BALDRICKING YOURSELF. I was struck by the drummer’s identification of the voice of the drill sergeant with the inner critical voice of the performer because I have been saying something like it for the last few years. Blackadder is a British TV comedy series starring Rowan Atkinson, who portrays a member of the Blackadder family at different periods of history. In each period, the Blackadder figure has a servant, a dogsbody, Baldrick. In whatever period they find themselves, Blackadder abuses his servant ruthlessly and continually, in terms that we are unaccustomed to hear on stage or in the movies. There were surely masters who verbally abused their servants, but they have not made it into fiction very often.

Blackadder ‘s treatment of Baldrick can be funny, but I found it troubling. And then I realized that there is one person I speak to that abusively from time to time—myself. Most of us would never talk to anybody else that abusively—but many people have an inner voice they use to talk to themselves that way.

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