Thursday, October 8, 2015

your soul is squinting

Nietzsche has a line somewhere about the soul squinting that I have adopted for some conversations in therapy.

Based upon the short time I have with some patients in which exploration/analysis of certain problems won't be able to happen, I've found myself having to say something in a practical way once a problem comes to light.

For example, I've had a patient who got to the point of admitting his loneliness and brought up an old friend who he was thinking about calling. Exploring this, he was able to express that he feared that his friend might be a little upset that he hasn't called him for a few months. However, this is obviously a two-way street and the real fear was that he'd call his friend and his friend might not come back into his life. He was worried that his friend might have been merely tolerating his presence and that he didn't like him.

Parallel with omnipotent wishes or magical thinking at this level, there was a fantasy of some magical badness, or something unacceptable in the patient that others reject. Without time to explore this fantasy I globalized this instance and interpreted it as a matter of courage. Was the patient going to walk around in a twilight state, staying at a distance from others so he could squint and imagine that he might be liked, but without ever testing the truth of this? Or, was he going to call his friend or some new acquaintances and ask them to get together sometime and accept that he might be rejected.

It seems to me that some of the power of group therapy is precisely in the person being encouraged on to action by others, because it's not possible to dynamically explore fantasies in the group. I also can't say whether the individual exploration would have any extra benefits, and the end result, taking action and getting out of fear and squinting, is the same for both.

As much as some analysts might hate this, I can imagine an ideal life coach who doesn't know how analysis but who might be much better and faster at inspiring people to get over their fears in the many different ways that they cling to squinting in life. Of course, there is other work in maturation and overcoming specific pathological defenses that only trained psychotherapists can do, but in this one important area of therapy, I feel a little humbled by people who are much more inspirational than I.


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