Crucially, that doesn't stop them being able to do their jobs wellby Anna Blundy / June 21, 2017 / Leave a comment
My psychoanalyst’s hallway is full of puffy jackets, the kind of outdoorsy coats he and his family must need for their bracing but life-affirming hikes. Off they stride chatting and laughing, on the long journey that will eventually lead them back to their idyllic cottage where they’ll make a fire, get a roast in the oven and pour the wine.
I think we all assume that our therapist is happy. They’ve gone through the training, they’ve had masses of therapy themselves, they are stable and serene. Aren’t they?
“How can you give people advice when you can’t even sort your own life out?” a Russian friend of mine sweetly asked me one morning over her breakfast cognac. The quick answer to this is that (half decent) therapists don’t give anyone advice, they simply try to understand the patient, and it should, theoretically, be easier to understand a troubled patient if your own life hasn’t been a bed of roses/bowl of cherries. But the stubborn idea behind my friend’s aggressive question is that therapists are content.
Well, it’s true that someone seriously disturbed wouldn’t make it through training, and the lengthy therapy involved should have sorted out any chaos before qualification. You don’t get properly trained therapists who are addicts (I’ve never seen one who’s massively over or underweight, for example) or who are still acting out unresolved stuff from their early life (getting into the same old conflicts at work, being serially unfaithful to their partner and that kind of stuff). Calm, yes. Happy? Not necessarily.
I was talking to this cognac-swilling friend about the end of fertility. Single, achingly lonely, and waiting for a hysterectomy, I’m taking a massive dose of progesterone that, in a hideous irony, makes me feel kind of pregnant—a sickly parody of pregnancy as I prepare for the symbolic slide into old age. It feels like 10 minutes ago (and it was only four years ago) that I wondered about having a last-chance baby before the curtain comes down. “Well, you’re the therapist. You know how not to be sad about it,” my friend said. In fact, the exact opposite is true. What I know is how to be sad about it.
I’m not going to buy a motorbike or dye my hair pink, have a tattoo and date a 30-year-old. The thing about having had…