Sunday, December 21, 2014

Pariah, friend

I have apparently offended two people whose help I’ve sought.  One is a former co-therapist, associate and “business friend”; the other is a one-time clinical supervisor of mine.  Though it’s just a guess, I believe that writings in The Pessimistic Shrink blog turned them away.  The supervisor refused to write a reference letter because of “differences in our therapy approach.”  The old associate didn’t reply to my request for advice.  Until relatively recently, both had maintained (or feigned) decent peer relationships.

Most therapists reading this would, I suspect, be surprised at the pettiness of a counselor supervisor who refused to help simply because of contrasting approaches.  I would like to assume her pettiness, too, but I know better.  What I know is that many of my writings – though always accurate to the best of my ability – are bathed in attitudes of superiority, defiance, remoteness, and bitter antagonism.  And that this is likely to reach people I’ve known.

See if, looking through a random selection of the fourteen months’ posts, you can detect a taint.  I will not help you with your search, partly because I believe the effects are very quiet, and if you fail to generally feel the soft acid of a righteous pariah, this will somewhat exonerate me.

There is so much behind this – literally, because it is childhood and most of my years weighing on top of it.  Losses and amputations of a psychic kind, somehow in consort with a truth-seeking mind, have made me an unfriendly helper, on paper.  Yet, you may, reading some articles, feel a serious benevolence that seems to belie this self-condemnation.  This is because my pain does not exist in the client hour.

When I write about my clients, I am still in an air of reminiscence about the relationship.  It is fulfilling, even warming, in certain ways.  But then I come home, and in the aloneness, all the feelings of the pariah return.

I see botches wearing parents’ clothing.  I see love that falls short, or is the wrong word, because one’s own needs were never met.  I see so many people who have escaped into feel-good thinking – an entire life of rationalizing.  When people rationalize and intellectualize, they are blind to everyone.  This blindness is the enemy – it starves.  In a way, everything I see that is not empathy is the enemy.

But then there is a client who wants to reach himself, and in that dangerous molten place there is vulnerability and some kind of connection.  The pariah is gone in those moments and the friend materializes.  And when my wife is home – not in another state as she is now – the ground becomes a peopled ground again, my mind becomes a relational mind, as they were supposed to be in childhood.

I see struggling children wearing parents’ clothes, love that’s the only thing that matters.  I see so many people lost in their heads when they need to come down to earth – a painful descent but possible with a therapist’s help.

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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.