Thursday, March 3, 2016

Angry needy little boy-men

Therapy, and the annals of crime, show that there are boys who grow up with a chip on their shoulder so massive and painful that it presses down upon them, preventing growth, limiting their height, contorting them within themselves – their emotions, ideas, their vision, their heart. The chip – originally the crimes of their parents – exerts such force, with consistent oppression, that it literally stops time, leaving them impacted children. They cannot see people clearly and respectfully because they are completely a fusion of pain and need, always terrified of bleeding out. They see their partner through poisoned – predatory and victimized – eyes because their need is a corpse putrefying and inaccessible, stillborn in their past.

These are the little boy men who, sitting apart from their wives in session, tremble and rage, who almost can acknowledge the truth of an insight – “your needs are not the only ones that exist”; “your anger is not a part of the marital equation, but a personal and hurtful feature” – but the acknowledgment is instantly submerged beneath the tsunami of their neediness. They are “men” only in the quantity of years of frustration that have led to this, and in the power that an angry, muscular man has. Everything else is the little boy emotionally abandoned by his weak mother, though he can't live without her; debased by his once-hero father; the boy whose justified rage was castrated by these same parents and teachers and Social Services, not respected as the truth that it was.

In the past year I saw two of these men through their wives therapy. They were very probably personality disordered: some blend of Borderline, Antisocial and “not otherwise specified.” Deferring an assessment of their first three years – when “orthodox” personality disorder is seeded – from childhood on they’d had to protect themselves from the real world beneath a cloak of anger and attitude and manipulation, and that cloak became their world. The illusion that they could live from the same plane of rationality as their partner is what was most frustrating – to both of them.*

There are many people who cannot be helped by therapy. These men are among them. They hold themselves together only by clenching their partner tight, a fused unit: by having a dozen phone calls a day with her; demanding she serve their Purple Heart-based entitlement; requiring her to soothe their childhood-deep loneliness, over and over again. Imagine a four-year-old being cast out in the winter cold, all alone, to make a life. It is no different for these men. All help must be undermined by this axiom – Need exists before identity. Consumed by never-met need, they flail and fuse and run from their nonexistence. Good therapy would only reveal that.

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* I should mention that the wife may also have a personality disorder, and there may be two tinted lenses misperceiving each other. The fact that one couple has been together for over twenty years does point to a dual mesh of dysfunction.


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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.