I used to feel as though my analyst was trying very hard to make me cryby Anna Blundy / September 17, 2015 / Leave a comment
When modern psychoanalysts write about their patients they always seem to focus on moments of their own brilliance: the big breakthrough; that sparklingly insightful interpretation of a patient’s words that brings the patient to a moment of tearful epiphany, transforming their life from here to eternity. The tectonic shift. “After that, Miss B was more openly emotional and often cried during sessions. We began to make real progress.” Poor Miss B.
Years (and years) ago, I used to feel as though my analyst was trying very hard to make me cry. I valiantly defied him. In the rare sessions when he won (I spent ages thinking I was allergic to something in his house because my eyes would water on the couch even though I wasn’t aware of feeling sad) he would look all sympathetic and supportive and I’d think—“Bastard!” I could almost hear him writing his paper: “Miss A cried today, proving that I am a psychoanalytic genius.” (NB: Freud didn’t write like this. He happily catalogued his catastrophic failures.)
Of course, my analyst wasn’t trying to make me cry. He probably was pleased when I did though; pleased that my super-chatty-God-I’m-witty defence was cracking and revealing something more authentic. As a therapist it does feel like a bit of a victory when a very heavily defended patient shows some real emotion, and it can signify a breakthrough. But on the patient end of things it felt cruel, as though I had to be desperate, devastated and defeated to get better. Perverse.
So, my very own Miss G always arrives apparently straight out of hair and make-up, teeth super white, smiling, glam and upbeat. The upbeat schtick usually lasts about five minutes before a slump, tears and bitter self-flagellation. This week she wasn’t wearing the armour (in other words, she looked much more normal), and was already weepy. “All the stuff we’ve been talking about has brought up so much emotion. All these things I’d sort of known but never put two and two together. I feel like I’m falling apart,” she said. Miss G wondered if she should check into a psychiatric hospital. “I’m having a breakdown,” she concluded.
This, sitting in a little institutional room with me, overlooking a railway track and a pub that always seems to be closed, was certainly the worst moment of her life. In…