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The first time I was stabbed in the face

A few minutes in the dentist's chair has become a symbol of really, really poor communication and of what causes it.

"I wasn't looking for friendship that day, but at least I wanted the feeling that I was actually being seen by him (the dentist). Even though his gaze was intense, I realised that as far as he was concerned I wasn't really there - not as a person. If I was there at all, I was something on his checklist. He was speaking into the vague mist of interpersonal nothingness," says Alda (above).

THE dentist had the sharp end of the blade inches from my face.

It was only then that he chose to tell me what he was seconds away from doing to my mouth. "There will be some tethering," he said.

I froze. Tethering? My mind was racing. What does he mean? How could the word ethering...

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