August 16, 2012

Just Because You See It, Doesn't Mean It's Gone

subway.jpgThis is a post for psychiatrists/psychologists who do long term psychotherapy, sorry everybody else. Pandering to my base. It's an election year.





This is the email I got:

Dear Alone:

You wrote a while ago:


No one ever asks me, ever, "I think I'm a narcissist, and I'm worried I'm hurting my family." No one ever asks me, "I think I'm too controlling, I'm trying to subtly manipulate my girlfriend not to notice other people's qualities." No one ever, ever, ever asks me, "I am often consumed by irrational rage, I am unable to feel guilt, only shame, and when I am caught, found out, exposed, I try to break down those around me so they feel worse than I do, so they are too miserable to look down on me."

If that was what they asked, I would tell them them change is within grasp. But.


I might be asking myself something like that. If I tell you a story would you tell me what you think?



II.


Imagine a crowded subway, and a beautiful woman gets on. Hyper-beautiful, the kind of woman who can wear no makeup, a parka, earmuffs and a bulky scarf and that somehow makes her look even prettier. A handsome man about her age in an expensive suit gets up and says, "please, take my seat." She smiles, and hastily sits down.

What happened? Raise your hand if you think this is a sexually motivated act, i.e. Christian Grey isn't so delusional that he assumes she's going to have sex with him, but in a Hail Mary, longshot kind of way it's worth the price of standing for three stops.

Now raise your hand if you think he was just being nice-- he would have done it for any woman. Huh. Really? Then why was he sitting at all?

But why does the woman think she got the seat? Does she think, "the only reason he gave me his seat is because the Hail Mary is worth the price of standing for three stops?" Or does she think, "no, come on, he was just being nice."

We can't be certain why Hugo Boss gave up his seat. But if the woman picked b, we know something about her: she sees the world as intrinsically nice, it's a place where random kindness exists and hence must be a reflection on the physics of the world, not her specifically-- "New Yorkers are so nice!" she says, and she actually believes it.

In other words: the goodness is in him, not in her.


III.

One of the frustrating things for therapists is a patient who is unable to see reality. Maybe it's a guy who takes every little thing his ex does as a sign she wants him back; or it's a college kid who is failing his classes because he thinks it's more important to "help Jen with the crisis she is going through"; or maybe it's a woman who thinks men aren't interested in her.

In the course of therapy she explains she wishes she could meet a good guy, nice, with a good job, someone like the guy on the subway. And you're stumped, didn't she meet a guy on the subway who was exactly like the guy on the subway? "Oh, no, he wasn't interested in me, he was just being nice."

You can guess the backstory: father left when she was 8, mom was always telling her she was too fat and too skinny, an "overly critical maternal superego" which is different than a paternal superego because it yells at you not when you sin but when you fail. This is the mom who doesn't want you to have premarital sex, of course, but a girl like you should be dating the captain of the football team. So the men who do ask her out, the ones she ends up dating-- fearless, calf tattooed men who make their attraction to her explicit, even vulgar, so she can't help but know that they want her and what they want from her. Meanwhile, these guys then treat her like crap. So she lives her life thinking that the only people who like her-- the people she has to settle for-- are... not great.

Genetics took care of her body but the upbringing affected her vision: the childhood of never good enough filters her present reality, obscures it, she can't see what is plain to everyone else, e.g. she's beautiful. So the process is to uncover the reasons why her view of reality is distorted and help her realign with reality. Use insight to strengthen her damaged ego, or, if you want a ten step approach, block automatic thoughts. In short, to understand that she is good, that men do find her attractive, not just the brazen ones, not just jerks.

IV.

If you think of narcissism as grandiosity you miss the nuances, e.g. in her case the problem is narcissism without any grandiosity: she is so consumed with her identity (as not pretty) that she is not able to read, to empathize with, other people's feelings. She doesn't care to try because it conflicts with how she sees herself. Ergo: Giorgio Armani was just being nice.

I recognize, of course, the countertransference: that I am attracted to her, it is impossible not to be. Of course I'm also in full control of myself, I don't break the boundaries of treatment. But I also see that she doesn't see I'm attracted to her, in fact I often observe how little attention she pays to my "feelings." She treats me as if I am a voice only. Once I had a cast on my forearm and she made no mention of it. What does this suggest?

Two or three years later, nothing has changed except-- she drinks more. Huh. Things did not go according to plan.

What happened? What happened is my analysis of the countertransference was purposefully self-serving, "see, I'm a good therapist in detecting this" which defended me against the truth: yes I was able to admit to myself that I was attracted to her, but what I was unwilling to admit to myself-- that anyone outside of me would see immediately-- was that part/all of my eagerness to help her was that she was beautiful; and the way in which I know to impress beautiful women is by giving gifts, helping-- as it was with my own mother. Not that I was so delusional as to assume she'd have sex with me, but in a Hail Mary, longshot kind of way....

And since I was having those feelings, and those feelings are BAD, "inappropriate" as we say in therapy, then it is entirely likely that rather than not correctly seeing reality, she saw it and guarded against it: by deciding that men--me-- don't want to have sex with her, they are just being nice.

What I didn't consider is that her blindness to the desires of men is necessary to her sanity-- that she doesn't want to believe that every man's interaction with her is sexual; she doesn't want to have to live in a world that only sees her naked. She wants the world to be... nice. Take as the origins anything you want, maybe abuse, maybe she started noticing at 15 how all the neighborhood fathers looked at her a little differently than they looked at the other girls; too many date rape close calls, jealous girlfriends, whatever you want.

Which means that my push to get her to see reality is interpreted by her as yet another sexual advance-- because it is. When she walked in she was able to block out the possibility I was attracted to her, but through diligent application of reality testing I forced her to see my erection-- "look, I really want to help you understand what you do to me!"

Fortunately for her she doesn't exist, I made this story up, but it serves to illustrate an important point: rather than assume people are too damaged to interpret reality, the default assumption should be: all of this is a defense against change. (1)


V.

Here's a story I didn't make up, though I've altered it to simplify a complicated situation and protect his anonymity.

Joe had a girlfriend, and though they were happy the relationship seemed to run it's course, and she took up with another man. Despite this, she couldn't fully let go of Joe, so they still talked and texted and met once in a while.

During talks some things came up, notably things about Joe, notably Joe's apparent indifference in the relationship. For example: "I was also hurt," she said, "that when we broke up, it didn't seem to bother you."

Joe told me it did bother him, perhaps more in retrospect (now realizing how much he liked her), but he wondered if his lack of emotion wasn't a signal of a larger problem- an inability to connect.

So: multiple texts, chats, and, at one meeting:

We met and we cried very much, she said she was sad that we weren't together, but it still made sense for her to be with that other guy. We ended up kissing and crying at the same time. After that I didn't see her for about two weeks. But we continued to talk, she'd said that she missed me, and I missed her too. She said she'd been crying everyday since she that last meeting, wondering if....

Because of that I arranged to see her again, but this time she said she had made up her mind and decided to be with the guy. She also said very quickly that she fantasized about us getting back together someday, but not now. In this kind of situation I always try to be strong and say that the person is not responsible for me, but this time I collapsed and cried. I asked her if she still loved me, she said "Yes, but it can't be right now". (2)




Eventually they meet again, and on the way home... things get murky. He says he badly wanted to kiss her, but she did not want to.

"She stopped me. I said "Ok, then I'll leave", but then she asked me to stay. She said she was divided, and very anguished, she thought she was doing something wrong. I said it was not wrong, because she loved me and love can't be wrong (or some similar catchphrase). I tried to kiss her again, this time she didn't resist but she wasn't very passionate either. I noticed she was very sad. I said I loved her. She said "stop it", and ran off.


So I'm trying to think what I did wrong, and what I'm asking myself is:

- How could I not pay attention to her feelings, making her anguished just because I needed that kiss? I see that I was extremely selfish that day-- here she was crying and ambivalent, and all I felt was horny-- and throughout the whole process I could only think that I wanted her for my own needs and forgot about how she felt.

Even though I always asked her if she wanted me out of her life and she said no, why do I even need to ask? Why couldn't I just see that she was crying and tried to comfort her instead of trying to kiss her?

So:

How do I stop hurting people?

I know that I'm only thinking about that because I had a loss and I miss her a lot and I want to be a better person so I'll have a better life, but still it's good to become a better person and stop hurting people.

This time I really want to change who I am because who I am is not working.




I wrote a reply about their relationship, which highlighted her ambivalence and how such ambivalence in women is often resolved. However, he wasn't really asking for advice about the relationship, but rather advice about being a better person. Was he wrong for pressuring her when she was so conflicted? Did he ignore her feelings? How can he change?

He wrote back (excerpts):



1. I see her ambivalence and her conflict. Maybe I'd have an easier time if I just said "I want you, dump the guy"....


2. I feel jealous now that she accepted the "no more texts or dates or anything". Because at first the fact that she fell in love with someone else didn't stop her from expressing love towards me. Now it did. Now I'm jealous....


4. Yes, I feel guilty for the day when she was crying and all I could think of was trying to kiss her. I didn't use strength, didn't hold her or anything, she accepted my kiss but very sadly. Sometimes I think about it and it feels almost like I raped her. This fact specifically is what made me write to you: I wouldn't share that thought with anyone who's close to me. Is that shame or guilt? Or both? I know that she didn't see it that way because later that day we talked and she told me she didn't want me to leave her life and she couldn't forget me. Which is consistent with your interpretation.

4.a. I had noticed narcissistic behavior in me before several times and I've been trying to change. For instance, somehow I thought I'd look ridiculous giving someone a gift so I didn't usually did that, no matter the circumstance. I originally thought giving a gift was about me, a reflection on me, not about the person receiving the gift. When I came back from Denver I brought a Broncos jersey for my little brother, but I was worried about what my father would think of me and about my choice of a gift, and stuff like that, but I focused on how my brother would feel receiving the gift. It may sound silly but for me that was a big deal. It pisses me off that I forgot to pay attention to her feelings in this situation.






My reply:



I now understand that this kiss is what prompted your email, this specific incident. I recognize you feel guilty for pressuring her into a kiss. And she was crying, which should have stopped you (you believe) but it didn't. If you were blind to her feelings you could say, in retrospect, you are a selfish person without empathy who doesn't notice other people's feelings, who only does what he wants. But it wasn't blindness (you tell me), you knew full well she didn't want to kiss you, yet you proceeded anyway. This makes you even more of a narcissistic monster. Is this a correct hearing of your story as you intended it to tell me?

The problem is that you are telling me two stories.

On the one hand, you are telling me a story about your "guilt" over taking advantage of her vulnerability and kissing her when she didn't want it. Which is odd, because apparently kissing her wasn't really an example of taking advantage of her-- she didn't think so, right? She told you so herself later. So then it was a kind of dialogue: her ambivalence wanted a firm response, and you (against your ordinary nature) were surprised to find yourself compelled to give it to her.

You kissed her; you say-- your words-- that she didn't see it as any kind of "rape"-- but did she feel any guilt for kissing you? For cheating on her boyfriend? I'm not saying she should or should not, merely that one would expect her to be wrestling with her guilt. But instead on the phone later she is discussing yours, making you feel like you did nothing wrong. If you follow me so far, then talking to you and easing your guilt isn't primarily because she cares about your suffering, but because it allows her to avoid looking at her own. If you "forced" the kiss-- and by saying you didn't force it she is saying it's okay that you did--- in forgiving you she would be benevolently implying the fault was yours and she was blameless. This isn't malicious or intentional, this is all unconscious, it is performance: can I trick my superego? Since I was crying, how much could I really have wanted it?

But none of that is important, because there's a second story.

Your next paragraph to me describes narcissism-- my "specialty"-- and worrying about how a gift would be seen by your father, and (ultimately) doing the right thing and focusing not on your feelings but on your brother's. But how can I not read that paragraph and think:

father=TLP
brother=ex
gift=kiss

and


"I thought giving a gift was about me, not about the person receiving the gift" which is, "what will you, TLP, think about this, now that I am thinking about other people's feelings? Will you be critical like my father, or will I get your approval?"

I know you'll counter that you in fact did give a gift to your brother, but the juxtaposition of the example you chose from 10 million other possibles cannot be a coincidence. Which is why it is important to
focus on the words.

So what is the right interpretation of that paragraph, 4a? Why does it follow so logically from 4? Why are you telling it to me? Like all these things, it's a defense against change: "see? I think about other people's feelings."
But that's the narcissism. The narcissism isn't forcing a kiss on her; the narcissism is the thinking that all of these events with your ex are entirely yours to decide, to bear the responsibility of. She is merely a supporting cast member that wasn't nearly as sophisticated, insightful, intuitive as you. You want to bear the guilt because it shows you-- and me-- you are a better person.

Please understand that this is not a judgment of you, it is (my opinion) of how you see yourself.

Your first story is the age old story of unresolved feelings for each other, oozing out between the clenched fingers of a tightening fist that thinks it can will emotions into control. But the insight for you is that your "narcissism" isn't a lack of empathy but the opposite: other people are all little brothers, ex-girlfriends, supporting cast, who are less able to make good decisions,
so the world needs you to do it.

I would say that ethically you are still supposed to act as if you had unilateral responsibility; but simultaneously you have to be able to see the other as a fully autonomous, free, aware person.

In summary: you could feel (a little) guilty for kissing her when you knew it was wrong; but the real problem for you is that you naturally reduced her to a person with less agency than yourself.



VI.


The problem with therapy-- include self help and mind hacks-- is its amazing failure rate. People do it for years and come out of it and feel like they understand themselves better but they do not change. If it failed to produce both insights and change it would make sense, but it is almost always one without the other.

In Joe's case, it is supremely tempting for both patient and therapist to focus on the problem he is describing-- "I feel guilt over pressuring the girl, does this make me a narcissist?" And the therapist can generate a series of insights which the patient accepts, which although correct lead nowhere.

What's missing is an analysis of the transference. Joe added an entire paragraph 4a which was-- superfluous? It served only to stroke my ego, i.e. "you've helped me, here is an example where I was able to apply your lessons." It's that paragraph in its seeming uselessness that reveals his real motivation in writing me and hence his actual problem. He's offering ME a story about how he forced himself on a girl- and was legitimately bothered by doing it-- but telling it to me is basically saying, as in 4a, "here's an example where I did something bad but I also feel guilt about it-- if I feel guilt, I must be changing-- see, I learned the lessons!" He specifically references the difference between guilt and shame because he knows I know that narcissists never feel guilt, only shame. So rather than that guilt being evidence of self-awareness, that guilt is a trick for my approval. He sounds like he's asking for advice, "how can I change?" but what he wants is in the transference: "Dad, did I do good?" It is that seeking of approval that is the heart of his problem, not his relationship with women, not his "narcissism" of kissing her when she didn't want to.

A really good therapist will be able to get to this kind of depth; someone who will not take the chief complaint at face value, but will focus on the words.

And yet: still this will fail to produce any meaningful change. Insights plenty, but no change. Is it because I am wrong? No, it's because I am not Alone.

VII.

It's a cliche in psychiatry to "analyze the transference" but never mind no one bothers to do this much anymore; it is completely impossible to do this.

I may have been quite clever in telling him the interpretation of the transference in 4a, but the problem is that when I told him "you are seeing me as a kind of father" I was saying it AS his father. Not: I stopped being me and became his father; but from the very moment I responded to him, every single word I wrote was coming from his father. You can't step outside the transference, there is no objective place for me to stand and tell him my thoughts, and there's no safe distance for him to stand and hear them. So if I say, for example, that I do or don't think he handled his ex correctly, I am saying that as his father-- i.e. critical, judgmental, kind, forgiving, whatever.

If I think that by explaining the transference to Joe I somehow dispel it, as if it were an illusion that once explained could never fool him again-- then I won't understand that while I offer further insights or interpretations, while my lips are moving, all he is hearing is: angry at me; love too easily obtained therefore of no value; thinks I'm a fool; thinks I'm a genius.

Then what Joe will do to me, his therapist, is exactly what he does to his own father: try and fool me into giving my approval. And if he doesn't get it one way he'll trick me another. His email can be understood as just this kind of a trick; the focus on the guilt over the kiss is a way of saying got me, "see? I'm changing! Validate me!"

Here is another danger: if I (TLP) think that when I explain things to him, that he and I step outside of the transference and speak objectively-- as if we are talking about Joe while he is sitting in the other room-- if I think this objective stance is not only possible but desirable-- then what I am teaching him to do is to self-observation, I am training him to examine his own actions and thoughts as if he were a neutral person inside his own mind. But that other person would be me. Grant me 50% of the time I'm awesome. What about the rest? Would that person have helped the beautiful woman on the train, or driven her to alcoholism?

Given that the problem here is a kind of narcissism (a description and not a judgement) then by fostering self-observation I am actually worsening his narcissism. And he will inevitably say, "I know myself better, but I'm still doing the same things."



VIII.

So it becomes important not to fall into that trap, to foster change and not just insight. If I was actually his therapist then the correct thing to do would be NOT to tell him all this, but rather to note it to myself as information: "this is the nature of the transference." It's hopefully of some use in an email because since we don't have any kind of relationship; since I am not likely to meet him, it's better that he understands how this works than. But in therapy there is no value in it to the patient.

In fact, as his therapist, my urge to explain it to him would be my own unKantian narcissism: using him as a means to show off. Telling him my great insight is the same as my desire to help a beautiful patient: it is for me, not for them. In therapy we see a reversal of my often repeated maxim: if you're saying it, it's for you.

And so what? What's wrong with giving advice? Because (in his case) he doesn't want advice, he wants validation. And if he doesn't get it from me, he'll do what he already told me he would do: "...I was worried about what my father would think of me... but I focused on how my brother would feel receiving the gift." In other words, he'll find someone who does. This is his real problem: the constant search for approval from Dad, women, wherever. And of course it will never be enough, because that's the nature of the pathology: if he gets validation he'll be temporarily appeased, but eventually devalue it because if it was obtainable by him, it must be valueless.

I can infer from this that he sees his father as generally right but overly critical, and Joe says to himself, "I'm a good person, everyone else thinks I'm a good person, but no matter what I do I can't convince my father of this." This is self-doubt, and it quickly becomes: "I've fooled everyone else, but my usual tactics don't fool my father" and so Joe is trapped between hating his Dad for being so mean but still/therefore suspects he's the best judge of character out there, which means Joe suffers not from high self-esteem, but low self-esteem. This is why my approval (if I were his therapist) is so important to him and simultaneously so damaging: "TLP is equivalent to my father. I may not be able to get my father's approval, but if I can get TLP's then it confirms that I am good." And change is thus unnecessary. The point there is that he doesn't want to change, he wants a reason not to change, he wants to be seen as good without having to earn (whatever it is he believes is necessary to get) his father's approval.



IX.

Therapists should understand the imaginary transference but not play into it, and instead stay outside, an abstraction, an inexplicable mind that already knows all the answers but doesn't tell them (because telling them is inside the transference.) Whose silence is taken by the patient to mean something-- and the answer to the patient's problem is how they interpreted that silence.

This is why I know that though Joe will "like" my email to him very much, think it helpful, it is this post that he won't like that will actually help him more. He can't say anything to me here, there's no dialogue, the post just is: all he has is what I've written here and his feelings about it; and it is those feelings, not my post, that hold the answer for him.

The moment the therapist speaks, he stops being a symbol of knowledge and becomes a person to be fooled (or loved or devalued or punished or whatever the nature of that particular transference is.) A post, a story, and the (mostly) silent therapist are the opposite: a screen to project on so that patient or reader can then ask, why does this make me feel like that? (Or, more rigorously: "what do you want from me?")

This is why readers probably find the my posts about other readers' problems so powerful. When you read a post about my interaction with someone else, you are assuming the role of that outside neutral observer that is impossible inside the dialogue. Not completely, of course, there is always some fantasy about who I am and who Joe is, what we are like, but clearly you are more outside our transferential situation than we are.

For these reasons, I am becoming convinced that the only real way to "personal growth" outside of direct action is through careful study of fiction. Of course stories may have an intended meaning, but a well written story allows you to ask not just "what does the story mean?" but "why do I think that this is what the story means?" As in The Second Story Of Echo And Narcissus: "The story is the pool... what do you see in it? It's a reflection and a projection..." (3)





---

1. If you want to observe the extent to which you are not in control of your countertransferential feelings (women included), get a swimsuit model as a patient-- and let someone else watch you do the therapy. Do you dare? I once had the magical opportunity to watch as a resident was told in rounds that the patient being transferred to him by the graduating resident was "gorgeous, a model". Someone threw a switch, he changed immediately: more professional; softer, more articulated speaking; more mature-- all before he ever saw her. It was as if some part of him said, "yes, it makes sense I would be chosen." But even more impressive was how the rest of the residents treated him over the course of the year. There was some envy but his patient elevated him in their eyes, as if he was a better person, a better therapist. (Similarly: all on-call psychiatrists have had the secret feeling that a doctor's chaotic patient is a reflection on the doctor.) They asked his opinion on matters when it was neither necessary nor even... a good idea. His proximity to a beautiful woman who came to see him made him more of a man-- and of course he wasn't dating her, it was random chance he was picked-- but it gave him a kind of merit as if he had had something to do with it, which was in retrospect silently justified, "he must be good if she stayed with him." This was true of the female residents as well, and, most importantly, the attendings. (I wonder how they would have interpreted it if she stopped coming.) The simple fact that he was appropriate in the sessions was enough to indicate his talent. It should be no surprise that with this amount of unexplored countertransference from him (and all of his colleagues) that no progress was made in her therapy.

2. Though this post isn't about the woman, please observe that she is running a kind of story here, the theme of which is, "I desire the feeling of desire." She likes emotional energy. She breaks up so that there is a deep sadness (Act III) so that there's back and forth resulting in the climax of reconciliation. "We're in love!" Importantly, in order for her to get what she needs from this narrative, they don't actually have to get together in Act IV, it is only necessary that she sees her life as a story with these four acts-- so the breakup is only possible (or easy) because she anticipates that at some point in the future there is an Act IV. NB: no mention of Act V. She isn't aware there is one, which is her life's problem, which is why this story will repeat with her other relationships, including the one she's cheating on now.

3. It would be an interesting experiment to read a story and write down your feelings and interpretations of it, and then return to the story a decade later.







Comments

It sounds to me like you we... (Below threshold)

August 16, 2012 6:55 PM | Posted by papermachine: | Reply

It sounds to me like you went from being Joe's father to being Joe's God.

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: 30 (38 votes cast)
You wrote, "I wrote a reply... (Below threshold)

August 16, 2012 7:12 PM | Posted by Heather : | Reply

You wrote, "I wrote a reply about their relationship, which highlighted her ambivalence and how such ambivalence in women is often resolved."

Ok, I'm curious and wish I could read this reply.

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: 41 (43 votes cast)
> What happened? Raise you... (Below threshold)

August 16, 2012 7:19 PM | Posted by gwern: | Reply

> What happened? Raise your hand if you think this is a sexually motivated act, i.e. Christian Grey isn't so delusional that he assumes she's going to have sex with him, but in a Hail Mary, longshot kind of way it's worth the price of standing for three stops.

/raises hand

"Organisms are adaptation-executers, not fitness-maximizers."

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This has so much meta my mi... (Below threshold)

August 16, 2012 8:32 PM | Posted by Trajan: | Reply

This has so much meta my mind feels like it's going to explode backwards.

Great read, will have to give it a thriceover.

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: 43 (47 votes cast)
My perspective: I see a lot... (Below threshold)

August 16, 2012 8:47 PM | Posted by Barry: | Reply

My perspective: I see a lot of similarity in what you're struggling with, with what I call the difference between first order planning and second order planning.

In first order planning, you see what other successful people have done, and try to do that too.

In second order planning, you find out what other successful people were trying to accomplish when they incidentally did what they did, and you try to accomplish those things instead.

Another thing is that old NLP saying: the meaning of a communication is the effect it has on the listener. That cuts through the narcissistic self-serving bullshit; what you say is judged by end results, not by how it sounds in your head.

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Seems like what you're sayi... (Below threshold)

August 16, 2012 9:03 PM | Posted by DensityDuck: | Reply

Seems like what you're saying here is that we shouldn't seek approval of others; but should, instead, seek to be people who don't need the approval of others.

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It's quite depressing that ... (Below threshold)

August 16, 2012 9:20 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

It's quite depressing that any narrative involving a woman must focus on her beauty. But I guess that's what you're in for when you come to "the last psychiatrist".

What if the woman was actually a dog, or just average looking, and not some (lol) hidden beauty untainted by knowledge of her specialness? Every guys dream, right there. A gorgeous fox who has none of the expectations and arrogance tied up in being beautiful and knowing it.

Answer: who gives a shit. This is for men, about men. Not women. Average looking? I'll sleep with you, but I won't care or talk about it.
And, dogs are plainly there for mocking.

I have no idea how any woman reads this blog. Well I read it, but only because it's interesting, not for any kind of insight, because it's so obviously for the 20 year old guys who worship TLP as if he were their electronic father and a maxim magazine all in one.

The real question is, does TLP know how badly he has sold out (that his audience is 20 year old guys who worship him like a father and so he has increasingly pandered to them) or is this really who he is and how he thinks? I sorta prefer the former.

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Realized what I enjoy most ... (Below threshold)

August 16, 2012 9:26 PM | Posted by DS: | Reply

Realized what I enjoy most about your writing is that when you arrive at the Abyss, instead of just saying "And THAT is the Abyss", you stand around inside it and mutter to yourself for a while before leaving.

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His email can be underst... (Below threshold)

August 16, 2012 10:02 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

His email can be understood as just this kind of a trick; the focus on the guilt over the kiss is a way of saying got me, "see? I'm changing! Validate me!"

The problem I have with this is that it basically reduces his attempts at self-help to the underlying problem. What else is he to do, if not seek the counsel of a psychiatrist (or whatever)? Isn't it a normal and natural thing in such situations to present biographical details, and so what if on some level he is looking for approval/validation?

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How do you act without cari... (Below threshold)

August 17, 2012 1:17 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

How do you act without caring what other people think? Is that even a good thing?

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: 16 (24 votes cast)
Good article! I appreciate ... (Below threshold)

August 17, 2012 2:08 AM | Posted by Therapy Websites: | Reply

Good article! I appreciate the good points your emphasizing! Well, I have a great time reading it.

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Which upsets you more: that... (Below threshold)

August 17, 2012 2:11 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by EX: | Reply

Which upsets you more: that this post isn't about you, or that you think you're average looking?

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So if someone points out th... (Below threshold)

August 17, 2012 4:05 AM | Posted, in reply to EX's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

So if someone points out that this whole screed is incredibly misogynistic, AS PER USUAL, that makes them a narcissist?

I guess then, if a black person pointed out the KKK's writing was racist, would you call the black person a narcissist because he's upset the KKK's writing "isn't about him"? Get out of here, monkey boy, this isn't about you...this is for white folk.

Same deal here. Fantasy gorgeous girl with a beat down ego, all for your pleasure and play and fun, with no expectations or desires of her own, just happy for the meager attention you might show her way because for some reason something is wrong with her brain...not in a retarded/statutory rape kind of way, but in a she doesn't know how much she's worth kind of way. It's like a blow up doll, but better.

If you can't see the problem here, I can't help you with that. Pretend you are a female reading this, and that might help, but then again, that's asking you to utilize empathy so I realize already I have asked way too fucking much. Step 1 is to perhaps entertain the notion that desires thoughts and priorities other than your own might matter. After you grapple that task, then try imagining what it would be like to read this entry as a female, and the eye rolling makes sense.

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Interpreting alone's take-h... (Below threshold)

August 17, 2012 4:33 AM | Posted by Taft: | Reply

Interpreting alone's take-home message while using the form "so you're saying we should do x feel y be z" is ignoring the fact that the take-home isn't a take-home at all, its a statement of incredulity at the nature of words and the human mind. It's the opening of a discussion about the properties of discussion. There is so much more to unravel about this subject, but, you can only really take it in if you are willing to tread the meta-water's and try not to let your ego get in the way too much.

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@ DensityDuck: Who died and... (Below threshold)

August 17, 2012 6:17 AM | Posted by Guy Fox: | Reply

@ DensityDuck: Who died and made you Nietzsche? Oh yeah, Nietzsche.

@ disgruntled 9:20 Anonymous: It's a reflection and a projection. You read it because it's interesting, but not for insight? There are at least 2 corners on that circle. You think there's something here worth your attention, so you come and read, but it need not affect you because the *rest of us* are all a bunch of infantile 20 year-old boys looking for a come down between faps. I bet if you repeat that often enough, you'll be able to convince yourself that it's true.

@ 10:02 Anonymous: "What else is he to do, if not seek the counsel of a psychiatrist (or whatever)?" It might seem the normal reaction in this decade where you live among the people you know. For others in different places with different means, it's normal to hit a crack pipe. Others have quite possibly never heard of a psychiatrist or crack. Would you do that because you're convinced that psychiatry helps people, or because that's what people like who you think you are do? It's not necessarily bad that that's what you do/have done, but if it's helping, you wouldn't need to ask if you're doing it right. Validation is a band-aid to cover the wound without healing it. If you're chasing that, you're not doing everything else. Get it?

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I think the entire point is... (Below threshold)

August 17, 2012 6:45 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

I think the entire point is that many therapists are operating on drives like this while PRETENDING they have a handle on how it affects the therapy but not actually fully acknowledging how utterly human and unable to work themselves completely out of being swayed by such feelings.

I remember one of my psych teachers told the class a story, real funny guy I liked him a lot;

"So this girl is schizoid, just totally flat. And she's, you know... real attractive. She seems oblivious about it, and about men. I mean.. some guys would be thinking, you know, XXX thoughts about this girl, but I'm just trying to be supportive. So she's really flat and I try to ask her about her social interaction and she's just totally withdrawn and won't tell me much and I ask her about her sexual feelings and she just withdraws even more. Just totally won't mention anything about it. I'm a therapist you know, I want to help her get this part of her life in order and she just seems to have no awareness or emotion about this, it's like the more I ask the more she seems distant."

Hahaha. Look he was a really funny comforting old dude and I am certain really helpful for a lot of people, but it's a HUGE deal to label a woman schizoid because she is withdrawing from your "therapy" because you're a horny dude on the edge of your seat dripping with precum and it shows, boss.

Men often think they have a handle on this and they.. sooooo don't have a handle on this. I remember I was working at a place with a lot of troubled young adults and the counselor there pulled a rub legsies on me, the intern while "showing me papers". Of course I know to move away immediately and ensure touchy guy knows he can't sit with me for an hour rubbing his leg on me and making me confused and aroused and thinking maybe I'm over reacting or this is normal... because I'm not 19 anymore and I've been through these waters before.

But for all the young women who were sharing their vulnerability and sexual abuse with this man and whatever direction he lead the therapy? That shit is pretty wack. I knew instantly this guy was a feeder, i.e. he'd be leading the young things to talk about their difficult sexual experiences on the edge of his seat pretending this is about good therapy when it's not for the client, it's for him.

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No difference. See: the fu... (Below threshold)

August 17, 2012 6:53 AM | Posted by None: | Reply

No difference. See: the future of an illusion.

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"Hahaha. Look he was a real... (Below threshold)

August 17, 2012 6:59 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

"Hahaha. Look he was a really funny comforting old dude and I am certain really helpful for a lot of people, but it's a HUGE deal to label a woman schizoid because she is withdrawing from your "therapy" because you're a horny dude on the edge of your seat dripping with precum and it shows, boss."


This made me really sad. The girl might have been a rape victim, pushed into "therapy" and here she is in the clutches of this disgusting pervert who's therapy involves pressing her to talk about if she likes it up the ass or not. WHY IS SHE WITHDRAWING I WANT HER TO BE FREE ENOUGH TO BLOW ME IN MY OFFICE BEFORE LUNCH THIS CLOSED SCHIZO BITCH.

This may be because I am well on my way to a disgruntled cat lady but I really don't think men should be in contact or positions of power with women or girls younger than 21 years old. It's like they are animals and can't help but prey on them. The few guys capable of controlling themselves are outweighed by the rapists and manipulators.

As a rule of thumb, if it is interested in running therapy, it's probably a predator.

Even sadder is these types of people just get away with it. It's like the catholic church 20 years ago.

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"Does she think, "the only ... (Below threshold)

August 17, 2012 7:03 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

"Does she think, "the only reason he gave me his seat is because the Hail Mary is worth the price of standing for three stops?" Or does she think, "no, come on, he was just being nice.""

What? She has to think? when she can simply say thank you, sit and read the paper while waiting for her next stop.

"It would be an interesting experiment to read a story and write down your feelings and interpretations of it, and then return to the story a decade later."

I did this. Eye opening. Reached Act V.

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im the one who posted the a... (Below threshold)

August 17, 2012 7:10 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

im the one who posted the above August 17, 2012 7:03 AM | Posted by Anonymous:

comment -- and Im a woman.

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Lady, fuck you. No, really,... (Below threshold)

August 17, 2012 8:02 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by inarticulate in the city: | Reply

Lady, fuck you. No, really, fuck you. I'm a woman and I read this blog and I don't have your reaction. Feel free to pigeonhole me in whatever category you think fits, like, maybe, attractive blow-up doll for men's fantasies (I'm not attractive, btw, but hey). You're the one who's treating the hypothetical woman in this piece as a piece of meat, as if she couldn't exist. GUESS WHAT: THEY EXIST BY THE THOUSANDS.

So yeah, I do read it, and so do many women. Does Alone seem to be talking mostly for men most of the time? Yup. Does that mean he doesn't care about women? Oh, come on. Of course not. It means he apparently sees more problems in men than in women when it comes to narcissism.I'm a woman and I wish he wrote more for women, but I'd never think he's a misogynist.

In this post specifically he's making men realize what goes on in the minds of those they fantasize the most about: beautiful women who many love them back. Most men SUCK at REALLY empathizing with women. This is an amazing text. If you can't see why, you're lost.

Get off your high horse. Like, asap.

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Oh, and btw, the fuck you g... (Below threshold)

August 17, 2012 8:04 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by inarticulate in the city: | Reply

Oh, and btw, the fuck you goes for the fact you try to speak in the name of all women because you see misogyny where there isn't any. You people do nothing for other women. NOTHING. Shut it and don't speak in my name publicly, like, EVER. Thanks.

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Anonymous 6:59 AM -- How ca... (Below threshold)

August 17, 2012 8:12 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by inarticulate in the city: | Reply

Anonymous 6:59 AM -- How can you even say that about men? Is it just because you haven't found an honorable man to marry and raise your cats? Not being flip here, it's a genuine question. At the same time, isn't it awful when I see you based on your judgments of other people? And you're doing the same. Don't go that route. It will make you a sad person forever.

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@inarticulateinthecity ... (Below threshold)

August 17, 2012 8:17 AM | Posted, in reply to inarticulate in the city's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

@inarticulateinthecity

is your fuck you referring to this comment?

"What? She has to think? when she can simply say thank you, sit and read the paper while waiting for her next stop."

is your 'fuck you' referring to you and not me or the above comment?

when I said "think" it was in the context of the pattern of thoughts which TLP wrote about: "the only reason he gave me his seat is because the Hail Mary is worth the price of standing for three stops?" Or does she think, "no, come on, he was just being nice."""

why does she have to think of these or anything at all. it was a seat. it was given. she doesnt have to make the seat about herself or about Hugo Boss or about anything else. the endless & unnecessary thought patterns has to stop.

she could simply just sit and be.

thats what i meant.

now go fuck yourself.
but if your fuck you was not referring to my comment, just disregard this comment then. kthanksbye.

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I was already missing updat... (Below threshold)

August 17, 2012 8:54 AM | Posted by Gabriel Cavalcante: | Reply

I was already missing updates over here. Great, great post again. Keep up the good work.

Also, as I was reading, something came to me... couldn't you write a book on Narcissism? Compiling all the great stuff you said here over time...?

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If you simply clicked on th... (Below threshold)

August 17, 2012 8:58 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by inarticulate in the city: | Reply

If you simply clicked on the link of my reply "in reply to ...... 's comment" you'd see it was another comment.

And if you people cared to write anything in the "name" field, anything, ABLBLAAHAK or whatever, this wouldn't happen.

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Hey thanks, now I can't hav... (Below threshold)

August 17, 2012 9:05 AM | Posted by Lee: | Reply

Hey thanks, now I can't have any type of interaction without thinking about it three levels deep.

Also I love that TLP's titles make no sense unless you read the article.

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@inarticulateinthecity, I w... (Below threshold)

August 17, 2012 9:42 AM | Posted, in reply to inarticulate in the city's comment, by ABLBLAAHAK: | Reply

@inarticulateinthecity, I wouldn't let HIM get you down. the August 16, 2012 9:20 PM post by "anonymous" is obviously a troll, most likely a man, here for the simple guilty pleasure of stirring the shit. He's probably one of those guys that down votes insightful posts just because he can. Also note that his comments only refer to things in the first few paragraphs of the text, because that's as far as he got.

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I am also a woman and I was... (Below threshold)

August 17, 2012 10:16 AM | Posted, in reply to inarticulate in the city's comment, by jjj: | Reply

I am also a woman and I was deeply moved by TLP's analysis of the woman in this post, particularly the point that her behavior may make a huge amount of sense for the world she experiences. I'm certainly attractive but I've never been beautiful enough to have these problems. My sister is, though, and I was pierced to the heart by the new insight this gave me into her life. I'll be talking to her about it and I hope that it will help me be a better sister to her. Thank you, TLP.

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I get why you are saying th... (Below threshold)

August 17, 2012 10:21 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by jjj: | Reply

I get why you are saying this, but as I posted below, I know several women who struggle with this issue. One of them is my sister. Another is one of my best friends. I read this post as deeply empathetic with them, even if it's written in TLP's usual rather prickly style. (Also I am a woman, if it matters.) I just thought you might find another perspective useful.

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$5 says 9:20 is Alone baiti... (Below threshold)

August 17, 2012 10:31 AM | Posted by Sam: | Reply

$5 says 9:20 is Alone baiting.

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Holy fuck. I just read all... (Below threshold)

August 17, 2012 10:40 AM | Posted by Sam: | Reply

Holy fuck. I just read all this again.

Look at the interaction going on here....who doesn't want to be on the side of Alone vs. this evil, self-righteous bitch *who might think for herself and arrive at conclusions differing from Alone*-insult my "dad" will you?!

We all want to be validated by this voice...and it's nothing else. Just words.

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There is this guy.... (Below threshold)

August 17, 2012 11:04 AM | Posted by Hans: | Reply

There is this guy.

He...is a womanizer. In my eyes he do take advantage of his girlfriends, something he goes far in admitting, but not all the way. You see, he's not what you probably would think of as a mean or abusive boyfriend, on the contrary in his ways he's a kind and generous person. If you picture girls as property, I think it would be fair to say that he sees himself as something close to a real-estate developer. He's an quite ordinary guy who happen to know a thing or two about how the world works. He get involved with girls say below his maturity and dump them (as gently as possible?) when time is due.

It's an example of someone who is caring and giving. If you ask his girlfriend, she'd probably tell you that knowing him is an enriching experience. I wonder, if she knew in advance the things hidden in the dark, that inevitable rejection waiting for her, would she accept him?

No, I'm not really wondering - she wouldn't.

someone who's enriching the lives

Something is given back

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thanks to alone for the ext... (Below threshold)

August 17, 2012 11:05 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

thanks to alone for the extremely interesting post as usual and thanks to the insane woman with the inane rantings in this comment thread for teaching me that MYSOGYNY (AS USUAL, ROLL EYES) means noticing and talking about female beauty. She is so invested in her stupid feminist theories that she has become paranoid of any possible thought or idea that deviates from her set of accepted thoughts.

MMMMMMMMMH HOW DARES THIS "THE LAST PSYCHIATRIST DUDE DARE TO TALK ABOUT BEAUTIFUL WOMEN, DOESN'T HE KNOW MY FAVORITE FEMINIST AUTHOR DECLARED THAT AN HATE CRIME?"

I feel an idiot for using this comment thread to reply to that idiot instead of discussing alone's article but I couldn't resist. Goodbye and remember that talking about beautiful women (even for the purpose of making an entirely different point) is an HATE CRIME, AS USUAL (roll eyes)

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"there's a woman on the out... (Below threshold)

August 17, 2012 11:06 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

"there's a woman on the outside looking inside, does she see me? No she does not really see me 'cause she sees her own reflection" (Suzanne Vega)

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Read the title again. It's ... (Below threshold)

August 17, 2012 11:22 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Gabe Ruth: | Reply

Read the title again. It's not just for therapists. Just because Joe feels guilt (or has an unpleasant feeling when he thinks about his actions due to an external objective standard as opposed to social pressure) doesn't mean he's changed. He's seen that he is a narcissist, and is not pleased. But now he thinks he feels guilt, and is cured. The guilt is not the point, and even if it was you can fake it to yourself. Acting in accordance with the higher standard is the point. Maybe he will change and do better next time he is tested, but if TLP says "Well done, good and faithful servant" the odds that he will do this go down.

TLP, if you were really awesome 50% of the time you would post more frequently.

And for people who object to giving too much attention to the problems of beautiful people, relax. If Hugo Boss had given his seat to an old woman with a cane, no post.

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"Hahaha. Look he was a real... (Below threshold)

August 17, 2012 11:57 AM | Posted by Donny: | Reply

"Hahaha. Look he was a really funny comforting old dude and I am certain really helpful for a lot of people, but it's a HUGE deal to label a woman schizoid because she is withdrawing from your "therapy" because you're a horny dude on the edge of your seat dripping with precum and it shows, boss."

So was he funny and comforting dude or a horny dude dripping w/ precum? Can't be both.

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In a therapeutic setting, I... (Below threshold)

August 17, 2012 12:37 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

In a therapeutic setting, I don't think horny dude dripping with precum is ever funny or comforting.

I don't think it's impossible for a man to be a comforting and funny person and also at times a horny dude dripping with precum. Does being horny negate the possibility of being a good person also?

Most men are not aware how transparent they are and they don't even see it within themselves. Before you ask me to be more judgemental about that, it sounds like you're a male. Do you want every time you are horny in an "inappropriate" situation to be a sign of poor character on your part?

These things happen. Yes, of course in a real therapeutic setting it's completely unethical to be horny as a therapist. Of course, I'm not sure how far you want to go to ensure therapists don't ever think naughty thoughts. I think people are horny. All people, all horny, obviously some more than others, but intimacy like therapy can bring out the hornies in people. It can bring out the power tripping in people, the lust for the power to define another persons wellness, experience of self, how they should be defined to the rest of the world.

Therapist types frequently have issues (both males and females) that they are resolving by being there for others and defining what treatment means, what mental wellness means, and what other people's behaviors and problems say about that person. That doesn't mean therapy can't be useful-- it means it's frought with subjective reasonaing and fallible human beings who are doing the best to see through their own issues, biases, and faulty therapeutic ideals to actually help others. I think science can help us get better at this and that therapy is a valuable thing in the world, but some types of therapy are terrible and ineffective and thereapists are frequently crappy at evaluating the quality of their work or their level of bias (just as clients are frequently crappy at evaluating how much change they're actually making)

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well, Alexa's info begs to ... (Below threshold)

August 17, 2012 1:04 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by tim: | Reply

well, Alexa's info begs to differ. according to their statistics, by a significant margin, more of this site's visitors are female than male.

alexa[dot]com/siteinfo/thelastpsychiatrist[dot]com -- click on the audience tab.


there are plenty of women who are attractive and aren't arrogant about it...

also, how exactly is this post misogynist? how about defending this charge instead of making it without any backing?

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...well i'm rolling my eyes... (Below threshold)

August 17, 2012 1:09 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by tim: | Reply

...well i'm rolling my eyes, at you. the post your responding to could hardly be said to be "feminist"... just because someone yells "MISOGYNY!!!1" doesn't make them a feminist.

"she's so invested in her feminist theories" -- i see something quite different. that is, a lack of understanding of feminism. where exactly did she make any reference to theory? oh that's right, she didn't.

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This transference thing tha... (Below threshold)

August 17, 2012 1:21 PM | Posted by Napsterbater: | Reply

This transference thing that mental health workers talk about is interesting to me. To me, it just sounds like a fancy term to describe the fact that you can't not have a human reaction to someone you're working closely with. I can see how that would be a problem for therapy, but if you look closely, it's also a problem when you're analyzing situations, even hypothetical ones like the opener.

Alone states that "We can't be sure why Hugo Boss gave up his seat." That's incorrect, Alone can't be sure why Hugo Boss gave up his seat. I know perfectly well why he gave up his seat. The expensive clothes, the manners all speak of "good breeding." The sort of childhood that can only be given by a set of parents and a peer society that instills those sorts of old-world values into people. Only that would install the sort of automatic response Alone describes. Automatic responses speak to automatic conditioning, and that particular conditioning is distinctly "chivalrous" in nature.

It's true that there are other sources for this behavior, perhaps he reads a lot of romance/fantasy/classic novels, but those were not described by Alone.

The rest of the questions, is this behavior sexually motivated, would he have done that for any women, these are examples of this transference. If you want this fictional situation to have any sort of reality to it, you have to put normal people in it. Do normal men think of sex when they see a beautiful woman? No, extreme beauty doesn't have that effect. Beauty tends to fluster people, throw them off their game. They don't have time to think of sex because they're too busy processing the fact that what they're seeing is rare and amazing.

Later, after the initial 'blow' wears off, that's when they can start thinking again, when they can start fantasizing about sex, running their invisible scripts about why they could never have such a girl/boy. That's why I attributed Hugo's reaction to conditioning, ONLY an automatic conditioned response can get through in the first few moments after seeing the most beautiful woman you've ever seen in your life.

This reaction happens every time you see something you want, and I think it's probably responsible for this transference phenomenon. Your nervous system floods with chemicals, you're temporarily overwhelmed, then your rational brain has to try to pick up the pieces and make sense of what just happened. It happens all the time, and keeps us in a constant state of catch-up.

The problem is your rational brain doesn't know that it wasn't in charge just then. If you look closely, you can see it in Alone's post. He created the scenario of an encounter between beautiful people on a crowded subway and, instead of realizing that the man wouldn't be in control for the crucial decision to give up his seat, he created a rationale that involved conscious agency, then projected himself into his creation's mind to come up with what he thinks the man might have gone through.

But because the situation can't work that way, he drew a blank, leading him to conclude there's no way for us to know why Hugo acted the way he did.

How could this "transference" be avoided, you might ask me? How could a talk therapist, who is, after all, just a person like you or me, go about the work of helping someone when their rational mind isn't keeping step with what their amygdala's have decided for them in the first half of their interactions together?

By not over-complicating things. If you were treating the beautiful woman who can't find the right man, you can't form a correct model for how she thinks unless you're aware of the effect she's having on your thoughts. All of these ideas, that "she wants the world to be nice," that her sanity might rest on being purposefully blind to men's intentions, are simply projections resting on a poor understanding for how beauty works on people, because it's working on him.

That's where this transference seems to come into play, after the reification, you turn around and try to come up with a narrative for this temporary loss of control, so you can feel like you're back in control. Now you come up with this hypothesis that "you must be her father", which becomes truth the longer it's inserted into the narrative of your time with her, and becomes harder for both of you to dislodge, even though it rests on an incomplete understanding of the events leading up to her seeking out a therapeutic relationship.

The real reality is, she has a certain effect on people, including you, that she, and you, needs to understand before she can deal with its consequences.

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please tell us if you ever ... (Below threshold)

August 17, 2012 1:51 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

please tell us if you ever decide to close this site down so i can go back and archive the entire site before it's lost forever. i am not even close to kidding.

thanks,

a new reader

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God, I waited a long time f... (Below threshold)

August 17, 2012 2:08 PM | Posted by seemontgo: | Reply

God, I waited a long time for this post. I realize that TLP can't write 24 hours a day, but we readers have needs, you know?

It's funny to think about the contrast between the current practice of psychotherapy, where the concept of transference is virtually dead, and the practice of someone like Merton Gill, who was absolutely relentless in his analysis of the transference.

Gill wrote about two kinds of resistance: resistance to acknowledgment of the transference and resistance to resolution of the transference. In the first case, the patient is not aware - and refuses to be aware - of what the therapist is for him/her. In the second case, the patient is aware but won't let the therapist stop being that thing.

I myself am torn between TLP's view (transference must be thought about, but interpreting it cannot bring about change) and a more Gill-like view holding that the patient's resistance (i.e., his/her transference) can be worn down to a trace that no longer so fully structures his/her experience.

Part of the issue is practical. Who these days is willing to participate in therapy in which the therapist takes on the role of no-one? In France in the 1960s, Lacan and his followers could pack their waiting rooms, but that was a different time and place. Given the present dearth of people who'd sign up for this sort of thing, the (theoretical) question becomes, can patients be brought, through a mix of interpretation, hand-holding, confrontation, empathy, and so on, to a place where deeper change can take place?

I think Winnicott was being at least somewhat coy when he made his famous comment disparaging interpretation (he said he made interpretations for two reasons: to demonstrate that he was not asleep, and that he could be wrong). Indeed, his vignettes include many examples of interpretations that mattered much more than his self-deprecation suggests could be possible.

One implication of what TLP is saying here, I'll note, is that how the therapist thinks often matters more than what he/she says or does. I endorse this fully.

One final note, and this concerns the theme of narcissism, which seems to rise to the top in the comments section. This word doesn't always correlate with narcissist. There's an element of narcissism in all of us, and it's a part of every therapy.

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Footnote 2 is a perfect dis... (Below threshold)

August 17, 2012 3:48 PM | Posted by Anna : | Reply

Footnote 2 is a perfect distillation of the problem with women, attractive or not. As a woman, it behooves you to stamp out the impulse to seek chaos as a form of validation—to cheat, to be sexually provocative, to cultivate rivalries with other women. In the end, all of us, swimsuit models or denizens of Walmart, are wading in the same lukewarm pool of dread and self-doubt. That means not only being self-aware, as TLP says, but actively vigilant of your emotional indulgences. Like everything else in the world, the most effective form of therapy is the one that's hardest earned.

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"I am often consumed by irr... (Below threshold)

August 17, 2012 4:01 PM | Posted by Alleinikov: | Reply

"I am often consumed by irrational rage, I am unable to feel guilt, only shame, and when I am caught, found out, exposed, I try to break down those around me so they feel worse than I do, so they are too miserable to look down on me." This is me eight years ago. I don't think i am like this anymore. Am i fooling myself?

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GRRR BITCH FUCK YOU YOU STU... (Below threshold)

August 17, 2012 4:19 PM | Posted by inarticulate in the city: | Reply

GRRR BITCH FUCK YOU YOU STUPID BITCH THIS STORY ABOUT THE SUPER HOT BRAINDEAD GIRL WAS TOTALLY FOR WOMEN TOO can I be in the boy's club now look, I insulted a woman who vaguely expressed some sort of feminist sentiment, please oh god please validate me help!

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(votes, 49 positive out of ... (Below threshold)

August 17, 2012 4:21 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

(votes, 49 positive out of 50)

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One time at work (i'm a nur... (Below threshold)

August 17, 2012 4:29 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

One time at work (i'm a nurse) I was explaining treatment (pain management) to a POA / husband of a patient with a terminal illness. He was like late 60s.

After explaining the treatment protocol, the guy randomly said "hey you are beautiful" or something along those lines (WTF?). Then he said "I had a close relationship to one of my patients... unfortunately she killed herself." (WTF?!!) I should mention the patient was his wife.

Guess what this crazy old bastard worked as? THERAPIST.

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"This is me eight years ago... (Below threshold)

August 17, 2012 4:34 PM | Posted, in reply to Alleinikov's comment, by Guy Fox: | Reply

"This is me eight years ago. I don't think I am like this anymore. Am I fooling myself?"

If anybody answers 'no', and you think it means you can stop trying to change, then the answer is 'yes'. If anybody answers 'yes', and you take it as a reason to keep working at it and doing better, then the answer is 'no'.

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Very funny. How's kindergar... (Below threshold)

August 17, 2012 5:50 PM | Posted, in reply to inarticulate in the city's comment, by inarticulate in the city (the real one): | Reply

Very funny. How's kindergarten working for you? Other girls being too mean?

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Would I be wrong to conclud... (Below threshold)

August 17, 2012 10:11 PM | Posted by Hugh Anderson: | Reply

Would I be wrong to conclude that what is being described is a similar dynamic found in mystic or transcendental traditions between the master/guru/teacher & student? I can't help but make the connection.

When you meet Alone on the path, kill him.

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It's cool, we all want Alon... (Below threshold)

August 17, 2012 10:49 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by justine: | Reply

It's cool, we all want Alone's big fatherly Oedipal cock inside of us, validating our specialness even though we're ordinary or ugly.

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One time I was watching thi... (Below threshold)

August 18, 2012 12:52 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

One time I was watching this youtube channel featuring this raging misogynistic douchebag. At one point he decided to brag about the drunk girl he was going to commit statutory rape with. He filmed her from behind, to show her tramp stamp and her (hot) body. When she attempted to turn to the camera in a drunken haze, it was evident she was a butterface, and the douchebag quickly panned the camera keeping her face out of view. Too little, too late my friend.
For you see our douchebag hero knew his prize was indeed a butterface, only to be filmed from the back, to continue the illusion of his studhood. Interestingly, the fact she was drunker than shit was irrelevant.

File this under the human race is shit and men are just a little bit worse than other forms of humans.

What does this story have to do with the topic at hand? Another case of men living to fuck things and basing their entire lives happEnis and personal identity around their success in accomplishing this task. And there is so much angst when you fail.

In other words, I don't belong on this blog. Awkwardly squeezed on a crowded subway train full of college boys, un/der/empoyed 20something year old men, professional nerds, et al.

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Let the trolls starve, it's... (Below threshold)

August 18, 2012 12:55 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by justine: | Reply

Let the trolls starve, it's after midnight here on the East Coast, they don't need to be fed at this hour

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And the women here? Usually... (Below threshold)

August 18, 2012 12:56 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

And the women here? Usually self hating, desperate for approval/validation, or victims of sexual abuse. Or just morbidly curious like me. Like the time I was 7 years old and insisted on sneaking out to watch "bad" movies like silence of the lambs explicitly because mom said I couldn't.

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misandry is still sexism. s... (Below threshold)

August 18, 2012 1:12 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by tim: | Reply

misandry is still sexism. sorry to burst your bubble.

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No, women, while undoubtedl... (Below threshold)

August 18, 2012 1:16 AM | Posted, in reply to tim's comment, by justine: | Reply

No, women, while undoubtedly equal, are also perpetual victims, thus their hatred is justified. Misandry is a sociological yeti, a construct of the Reddit/MRA sect.

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My troll game was OTT in th... (Below threshold)

August 18, 2012 3:49 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

My troll game was OTT in this blog post. I guess I was just so happy to see TLP posting again I got ahead of myself. Sorry.

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I hope you get a nice side ... (Below threshold)

August 18, 2012 3:51 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

I hope you get a nice side dish of laid with your bourbon every night, Alone.

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so, in other words, women a... (Below threshold)

August 18, 2012 4:01 AM | Posted by tim: | Reply

so, in other words, women are justified in their supposed hatred of men (misandry) but misandry (hatred of men) does not exist, is a "sociological yeti". i think i've got it. thanks for clearing that up.

this is also problematic because if one takes your logic then one could argue that i'd be justified in being racist against blacks if i were ever victimised by a black person.

fuzzy logic.

being victimised by a person does not give one some kind of license, or 'justification' to hate a group of people (or groups) that one sees that person as a representative of. it certainly makes sense to hate that person. but is it ethically defensible to extrapolate that into hatred of 50% of the world's population?

talk about not being able to see people as people...something that feminists rightly criticise when it comes to objectification of women.

the feminists i count myself amongst don't defend that kind of hate, period. misandry, or misogyny -- neither is acceptable or justifiable. is one more prevalent than the other? duh. (don't hold your breath, it's obviously the latter.)

as for 'men's rights' -- the notion is mostly laughable, at least if it means anything other than 'human rights' at the end of the day.

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Let me introduce myself, I'... (Below threshold)

August 18, 2012 4:45 AM | Posted, in reply to Guy Fox's comment, by MYB: | Reply

Let me introduce myself, I'm Alone's son, and I'm here to kill him my brothers and sisters. Clearly, what the comments above show is that none of you have a chance at the task I can complete. See, he doesn't even acknowledge your threats or seductions.

"If you say x, then y, if y, then x." Wonderful, you've mastered the art of Oriental nothingness. Aileinikov, If you have to ask anonymous bloggers to validate you, you're definately still missing the point both of father's story and in your life.

I love beautiful women, ugly women, some in between...who's to say what makes the "precum" drip? I'm just glad it does. I love myself more...wouldn't trade me for the hottest woman imaginable though...why would I give up all that is myself for anyone else? I don't even understand what all the female anger is about? What difference does it make to you that I want to savage you? Why do you concern yourself with my desires at all?

Now, father, where are you? Brother says I want your cock but, saying I do, it appears to be limp. Please, continue to read and discover life in your books. And enjoy those smoky Scotches you like...sleep and relax awhile as I savor your growing weakness. It sounds like you had a problem with premature interpretation even in your "virility." I feel sorrow for poor mother, never once being satisfied! Maybe she should once in her life know the pleasure of accepting her fate. Experiencing it over and over until it's mastered with someone whose cock has some meat to it, and can wait for her interpretation. My interpretation of THAT makes me want to kill you.

The Last What again?

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Alone, I have some advice. ... (Below threshold)

August 18, 2012 5:15 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Alone, I have some advice. START. A. CULT. Do a L ronnie. Or at the very least, invent a wonderfully profitable pyramid scheme where all your fanboys can get in on the ground floor and you can sneak off into the night like the hamburgler, santa sack full of riches in tow.

You are sitting on a fucking diamond mine here. Get mining!

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5:15 ftmfw.... (Below threshold)

August 18, 2012 10:33 AM | Posted by Sam: | Reply

5:15 ftmfw.

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What's wrong with seeking a... (Below threshold)

August 18, 2012 12:33 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

What's wrong with seeking approval from someone for making change? I mean what if you just shift the goal post from offering approval fo INSIGHT to offering approval for DEMONSTRATABLE CHANGE.

Instead of saying "Good job! You see the error of your ways!"

Say, "This is how you need to change and these are the steps to change the behavior" Then when the actual observabl changes in bahavior are made

"Dad I decided I'm not interacting with any ex who is ambivalent or in a relaionship because I see what harm can happen to both of us so I ceased talking to ex, am I doing good?"

I.e. the praise and validationg can help but it needs to put in the right things... it needs to come AFTER the meaningful changes are actually carried out and not FOR the insight. It's ok to provide some amount of affirmation towards helping someone develop a better moral framework for interacting with others...

But this would mean we need to shift what we are asking therapists to do. We need them to take on the role of pastorl guidance... helping people who didn't develop a normal understanding of iteracting with others the capacity to make and carry out behaviors that consider others well being for the sake of caring about others well being.

And this is an ethical and moral mindfield of various other overlappig issues. I don't think you can undo the fact that some people don't have parents and need them. As in atually need parents.

Trying not to be someone's parent when they need you to be there parent will fail because children (and adults who have not finished being parented and still have need for parental involvement) are EXTREMELY skilled at doing whatever is necessary to get parenting out of the parent. Thousands of thousands of years of beings evolving to get needs met out of a "parent" is not going to be erased by freud. And the person trying to get their needs met is probably MORE accurate that they need actual parenting than the therapist trying to stop it from happening because- policy.

Some people don't need more parenting--- i.e. they need a therapist to rework some of their ideas and beliefs and behaviors, t get specific support with some difficult life issues, to sort out how to manage a physical or mental illness,etcetc. Something specific, tangible, that fits the model of working through spcific issues, talking, resoling, makin change. These are people who often can use just about any decent therapist and get what they need out of it.

The problem is this model mght not work so well for people who emotional have not become complete. They literally need some nurturing, validation, and familial bonding that didn't happen, just because it wasn't there. Meaning if you set up the requirement for getting the needed family bond and long term family support to be "you need to be messed up to get this support"

you are reinforcing these people need to be ill in order to need safe family interaction.

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Yeah, there was a point her... (Below threshold)

August 18, 2012 12:49 PM | Posted, in reply to tim's comment, by justine: | Reply

Yeah, there was a point here, and you missed it. Time to go trim your neckbeard, feminist.

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I think she was being sarca... (Below threshold)

August 18, 2012 1:07 PM | Posted, in reply to tim's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

I think she was being sarcastic, mate

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Seems this thread proves Al... (Below threshold)

August 18, 2012 2:56 PM | Posted by Narcissus Thespiae: | Reply

Seems this thread proves Alone's Kierkegaard-ian point. A narrative that brings the analysand to a decision and not mere (and never-ending) speculative reflection is becoming the only real option of merit. The deconstruction of who is who in therapy and why– will fill a lifetime. At the end of which no one will have changed. Which is often the point of these endeavors, I know.

Like visiting and refreshing this site daily to see if Alone has posted. Only to what? For those of us aware enough to see the point we should have logged off and committed to the life we know now is true for us. But we want to check to see what else Alone might say (and several other sites since we are online) so that we can continue to not act. To pretend through agreement that we are healed and committed.

Sadly for Alone, he will never really see the people he has truly helped as they have left here. Long since walked away and onto the journey of living a life of intentional purpose and dare I say, faith. Ironically, success for him would be no more comments. And the world looking in would see that as failure.

Or at least that's what their therapist would tell them.

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You're right. This is so tr... (Below threshold)

August 18, 2012 7:41 PM | Posted, in reply to Narcissus Thespiae's comment, by inarticulate in the city (the real one): | Reply

You're right. This is so true. One of the best comments so far, not on this thread but on the whole blog.

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Sounds like you discovered ... (Below threshold)

August 18, 2012 9:52 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by ExOttoyuhr: | Reply

Sounds like you discovered a dudebro. You have my sympathies. But why condemn the virtuous and the heroic because of the evil deeds of a corrupt, drunken, promiscuous wretch?

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Speaking for myself, I enjo... (Below threshold)

August 18, 2012 9:54 PM | Posted, in reply to Narcissus Thespiae's comment, by ExOttoyuhr: | Reply

Speaking for myself, I enjoy the experience of reading a well-written essay.

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Alone - you are "becoming c... (Below threshold)

August 18, 2012 11:32 PM | Posted by The Fat Boy: | Reply

Alone - you are "becoming convinced that the only real way to "personal growth" outside of direct action is through careful study of fiction."

Isn't this where Freud, Rank and Jung were years ago with the stories of the Greeks, Moses, and others? If not, what's your difference?

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Anyone who thinks TLP/Alone... (Below threshold)

August 19, 2012 3:21 AM | Posted by Lump of Labor: | Reply

Anyone who thinks TLP/Alone is actually a shrinker and not just a writer who has spent way too much time in therapy with a shrinker...

Cool thing about being a writer, you can pretend you're anything.

Uncool thing about TLP? Maintaining the charade when there are actually people out there in the world who are fooled by this act, and who come here looking for help.

HAH HAH HAH says the writer behind TLP.

HAH HAH HAH.

Oh that's a gut-buster!

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Look at his early articles ... (Below threshold)

August 19, 2012 4:10 AM | Posted, in reply to Lump of Labor's comment, by ExOttoyuhr: | Reply

Look at his early articles before you make that conclusion.

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"One implication of what TL... (Below threshold)

August 19, 2012 6:55 AM | Posted by M: | Reply

"One implication of what TLP is saying here, I'll note, is that how the therapist thinks often matters more than what he/she says or does. I endorse this fully."

seemontgo - I don't know if Alone would endorse that interpretation. Matters to whom? It seems to me that one of the great messages of this website is that what's important is always what you do, not what you think - your mental narrative doesn't matter and you don't get to choose your own identity.

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I think you're missing the ... (Below threshold)

August 19, 2012 6:58 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by James: | Reply

I think you're missing the point. TLP admits that when a male therapist treats a gorgeous woman, his countertransference and the patient's transference destroy the possibility of therapy. It isn't misogyny, it's nature. It's the same with Tony Soprano and his female therapist.

If a woman patient is so attractive that her heterosexual male therapist cannot cope with the countertransference, he should refer her to a therapist who is a woman or a gay man. The problem will not go away, but it will be easier for the new therapist and the patient to handle.

Unless the therapist is "anonymous", who is flustered by female beauty to the same extent as a heterosexual man.

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I. Joe is in love with an e... (Below threshold)

August 19, 2012 7:07 AM | Posted by James: | Reply

I. Joe is in love with an ex-girlfriend who dumped him for another man; she is still using Joe to satisfy her own emotional needs. Joe allows her to use him because he still wants her, but she has no intention of taking him back. No good can possibly come of this "relationship" in any circumstances. It seems to me that analyzing whether or not a particular kiss from Joe means he is a narcissist, or whether the therapist's analysis makes the therapist a narcissist, misses the point.

Actually your later comments about Joe and the gift suggest a different interpretation. Joe has an unhealthy need for other people's approval. His ex pressed his hot button by disapproving of his apparent indifference to the end of their relationship. She strung him along with constant games about whether he was sufficiently attentive to her feelings. These games played upon Joe's unhealthy need for approval, in the obvious way; but also in another way: they shifted his attention away from the ex's responsibility for the end of the relationship and also for the continuing mind games, and on to real or imaginary slights committed by Joe.

II. "In therapy we see a reversal of my often repeated maxim: if you're saying it, it's for you."

Now that is a good observation. This is the larger part of counter-transference. Every therapist should think this thought before opening their mouth.

III. "... an inexplicable mind that already knows all the answers but doesn't tell them (because telling them is inside the transference.) Whose silence is taken by the patient to mean something-- and the answer to the patient's problem is how they interpreted that silence."

If a patient is prone to misinterpret your words in order to "avoid change", how much more likely he will be to misinterpret your silence!

Remaining silent is the way for fools to appear wise; as a technique for therapists to avoid transference, it has its limitations.

IV. "For these reasons, I am becoming convinced that the only real way to 'personal growth' outside of direct action is through careful study of fiction."

Another good observation. And isn't it interesting that reading (or listening to) fiction was arguably the main resource for a "learning" approach to personal development for most of human history. Then that troublesome fellow Sigmund Freud came along. The benefit of the insights of Freud and his successors is offset by our forgetting how we managed before. Or (Marshall McLuhan), every extension is also an amputation.

Perhaps there is room for a kind of group therapy where the therapist sets a book to be read and discussed at the next session.

V. I have sometimes wondered why you call yourself "The Last Psychiatrist". I would like to think that your aim is not merely to make your readers think a bit more about narcissism and ourselves, and for you to get a book deal at the end; I dream that, by the time you have finished writing, present-day "talking treatment" psychiatry will be in ruins, and you will have replaced it with something more effective.

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It's quite depr... (Below threshold)

August 19, 2012 10:52 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by in columbus: | Reply

It's quite depressing that any narrative involving a woman must focus on her beauty. But I guess that's what you're in for when you come to "the last psychiatrist".

If that's what he's focusing on, I guess it's worth pointing out that that's what you're focusing on as well. If beauty is just another thing, then what's wrong with using it as an example? Why is it that you recoil from this post, focusing on what the beautiful woman and you don't have in common, rather than musing on what you might have in common?

If Alone is fetishizing physical beauty, well, at least he has company. You're making it the subject of the post, when that isn't how I read it at all.

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Do you think it would have ... (Below threshold)

August 19, 2012 10:59 AM | Posted by sunny day: | Reply

Do you think it would have made a difference if the beautiful woman was given a female therapist? Or would there have been other problems there as well?

OK, here's what I see in the tale of the Super Beautiful Woman. This woman likes dating a certain sort of guy, but she thinks she should be dating a man who would make her family proud. She doesn't want a nice guy (i.e. the male psychiatrist type) but she wouldn't admit that, not even to the psychiatrist. And admitting that probably would be awkward, because she senses his attraction at some level and she doesn't want to insult him (she's been brought up to be polite). Therefore, she keeps saying the same thing to this guy, he keeps going at the same problem in the same way, and nothing works.

I don't know what the solution to her problem would be--and maybe not meeting the right man isn't even the big problem, maybe she is just trying to express herself in a narrative she knows well from tv, books, whatever. She wants to follow the traditional romance narrative, and if she can get herself to do that, then maybe her other problems will go away. Even if they don't, she'll have done her mom proud and fulfilled the destiny of a "beautiful" woman, so somebody will be happy. But she still wants to fuck dudes with calf tattoos...

P.S. nobody is "wrong" for being sexually attracted to each other in this tale. it is not wrong for the psychiatrist to be attracted to his patient, or for the patient to be attracted to tattooed men. if people do not want to sleep with the grownups you want them to sleep with, it is not wrong. Disappointing, yes, but not wrong.

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hi sunny day,everyon... (Below threshold)

August 19, 2012 11:42 AM | Posted by Hein: | Reply

hi sunny day,
everyone

I'm quite unsure of the value of the following but what you wrote - think I recognize your tale.

It's complicated but I think I'm at a similar spot as the nice guy. She want me to prove myself and yes, it looks like making the family proud is not a neglectable factor for her, which may very well exclude me.

She haven't known me for a long time, but she has got to know me as a lazy and irresponsible drug addict, among else. If that's the case, I think the natural continuation is that he step back, perhaps to do a comeback at a later time, given that she's not taken by then.

I just want to tell you, Alone and all the rest to not be hypocritical when face being a part of these kind of narratives. It's not like I myself don't have requirements regarding a mate/best friend. There are many persons whose company I enjoy, but I know better than going closer.

Wish me best of luck - and I think Alone deserve our gratitude for his effort to share and spread out knowledge.

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a post about unattractive w... (Below threshold)

August 19, 2012 12:33 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

a post about unattractive women might be a good idea, after reading the comments. hard to write, but maybe worth it.

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Hello again.On the... (Below threshold)

August 19, 2012 12:33 PM | Posted by Hein: | Reply

Hello again.

On the topic of beauty, men and sexual drive I'd like to contribute with something.

At the age of 22 years old a model beautiful 16 year old girl literally just came to my bed and seduced me to have sex with her. I'm quite sure it was because she was uncomfortable with being a virgin and saw me as a safe person to practice having sex with, partly because she knew I wouldn't tell anyone. I felt - of reasons not disclosed here - that it was wrong of us to have a sexual relation. The highlight of my story is that she had no problem seducing me, but about a minute or two out in the intercourse (oh you have no idea how good it was) I suddenly managed to pull myself together and out of her. An act I am somewhat proud of, at least satisfied with.

I certainly enjoy physically beautiful women, but when it come down to serious business I'm looking for someone I'll "never" be tired of talking with. It's about chemistry but also cognitive abilities. There are some girls who I am attracted to and feel comfortable with, but I know our relationship would be boring after a while, which has kept me from moving a step further.

Would it be unethical of me to just say that (something similar) to the women and see if they would like to be with me even when being aware of that it would end. The problem might be that they don't speak their mind; it's probable that she (they) won't believe me, that almost regardless of what I say they'll think I will change my mind and stay in the end. I don't want to be alone, also I think most of us experience personal growth of living close to someone suitable.

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Hello worldBeauty,... (Below threshold)

August 19, 2012 1:13 PM | Posted by Hein: | Reply

Hello world

Beauty, woman and how sex or ideas about sex affect us is probably an important topic if you're trying to figure out how people work and of course, yourself.

Still, personally I subscribe to Alone's maxim about action, so instead of diving into these things I attempt to train myself to have a healthier outlook on the world. I'm too old for chasing beauty and frankly speaking given that a certain threshold is passed I don't care very much whether my future wife is ordinary minus or attractive. That being said, I've do notice - in hindsight - that I act differently with pretty girls, at least in the beginning. Accepting this fact is fine but I don't want physical appearance to guide my behavior so what can I do about it? For a starter I can direct my trail of thoughts and e.g. be conscious to focus on something else than boobs and perhaps look at her face and be more interested in her state of mind than her body.

I'm babbling. What are we talking about again? Isn't the case that we agree that all talking is a waste of time as long as it's not backed by action?

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I disagree with Alone's con... (Below threshold)

August 19, 2012 3:33 PM | Posted by Ryan: | Reply

I disagree with Alone's conclusion about validation in therapy. Perhaps the reason why therapy is not working for these patients is because transference needs to be supplemented with careful validation. Here the patient finally acknowledged the feelings of others. Was the patient not justified in seeking confirmation from Alone that he was going about this new way of thinking in the right fashion? Does the patient seeking Alone's approval necessarily mean that he is seeking an excuse not to change?

Alone is being unnecessarily cynical here. This cynicism may be hindering his patients' progress. Maybe the patient is seeking Alone's approval, not to prevent change, but rather to gain the necessary confidence to move forward with it?

A good analogy is to compare this situation to a child learning how to do math. Lets say the teacher teaches him how to add and gives him a few problems to do on his own. However, when the child finishes the problem, the teacher refuses to tell the child whether the answers are right or wrong. While the child may have done the problems correctly, he will not know whether or not has done them correctly. Therefore he will not have the necessary confidence to apply what he has learned.

Likewise, without Alone's affirmation, his patients will not become aware of the fact that they are making any progress and will revert to the negative patterns that they feel more comfortable with.

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A couple of comments. ... (Below threshold)

August 19, 2012 5:35 PM | Posted by Bogart: | Reply

A couple of comments.

First: "For these reasons, I am becoming convinced that the only real way to "personal growth" outside of direct action is through careful study of fiction." - isn't this the same conclusion that Rorty came to (regarding philosophy)?

Second: The complexities of these relationships makes me wonder if there are any really good therapists out there, and what the chances of getting one of those would be - astronomical. Draw your own conclusion.

Third: To all the people who have a problem with the beautiful women story - I interpret this in the context of the whole post - relational problems. Same thing would happen if Donald Trump walked on the subway instead of a beautiful girl. Does the Hugo Boss guy still want a hail mary fuck? No. A hail mary few million? Maybe. But the point is asymmetry, and these are weird dynamics in all relationships, which I think is the point.

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M, here's what I was trying... (Below threshold)

August 19, 2012 6:51 PM | Posted, in reply to M's comment, by seemontgo: | Reply

M, here's what I was trying to say. Let's say a therapist has Model A to guide his understanding of how people function and what his work as a therapist is all about. In a given session, a patient presents a dream. The therapist has some thoughts about this dream and must choose between offering an interpretation or remaining silent. (This is a very rough sketch.) The therapist opts to remain silent, but his thoughts, taking place in the context of Model A, carry him along to a place very different from where a therapist using Model B would arrive.

In the case of the therapist using Model A, it may be that every session subsequent to this session is influenced by the therapist's thinking in the session in which the dream was presented. Offering the interpretation at that time may have had virtually no effect, relative to the effect of the therapist's thinking in silence. Likewise, different thinking (Model B) may have had no effect, whether silent or articulated.

You raise the question of "mattering." I meant it in terms of the effectiveness of the treatment. A therapist can think and not speak the thoughts and still something can happen. I'm not sure if this means that the therapist must eventually bring the thoughts to bear through speech. Still wondering about this.

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seemontgo: once you present... (Below threshold)

August 20, 2012 6:07 AM | Posted, in reply to seemontgo's comment, by M: | Reply

seemontgo: once you present it like that I do agree, although it sounds somewhat trivial (because it seems obvious that all action is first informed by thought, and that different thoughts will lead to different actions). Even then, though, what ultimately matters is the course of action that ends up being taken, be it immediate or delayed; the difference between thought processes A and B only matters inasmuch as it eventually leads to act A and not B, or vice versa.
I can definitely agree that the therapist has no obligation to immediately share their thoughts without first thinking of the long-term consequences. Isn't the patient essentially placing his care in the therapist's hands? If the therapist believes his strategy'll be better served by temporarily keeping his silence, so be it.

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I sure hope Joe is not real... (Below threshold)

August 20, 2012 1:04 PM | Posted by JohnK: | Reply

I sure hope Joe is not real.

Having my story beheaded in front of a mass in a trance that chants "Let me show you what I see!" certainly isn't helping Joe.

His executioner says he is doing this for his own good. I'm not so sure.

It would seem that it is us who are in need of help. After all, most waited a long time for this post and were not disappointed when we received dissection of confidential information of one of our own. Turned into an excuse, the article shows how wrong most relationships are, including ours, but, more importantly, we believe we can actually see this thanks to TLP (unlike a mass of Joes that does not buy into this site or are not "smart" enough or both).

Isn't this vain or self-love?

A simpler way of looking at this goes like this:

Lets pretend Joe doesn't exist, the story is made up... What does this fabrication lets us say about us to ourselves?

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No, James, you dullard. I d... (Below threshold)

August 20, 2012 4:11 PM | Posted, in reply to James's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

No, James, you dullard. I did NOT miss the point.

TLP spends an inordinate amount of time focusing on the trials and tribulations of being an outrageously special unrealistically gorgeous woman, and typically whenever he speaks of "female concerns" will generally only do so from a male's concern (i.e. waht to do about beuatiful bitches, beautiful borderlines, beautiful narcissists, beautiful ego dystonic therapy patients, etc).
Like

So I ask you again, is this written for WOMEN, or is it written for men?

Your brilliant fucking observation that this phenomenon is real and exists is irrelevant because no one is arguing that. I"m only arguign this is as "special interest" as you are accusing my "hysterical feminism" of being. I'd say we were both equally biased, I merely speak up to balance the score... where any slightly feminist writing will be down voted heavily, and when discussing rapist therapists we need to qualify the story with "but really he's a great guy!" just to avoid mob rage and accusations that you hate men for pointing out this therapist was a ssexual predator of young damaged women.

BTW dumbass tony soprano/his therapist is the same example of men objectifying women, the only change is the power dynamic switched (submissive patient being analyzed by his dominant psychologist, which he fetishes).


Anyway. Given the inequities of concern, it
seems pretty obviously written explicitly for men, and the sort of faithful dog-like women exemplified of inarticulate in the city...yelping schizophrenic monkey doesn't even know where she stands or what is real and hopes the mob of young guys / TLP will define her and accept her if she mindlessly spews rage against some anonymous internet commenter.

I'll help, IITC: Your job is to be a visual object. Your job is to sexually arouse, but not in a vulgar way, because then you will become a bitch and a slut and a pig. Your job is never to say anything confrontational as that reduces the sexual pleasure you should be arousing in all men who come in contact with you. Rather than ever be confrontational like I tend to be (that nasty old cat lady ugly bitch feminazi dyke fat jealous pig

I suggest that when you speak, your words always fall from your mouth to the floor like a lump of useless fat, with no power to make anyone think or feel anything remotely unpleasant or controversial. Rather than utter these words and think these thoughts (that make me a ugly jealous feminazi), I suggest giggling 24/7. This will makes men think you are really young and youth is attractive, and as we already established your job in life is to cause erections or else TLP won't write about/to you.

You're welcome for this advice, btw. Look, you didn't even need TLP to respond for this insight.

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Oh, and james: All t... (Below threshold)

August 20, 2012 4:23 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Oh, and james:
All therapy is useless, FYI. The fat and ugly patients are just as prejudged as the erection inducing ones. "Lazy fucking housewife bitch get a job" or "you hysterical borderline cunt."
Therapists think these thoughts, FYI. TLP himself has spewed endlessly about these kinds of patients. He didn't seem too concerned about his biases then. WHy does the bias only matter when it is a male being aroused by a beautiful female patient? Answer: because it bothers men too, of course... whereas hating a fat borderline lazy housewife is a win/win proposition, as it makes the practitioner feel better to do so (whereas being tortured by sexual frustration does not).

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"One time, a 16 year old ho... (Below threshold)

August 20, 2012 4:25 PM | Posted, in reply to Hein's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

"One time, a 16 year old hot girl begged me to take her virginity and I did. But really, I'm a good guy, so I stopped after I was in her for like a minute, but I DID score, and popped the cherry!"

It's like your blog entry reached critical mass of egoism and the fucking computer exploded. Not only do you want to brag about deflowering a hot 16 year old, but you also want us to believe you are a superhuman moralistic man who had the self control to stop (but only AFTER he scored...)

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I felt a little ambivalent ... (Below threshold)

August 20, 2012 4:50 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Hein: | Reply

I felt a little ambivalent after that comment. Yes, it is a anecdote about a moral guy doing the right thing, that is, to regain control over the situation and stop.

The ambivalence arise from acknowledging that I - around that age and younger - also manipulated and took advantage of young girls for sex, at several occasions. So the anecdote may not at large be representative for that young man, but it is a story contrasting the predator stories about men.

See, judging from your comment it not believable that it happened like I'm telling. No deep point here, just sharing.

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You're so far from understa... (Below threshold)

August 20, 2012 6:57 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

You're so far from understanding this post that it's actually embarrassing.

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"Your job is to be a visual... (Below threshold)

August 20, 2012 6:57 PM | Posted by sunny day: | Reply

"Your job is to be a visual object. Your job is to sexually arouse, but not in a vulgar way, because then you will become a bitch and a slut and a pig. Your job is never to say anything confrontational as that reduces the sexual pleasure you should be arousing in all men who come in contact with you. Rather than ever be confrontational like I tend to be (that nasty old cat lady ugly bitch feminazi dyke fat jealous pig"

Yeah, this woman is going to see this male psychiatrist, see "this is the guy I am supposed to please" so she's not going to tell him about her "nastier" thoughts and feelings. She may tell him that she wants a "nice guy" because he's a "nice guy" and she wants to please him and have him think well of her. He's also an authority figure, and she's probably conditioned to some extent to please authority (this is present in any sex pairing, it's probably stronger when a woman is the patient).

I don't know about the "fat and ugly" thing, though--there's this whole other issue here, that plenty of guys want fat women and "dogs" and whatever, but they'd rather admit to wanting to bone this certain type of woman. So the "beautiful" patient is not just an object of desire, but she's a status symbol as well. When the psychiatrist is in the room with a "dog," he might want to fuck her just as badly as long as she's, er, his breed of dog. But that doesn't earn him any sort of envy from his colleagues, so instead it's safer to talk about this superbeauty fantasy figure to avoid shame.

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I don't know... I don't fee... (Below threshold)

August 20, 2012 7:10 PM | Posted by girl from the subway: | Reply

I don't know... I don't feel like I am particularly attractive but I have experienced a lot of bone heads asking me out and not a lot of nice guys asking me out. I have self esteem issues and in general I don't go out of my way to date at all. Meaning I get approached by whoever is bold enough to make a move when I'm not really out looking to date.

I would prefer to date people who are nice. With self esteem issues, it makes it feel like I'm not good enough for nice people because I suck at life and have issues and why would I want some nice person to have to deal with that? If I know they are just using me for sex, then I know they are getting something beneficial from interacting with me and that feels like all I have to offer some times.

If there were nice people who would use me for sex without being mean to me and be nice to me even though I suck at life then that would be nice. I'm not sure it works like that, because I guess inherently guys who will not be using you for sex would be wanting to date you seriously and treat you well and expect that you be functional and healthy and awesome.

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My point is, I don't know a... (Below threshold)

August 20, 2012 7:16 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

My point is, I don't know about this hypothetical girl and my problems might be different than hers, but I don't think it's fair to pressume she wants to be treated like crap by crappy guys if there were actually better options that would be mutually beneficial. Often "nice guys" complain that beautiful girls won't date them... but those guys might not actually want to actually deal with all the real things the pretty girl might be coping/struggling/failing at. They might not want girls like her as much as they think.

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I've read my post again, an... (Below threshold)

August 20, 2012 7:19 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by James: | Reply

I've read my post again, and I cannot see where I have accused, implied, or presumed that you are a "hysterical feminist". I merely pointed out that you have a problem dealing with female beauty.

If you really believe that all male therapists are incapable of relating appropriately to any female patient, beautiful or not, then the remedy is both obvious and simple: see a female therapist. It's not as if there's a shortage of them.

However, you won't find the experience an easy one. Most female therapists, even feminist ones, and even the ones who are sympathetic to the life experiences that have brought you to where you are now, will soon want to talk to you about your rage.

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WTF are you talking about? ... (Below threshold)

August 20, 2012 10:59 PM | Posted, in reply to Hein's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

WTF are you talking about? You deflowered her. She wasn't a virgin anymore. You didn't even make sure she enjoyed it - you stopped when you had her. Then, umpteen years later, you brag about it on the internet.

What part of this makes you moral? Idiot.

YOu're one of those people who does shitty things and then reframes them in your mind so that you feel good about the shitty thing you did. You are what is wrong with this world.

FYI I don't think a 22yr old with a 16 yr old is so terrible, I have no idea why you have guilt about this situation, but then again, I wasn't there, likely there was something which lead you to intuitively know this action was wrong.

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Ah the old "We don't have t... (Below threshold)

August 20, 2012 11:07 PM | Posted, in reply to James's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Ah the old "We don't have the problem you have the problem" rationale. Yea, that never works. Whether or not I do or do not have a "problem" with female beauty is completely irrelevant to my argument, which still remains true.

I have no rage issues but thanks for your concern.

You may not have called me a "feminist" (which I am not, at least not beyond the basic sense that I believe men and women should have equal rights and opportunities) but the lot of idiots here are thinking this or called me this.

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I've enjoyed this post as w... (Below threshold)

August 21, 2012 8:14 AM | Posted by Paul: | Reply

I've enjoyed this post as well as most of the rest of the archives. A common theme is the difficulty of changing one's behavior, attitudes, habits, addictions, etc., and the way the mind actively resists changing (e.g. Abusive Boyfriend).

So my questions is: How does one change? What's the successful methhod? I'm not presuming it's as simple as those silly web ads: (Become a better person with this one wierd old trick!). Given what we know about the mind's defneses against change, how does one defeat them?

I'm quite sincere in my desire to learn more here.

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How many fucking times have... (Below threshold)

August 21, 2012 10:14 AM | Posted, in reply to Hein's comment, by Sam: | Reply

How many fucking times have you re-written this story?

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Alone: What is your take on... (Below threshold)

August 22, 2012 5:30 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Alone: What is your take on the use of psychoactive tryptamines in psychotherapy? Is there any "legitimate" use for them?

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I was going to list all the... (Below threshold)

August 22, 2012 6:09 PM | Posted, in reply to Hein's comment, by Boo: | Reply

I was going to list all the lies in your little story (which I hope was a fantasy instead), but the list of truths is shorter:
- she (probably) exists
- you knew it was wrong
- you are six years older than her
- she knew you wouldn't tell anyone

Here's the true story, folks: at 18, this guy had the hots for one of his 12-yr-old sister's friends. If it happened *anything like* he said, she was sexually abused, and therefore not a virgin. But chances are most of that isn't true either.

Checklist:
- girl is prop, conforming to his will
- he is 'better' than her, but not enough to behave like an actual adult

Even if it is a fantasy, you sir are a textbook case.

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I was the first anon to cri... (Below threshold)

August 23, 2012 6:25 AM | Posted, in reply to Boo's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

I was the first anon to criticize this guy. I suspected something was fishy about the story as a 22 yr old man feeling extremely guilty about a 16 yr old girl doesn't make sense. 22 is quite young and 16 isn't that young. Age difference sure, but not long term guilt inducing from the perspective of a man who is 22.

If the reality was 18 on 12, haaaa omg worse and yea that explains his guilt as he is pretty much exploiting a molested child.

Just curious if you have evidence this is how it really played out, e.g. a link. I would like to credit my intuition with being excellent and would prefer to assume you are truth telling and not trolling.

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care to explain what that p... (Below threshold)

August 23, 2012 1:42 PM | Posted, in reply to justine's comment, by tim: | Reply

care to explain what that point was?

sarcasm does not travel well online.

and, i'm pretty sure you didn't actually have one.

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every good 'shrink' has don... (Below threshold)

August 23, 2012 2:00 PM | Posted, in reply to Lump of Labor's comment, by tim: | Reply

every good 'shrink' has done therapy themselves (i.e. been a patient), so your point is practically moot...nice try, though.

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@ ExOttoyuhr --a s... (Below threshold)

August 23, 2012 7:13 PM | Posted by Lump of Labor: | Reply

@ ExOttoyuhr --

a statement or "credential" posted on the internet doesn't prove someone's real meatspace status. this guy's a creative liar, but he's a liar for sure. he might even be you.

his pretense at being wise and thoughtful while reducing everything to sex and sexual narcissism specifically, it's some sort of self-impressed pseudo-intellectual's lame satire of Freud interpreted through Christopher Lasch and Sam Vaknin.

he's trying the same schtick that Greg Dulli used with The Afghan Whigs. I bet he's got a nice little cadre of groupies, probably of both gender.

to quote tim, "nice try though"

@ tim --

every good overgeneralization is stated on the internet with supreme confidence and a dash of condescension.

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also, Tim,going th... (Below threshold)

August 23, 2012 7:23 PM | Posted by Lump of Labor: | Reply

also, Tim,

going through therapy isn't the same as being a therapist, and being a therapist isn't the same as being a good one, an insightful one, and one who knows not only how to connect with the __________ (client, patient, counseled person, whatever) but also how to find and suggest meaningful POVs, insights, suggestions for thought, etc.

what this "Alone" cat shows is that he's paid close attention to Don Draper as written by the Mad Men script team, and then created a shrink character based on Draper, modernized by Patrick Bateman, and treats psyche-related matters as I said above, satirizing Freud but through the lens of Lasch & Vaknin.

people love to be deluded, especially when the liar makes them feel smart or special in the bargain. that's the cornerstone of confidence work, especially big or long cons.

so, if we're gonna talk about what's "mooted" here it might be the point of him being or not being a shrinker, because the spew posted here shows a person who would destroy more people than he would help -- and would also feel good about that destruction, because in the process he'd be showing the destroyed ________ (again, insert applicable label) who is the smarter and cleverer and, really, the boss of the relationship.

excusing himself

and others praising him for it

the satire yields a pretty solid indictment of a very sick American society, so a small golf clap on that score.

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You put your owrds together... (Below threshold)

August 23, 2012 9:40 PM | Posted, in reply to Lump of Labor's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

You put your owrds together well, but that's about it. I wonder if you're projecting. Anyway, comparing Sam Vaknin to Alone is ridiculous. Alone is a real deal, even when he *is* lying or exaggerating or playing, and Sam Vaknin is... a piece of work. If you can't see that plainly after reading both of them respectively, I pity you. That would be a total lack of discernment.

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It is true that is bad to e... (Below threshold)

August 23, 2012 9:51 PM | Posted, in reply to Ryan's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

It is true that is bad to expect patients to conform to your will or train them to do so by an overreliance on your fine opinion of their thoughts/feelings/actions shared in therapy. I would imagine it would be not all that difficult to do to a patient, though. But the opposite, never providing any feedback-- positive or negative--- might hurt the transference because it turns the therapist into a fake, insensitive/uncaring, inauthentic or flat person in a bit too obvious a way. The patient would be able to see it and explain it and generally it's alienating. I'm speaking of myself as an analysand, of course. I really have no idea what a shrink would say to that but thought I'd give my 2 cents anyway.

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Years ago when I came acros... (Below threshold)

August 24, 2012 2:15 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Years ago when I came across sam vaknin, I read his writings and concluded the man was a closeted homosexual and focusing on "narcissism" is a coping mechanism to avoid/diffuse sexual conflict. His writing is sterile, distant, and with very few exceptions devoid of sexuality entirely. Lack of sexual craving or desire shouldn't be part of narcissism.

There was one vaknin blog entry where he described having a "narcissistic crisis" in jail. Or, maybe, somewhat confronted with repressed homosexuality, in a facility bunking with men where homosexuality often occurs.

I also remember a vaknin writing where he described his "female companion". It was basically what any closeted professional man would write about his "wife". There was no hint of primal desire.

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the man is a psychopath, no... (Below threshold)

August 24, 2012 3:18 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

the man is a psychopath, not a closeted homosexual. he might be both, but in any case...
watch the documentary 'I, Psychopath'...there's footage of a brainscan of Sam showing that his brainscan matches that stereotypical of a psychopath. He is pretty much emotionally flatlined.

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so, I must admit I'm the gi... (Below threshold)

August 24, 2012 7:10 PM | Posted by whosthatgirl: | Reply

so, I must admit I'm the girl/woman you're talking about in section 2, except I thought it was Los Angeles men who were so "wonderful." after so many years in psychotherapy, I have turned to "food" to protect myself from one too many predators and am pretty well protected from advances at this point. hey, you know I know the drill and yes, it is all about fear of change but i must say you are absolutely spot-on in your analysis and i am impressed that you've got my number.

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your girl knew that you wan... (Below threshold)

August 24, 2012 7:25 PM | Posted by whosthatgirl: | Reply

your girl knew that you wanted her but she pretended not to notice so she could go on talking and you know what? lots of men have a very hard time listening to beautiful women so in order to get the talk time that we crave without the demand for sex, we have to pay for it just like you have to pay for the sex time that you crave without the talk. In my case, i am very clear on the fact that my relationship with my therapist is a business transaction and since i am paying for his time, no, i really don't care to hear how he feels about anything other than the topic i choose to discuss. how then, does that then make me or your fictional patient a narcissist?

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"A post, a story, and the (... (Below threshold)

August 24, 2012 10:16 PM | Posted by colin: | Reply

"A post, a story, and the (mostly) silent therapist are the opposite: a screen to project on so that patient or reader can then ask, why does this make me feel like that?"

I was wondering why I keep reading you. There it is.

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Alone hasn't been posting a... (Below threshold)

August 25, 2012 11:31 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Alone hasn't been posting as much lately because he's working on a book. It is known.

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It's not that he's telling ... (Below threshold)

August 25, 2012 5:02 PM | Posted, in reply to DensityDuck's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

It's not that he's telling us what to do, or what not to do, but that we're asking him to. This is the curious part. And sooner or later, because we're so hungry for this kind of leadership, either to follow or to rebel against, that along comes some sociopath with a long index finger and a plan for our country...

The fact is that it's almost like we're putting out a pheromone drawing leadership into our lives. And in the aftermath we'll sit around, complaining of the little Stalins in our lives totally unaware that we've solicited them, eagerly. If we accept the postmodern thesis that Narcissus is notin love with himself, but with the image of himself, then when we look at a painting of him, we're looking at the same thing he is, the image of Narcissus. And sooner or later we need to ask ourselves why we find this figure so mermerizing, why this blog keeps or orbiting it, and why we read it.

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Never mind, I had somehow m... (Below threshold)

August 26, 2012 1:29 AM | Posted, in reply to Hein's comment, by Boo: | Reply

Never mind, I had somehow missed this one where you *admit* to raping children.

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Maybe you should turn off y... (Below threshold)

August 26, 2012 6:02 AM | Posted by trajan: | Reply

Maybe you should turn off your comments, I have never seen so much diarrhea.

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"what this "Alone" cat show... (Below threshold)

August 26, 2012 4:44 PM | Posted, in reply to Lump of Labor's comment, by tim: | Reply

"what this "Alone" cat shows is that he's paid close attention to Don Draper as written by the Mad Men script team, and then created a shrink character based on Draper, modernized by Patrick Bateman..."

that's the whole point. this isn't some big secret.

it's called irony...we're living in the postmodern age, remember?

but thanks, captain obvious.

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What part of illegal don't ... (Below threshold)

August 26, 2012 4:51 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by BP Ladybug: | Reply

What part of illegal don't you understand? For a 22 year old to have sex with a 16 year old minor is stuatutory rape - illegal in most states in the U.S.

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misspelling - statutory rap... (Below threshold)

August 26, 2012 4:55 PM | Posted by BP Ladybug: | Reply

misspelling - statutory rape

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Check the age of consent la... (Below threshold)

August 26, 2012 5:00 PM | Posted, in reply to BP Ladybug's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Check the age of consent laws, it's really not.

And 22? Who is 22 and doing a residency? Even a rotation during med school you'd be closer to 24-25 if you entered immediately following undergrad. Who the fuck are you?

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I'm not a practicing profes... (Below threshold)

September 1, 2012 10:35 PM | Posted by StephenD: | Reply

I'm not a practicing professional by any means, but I was reminded of this article when I came across the following passage:

"It happened that one very beautiful woman went to see her psychiatrist for the first time. The psychiatrist said, "Come closer please." When she came closer, he simply jumped and hugged and kissed the woman. She was shocked. Then he said, "Now sit down. This takes care of my problem, now what is your problem?"

-Osho

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You write - "For these reas... (Below threshold)

September 2, 2012 10:17 PM | Posted by Mike: | Reply

You write - "For these reasons, I am becoming convinced that the only real way to "personal growth" outside of direct action is through careful study of fiction."

Can I ask what you mean by "direct action"?

Thanks for your time.

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I.@TLP:>... (Below threshold)

September 4, 2012 9:57 AM | Posted by James: | Reply

I.

@TLP:
>> A post, a story, and the (mostly) silent therapist are the opposite: a screen to project on so that patient or reader can then ask, why does this make me feel like that?"

@colin:
> I was wondering why I keep reading you. There it is.

It doesn't do it for me.

Therapist "B" said something like this to me. He didn't understand why I called bullshit. He told me I was angry with my father. Years later, I understood why I felt "B" was not a "screen" but a phoney. His carefully selected words were not matched by his tone of voice or his facial expressions. Eric Berne has a story in one of his books on Transactional Analysis (TA) about a patient who was like this, and he felt that the patient's Adult (in the TA sense) was in control of the words, but her Child was in control of her face.

It is damned hard to be a "screen". "B" worked as a therapist in a hospital, so it is certain that he had received appropriate training and been analysed himself, yet he was unaware of what he was giving away to his patients through non-verbal cues. He was the opposite of a screen. His sweet and sparse words could be accompanied by an expression of horror or disgust.

Being (mostly) silent does not fix the problem.

II.

I would be surprised if the responsible authorities can be bothered about whether a therapist makes a good "screen" (but I hope I'm wrong). They would have to test a candidate therapist for his/her ability at acting and Poker, and if this testing were to be done humanely, it would have to take place before the candidate enrols in college. Of course, this would be very bad for business.

III.

It's not that the screen idea is wrong; but I see an analogy with novel writing. There is a passage in Kingsley Amis, which I cannot quote verbatim because I no longer have the book, but is along the lines:

"'I am a novelist, I don't tell stories, I reveal the underlying truths about the human condition'. Has anyone in the whole of human history ever said these words?"

Yes, these words have been said. And yes, that is what a good novelist does. There is a much larger number of novelists whose writing is not so profound, yet they make a living as expert story-tellers, and the world is a better place for having them. The worst sort of novelist is the one who wants only to deal in profound truths but does not have the requisite talent.

The danger with the "screen" idea is that it is a trap for the therapist who is not at the highest level of skill and self-awareness.

IV.

A few individuals were pioneers of therapeutic techniques. How could they train thousands of therapists and deploy them across a continent?

Think about Bruce Lee. His written work was posthumously converted into a book whose title translates as "The Way of the Intercepting Fist". A skilled and dedicated person could closely follow the instructions in the book, train hard, and learn from a master, but there would be a missing ingredient: to follow the instructions successfully, he would need to be Bruce Lee.

In the European theatre of World War II, George S. Patton was the Allied commander who was most feared by the Germans. Among his quotes:

(A) "A pint of sweat will save a gallon of blood."

(B) "A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow."

The problem is that, in order to be as successful as Patton, you need to know when it is appropriate to stop doing (A) and start doing (B). For that, you need to be Patton.

Richard Nixon repeatedly watched the film about Patton. He then decided to bomb Cambodia.

Bernard Montgomery rubbed shoulders with Patton in North Africa. He went on to implement a bold plan to shorten World War II by taking Arnhem. It was the biggest disaster in British military history.

Beware of trying to replicate the supremely talented person who is the master of his field. It is simply impossible to train 10,000 people to do the same thing. Aim lower. Work out how to turn the skilled and dedicated student into a good therapist, not merely how to turn the one-in-a-million student into an ideal one.

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Referring to section IV of ... (Below threshold)

September 5, 2012 2:21 PM | Posted by whosthatgirl: | Reply

Referring to section IV of your post, very well put, James. Regarding the blank screen, body language will always win out in the therapeutic setting. Trite of me to say, I'm sure...but it is that niggling feeling in the pit of one's stomach when we walk away from an encounter where the words were right, but we know we were somehow defrauded. That is our sixth sense working, recording the dissonance between what our ears heard and our other senses registered and recorded in the subconscious mind...it is of particular importance in the therapeutic relationship as there will NOT BE ONE unless we can trust completely at every level.

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Would you folks please read... (Below threshold)

September 6, 2012 1:51 PM | Posted by DDG: | Reply

Would you folks please read "How People Change" and get back to us?

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For these reasons, I am bec... (Below threshold)

September 6, 2012 1:59 PM | Posted by LP: | Reply

For these reasons, I am becoming convinced that the only real way to "personal growth" outside of direct action is through careful study of fiction. Of course stories may have an intended meaning, but a well written story allows you to ask not just "what does the story mean?" but "why do I think that this is what the story means?" As in The Second Story Of Echo And Narcissus: "The story is the pool... what do you see in it? It's a reflection and a projection..." (3)

Oh, great, you've discovered something I've known since I was 3. You know, before this blog completely mindfucked me into thinking for 13 hours about things such as whether I'd like fries with it or not.

Look, it's impossible to unsee now. The self absorption, the useless, American banter, the terrible, terrible lack of connection, but instead just scripted comments on things that do not matter.

My question is not 'why'... my question is - Did you really think this would help someone live this life?

How to see the world in reality, but not get caught up in the overall inanity of it?

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which one? by Allen Wheeli... (Below threshold)

September 6, 2012 6:38 PM | Posted, in reply to DDG's comment, by whosthatgirl: | Reply

which one? by Allen Wheelis? If so, that is a book worth reading and yes, I've read it more than once, thank you.

"you folks" is more than a little condescending in tone and who is "us"? specifically who falls into which category? throwing out a book title without the author's name is hardly manna from heaven. lots of mental masturbation going on here, to say the least.

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It's not that he's... (Below threshold)

September 7, 2012 2:04 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by jonny: | Reply

It's not that he's telling us what to do, or what not to do, but that we're asking him to. This is the curious part. And sooner or later, because we're so hungry for this kind of leadership, either to follow or to rebel against, that along comes some sociopath with a long index finger and a plan for our country...

This is what happens when entire generations of children are raised without a healthy sense of Self. Parents raise their children to please, in lieu of raising children to think for themselves. The result is that children are obsessed with public opinion, respect from the establishment or industries in which they operate, impressing their peers, being taken seriously by those they admire and / or look up to, deceiving targets of romantic interest, trusting the recommendations of those who they have taken a shine to, believing the government is "of the people, for the people, by the people" instead of the Protection Racket which starts wars to create the illusion of necessity and basically just lies & insults "the people" non-stop; and, of course, becoming fanboys of writers who awe or inspire them.

I'm guilty of only that last one, but I am a fanboy of only three people on the planet:
* David Cornwell (who writes as John le Carre)
* Dau Aung San Sui Kyi (a manufactured icon created by the Burmese junta, to fool vassals into thinking they needed a frail old lady to free them - her painful awareness of this fact & her writing about fear is why she's DASSK instead of Mrs Who Gives A Rats)
* Alone (even though he appears, at least to my limited perception, to be focused on treatment rather than prevention; and even though he consistently intrigues me with his seeming unwillingness to attack Religion's Emotional Manipulation & Degradation with the ferocity my vassal perception believes is warranted - the sheer regularity at which he flicks switches of Understanding in my mind from "Off to "On" makes him one of the most valuable individuals on the planet)

Your point about hungering for leadership is very well made, of course. In a world of insanity where almost no one has a healthy sense of Self, the human race has been reduced to some sub-species below vassals, beasts and insects (never in History has Humanity been this inhumane).

Every Polite Society deserves the "government of sociopath/s, by the sociopaths, for the sociopaths" that it has.

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I would be surpris... (Below threshold)

September 7, 2012 2:19 AM | Posted, in reply to James's comment, by jonny: | Reply

I would be surprised if the responsible authorities can be bothered about whether a therapist makes a good "screen" (but I hope I'm wrong)...Of course, this would be very bad for business.

It is delusional to hope you're wrong. You're clearly a bright individual; so you would understand Introductory Economics and know all about coercive monopolies. "Responsible authorities" - that is an oxymoron.

The psychiatric industry is a Guild. Pay your fees, sell your placebo SSRIs, try not to kill anyone with your anti-psychotics, take some direct bribes for writing scripts for addicts or Big Pharma & or some indirect rewards for taking an affirmative action stance towards whatever is being promoted heavily, fail to notice insanity which presents as symptoms so severe women walk in with chemicals all over their face or patients self-refer who are religious and insanity as imbecilic as these sorts of things are simply overlooked by the coercive monopoly adjudicators of the brain's capacity to function. Cross them and they could literally send you to prison without possibility of parole.

They're not that bright, though. For example, I can prove that the entire global industry is doing things that are tantamount to their disclosing they have no reason for existence. Two words if you're interested, methamphetamine & Desoxyn (but then I repeat myself).

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Correction: They're ... (Below threshold)

September 7, 2012 3:05 AM | Posted by jonny: | Reply

Correction: They're not that bright, though. For example, I can prove that the entire global industry is doing things that are tantamount to their disclosing they have no reason for existence a concession that forfeits all claims they have to legitimacy. Two words if you're interested, methamphetamine & Desoxyn (but then I repeat myself).

FML I suck so badly at writing, it's a wonder I even bother. But a psychiatric industry that asserts only their guild-subscribing 'professionals' have the requisite capacity to manage your mental health (and no, they will not permit you to decline their imposition & handle that shit yourself - they just care that much)...but which is almost entirely comprised of shysters that prescribe placebo & feign ignorance of the AMA's 25-year late concession that SSRIs are effectively placebo (or worse)...and 100% of whom, at least outside the US (along with 99% of their US colleagues), indirectly assert they cannot be trusted to ethically prescribe / control access to any medications which cannot be sold OTC (which is what they're conceding when they admit they cannot be trusted to responsibly or ethically manage the FDA-regulated methamphetamine (Desoxyn & generics - "fear of abuse potential")...is clearly nothing but a Protection Racket of Middle Men who stand between Suffering and Pain Relief.

These are sociopathic leeches guilty of Crimes Against Humanity and aggravated murder on a scale of genocide. Do you know how many deaths have attributed to methamphetamine?

Zero (0).

I don't know what poisons labelled as 'meth' are killing tens of millions of 'meth' junkies but I'll put my life on the wager that Desoxyn doesn't kill. I'm reasonably confident the FDA wouldn't indicate it for the treatment of ADHD in children if it did.

And I'd like to hear the legislature and judiciary explain how exactly they arrived at the conclusion that the addictive, killer poisons sold on the government's corners in every metropolitan city on the planet...are methamphetamine. Are they claiming to be privy to every facet of the production and distribution process...or are they just taking the criminals word for it?

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And yes, that is w... (Below threshold)

September 7, 2012 4:23 AM | Posted, in reply to James's comment, by jonny: | Reply

And yes, that is what a good novelist does. There is a much larger number of novelists whose writing is not so profound, yet they make a living as expert story-tellers, and the world is a better place for having them. The worst sort of novelist is the one who wants only to deal in profound truths but does not have the requisite talent.

A good novelist? Literature is almost entirely intended to be conditioning and propaganda. Do you think Jane Austen was a "novelist" motivated to write a great novel which "reveals the underlying truths of the human condition"? How about Dickens? Victor Hugo? Emily Bronte? Alexandre Dumas? Orwell? Steinbeck? Aldous Huxley? Tolstoy? Dostoevsky? etc etc etc.

Not a single one of those writers was primarily motivated by the desire to write great stories for the sake of entertainment. They wrote great novels that someone or something (and I think it's indicative of how low we've been reduced when no one questions who adjudicates these things and what gives them the god damn right) has since determined to be classics; but the entertaining story has always been and will always be nothing but the the sugar coating around the (usually creepy) pill that is swallowed (if not always digested) by all who read novels for entertainment.

I can only think of one novelist that actually fits your description; he only wrote one (or 1.3) but his only completed novel was the finest ever written for a brief period of time: F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Oscar Wilde...might be another one; but even he wasn't primarily motivated by writing "a great yarn". Aside from Fitzgerald, I'm not sure any writer ever has been (motivated simply to write a magnificent story that "reveals the underlying truths of the human condition" and then went on to write one).

I think you're getting cause and effect around the wrong way.

Novelists are like journalists. They have agendas. Those who are motivated to write stories for the sake of entertainment end up writing trashy paperbacks sold in airport terminals. They might be bestsellers but they're not really literature.

Alone is right, but then I grew up in a cult so I know all about conditioning with stories.

Also, I've read the Holy Bible. Have you? That's a book of stories they give to children to read. They've printed between 4 and 8 billion copies of that book of stories, primarily for children to read. It's full of stuff like heroic tales of children owning the faces of Goliaths for King, God and Country. Yeah. CJ Lewis was one of the creepiest child molesters alive. You think the Chronicles of Narnia was about entertainment? It's a Christian allegory which means, children on the battlefield. JRR Tolkien wasn't as horrifying as CJ Lewis but he was doing the same thing. JK Rowling threw her hat in the same creepy ring.

Almost anyone who creates entertainment for children is so creepy, the vast majority should be humanely placed 6 feet under the ground. Have you read the Twilight trilogy? I read all three of those brain-numbing novels of imbecility knowing - just knowing - that nothing could be marketed with that kind of hype to children without being impossibly creepy. I was pages from the end of the final book, and aside from intense feelings of self-hatred and flashes of homicidal annoyance at the author of such literary yogurt (I was vaguely aware I was merely dabbling in transference and/or projecting, I had only myself to blame), I was forced to concede that it held no creepy poisonous pill inside the 'sweet' & SOUR wrapper...when the book dropped out of my hands and I had to pick it up to make sure I wasn't imagining what I'd just read.

Pedophilia, Imprinting and the Child Sex Trade; just thrown in there brazenly at the end of three volumes of brain-corrupting yawn. To this day, I'm yet to hear or read another person disturbed by the conclusion of arguably the most hyped literature since the Holy Bible went viral.

One of the first stories in the Holy Bible is how Cain kills his brother Abel. Motive? Just insanity. I asked my mother what the moral of this story was. She looked at me with the sigh of a mother that burned a bun in her oven, and rolled her eyes because clearly I was stupid. She explained the moral was "Don't Do It", at which point she sighed again in exasperation.

Cause I was literally going to sacrifice my brother on an altar for no reason whatsoever.

If you can't understand motive, tone down your certainty. Every single one of us is provably emotionally insane. We're all retards, the products of 3500 years of lying to children. If you imagine you could possibly have a clue being on the sharp end of that, you become very dangerous. Very, very dangerously retarded; if you're certain enough that you Know Best; and you have children. We know nothing. We know negative knowledge. We got a long way to get back to neutral and when the entire world does "motive" as poorly as I can write, our goose is cooked. .

The fans of John le Carre novels imagine he's motivated by writing great stories to entertain them, as well. We're literally doomed. But what do I know? I'm as retarded as you.

The only difference is that I'm less Certain about what I Know to be True. Also, I can do logic in a way that makes imbeciles call me insane whilst they do exactly what I imagined I wanted them to do. It's called emotional manipulation and the reason emotions can be manipulated begins like this:

In the beginning, God created the Heaven and the Earth...
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That is our sixth ... (Below threshold)

September 8, 2012 2:36 AM | Posted, in reply to whosthatgirl's comment, by jonny: | Reply

That is our sixth sense working, recording the dissonance between what our ears heard and our other senses registered and recorded in the subconscious mind...it is of particular importance in the therapeutic relationship as there will NOT BE ONE unless we can trust completely at every level.

There is no 6th sense. I think you're confusing the scrambled information being processed poorly by 5 corrupted senses as being representative of a 6th.

If you have a therapist that wants you to trust completely at every level, you need to run in the other direction really fast. You're not supposed to join a cult or imprint to the image of another person, are you; therapy is supposed to be about Understanding.

Trust & Faith are the sworn enemies of Understanding.

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Thanks, TLP. As is often wi... (Below threshold)

September 9, 2012 1:30 PM | Posted by 300baud: | Reply

Thanks, TLP. As is often with your posts, I don't get all of it, but I like having to stretch. And this very different angle on some of your common themes helps me understand them better.

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Let me clarify trust in the... (Below threshold)

September 9, 2012 1:38 PM | Posted, in reply to jonny's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Let me clarify trust in the therapeutic relationship. I would bet that most people end up in therapy to begin with because trust between one or both of their parents was broken early on. If not within their primary relationships, then a significant breech occurred with another person they should have been able to trust implicitly, ie, teacher, priest, caregiver, grandparent, the list goes on and on. Aren't marriage and relationships problem rooted in trust issues?

In this particular blog, TLP discusses his attraction toward a hypothetical, beautiful patient. If he had expressed his attraction, this would likely have shattered her trust in him since her experience of the world was already one in which she felt like a sexual object and he would have simply confirmed her view of the world. The relationship would not have been a therapeutic one and I believe it would have turned into a game.

If I had not been able to trust my male therapist to respect my boundaries over time (boundaries which had already been violated repeatedly by father types) and if he had even once hinted at an attraction to me, he would simply have confirmed my view of men and change would not have been possible. Perhaps my therapist and I could have worked through it but he would have selfishly introduced an unnecessary complication.

Trust should never be deaf, blind and stupid as I am not. My therapist never once asked me to trust him, ever, and if he had, it would have been another red flag. Over time he proved himself to be worthy of my trust. I repeat my original premise, you simply cannot have a therapeutic relationship without trust and respect for boundaries. Over time, the level of trust deepens as does the understanding. They are intertwined.

There is no literal sixth sense. Gavin DeBecker's book, The Gift of Fear, provides very specific examples of how tuning into this sense can protect us.

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The post above was my respo... (Below threshold)

September 9, 2012 1:40 PM | Posted by whosthatgirl: | Reply

The post above was my response to Jonny's comments.

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Guess who's <a href="http:/... (Below threshold)

September 12, 2012 1:03 PM | Posted by Gabe Ruth: | Reply

Guess who's back.

Also of interest, the anti-Katniss. Way to show some agency, sister.

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On "6th sense" mysticism, w... (Below threshold)

September 12, 2012 3:39 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by jonny: | Reply

On "6th sense" mysticism, we're literally saying the same thing; I'm merely saying it more intelligently. There is no 6th sense; just a world of imbeciles who cannot understand their processing of the 5 senses they have has been grossly abused by those they trusted (idiotically and illogically but children are such suckers; their sanity can never see insanity coming until they're reduced to wondering why their parents think malicious deception of their 'naivete' is amusing).

Xmas is a great way to traumatise your children into assuming everyone is demented and malicious. The mistake was theirs;they trusted people who assert trust is normal, assert that dubious and suspicious = "paranoia", simultaneously lie in brazen, malicious, mundane and inconsequential fashion routinely (when too embarrassed to admit they don't know something)... and this is where it gets comical, wring their moronic hands in agony wondering why their children don't credit their moronic opinions or value what they have to say.

The children might still love their parents and that's a pity for victims of every kind of Protection Racket; because down the line, decades later the victim will start imagining they have a 6th sense when they have no such thing.

They just have 5 broken and corrupted senses. We all do. One lie accepted as Truth, and everything perceived from that point becomes a lie by virtue of tainted perception courtesy of corrupted processing.

The only real tragedy is that traumatised children invariably over-react and swing to the opposite pole; usually subconsciously. That's a mistake. You should never trust, love or have faith; period. But you can safely assume anyone falling over backwards to deliver unsolicited transparency is capable of acting in their own, Selfish best interests. You shouldn’t trust them because someone like me will be way ahead of you, creating illusions to enable you to feel safe.

You shouldn’t think you could possibly out-shrewd the entire world, either. Or someone like me will come along and teach you a lesson you won't learn because you already know everything; especially, I've noted, how to scream when the 'victims' of your Confidence games turn out to be a little shrewder than you.

Of course, by you I mean "me"; and by me I mean a girl named "Aun". No doubt your 5 U/S senses are already struggling. I'm about to tell you the solution, and your not wanting to accept it as The Answer will be the proof of my concluding line.

Solution: Stop trying to out-shrewd the world. You cannot protect yourself from people like me for the same reason I cannot protect my Self from people like Aun. But then Aun and I aren't going to have a interest in you unless you want to play The Game. It's a game of lies, deceit, impossibly complex and layered illusions on top of illusions on top of denial, which all rests on a single Lie. THE ORIGINAL LIE, which John le Carre asserted better than I would be able to.

"Love is whatever you can still betray. Betrayal can only happen if you love." - le Carre

The Game is the Game;and in this game, the only way you can get burned is by playing. The only way you can burn a legitimate player is by being so convincing, they're convinced you truly believe what you say. The only way to make someone who isn't a moron (like a child, moronic by virtue of being gullible and believing The Original Lie) believe you is if you truly believe what you say.

Good players beat suckers. Suckers beat children. The best players are the most miserable because they're looking for something but they don't know what. They know they'll know when they find it. I know what Aun and I were looking for, we found it in each other. Someone worth playing; i.e. someone who wasn't so pathetic, they invoke self-loathing and existential misery.

Aun and I believed in the Green Light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that's no matter -- tomorrow we will run faster, stretch our arms out further... And one fine morning ---- And so we beat on, boats into the current, borne back ceaselessly into PTSD.

One fine morning, I was lying on the ground moments from death. It was 10am. I had believed it was 4am for 6 hours, refusing to accept Aun had snatched Power back from the jaws of my patronizing tenderness and shame at having done what I needed to do, for Love. We'd been playing the game where you destroy those you NEED with lies so brilliantly insane, you cannot remember The Original Lie. You’re just trying to survive. This game is branded and marketed under the trade name "Love" (all rights reversed) by religions, states, parents and all predators.

I couldn’t play it anymore. I couldn't keep lying to my Self about my insane existential NEEDY. Aun had won but of course no one ever wins in this game. I was sick of free rolling on misery. I was sick of playing. And I saw reality altered before my eye as my mood crashed from artificial high of love to artificial low of being betrayed and accepting how I'd betrayed my Self. I knew I was insane but, on some level, I knew nothing one could lay claim to Sanity when they NEED something so badly they're willing to accept disproportionate future suffering, purely to ease their momentary pain. I know what being dependent feels like. I know what addiction feels like. I know the misery of junkies who believe they have no control, even when fully lucid about the Insanity of the trade off. AND SO DO YOU.

THE ORIGINAL LIE: That you're special enough for a sociopath to Love, to the exclusion of Humanity.

I was not Special. Love had been a lie from the start. What never existed cannot be betrayed. You have PTSD but it's just an illusion of misunderstanding. When you understand, you will stop rowing towards the lie, borne back brutally into Reality.

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You need serious therapy.</... (Below threshold)

September 12, 2012 4:21 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

You need serious therapy.

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Therapists should ... (Below threshold)

September 12, 2012 10:50 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Therapists should understand the imaginary transference but not play into it, and instead stay outside, an abstraction, an inexplicable mind that already knows all the answers but doesn't tell them (because telling them is inside the transference.) Whose silence is taken by the patient to mean something-- and the answer to the patient's problem is how they interpreted that silence.

Thank you for this post, which was really interesting for me as a person in long-term therapy.

I saw a Freudian analyst for eight years who worked in the way I think you're describing: he was mostly a sort of blank screen. In the beginning of the therapy, the blank-screen persona was helpful because I was talking about incest, and I felt able to talk to a blank screen where I wouldn't have been able to talk to a person.

However, the latter half of the therapy was completely defined by transference. I experienced his silence as the silence of an indifferent parent - which of course echoed what was going on in my life (my mother chose the perpetrator over me).

In the final year I would have spent more than half the time in therapy complaining about how unhappy I felt having to interact with him in the style he worked in. But when I terminated, somehow he was surprised and taken aback. His surprise surprised me extremely in turn. How could he be so complacent in the face of my constant complaints?

I suspect from his perspective my discontent was pathological material I was offering up to him to analyse - whereas from my perspective, I was a paying client unhappy with a service, trying to negotiate improvements with the service provider, and flabbergasted by his unresponsiveness. At least, that was my conscious perspective. I suspect the transference perspective was that I was trying to nag my passive, indifferent parent into action to care for me. (I guess the fact that I was willing to give up and look elsewhere may have been a sign of growth?)

I ended up feeling that that I had stayed with him at least two years past the point where it was useful, and being angry with myself about it. I was also angry with him for collaborating with me in my over-staying.

Anyway, that was a lot of words to say: the therapist as cryptic cypher is not necessarily proof against transference!

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Great post! Well put and t... (Below threshold)

September 13, 2012 10:31 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Great post! Well put and the beauty is that after 8 years of therapy you could put it so succinctly. I strongly identify with your perspective. You changed during the course of therapy which means it was sucessful and you terminated at the right time for you. There is no perfect time so please don't second guess yourself. It turned out to be a valuable lesson. It sounds like he was the right therapist for you for a time.

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Are you all from New York?<... (Below threshold)

September 14, 2012 4:36 PM | Posted by Dr. Gary: | Reply

Are you all from New York?

Dr. Gary

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Dr. Gary.What are ... (Below threshold)

September 14, 2012 4:42 PM | Posted by Heia: | Reply

Dr. Gary.

What are you trying to ask for, perhaps I can help?

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Los Angeles checking in her... (Below threshold)

September 15, 2012 12:12 PM | Posted by whosthatgirl: | Reply

Los Angeles checking in here. Curious as to why you think we're New Yorker's? Does "you all" give us a clue that you're from the South? Welcome. In my opinion, my analyst is the best Freudian/Jungian in the West.

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But of course, I'm biased a... (Below threshold)

September 15, 2012 12:31 PM | Posted by whosthatgirl: | Reply

But of course, I'm biased and speaking on the other side of 20+ years of on/off analysis. Please no speeches about dependency, taking too long, etc. It takes what it takes and each person's journey is unique. I am living proof that change is possible through the therapeutic relationship. My therapist valued my life until I could value it myself and my core personality could emerge. He wasn't my first therapist but he was the only therapist that was strong enough to handle whatever I threw at him and I intuitively knew that from day one. As a psychiatrist of the old school and now approaching his mid-80's, he gave me the best of care. Doctors of his caliber are few and far between now.

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"Of course I'm also in full... (Below threshold)

September 29, 2012 10:34 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

"Of course I'm also in full control of myself, I don't break the boundaries of treatment."

Keep telling yourself that.

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Absolutely. There... (Below threshold)

October 2, 2012 11:56 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by whosthatgirl: | Reply

Absolutely.

There is something that has always deeply troubled me about Marilyn Monroe's relationship with her last therapist, Dr. Greenson. I cannot understand why he would have ever thought it was appropriate to allow her to live with him and his family during her therapy? I think it was incredibly selfish and self-serving of him to set this in motion, not to mention the boundary violations left, right and center given her vulnerable state of mind. You can never, ever regain your lost family of origin and I have always been very clear on that in my therapeutic relationship. My psychiatrist is NOT my father and never will be. Marilyn never had a chance with all of the sharks circling around....

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So, my psychiatrist of 20 y... (Below threshold)

October 11, 2012 11:08 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

So, my psychiatrist of 20 years is winding down his practice of 50 years and our last session will be in mid-December. I spoke with him yesterday of my sadness at saying good-bye to him forever and never speaking with him again. He assured me that I will be absolutely fine and that the loss will be superficial for me and the handful of other patients remaining. After all, that has been the whole point of "growing up" and moving toward independence. He was not glib. He knows that his investment in me has paid off and I am a success story. It is true that when he goes on extended trips I don't dwell on the fact that he's gone and I have contemplated his death from time to time given his increasing frailty without panic. Yesterday he told me that the only reason he is stopping is because of his serious health issues, one of them a heart condition, and it wouldn't be fair to his patients for him to continue knowing that his time is limited. So I said, "I will only know of your passing because I will read your obituary in the newpaper?" "Yes, that is how you will know." This is the price of maintaining boundaries as every psychiatrist/therapist should and gaining mental health. In order for me to get well, the therapy had to be about me, not him, and that is exactly the way he is terminating my therapy, protecting me from his inevitable demise and death. He is looking out for my best interests, not doing what makes him feel good. Sure, he could keep on taking my money until the very end over but that isn't the way he would do it. This feels like a death to me and I told him that yesterday. The silver lining to all of this is that I still have two months to tell him how much his steadfastness has meant to me and how thankful I am for our relationship and how much I love him. At the beginning of therapy he made me promise that I wouldn't commit suicide unless I called him first. That is a promise I faithfully kept and he was available to me in my darkest hours, pro bono even when I was completely broke. What is the value of my life? My 9 year old would tell you that it is priceless and I would agree. I miss him already.

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Damn...I had a question, bu... (Below threshold)

December 19, 2012 3:48 AM | Posted by Aaron Investigates: | Reply

Damn...I had a question, but I discovered the site too late...

In any event, I guess it's inevitable that a point or two gets missed when so many issues are addressed in one article.

Question...just in case TLP is bored..sure...What about the entire dynamic between Joe and his ex? Basically she comes back to burn him, and nobody comments?

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I think that has to do with... (Below threshold)

December 19, 2012 10:37 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

I think that has to do with TLP's own perspective. He's avoiding the very kind of self-serving narratives the post is about. He admits to himself that this is how he sees women, instead of telling us (and himself) lies about it. This might be why so many 20 year old men may like this blog, since it gives them insight into their own unconscious biases and thought processes.

In summary, I think you're missing the point.

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Man this looks quite sad To... (Below threshold)

December 21, 2012 10:50 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Man this looks quite sad To me its seems that since my childhood Ive been triying To convince myself To be a Nice, loving and full person and for that reason maybe people around me feel quite suffocated i assume To myself that i really understand everything and i never mind what other people tought about me ( because i believe in god?) but instead of being a real good loving person Ive been quite invasive in most my relationships with other people ( the whole irony is that this coment is fully on first person) . Man that hurts

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What are you talking about?... (Below threshold)

December 27, 2012 2:41 AM | Posted, in reply to sunny day's comment, by nizza: | Reply

What are you talking about?

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This comment section is a m... (Below threshold)

January 22, 2013 10:41 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

This comment section is a mess.

Horribly unreadable.

Why do you permit anyone to post as Anonymous?

MovableType is horrible for this. Find a better blog host, one that shows threaded comments.

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Better yet - disable commen... (Below threshold)

February 3, 2013 4:01 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Better yet - disable comments.

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Where do people who aren't ... (Below threshold)

February 27, 2013 1:20 PM | Posted by Willis: | Reply

Where do people who aren't narcissists get their approval and validation? (I guess I mean where is it okay to get validation and approval from? If people are supposed to operate without validation and approval at all, how to we do that?)

I can't decide if I should apologize for even asking this or not; I hate to be a bother ... or at least I think I do?

If you take time to answer this, thank you in advance! :)

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Willis, you must focus on v... (Below threshold)

March 16, 2013 1:49 PM | Posted by Windybreeze: | Reply

Willis, you must focus on validating yourself. Depending on external events, possessions, your career, the opinions of only leave you empty and dissatisfied, grasping for more. Think of film stars. Self validation comes from living your life in such a way that there is consistency between your values and your actions. This integrity will bring you the validation that you likely never received from your parents or significant influences in your early life. I promise that you will never be able to recapture what should have been give freely to you as a child so please don't twist yourself into a pretzel trying to please others now in the vain hope of getting what you deserved. Your need for validation will become a voracious beast that will devour the authentic you and will never be satisfied. Think Marilyn Monroe. Start by focusing on the qualities you like about yourself and bring your actual self in line with your aspirations for yourself. Always be gentle, too. You are supposed to make mistakes, fall down, pick yourself up, dust yourself off and move forward. Hope that helps, Willis.

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thanks for your 2 cents... (Below threshold)

March 16, 2013 1:51 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

thanks for your 2 cents

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Funny thing is, I'd always ... (Below threshold)

March 23, 2013 3:44 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by kristi: | Reply

Funny thing is, I'd always assumed the TLP is a woman...

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<a href="http://brightideas... (Below threshold)

May 9, 2013 6:57 AM | Posted by Bright Ideas: | Reply

Stress Management Thanks for posting this information on your site provide the knowledge and talking about life issues and management.i am feeling good to visit on your site
Bright Ideas is an innovative psychology and coaching clinic that provides a range of services for the prevention and treatment of mental health disorders.

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True, but nothing particula... (Below threshold)

July 20, 2013 9:37 AM | Posted by IG: | Reply

True, but nothing particularly new. It used to be thought in the times of Freud that the object of therapy is the individual mind. The majority of (psychoanalytic) therapists today believe that the object of therapy is the relationship between therapist and client. It is not a new idea that the therapist brings their counter-transference to the client into the session and that it is incorrect to speak of the therapist uncovering objective reality.

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I'm sure that will is becau... (Below threshold)

September 27, 2013 8:24 PM | Posted by Psychologist Melbour: | Reply

I'm sure that will is because of TLP's personal standpoint. He has keeping away from the sort of self-serving narratives the submit is about. He admits for you to themselves that will this is one way they views women, rather than showing us (and himself) is concerning this. This might end up being the reason why countless 20 calendar year previous guys might such as this web site, since it allows all of them understanding within their personal spontaneous biases along with considered techniques.

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> For these reasons, I am b... (Below threshold)

October 5, 2013 2:00 AM | Posted by Or: | Reply

> For these reasons, I am becoming convinced that the only real way to "personal growth" outside of direct action is through careful study of fiction.

I felt compelled to search your blog for that remark again after seeing this article: http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2013/10/04/229190837/want-to-read-others-thoughts-try-reading-literary-fiction

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And thanks for recommending... (Below threshold)

October 5, 2013 2:08 AM | Posted by Or: | Reply

And thanks for recommending Notes from Underground. It made me cringe at the kind of person I used to be. But it also shows how literature can change us for the worse. The main character keeps saying things like "worst of all was how UNLITERARY it would be", i.e., nothing in real life can satisfy him because it never plays out like it does in his imagining of himself as the main character in his own movie, but since this is before the invention of cinema, "unliterary" is the only term that fits. That asshole would have loved Wanted.

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So from the male patient's ... (Below threshold)

October 9, 2013 5:00 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

So from the male patient's perspective:

So if I understand correctly, his problem is that he constantly seeks approval and will use transference in order to temporarily obtain it; but then he will undermine himself because it came from him or it's not good enough. So you propose he does this because it's a defense against change. But what if his father is a narcissist and even by changing he won't be good enough - he'll never be good enough - what is the solution? For him, there will never be a pattern of behaviour which satisfies his father. In a way, he's a second generation narcissist who will never truly receive that understanding so he stops constantly trying to change his behaviour (which he's tried over and over and over again but it's never good enough). Maybe too he resents his father and his particular failings/alcoholism but his father is successful nonetheless and has high (ambiguous seemingly erratic) expectations for him; and he doesn't want to become like his father but he wants that validation from trying to live up to his ideals in another (what he considers more sensible) way? Does that make him narcissistic, or realistic (because his father is a narcissist and he doesn't want to emulate him directly, only the traits he considers positive). Is this judgement inherently narcissistic because he's once again giving himself sole agency in this analysis, not acknowledging the others agency?

Should he forget all of this and stop trying to emulate particular aspects of his father (and others he looks up to) as a replacement for a lack of a consistent moral/rules framework within which to build his superego and instead opt for choosing a moral framework and holding himself to it? Is that even possible because he becomes the arbiter of his own punishment/enforcement? Does he choose something else? What else (in this fucked up narcissistic society where most of the organizations/frameworks available are inherently narcissistic in and of themselves, professing advice like "you can be anything you want to be and do anything you want to do you just need to repeat this mantra in the mirror every morning" (to reduce the shame you feel for choosing this way of thinking))?

What should he do next when he chooses those ways of thinking and then is further shamed by his narcissistic parents for his failures as a result of choosing this alternative path, making him feel even more useless?


Fake it? How do you fake human connection and fake making yourself vulnerable to other people when you're afraid to do so because you'll be deemed not good enough?


What if you feel like you'd destroy yourself (and your mind) by changing? What if the main obstacle to change is that you don't know how you'd relate yourself to others because everything you've known is something you'd have to condemn. What if you realized you just wrote "you'd relate yourself to others" like yourself was separate from you and what you're really afraid of is being totally honest and vulnerable because you feel caged and you're afraid of what that inner "you" would be like totally raw because you don't have experience relating it to the outside world directly and if you were to face what you were really thinking and feeling it would be deemed unnacceptable because it (you) is angry and animalistic and caged and doesn't have a way to get from A (angry and caged where it is now) to B (responsible member of society with sublimated urges) without hurting people in the process? What if that's because it doesn't know how to abide by its fractured and weak superego - which should be the one to hold it in check - because it's narcissistic image has been holding it in check all this time instead as a means of self-preservation, but the superego can't fully develop because it can't get at that "you" (id? via ego?) so there's no opportunity for that to happen (because you're a strong and capable adult rather than a child so the impulses you'd learn to govern via your ego/superego would probably land you in prison if you were to "let go" of some semblance of a narcissistic identity in the process of getting from A to B)?

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Fake it? How do yo... (Below threshold)

October 9, 2013 7:41 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by jonny: | Reply

Fake it? How do you fake human connection and fake making yourself vulnerable to other people when you're afraid to do so because you'll be deemed not good enough?

Why are you trapped in their Confidence game? What gives them the power to decide you're not good enough? Why aren't they proving they're good enough for you? Parents usually have some hijacked leverage to fall back on (food withheld, size disparity, money, lodging, willingness to use violence, etc). What are they leveraging against you to make you imagine you should care about the sleazy standards they've set for you? Clearly they need you to please them, prove yourself to them, reach your full potential or make them proud of you.

This is a world of illusions created by sub-worthless shells who spend two decades emotionally assaulting grown men before taking aim at the Self of a child. They breed suffering and inflict pain and then tell you the misery they imposed is all your fault. But you never asked to be there. They need you. I don't know how children fall for their lies but every child has the power. They just don't realise it.

Anyone who needs you but cannot impress you has no option but to judge and criticise and ridicule you. They need to degrade you and tear you down as that is the only way they can Confidence trick you into imagining you need to impress them. No no no! They're worthless. It's all an illusion. They need you so you have the power. They're not good enough, they know they can't impress you. So mothers will say, "You're no good" after they've reduced you to feeling worthless but it doesn't even matter if they're telling the truth. You have the power. They need you, or they wouldn't make you feel that way.

You don't need to be good enough for them. You don't need to fake it. You just need to relax. You're in control.

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I have experienced... (Below threshold)

October 9, 2013 8:50 AM | Posted, in reply to girl from the subway's comment, by jonny: | Reply

I have experienced a lot of bone heads asking me out and not a lot of nice guys asking me out...I get approached by whoever is bold enough to make a move when I'm not really out looking to date.

There are countless examples of this. Everything Toddler girls do imagining they're being shrewd is self-defeating. The entire process favours guys who are inferior because they're desperate enough. Their antisocial behaviour in fear of appearing "easy" affords girls the capacity to filter out their best interests and ensure they get their pick of the needy runts. He who needs, 'wins'.

If I know they are just using me for sex, then I know they are getting something beneficial from interacting with me and that feels like all I have to offer some times.

As opposed to what other girls are offering? You might be surprised by how worthless the competition is. I'm told they create illusions. They may be fooling you.

If there were nice people who would use me for sex without being mean to me and be nice to me even though I suck at life then that would be nice. I'm not sure it works like that, because I guess inherently guys who will not be using you for sex would be wanting to date you seriously and treat you well and expect that you be functional and healthy and awesome.

Whatever your mother SAYS...is probably going to be a lie. Just because you're not using men as johns like whores love to, doesn't mean men are using you for sex. It's literally impossible for a guy to use a girl for sex. It's insulting to pretend another party has taken advantage when you've come away with 9/10ths of the advantage generated by the exchange. Mothers are putrid whores. I've heard it said that they lie.

But only when they're talking.

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I really don't thi... (Below threshold)

October 9, 2013 10:56 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by jonny: | Reply

I really don't think men should be in contact or positions of power with women or girls younger than 21 years old. It's like they are animals and can't help but prey on them. The few guys capable of controlling themselves are outweighed by the rapists and manipulators.

Gotta protect those girls from being raped by men. Heaven forbid, women might be MANIPULATED into having sex against their will. Women under 21 are too young to have sex. Clearly it's not informed consent if they're GIVING it away. Sex with women under 21 is rape.

Sex is a gateway evil that leads to more sex, violence, pregnancy and even death. Girls die from sex. But not men, they're privileged. When will we be freed of Patriarchal tyranny. Men have no interest in ruined women. If you can't present the tokens of virginity when challenged, what are you worth? Men won't take care of used women. Never to be wed. That kind of corruption must be rooted out but would it kill men to feel some compassion? Men are heartless brutes. They probably enjoy killing those girls as the guy gets off scot-free. Male privilege. All the more reason to remain pure.

Sex isn't even enjoyable for women unless they're perverse or abnormal. We have a duty of care to weed out those perverted sluts who like sex to ensure women remain valued. We must protect women from men, sex and themselves.

We are mothers. We Know Best.
___________

Slut-shaming should increase one's chances of dying before nightfall by a factor of ~1000.

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(I guess I mean wh... (Below threshold)

October 11, 2013 7:14 PM | Posted, in reply to Willis's comment, by jonny: | Reply

(I guess I mean where is it okay to get validation and approval from? If people are supposed to operate without validation and approval at all, how to we do that?)

Anyone capable of validating you with objective honesty will not want to. They will tell you that you should only suffer to please yourself. Those seeking external validation crave approval because they know they're worthless and unlovable. Anyone who tells them otherwise isn't taken seriously. But it's pretty easy to turn the shipwreck around.

Humans are obsessed with the image they present to the world because they don't love themselves. You'll crave the approval of those who don't validate you, for precisely that reason. As soon as they approve, you'll no longer value their opinion. You'll have fooled them. Their approval is now worthless. I can tell you how to fall in love with your Self again, if only as someone who hasn't been able to.

The way to stop feeling worthless is to stop presenting false images of yourself to others. You can lie to yourself but you won't able to fool you. When you no longer need to misrepresent who you really are just to impress creeps, you will once again impress you.

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As the young man watched th... (Below threshold)

November 13, 2013 4:03 PM | Posted by Jay-Bizzle of the Black Grizzle: | Reply

As the young man watched the tempest, brimming with hate and fury and manical glee, he could only ponder as to what had birthed this foul beast.

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"Alas, regardless ... (Below threshold)

November 14, 2013 7:27 AM | Posted, in reply to Jay-Bizzle of the Black Grizzle's comment, by jonny: | Reply

"Alas, regardless of their doom, The little victims play! No sense have they of ills to come, Nor care beyond today." (Thomas Gray)
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ZSa... (Below threshold)

December 8, 2013 5:14 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

ZSa

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"The narcissism isn't forci... (Below threshold)

January 3, 2014 2:33 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

"The narcissism isn't forcing a kiss on her; the narcissism is the thinking that all of these events with your ex are entirely yours to decide, to bear the responsibility of."

This is it. This is where I realized my narcissism. I think. Hell, I probably wont be able to change anyways...

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"What I didn't consider is ... (Below threshold)

May 22, 2014 2:38 PM | Posted by Susan: | Reply

"What I didn't consider is that her blindness to the desires of men is necessary to her sanity-- that she doesn't want to believe that every man's interaction with her is sexual; she doesn't want to have to live in a world that only sees her naked. She wants the world to be... nice."

Um no.....this girl wasn't made up, she describes me as a young woman quite perfectly!

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...And yet no mention of th... (Below threshold)

October 8, 2014 10:47 PM | Posted by The Last Psychologist: | Reply

...And yet no mention of the fact that Joe felt as though him kissing her equated to him giving her a gift -- a gift to which Joe himself equated with rape.

*Whoosh* ... another sign.

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Imagine a crowded subway, a... (Below threshold)

November 5, 2014 4:47 AM | Posted by Jogos Frozen: | Reply

Imagine a crowded subway, and a beautiful woman gets on. Hyper-beautiful, sounds very attractive, Thank very good

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