Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Why I wrote the novel Therapy

Many of the people I know have been or are in therapy. I also have been.  I was lucky. My psychiatrist was  gay, a very compassionate and insightful man.  Others,  however, have told me stories of how their shrinks pushed them into  decisions, or fell asleep while they were talking.  All of them complained that their therapists said very little, and they wondered if they were even listening. I knew when I went into therapy that therapists are trained not to speak much, but to let patients talk freely.  Therapists aren't supposed to judge or give overt advice, although some do.  Even if they don't, their body motions and facial movements often give away their feelings and patients to pick up on those.

One of my friends, a male, remarked that "I always end up falling in love with my therapists."  And I do know people who actually married them.  My research into psychiatry spoke of transference, the patient's laying their own feelings on to the psychiarist, and countertransference, the psychiatrist's laying their feelings on to the patients.  In the literature, this usually transpires when therapist and patient are of the opposite sex.

With my own background in communications, it occurred to me that there is something inherently romantic in psychoanalysis or other therapies.  When you fall in live with somebody, usually the way you know it is that you find it easy to talk to the person.  How often do people say, "The moment I met him, we just talked all night."

The therapeutic session is like a replay of falling in  love: you just talk away and the more you talk , the more you reveal about yourself, the warmer you feel towards the therapist.  I thought to myself, "suppose the therapist is a handsome, heterosexual young man and suppose he looks at the patient with glowing eyes--even stares in her eyes as lovers do."  Then, that could induce the  patient, especially if she is love-starved to fall in love with him.  On his part, the very facts of the situation lead to his reciprocating that love.  These facts are that  she tells him so much, looks at him invitingly and angles her body towards him as you do when you are interested in somebody. Think of how warmly you feel towards a person when they confide in you, when they look in your eyes and pay close attention to you.  All these things lead to falling in love.

However, I also know of a psychiatrist's professional ethics,  He--or she--is supposed to excuse himself from the case as soon as he realizes there is a mutual attraction, or even a one-sided one.  The therapist is not supposed to see the patient outside of the office at all or socialize with the patient in any way.

I took these twin situations, patient and therapist falling in love, and the forbidden love itself and wrote the novel.  Why? Because it is a story, but also, I have known so many people who have not been cured by anything the therapist said. I have known others whose therapists relish the power they have over patients and use it to make the patient do things like leave their spouses!  This happens more than people realize.

I am not against therapy per se.  I knew therapy could be good and could be romance-free.  My experience had no romance at all in it.  Not only was the therapist overtly gay , but not attractive to me sexually.  He didn't press me to take any courses of actions.  He just asked judicious questions and let me figure  out the answers myself.

However, in my imagination, I created a very different scenario, the scenario in  Therapy: A Novel. 

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

August in New England

August in New England is both wonderful and sad. The gardens are at the height of their lushness. The farm stands are selling the sweetest corn, the best tasting just picked tomatoes, and crispy fresh cukes that give off an aroma when you cut into them. the first tart and juicy apples will be ready for picking in three or four weeks. I'd guess they'll be early this year because of the hot spring and summer we've had.

Its sad, though, because it's summer's end.  Yes, fall is beautiful with the trees and bushes blazing in reds and orange.  They are contrasted with those that are  lemon yellow and even magenta or deep rose, all set off by the abundant evergreens.  People don't realize that an ocean bound state like Rhode Island is almost 70% woodland.  When you drive through the state, most roads are bordered by lush woods in summer, which turn to a brilliant tapestry in fall. 

So why do I lament the end of summer?  I love  the easy warmth of summer, and the vivid birds that nest here, like the Orioles and Tanagers, who will will be migrating soon.  And winter is that much closer.  Not that winter is all bad.  It isn't, but I love summer. Not just because of the warmth,but for its light.  The way the lush green makes everything look, the particular shadows of summer.  Fortunately spring follows the drabness of winter with spring's  wondrous rebirthing of flowers, shrubs, and trees.

What do you like best about your climate?  And don't just say that it's warm in winter.  I expect that.