Getting better should not make you feel good?

I know I´m writing (and ranting) an awful lot about articles lately, but often my reactions to stuff I read are the best pathway into the workings of my psyche. So here is today´s rant: A few months back I read this article and it triggered about all my sensitivities. So, in order to explore my sensitivities, I might want to look back at this article. I guess the best approach would be to highlight the paragraphs which upset me most:

“I think a lot of clients (and some therapists unfortunately) have a misconception that therapy should make you feeling nothing but good. This is simply not true.

Real therapy is very, very hard work. It requires complete honesty on the part of both the client and the therapist. I think a lot of therapists see therapy as something which provides a lot of “hearts and flowers” as one therapist put it. Patting you on the head and telling you how wonderful you are may feel good, but it is not therapy. For that you should get a dog who will wag its tail and love you unconditionally.

I think of a therapist as a mirror. They are someone who is able to reflect back to you a clear and undistorted image of yourself so that you may understand yourself better. This reflection can also provide you with a lot of information about how you appear to and interact with other people. Clear and undistorted images with all of our flaws are hard to take.”

Now what is wrong with that?  First of all, it is unrealistic that any human being can give another human being an “undistorted image” of himself. We´re ALL just human beings with limited knowledge and a very subjective experience of things, and “all” includes therapists! Unfortunately some of them only ever remember that when they fuck up big time, but then, of course, they emphasize ad nauseam they´re, too,  just human.

But there is more.  What kind of message does this deliver? At least to me, that is. Quite frankly, it makes me feel like shit. So if I want to be accepted and loved I should get myself a dog? Why? Because I can´t expect anybody else to be nice to me? Am I that much of a horrible person? Do I need a defenseless, possibly mindless being which I can use for (narcissistic) “supply”, because nobody else would provide it to a person like me?

That does not yet hit the core of my sensitivity, though. The worst part is a bit hard to explain, but I´ll try. So according to this man, in order to be helpful, therapy must be a painful process, and it comes across as if the therapist had to be almost cruel. But what kind of person am I, if one must be harsh and cruel to me in order to help me? Do I not deserve kindness? Is it, in turn, bad for me when people are nice and “tell me I´m wonderful”? Should I be treated like shit, should people make me miserable for my own good?

This whole phrase “pat you on the head and tell you you´re wonderful” is so insulting in itself. Is this really what average people look for in a relationship? No, for fuck´s sake! But there should be encouragement, and, yes, unconditional love! What this guy basically does, is accusing everybody who feels offended or hurt by his methods of wanting to be told they are perfect!

But in fact it is so different. Our own flaws are a difficult subject, yes. And having someone point them out to you is a shameful, often humiliating and potentially damaging endeavor. So if it must happen, we will probably want it to happen in the least painful way possible. Like: It should be done with compassion, with tact, and with respect for the patient´s feelings. And what this guy does, is that he manages to make me feel pathetic for wanting to be treated with compassion, tact, and respect for my feelings. He makes me feel like these needs are a weakness. Well, they are. Nearly everything about me is weak. But it is appalling that a therapist of all people should make me feel like this weakness is stupid and pathetic. Nobody is stupid because of his vulnerabilities. Each time somebody touches my points most sore, though, not only do I have to deal with being hurt, I also get overcome by shame and self-loathing for having these points in the first place. Often I become unable to feel the hurt because I´m so ashamed of being hurt. I guess preying on the vulnerable spots of others is a very human thing to do. The humane thing, however, is to abstain from it.



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