Visions of Psychotherapy

Please enjoy the following selected reflections on therapy by various writers and practitioners. 

A lovely description of his own psychoanalysis from Stephen Grosz:

With his quiet insistence on hearing my feelings, dreams and associations, Dr. L. drew me into the slow work of drawing a map of my internal world. Here is desire, here is envy, here, in this place, is sadness.

Gradually the communication between my internal and external worlds improved – and I experienced this as a release. I found I was better able to make sense of things that had been mysterious to me before.

More than that, I felt less lonely, no longer up against a wall.

Roy Schafer on the pleasantly surprising paradox we encounter in therapy:

[Psychotherapy] leads through knowledge of how emotionally complicated and often painful things are, to a greater and well founded sense of freedom…People realize that things are a lot more complicated than they ever dreamed of and that there is something liberating about realising this is so.

Giles Coren recently wrote about his experience of psychoanalysis.  The whole piece is great, here are some highlights of his description:

Anything that you do that you don’t want to do, anything you are that you don’t want to be, is because your unconscious is acting in ways you do not understand. If you are obese or you smoke or stammer or twitch or are violent or habitually unfaithful to your partner or unkind to your children… and you wish you were not or did not, then analysis would help. It’s probably the only thing that would help.

It’s about making the unconscious conscious. Knowing yourself in ways you didn’t know you could know.

So I lay down. I looked at the ceiling. And after a bit I started to talk. That was four years ago. And I’m still talking. I still have no idea how it works. I’ve gone through phases of thinking it was crap and pointless and being furious that I have to waste 80 minutes of my evening in traffic and her bloody little room when I should be relaxing at home with a stiff drink. And I kept resolving to stop. But I never did stop. Sometimes I lay there and said nothing at all, and then got up and left. But afterwards I usually felt better than before I went in.

And since I started I haven’t hit anything. In those four years I haven’t even really got all that angry with anyone. Occasionally. But then sometimes people are such arseholes. I haven’t calmed down in any noticeable way. I just generally know where I am with things. I’m not sleep-walking. It’s all me. And it turns out I don’t hit walls.