Catastrophia: To be distracted by a cat and lose the thread of an utterly brilliant, perhaps visionary piece of thinking and / or accompanying poetic sensibility. Only a cat can do this. Closely related to Coleridge’s ‘Person from Porlock’.
So the story runs that one week the Whitehouse is being investigated for links to Russia that undermine its national security, and the next the president who was being accused, who has instigated a course of action that seems to lead him into direct conflict with Russia, says that relations with Russia are at an all-time low. Is this really possible? It may be, but asking how might be illuminating.
Oedipus is not about a young man who wants to sleep with his mother and kill his father. It’s about someone whose parents’ secrets are always there to threaten him. In the end his blindness destroys him. Oedipus is to blame yourself for your parents’ crimes.
I’m realising, more than ever, that there are things my mother taught me, and left for me to discover, which were not for the time I found them, or she gave them to me. That was confusing. They’re for now, I believe she meant it that way.
I love reading but I find it very hard to read most psychotherapy journals, especially the ones circulated by accrediting bodies such as UKCP. What could be an opportunity for me to engage with other people wondering what it is that constrains them, or affects them and exploring how they proceed from there … often ends up with me feeling like I’ve arrived at Checkpoint Charlie with the wrong papers.
If I’m going to think about the limits of psychotherapy I have to begin by looking at the limiting effects of psychotherapists, whenever they get together. It doesn’t have to be that way, but generally that’s how I have found it. Psychotherapy seems to be a refuge for numbers of people who might have imagined themselves, in another life, as an artist, a doctor, a philosopher, a scientist or perhaps (if they’ve had enough therapy) a prison guard or a better parent.
But reading, for example, the latest edition of the UKCP gazette I remain unsure how aware its writers are of the negative effect of their … professionalism. There’s so much attempted mastery: attempts to inflict expertise on the reader that remind me of a scene from Nicholas Monsarrat’s The Cruel Sea in which gulls pick over the dead floating on the ocean surface after a horrible incident with depth charges.
Mastery is a force to be resisted. If I want philosophy I will turn to someone who can at least tell me deconstruction isn’t about taking things apart; or that the preface to Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit might be a good thing to read before putting pen to paper for the UKCP gazette. If I want to know about creativity I’d like to speak with someone who’s made something that a lot of people find exciting. If I want to understand neuroscience I’d like to meet with someone who has more than a fleeting acquaintance with Niels Bohr.
If I feel I am in the domain of psychotherapy I’d like to look outward and see these expert categories approaching to greet me. They might have arrived here, in psychotherapyland, but they came from somewhere else. And I might go and pay them a visit at home some time, too … even if I end up realising we live in the same place … but that’s getting a little more complicated than I intended here, when I just wanted to write something about what seems to be happening to a profession I love being part of, but forever seems in search of a soul.
Psychotherapists can be experts in the unknown, but we need to understand that some people have spent most of their time thinking about the things this particular category of expertise is likely to conjure up. And I’d like an introduction to those things: never to be a told a psychotherapist knows best.
What happens at the end of a fantasy? What does a fantasy do apart from try to keep things as you want them to be? Kellyanne Conway, all your secrets exposed … what will you do to prevent that?
That phrase: high maintenance. You don’t want to be caught up in something with a high maintenance person, do you? That’s an impossible person. Where are you in that? Difficult people, though, they’re different. They don’t make demands like impossible people do. Difficult people can be very kind … and difficult. Their love, because they do love something in life, and something in themselves that they’ve let in from the big unknown, complicates things. So what’s difficult about a difficult person? Life becomes more complicated, maybe more real. Don’t mistake someone difficult for someone impossible. Big mistake.