Sunday 10 July 2016

#158 Um... A record, record, record

The Examined Life (2013) is a collection of short, entertaining stories compiled by a psychoanalyst. The stories are of real client cases, although they're anonymised.

The central theme of the book is that the reasons underpinning some of our most significant behaviours are sometimes so obscure and contrary to expectation that it can take months, or years of conversations with a trained professional to figure out what they really are.

Would the whole process be quicker if therapists gave their customers a book like this and told them to read it? I'm not sure but if someone who knew pretty much every one of my dirty little secrets started recommending reading material, I'd probably want to take a look. There are some people it's not helpful to offend.

Sometimes the professional realises quickly what the cause of the behaviour or feeling is. At other times, both parties are in the dark for a while until it becomes clear. Some cases are just failures.

A typical example would be a woman concerned about her relationship with her husband who simply won't stop causing her anguish. She seeks help and after months of dialogue, works out that the husband is in reality very attentive and she's been directing towards him all of her disappointment at the mischievous acts of her child, on whom she couldn't bare to place any blame due to the way she was treated in her own childhood.

While such a case might seem rather obvious when explained, it's worth noting that the signs can be quite subtle and that the average human mind is a tricksy little bugger. To pull ourselves together on one level, we'll often weave together a fabrication on another level, which on yet another level has very little robustness to it.

Rather than being a unique characteristic of the minds of those sufficiently troubled or curious to try to unravel it, I am almost certain that such complexity, or at least a degree of it, is much more commonplace. As Scott Peck wrote in The Road Less Travelled, "Essentially everyone can benefit from psychotherapy if he or she is seriously willing to participate in the process".

Did you read that last part Mum, Dad, Seals, Ronan, Karen, Terry, Naino, Marc, Katie, Felicity, Fi, Keira, Lisa, Mark, Rich, Lisha, Liz, Tom, Rosela, all my other friends from home, school, the bus, uni and all my colleagues and extended family?


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