An Open Letter to My Therapist – C: Week 28
Previous meetings, specifically that of today (Thursday 29 October), refer. I should like to enquire as to what you feel that the mandate of our work together is. It has been my long-held understanding that the point of psychotherapy is to improve the mental health and emotional difficulties of the personnel that the psychotherapeutic community refer to as ‘clients’, ‘patients’, or patronisingly, ‘service users’. I should be grateful if you could confirm that this perception is in fact an accurate representation of the nature of your profession.
Assuming that I am indeed correct in this apparently nefarious and naive assumption, I should like you to clarify exactly why the opposite seems to be so frequently the case as regards the relationship that we presently share.
You were, quite reasonably in my view, asked today to read some material prepared by me, primarily from my online journal. A great deal of effort was put into a proper and considerably redacted construction of this diary by me, an effort that I deemed to be worthwhile owing to the fact that the diary records some very personal and incredibly painful memories, thoughts and feelings that I feel utterly incapable of expressing verbally.
I should imagine that from the interaction between us since your refusal to read these words this morning, that you realise that said refusal has distressed me considerably. I hold you responsible for this, and therefore again would question the mandate of our relationship.
If you have failed to recognise that I am a highly intelligent individual, then let me remind you that I have a tested IQ of 148. Therefore, I should assume that someone who has your own level of intelligence would be cognisant of the fact that I am thoroughly aware of the concept of therapeutic boundaries, and indeed that I am not the only person on whom you need to concentrate in your work.
Notwithstanding this, C, I feel that your rejection of this simple request was unreasonable and frankly unfair in the extreme. Firstly, given as I am aware that you take notes on me, speak about me behind my back to VCB and quite possibly LGP and are willing to fill out administrative forms pertaining to my social security status, it surprises me that it would be considered inappropriate by you to take half an hour to read a few pages that would give you considerable insight into my past, and into my mind. This is, after all, the crux of what you, as a clinical psychologist, are meant to be doing, is it not? I fail to see how this breaks any boundaries, and given the relatively small timeframe required to complete the task, I do not feel that the level of effort required by you to complete this reading is unreasonable when weighed against the value you would obtain from it in terms of my psychotherapeutic treatment, which you are meant to be conducting. Indeed, I believe that what you would gain from it is considerably disproportionate to the (in universal terms) infintessimal amount of time you would invest in it.
As I told you this morning, if you cannot be arsed to engage with the material, I would appreciate that honest response from you. Instead, you claim that you were unwilling to participate in this exercise owing to the supposed fact that it would be “unhelpful” for me to fail to verbally articulate these details. I believe this excuse to be what is colloquially termed a ‘cop-out’.
Whilst I could appreciate and understand this position were the behaviour of giving you written material consistent, as I pointed out several times I was giving you these documents on a one-off basis as a catalyst for discussion. My apparently idealistic view was that you might read the stuff, then probe me on specifics therein, which I would then be unable to avoid discussing. Instead, you chose to infer this isolated behaviour as the start of an entire methodology of avoidance on my part.
May I just point out again – as I did this morning – that I thoroughly and utterly resent the implication that I may behave like some silly little schoolgirl, passing you notes back and forth. This was intended to be a one-off, and if you had given it a chance, it would indeed have been such a thing.
If you think that I am stupid enough not to recognise your probing on me passing you notes back and forth as an investigation of the transference I feel towards you, then pleased consider yourself corrected. If you want to discuss the nature of transference, please just ask me. I have been upfront and honest with you on this subject in the past and do not intend to discontinue such candour. Please do not dress your enquiries up, as you later in the session did, as something vague and nebulous like, “what’s happening between us at the minute?” (On a sidenote, this is a surprising question coming from a psychologist to a dolescum!).
At two points you enquired as to my position on your failure to accept my written work. Whilst I do not remember the specific phrasing of the first such question, I do remember finding it offensive in the extreme, as there was an implied suggestion in your words that you would find any distress on my part as being manipulative. You will recall that I told you that this insinuation was not welcomed by me. Whilst you stated that you did not feel that the word ‘manipulation’ was appropriate, you did not, however, make a forthright denial that that was indeed what you thought my reaction might be.
When I am having a panic attack in your company, C, please do not condescend me with encouragement into practicing Zen buddhist breathing with you. I find this an incredibly uncomfortable pursuit (no doubt you are curious as to why); for some reason, it creates a frisson (on my part) between us, and I find it horribly inappropriate. I shall find my own methods of managing panic attacks, thank you. I have been experiencing them for 12 years; I have known you for six months.
As I recall, the aforementioned panic attack led you to muse somewhat on the issue of my vulnerability, and the fact that I hide my face from you (by keeping my hair down) and fail to articulate some personal issues to you as I do not want to be vulnerable. This is a rational position on my part. I used a rape analogy to exemplify my point; that if I walk home alone at 3am, drunk, wearing a short skirt and a low-cut top, that I am putting myself at risk by virtue of my vulnerability (and for Christ’s sake, please do not read anything into that particular example. Nor should you make the assumption that in this example ‘at risk’ equates with ‘deserves’. That is not the case). In fairness, this point was accepted by you, but was nevertheless diminished on the grounds that your office is a safe and confidential place that allows me to express a vulnerable side of myself with impunity. Whilst I am willing to accept the good intentions of this statement, it is still and withall a fallacy, C. Your office is not a safe place, and you are not a safe ‘object’ (in the psychological sense). You are not safe because sooner or later, understandably, and by your own frank admission, you too will reject and abandon me, just like everybody else has done.
You will be aware that today was probably the first time in our entire relationship that I have expressed hostility beyond mild irritation towards you. On that note, towards the end of the session, I found myself engaging in yet another self-vituperation, using a range of perjorative nouns and adjectives including, “dick,” “bitch”, “self-obsessed,” “hateful” and “monster”, amongst a multitude of others. Whilst not denying these self-beliefs, I believe that this particular invective was actually a projection onto myself of my then-feelings towards you. Arguably I could simply have stated how furious and disgusted I was with you, but then I would have caused myself even more distress, as I would have feared abandonment by you (even though I was ((am)) intensely angry with you) and wiould have felt horribly guilty (I feel guilty about everything). So the fact that I manifested any hostility at all is somewhat remarkable.
Another related incident of note is that during the aforementioned invective, I accused myself of being a “childish brat, throwing toys out of the pram in all directions”. You stated that this was “only part of [me].” The strong suggestion to be inferred therefrom is that you agree with this assessment, at least to some extent. I cannot criticise you for this position, as it is indubitably correct. However, I have chosen to bring it up as an interesting reflection of the current state of our dyad.
At a juncture towards the end of the meeting, you asked for a second time how I felt vis a vis your failure to take my documentation. I stated that I was “not best pleased.”
In future when I make an unambiguous statement of this nature, can you please accept my words without asking me to articulate further what it is that I mean. I would think it unwise for me to give you my completely uninhibited view, which is that I think you’re a lazy, selfish, irresponsible piece of shit. Beyond providing said view, there is little more I can add to the sentiments already expressed.
On a similar but unrelated note, when I am banging my fists on the chair and throwing my glasses on the floor, you are the Master of Understatement to suggest that I “must be quite agitated.” Again, saying what you actually mean would be greatly appreciated.
I believe that you caused me an unnecessary amount of upset both in and outside of your company today. In session with you, as observed, I was extremely agitated. Your continual verbal pushing of me did not aid my psychological state in any way, unless you consider increasing mental pain to be a move towards better mental health.
I can recognise why you consider it imperative to investigate my reluctance to actually face my history and feelings with you directly, and why you want to find out why I find it so difficult to look at you, or to be looked at by you. I do understand that. Nevertheless, I fail to see how it is mutually exclusive to reading the documentation presented.
You were right in your assertion that I “want to connect with [you] in some way.” I do not think it would be a massive leap of faith for that inference to be made based on the fact that I have been trying to find adequate therapy for 12 years. My only wish is that you would be willing to meet me half-way on how that connection is achieved. As you are so fond of pointing out, our alliance is a co-construction.
Finally, please do not assume that I fail to recognise that you have other work to do and a life to lead. On the other hand, please do remember that through your own volition you have put yourself in a position of great power and responsibility, and that it is not reasonable from anyone’s point of view for you to knowingly abdicate from that.
In light of the strength of that responsibility, may I return to my original point, and question the exact point of psychotherapy. A prompt, detailed and honest answer would be much appreciated. Thank you.
Anyway, C, do take care of yourself* and I can’t wait to see you next week**.
SI [hugs and kisses]****
* I hope you contract some incredibly painful (though admittedly non-fatal) illness.
** I’d certainly be unable to wait if I could find a baseball bat with spikes through it.
*** Fuck you, you balding, scrawny cuntfuck.
**** [slaps and punches]
I am sure this negative attitude will be relatively ephemeral, but Christ almighty it is strong as of this moment.
This entry was posted on Thursday, 29 October, 2009 at 7:48 pm and is filed under C, Moods, Psychotherapy, Triggers with tags anger, anxiety, bipolar 2, bipolar 2 disorder, bipolar disorder, bipolar II, bipolar II disorder, borderline personality disorder, bpd, clinical depression, countertransference, depression, insanity, madness, major depressive disorder, manic depression, mental health, mental illness, panic, panic attack, psychology, Psychotherapy, sadness, social anxiety, therapeutic relationship, therapy, transference. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.