Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Fantasy in f minor

I wanted to mention that while I sometimes reveal, in these posts, neurotic and dynamic features of my makeup, there is much that I will never say to anyone, that I will carry to the grave.  That content is not indiscretions or other colorful stuff, but what I know about the formative structure of my identity – the seed as it was and as it foretells the rest.  The fact that I can’t be alone in having “places” one does not want to dwell on – or dwell in – is a lesson about the shortcomings of the “primal” approach to psychotherapy that I cut my teeth on and still respect the most.  That is the approach that brilliantly questions the False Self and all defenses, sees Pain as the river that carves our landscape and undermines our subterranean self, and understands that repression is pathogenesis of mind and body.  I believe the best argument against primal purity is, “You can’t go home again.”  Pure openness – defenselessness – would be the untied balloon that deflating, lurches back to its formless, inchoate self.  Even exorcising his or her pain would not be enough.  Even counting on – a paradox the primal folk silently endorse – the “outer adult” to hold the cleansed-by-fire inner child would not be enough, if there was never a foundation to stand on.

Though physicists launch their minds into the universe while standing on a self-swallowing base of quantum uncertainty, free will determinism and ontological anarchy, I find my work slightly, and my writing significantly, braked by both the dark gooeyness of my foundation and the question of best psychology.  Sometimes I think of a person as an egg, whose shell is the defense system (drugs, denial, intellectualization, depression, workaholism, masturbation, violence, ad infinitum).  He is imprisoned within the shell – can’t really see out, can’t really live – but is not viable without it.  I wonder, sometimes, if best healing – by God and psychotherapists – would be to hold the hurting person in your arms while covering their eyes against their deepest truths.

A bigger problem for me is my own unsayable, which obliquely conforms to Yalom’s insight that in group therapy, so long as the members avoid discussing the elephant in the room – whatever the big issue is – nothing else of importance will happen.  While there are different subjects I may have a useful perspective on – such as anger management versus resolution, or client loneliness, or the narcissistic-sexualized front of my 21-year-old client – I often find these issues eclipsed by the dark sun of my own existence mystery.  And as my typing is invariably gravitationally drawn to the darkest forces, I’m pulled away from these livelier planets.

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Comments are welcome, but I'd suggest you first read "Feeling-centered therapy" and "Ocean and boat" for a basic introduction to my kind of theory and therapy.