There are at least three kinds of Greyhound therapy. The first, recently made notorious by a Las Vegas psychiatric hospital but probably a card up the sleeve of many community mental health facilities, is the dumping of a problematic client, by means of a bus ride, beyond one’s borders. The second kind, which I once contributed moral support to at a 24-hour crisis center, is to send a victim to refuge, to help her run from a monster of a man. I remember that our agency, with benevolent power and warm wishes, bought the bus ticket and drove a woman to the Greyhound station in the dead of night. The third type, which on the surface looks like “running away from one’s problems,” is to start a non-starting life over, far away from a sticky or poisonous or spirit-sapping family.
I am displeased with this post, and I am not sure why. The ending is poorly written – it does not come smoothly logically out of the main point, but I think I’ve been unable to fix it because the entire idea of Greyhound therapy discomfits me. Though leaving my childhood home “worked” for me, this was possible only because I had never had a sense of home, at all. As Janov points out, many depressive individuals are “ahistorical” – they lack a feeling of roots and of their continuity and depth in time. This was me, but it may not be my clients, even those I’ve discussed leaving home with. What did work for me, a couple years after arriving in Columbus, Ohio, was to meet my partner and wife. She became home for me. Without her, this place would just have been the next spot of dirt to walk on or float above, as my earlier destinations were.
This is not to say that my psychologically “stuck” clients are better served to stay in their home-of-origin. They may become sicker, the nest a prison or solvent progressively dissolving their backbone. Some (or more) do not find their life partner there. And even when they do, there are often problems that come to therapy: He or she remains too immersed in parents, in the guise of being “helpful” or in the guise of feeling “guilty.” Or the relationship stays very immature.
So maybe the conundrum that impairs my article and botches my certainty is that Greyhound therapy is the worst choice when it is most needed. What’s really needed is a good first home.