March 8, 2011

IT'S NOT LIKE HE CAN SPEND THE TIME STARING AT YOUR BREASTS:

The Sleeping Cure: I’d seen four shrinks in my life, and they’d all dozed off mid-session. Was it them—or me? I went back to find out. (Stephen Metcalf, Mar 6, 2011, New York)

I have consulted four therapists in my life, and all four have fallen asleep on me. The ritual—forms, waiting rooms, Kleenex—starts up again, only each time with my own special twist: I pay someone to explore my unconscious mind and instead they sink into theirs. So consistently did I lose wakeful contact with my shrinks that I began to suspect—honest to God—that feigning sleep was a technique for provoking patients to confront their fears of abandonment. “Once in a 40-year career,” said a friend’s shrink, an ancient and cheerful Jungian, when I asked him if he’d ever drifted off while on the clock—making me, I suppose, the Ted Williams of narcissistic monotony.

A little while ago, at a dinner party, I met a prominent analyst, a Kleinian. He is the first therapist I’ve known socially, and I confided in him. “I’d like to go back into therapy, but all four therapists I’ve seen in my life have fallen asleep.” He didn’t laugh. Nor did he ask me how I felt. Instead he took it in, turned it over in his mind, then said, very carefully, “Well, the common denominator here is you.”


Don't they make up stuff in these sessions just because they'd be so boring otherwise?

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 8, 2011 7:17 AM
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