some un-admirable things. We find it hard to accept we all contain many different parts.

I imagine most of us have boorish or shameful experiences in our youth, when our impulse control was poor, which we would do differently if we could. (Hopefully not attempted rape). But it seems to me what counts is how you evolve and integrate those shadow parts into your personality along your life journey.

Perhaps we would benefit from people in high office who have been through dark times but have come to understand themselves and to integrate their shadow into their public persona. Kavanaugh does not appear to have mastered that developmental task.

In the end the Wizard gave the Scarecrow a head full of bran, the Tin Woodman a silk heart stuffed with sawdust and the Cowardly Lion a potion of "courage". Their faith in the Wizard made these items work, but the power came from inside them. Because there is no Wizard, only a feeble old man.