Sunday, August 23, 2015

Raw #1*

What is so special about a psychotherapist that he or she can take someone with totally ruined self-esteem, self-blame for everything in his life, failure to grow an inch beyond his childhood feelings of humiliation and errancy – and make him into a person who feels the hurt done to him, clears himself, and can now see the world not through childhood pain and adult rage at others, but from injustice, justice, and peace?

I don’t know that I have that skill, because this client continues to see himself as a botched being from the start, a child awkward and ugly and ridiculous, and needing to try to be “cool” like his brother and father, always inferior.  He earns eighty-thousand a year, does humanitarian works beyond any norm, but is still this child.  He is a macho dude by job, but still the class clown, still the wannabe.  How can a counselor fix this?

These questions point to an ultimate problem with therapy.  Or actually, with people and with therapy’s pretensions.  We can’t make someone grow in the true way, as if we were the first twelve years of good parenting and a time machine.  We can’t make him grow.  Most people’s adultness, or even their more-or-less stable adolescence, is unreal, it is their necessary delusional place, their numbing of the truth, their scar-tissue ground of required maturity.  But that is what we think of as the adult.  Underneath most of our surfaces is the screeching child, lost beyond any known meaning of the word.  We grow a veneer of conduct and rationality and see things the way we are supposed to see them.

This client did not comport.  He remained the boy fully accepting he was the self-destructive garbage his terrible father made him see he was.  In third grade he already hated himself, tried to be some other.

Therapists learn about the quality of empathy, and hopefully really feel for the other person.  We should believe in the existence of the inner child.  But our natural instincts – codified in and blessed by all psychological teaching – say this inner child is a germ within the adult, a germ that we work on with the adult.  Oh, how placid!  How convenient.  What if he is our real soul, hidden or not – as with my client?

Picture being with, sitting next to, holding, the fully regressed man or woman, frozen in fire and unable, needing mommy, the apotheosis of pain.  That would be frightening, wouldn’t it?  But I need to ask all therapists: Why wouldn’t that be the best?

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* A single Bell’s Two Hearted Ale was enough to get me to write more from the heart, or the id.

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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.