Tag Archives: psychoanalysis

Down Time

By Will

Today is one of those days where I find myself leaning heavily on the phrase ‘This too shall pass’. In fact, I have relied on that phrase ever since my last therapy session 4 days ago. The clouds above seem real low. I guess what is difficult at times like this is bearing with the nothingness and the lack of meaning. I know my last therapy session was emotional. I had to sit up on the couch with my therapist in view, which I only do when I am struggling. The crazy thing is that I can’t remember what we touched on and discussed, or rather, I have probably suppressed it. I keep thinking about a child sulking but I am unaware of the sulks reason.

It is also one of those days where I have gone to call my therapist for reassurance and then decided against it. I feel that I need reflection. Someone to tell me that I am going through the ‘X’ phase which is because of ‘Z’. Do I pick myself up and do something and rise above the grim feelings, or let them be and embrace them fully so that real healing can take place. My worry is that prolonged depression can intensify and gather moss, I need a break from this dark limbo land. My head is awash with theory. Look after yourself I hear myself whisper.

This is sadly one of those times where no manual, no self help book and no positive quote has effect. Fragments of me are being blown around by the wind. I inhale one cigarette after another and exhale each fag with a deep sigh. I think about what I do have and try to be grateful. I think about my losses and try to have empathy for myself. I think about time and how a moment can seem like a lifetime and a lifetime can seem like a moment. Maybe this is a time not to think and a  time to breathe. I think about whether to publish this post or not. However, if the premise of my site is about ‘experiences on the couch’ then this is one of those experiences that I am willing to share.

Every little thing counts in a crisis ~ Jawaharlal Nehru


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Personal Reflections by Christine


By Christine

When I first met my therapist he asked me why I wanted therapy. I had a list of things I wanted to achieve. I memorised them before I went. To be fair he kept a straight face. He was good at not laughing at me, always. I don’t think I realised how important the ‘not laughing at me’ part was until now. I thought he would be able to tolerate me and wouldn’t be over familiar with me.  That would make it easy for me to ‘ignore’ him and ‘use’ him to work on my issues and then go off and live in a more tolerable way.

It didn’t work like that. I think I did a lot of messing around. I was childish and that had nothing to do with my ‘inner child’. I was childish because I had never grown up emotionally. I just wanted to push the boundaries in whatever way I was able. I was fed up with being good. I was angry as hell.

I was always late, without fail. Sometimes 10 minutes, sometimes 15. He never said anything about it, ever. It annoyed me that he didn’t comment on it. I wanted him to be angry. He couldn’t win of course. Not with me. It was my game and I was going to win. If he had ever said “I wonder what you’re being late is saying” I would have stopped going. I can’t bear that type of phoney counsellor speak. It’s as though he knew. I left early too. Sometimes I left after 20 minutes. Once he asked me why I was leaving so early and I said that I was finding it painful. That was a lie. The truth was I can’t bear to be rejected. Saying ‘time’s up’ is rejection for me. Far better to reject him. It took me a long time to admit that. Maybe that’s because it took me a long time to realise that.

Quite often I could not speak. I would try to say something but the words wouldn’t come at all. It was like no other experience. I found it hard to deal with my emerging self. I felt embarrassed.  Ignoring Mr Boundary helped me to cope with that. I never cry in front of other people. Yet here I was crying all the time. Very undignified.

I hated him looking at me. I’m ugly. Seeing my tears. I wanted him to go away. I told him. He still kept doing it. I still kept going. Brazen, that’s what my mother would have said. He never said much. But he paid really close attention to me, all the time. I hated it. I’d sit there and the tears would keep coming. It was like being tortured. The silence was killing me.

After a while Mr Boundary Man said to me “tell me what you need.”

How would I know?

“I need you ……….I need you to say more,” I said. “I need you to be more like a normal person.”

“What’s a normal person like for you?” he asked.

“They say more.”

I was furious with him.  He was saying that I’m mad. After that he started to say more. He never let me sit ‘alone’ again. It was like having a Dad. That made my cry too, lots. Mr Boundary Man became a person. I tried to ignore him, but he seeped in anyway. Sometimes I’d catch an expression on his face and I’d have to look away. It hurt too much.

I felt shy. But I hid it well. Sometimes I’d have nothing to say. The fact that I’d turned up at all was enough. It was nice just to sit there. I felt less alone. I remember, after a difficult time, I sent him an email saying that I needed a break for a couple of weeks. He replied and said “take as long as you need, I am willing to work with you.” I cried when I read it, long and hard. It was like having an arm put around me. I stuck it in my journal. Proof that someone cares.

I tried to stop messing around. I was surprised to hear myself talking about stuff. No agendas, just me. I tried my best not to worry about what Mr Boundary thought of me. I assumed he thought I was annoying. But he never said. Completely accepted. Endless patience. I realised that this was up to me. My responsibility. It took me ages to get that. I started to see things differently. It hurt, lots, physically and emotionally. I started to unravel. My dad became very ill. In my therapy I had come to a new understanding about my past. It was the first time I felt able to try and get to know my dad. It felt too late. It was hard to keep going.

I needed to sort myself out. I told my therapist. He was so kind it hurt. It was hard to face the loss, the enormity of it. How I’d got it all so wrong. I felt understood. He never forgot the important details. His antennae picked up on all the stuff that hurt me most and he gave it back to me when I could tolerate it. It was the first time that I was allowed to feel my feelings. No censorship.  No judgement.

I realised that messing about was only hurting me. I got angry. “There was a time when you wouldn’t have come back,” he said. It was as if he was me. I learnt what it was to have a proper relationship. To tolerate emotions, to repair damage. I felt the poverty of my past relationships. I started to stay to the end. I still couldn’t arrive on time. That would look like I needed him.  Needy me, greedy me. I felt really attached. I started to panic about having to end. “It sounds like you’ve finally separated from your mother,” he said. I felt ambivalent. I was stripped right down to my nothingness. I dug deeper. Voiced my fears. I met my therapist, face to face, adult to adult. I grew up. I didn’t need to learn my lines anymore.


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Dream Journal


By Will

I was going through my dream journal and decided to share my first ever dream, which happened three years ago, when I began therapy for the second time. The dream was very short, but massively vivid and powerful; The dream took place after therapy one night.

I suddenly found myself in the bath with my analyst. At first, we smiled at each other in a surprised and innocent way. Straight after this exchange my analyst reached down below and started to touch me under the water. I refused the advances and my analyst began to paddy, thumping his hands and feet ferociously on the floor like a child. It was extremely disturbing and vivid and I remember thinking that I was more mature than him.

I knew from having therapy before that the dream had to be ‘aired and shared’ and I found myself laughing as I recounted the dream during our next session. We talked about the dream for most of the session and together we unpacked some possible meanings and realisations.

We discussed the meaning of the bath itself, which may be interpreted as a place where one literally washed oneself clean internally, shedding old ideas, opinions and negative patterns. We were in a tight place together where we could possibly remain stuck for some time. The initial smile we shared could be our true selves meeting for the first time. We discussed going to new places that are below the surface. Places we shouldn’t go. Down below; Should not be touched down there. Touching the darker shadow self would cause a huge paddy, huge resistance and the new beginnings of re-living a battle of previously held opinions and beliefs. Who knows more than who has been in control for so long. Of course ‘I’ am more mature.


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Leaving Therapy Sideways

By Will

The bravest thing I have ever done is to withdraw many of my projections. Through analysis, I have done this gradually which leaves me conscious of a pretty thick intensified shadow. I have saddled myself with new conflicts, once hidden, but I do believe that this is my only chance to live fully. Once you have had a glimpse deep inside you can never return to innocence. You could say that I have now become a serious problem for myself which is why I sometimes leave therapy sideways, I almost fall out of it onto the pavement. I no longer have such fixed views on things; he is wrong, or things should be done this way or that. Anything that happens in this world lives within me and it is my responsibility to this world and humankind to address myself fully. You think too much, is something I hear quite often or you’re too deep.

I am trying to find a way so my true self can live with this shadow, moment to moment, however frightening the experience. I feel that I am in the middle of myself listening out to my two sides and it is exhausting. Breathing into the confusion and paradox helps, and I strongly believe, although the two sides of me will never fundamentally change, that the intensity will eventually melt down into a more positive realisation and peaceful surrender to what is.

I am unable to do all of this while carrying on with more social scenarios as I cannot fully laugh knowing what is behind my laughter. I seek fellow travellers and comrades with a vengeance, usually online, so that wounds feel like they are shared. There is one part of me that I am reticent to change and that is my business head. I don’t know why I am able to run my company well and deal with problems as they arise, but for now, I need to hold onto that. Its quite bizarre listening to people nowadays. I can hear their darker self being complimentary to me, whilst having an unconscious dig, to enhance their own sense of self or visa versa. Transparency rings in my ears. Is this my paranoia or my truth? I don’t know, but I march on.

By a divine paradox, wherever there is one slave there are two ~ Edwin Markham


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Perfect Childhood

Perfect Childhood

By Will

One of the things that is hard to accept during therapy is the realisation that the childhood, we once thought of as perfect, was not. I love my parents very much, but that does not mean that they were perfect parents, as there is no such thing. Externally I was dressed well, our frequent family outings were exiting and camping holidays were spontaneous and playful. Arguments were a rare occurrence  in our home, there was little alcohol present, and my parents did as much as they could to nurture us all. Part of the difficulty in accepting our not so perfect childhood’s is because it’s not the ‘right thing’ to blame your parents. This conditioning initiated as a survival mechanism. We had to believe our parents were perfect or good enough otherwise with nobody to look after us, we would die.

As a child, I had Separation Anxiety Disorder, I was vehemently opposed to separating from my Mother, my primary caregiver or attachment figure. I was convinced that something bad would happen to her during the time that we were separated. As a child, I had convolutions or fits, which I believe, were caused by literally overheating or childhood panic attacks. Often in therapy we try to find the ‘one thing’ from our past that caused our problems. My view is that it is many things ranging from inheritance, neurological pathways and genetics but most of all very early nurturing. Not all children are the same but if we are soothed and nurtured in the areas that, we need to be, we can slowly internalise this for ourselves.

Many of us find it impossible to remember specific periods in childhood where our caregivers were unable to nurture us in the way we needed to be. Therefore, all we are left with, is our current relationships we have with others, which can hold some golden keys into becoming fully human. We need to fully work through these relationships and bear in mind our parents were the first people we loved deeply. Our first loves often leave us with the wounds that we carry with us for the rest of our lives and at the core of all intimacy issues is the fear of loss. Problems arise when we are either too close or too distant from our parents. Im my case it was the former. As I was so engulfed I found it hard to find my own psychological space and I developed a controlling fear of loosing myself.

Childhood is a promise that is never kept ~ Ken Hill


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Where is my Heart?

heart snow

By Will

For three long years, from the age of nine until eleven, I was totally and utterly in love. In romantic agony, I cried at night, and watched her beauty swirl around me during the day. I had swallowed her love potion and I loved her more than life itself. On our last day at school she played Spanish guitar and my heart left me to dance away into another land where my passions would never be equalled. My long sulken walk home after school was heart wrenching as I would never see her again. I arrived home to find a letter from her, which spoke of the same love for me. She had felt the same as me all this time! It was at that moment that I bolted like a stallion and ran, never to lay eyes on her again.

Since then I have slowly developed a tendency of isolating myself from women, especially powerful women who scare me. Do I not feel ripened as a man, or am I a perpetual adolescent, what the Jungians would call an eternal boy. Like Don Juan, occasionally flitting like a bee from flower to flower. Will I ripen as a man by being with other men, like my therapist. Through this on going committed relationship will the ‘flying boy’ or Peter Pan be able to find a relationship with a woman that is rooted to the earth. “When a man stands up to the domineering witch in a woman, he frees the Princess from her spell, and she can then become his Queen.”

In tribal cultures men would take the boy from his mother at the time of puberty. They would tell him stories, they would engage the boy in trials until his masculine wisdom was excepted. I have the overwhelming sense that I should be living more with my heart than my head, but feel unable to tap into that region. Past conditioning has distorted my free spirit where male and female energies would dance together for the sake of the dance, blissfully unaware of their sexes.


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Throw Theory Out The Window

By Will

I am fascinated in the relationship Jung and Freud had, from their closeness to their bitter separation. Concealed in their letters to each other there is an undertone of power and righteous ownership bathed in hermeneutics. I imagine a fight to the death and winners and losers. An evil cock fight wherein the bloody struggle is fought in the basement, while up on the roof and out in the open, theories fly proud like flags. Everything seemed to be at stake, as each man’s questioning of the others views called into doubt the others explanation of his whole life.

I notice this juxtaposition or power struggle with my analyst, when theory is thrown at each other, or should I say, when I throw theory back at him. I have found that I tend do this after an episode where my true self has opened up. I may have cried and felt hopeless and vulnerable during a previous session. When I have shown him my underbelly I feel like the powerless underdog, who is unbalanced, so I try to regain control through theory and debate. I wonder who taught me to compete this way and why I feel the need to compete and to win and what indeed was the prize? For whom is the battle being rein-acted for.

For me, I have made most of my important gains, and losses, where no theory exists. When our relationship is paramount and we share special moments, thats when the sparks fly. Rare and heartfelt admissions, on my analysts behalf, seem to rebalance our relationship and enable tenderness. It allows me a sense that we are together on this journey, and that it’s our journey, not just my own personal gravel path. In fact when my own analyst qualified, his analyst said to him; now forget all you have been taught and throw all theory out of the window. Perhaps he is my Grandfather.


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By Will

Three years ago I entered therapy again for the second time. I arrived wearing a smart jacket, and I was ready to do business. I had 5 years of therapy in my twenties so I was there for some CBT. Six sessions or so and this anxiety would vanish, there was no need to dig deeper, I had done that before. Resistance ran high when my therapist stated he did not practice CBT. I pressed, and asked for two sessions a week, like I had last time. I could do this for a while and then I would be sorted. My therapist cleverly recommended that we should start with one session and I reluctantly agreed.

I can see now that from the very start I was trying to control a situation where I had no control. My first and only child had been born prematurely, who I desperately wanted to see, and I was in a sweat. The dark clouds were circling once again, a storm was brewing up. I did not know who I was or what I stood for. Was this a breakdown? I would sit rocking and shaking one minute and be telling jokes and cracking people up the next. I now refer to this time as my nervous breakthrough. I had come apart. Without realising it my dark self had totally overshadowed my true nature and I was split right down the middle.

A long time after this first session my therapist told me that when he first saw me he thought that I looked like a boy in his fathers clothes, they were too big for me. He thought, this is a boy who needs a father! When I told him about my new born son, he thought, well if this boy does not have a father, how can he look after his own, and there goes the panic. He said he usually finds that on his first meeting with people his instincts usually hold a key. Timing was crucial as I think if he had told me his instincts from the start I would have ran a mile.


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Is Therapy Working?

By Will

The big question that comes up time and time again in therapy is results focused. Is this therapy doing me any good? Is it making me worse? For me, I have discovered that therapy is both those things. If indeed a false self was created as a child, as a way of coping with deficiencies of their parents, then a deep groove has been cut into oneself, a pattern has emerged, one branch of the tree has began to grow away from the main trunk. Trees do not grow straight, they bend and bow towards the light, so part of us slips further and further and more distant from our true nature. As such, much of my anguish is based on a fixed idea of how things are supposed to be, but when that idea is not met, my nemesis the wolf comes in and shows its teeth.

In one respect I am now reading situations with more clarity, like never before, a new fresh day has come. I know when I am angry and I can breathe deeply into it, disappointments no longer resonate as much, these feelings always pass. In another respect I feel that I have regressed with my feet placed firmly in adolescence or even earlier in the labour of birth. Neuroses seem to have intensified and generalised anxiety can be heightened to what can seem like a dangerous level. I stay in much of the time as I feel that its only the wolf that wants to go out and dance with its ego. So the once unnoticed driving forces I was unaware of have been illuminated, there’s nowhere to hide anymore, the process is fully underway.

Many Psychotherapists and scholars believe that we cannot ever change intrinsically, and I believe this too. However, the wind now makes me smile, I watch stressed out children and my eyes are filled with tears, the grass feels amazing beneath my feet and I tickle my back at night and it feels good. If I acknowledge all the rough edges of my humanness – Pain, Courage, Fear and Celebration and I ask myself if Therapy is working, the answer would be that I am learning how to love more deeply. The heart is breaking open and communion with oneself, just occasionally, has a sacred order.

I yearn for understanding, and yet I fear, I am further from the answers, than ever before ~Abigail Baker


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Sexuality and Psychotherapy

By Will

During my first 5 years of psychotherapy in my 20’s I worked with an female therapist in her 60’s and I found it extremely uncomfortable articulating my sexual fantasies with her. I would mostly avoid the subject, but if we did go there, I would box up my fantasies and make them very generic, tame and watered down. For example, we never explored certain fetishes and their possible meanings for me individually. This was one of the reasons that convinced me that a male therapist would be vital second time around. However, I guess if I did reveal things I was truly ashamed of, the real fear would lie in being abandoned by ‘anybody’ whatever their gender.

I still find it uncomfortable discussing the real nitty gritty, I cringe and squirm and beat around the bush, but I do disclose eventually. Oscar Wilde once said “Sex is the refuge of the weak” and that rang true for me in a sense that I tended to gravitate towards sex, or thoughts about sex, when I wanted to avoid emotional pain, which was quite frequent sometimes. In as much as talking about my once hidden fantasies made me feel on edge I knew there must be something lurking underneath worth discovering. When we are uncomfortable we are extremely close to touching on a nerve, and sometimes if we can bear it, we need to step into these darker clouds.

What is extremely difficult is having solid memories about what actually happened to me when I was younger around sexuality and how these experiences developed and got transferred onto my relationships as an adolescent or as a man. While memories of this kind may not establish themselves, due to their elusive nature, feelings and sensations do. Our thoughts and associations around sexuality can hold some real insights into how we view ourselves. Our fantasies and turn on’s may seem strange even to us, but for me I noticed a pattern, in that the fantasies needed to be fuelled and made more elaborate over time which highlighted the fact that these fantasies were built layer by layer. Underneath these fantasies and roles lies an internal message of who we may be which is intrenched in power and dominance or submissive traits.

Sexuality poorly repressed unsettles some families; well repressed, it unsettles the whole world ~ Karl Kraus

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