Psycho-Babble Psychology Thread 352524

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Re: Comments on Appearance in Therapy

Posted by lucy stone on June 1, 2004, at 22:17:42

In reply to Re: Comments on Appearance in Therapy, posted by Dinah on June 1, 2004, at 21:53:42

I like your rules. I am 6'2" tall, and people have always commented on my height. I was 6' tall in the 8th grade and I hated, absolutely hated, people who asked me how tall I was. I already felt like a freak, and having random people comment about it made it worse. If i reacted in a negative way they would get offended and usually offered a comment how they always wished they were tall. Maybe they did, but I never saw what that had to do with me. I certainly didn't give them the right to ask intrusive questions about me. Since then I have been extremely cautious about commenting on people's appearance. You never know what people are sensitive about.

 

Re: Comments on Appearance in Therapy Dinah

Posted by gardenergirl on June 2, 2004, at 9:26:10

In reply to Re: Comments on Appearance in Therapy, posted by Dinah on June 1, 2004, at 21:53:42

Dinah,
I like your politeness and rules. It always bugs me when someone says, "You look nice, today." Was I that bad yesterday? And every other day?

I know that is not what they meant, but adding that "today" does imply that you look better than your usual presentation. And I am usually pretty satisfied with the usual (except for the weight, sigh.)

Take care,
gg

 

Re: Comments on Appearance in Therapy

Posted by gardenergirl on June 2, 2004, at 9:33:56

In reply to Re: Comments on Appearance in Therapy, posted by lucy stone on June 1, 2004, at 22:17:42

I forgot about a couple of appearance-related interpretations my T made that made me laugh. These are the only times he has even hinted at something about my appearance. I think I have posted this somewhere in the past, so if you have heard it before, sorry.

First, one day I did not have to go to work, so I went in jeans and a more casual hair and makeup. I never get to wear jeans, it seems, so I take advantage every chance I get. He said, "it seems like you are loosening up." Lord. I suppose I could have felt like I had to dress professionally for my appt., but why would I do that?

Second, one day I was wearing boots with a long, full skirt. He said, "When you are going to wade through the muck (meaning deal with difficulty and stressful stuff), you have to protect yourself (i.e. put your Wellie's on?)".
Fashion, dude! Fashion!

Now that I think about it, when I brought him a picture that I call my inner geek (three years old, on Thanksgiving day, with awful seventies clothes, bad haircut from Mom, cat-eye glass, grinning like a goon, you get the picture), he commented on "what brilliant smile" I had. Um, yeah, brilliant. Although the smile is about the only thing you can pick out to compliment in that picture unless you were a fan of seventies fashion. Or just think the kid is so weird looking that she's cute. (That's what I think. I really like my inner geek.)

I have complimented my clients at times, on a new haircut or a color. I tend to do it more automatically versus think much about it (I'll have to think about that....). But I don't think I have ever complimented my male clients on appearance. Especially the last one, who was a very good-looking 19 year old, charismatic boy. That would not have been therapeutic for him. And it would have felt really odd to me, versus easy like with the female clients.

Interesting thread.

gg

 

Re: Comments on Appearance in Therapy

Posted by tinydancer on June 2, 2004, at 10:08:35

In reply to Comments on Appearance in Therapy, posted by Miss Honeychurch on May 31, 2004, at 20:20:02

This is a really interesting topic, Miss Honey! I liked hearing about the differences from each and every one of you. I have a male therapist, and he actually isn't much older than me (I think 5 years or so?)

When I have appointments I am always dressed in my best or newest outfit (but of course!) and I am really happy if he comments, but he doesn't make a habit of it. I'm really into fashion and trends and stuff so sometimes he comments "Wow, your earrings match your socks!!" He's said a few times, "Look at you!" when I'm really fancy. He told me once that I had a very nice smile. (That's actually such a nice compliment, isn't it?) Also, I've asked him if he thinks I'm pretty. But I've also asked him if he thinks I'm boring, smart, if I talk to much, if he is proud of me and so on, so for me its just part of the territory really.

I think it just varies from T to T. I don't think it is a problem to give people compliments. In fact I was discussing this at my T today: the fact that giving someone a compliment is positive, sort of like, "Share the love!" I understand Dinah's dilemma and agree that it is usually best to just comment on how they look "especially nice" today or something, without implying that they don't always. I recently commented to someone that they looked thinner forgetting she had once had bulimia. Woops...Slippery slope indeed!

 

Re: Comments on Therapist's Appearance

Posted by Racer on June 2, 2004, at 13:02:29

In reply to Re: Comments on Appearance in Therapy, posted by tinydancer on June 2, 2004, at 10:08:35

Today I noticed that I can give and receive compliments with our marriage counselor. I do kinda deflect her compliments, but at least I do it silently.

She's quite heavy, and I did comment once that she looked to have lost some weight. Obviously, before reading some of the comments here, which would have made me uncomfortable doing so. She was excited by it, told us about her weight loss plan a little (while walking to the office, not in session), and today we talked about her skirt. (It had pompon fringe, and I mentioned always wanting to put that on a skirt, but being afraid I'd be too self-conscious about wearing it.) And I do 'ask' for her approval at times, by wearing things I've made and pointing them out to her. Today, I wore a top I'd made -- sewn, not knit -- and told her about dyeing it with a technique I'd never used before.

Did I deflect that compliment? "Oh, people who don't know how to sew always think it's so amazing, but only because they don't know how easy it really is. Unless, of course, you make it harder for yourself the way I do. And the dyeing is no big deal anyway, even if you've never used that technique before. Besides, I'm only OK with the way it turned out." Yeah, I deflect compliments.

You know what the difference is, though? The things she says in the sessions about me, about my reactions to things, feel so True -- in that "what oft was thought, but ne'er so well exprest" sort of way that Pope was referring to. The larger Truth, that revelatory Truth that leads to therapeutic breakthroughs. So, when she says something nice, it feels as if it must also be True in some sense, and it's very calming and validating.

Great topic, by the way.

 

bikini! cubic_me

Posted by crushedout on June 2, 2004, at 19:36:20

In reply to Re: Comments on Appearance in Therapy, posted by cubic_me on June 1, 2004, at 6:29:14


oh, i've thought about going in in a bikini many times! i want to! you don't think she would mind? alright, the truth is i'd be waaaay too self-conscious.

 

Re: Comments on Appearance in Therapy Dinah

Posted by crushedout on June 2, 2004, at 22:13:31

In reply to Re: Comments on Appearance in Therapy, posted by Dinah on June 1, 2004, at 21:53:42


I don't think those are silly. I also don't mention weight loss -- well, certainly not as a compliment. i might mention it if i'm worried about someone's health, but it would have to be a good friend. I hate when someone tells me "you're so skinny -- you look great" -- what an anorexic mentality. i feel like saying, "you should be ashamed of yourself." especially when i'm severely underweight as i have been. now that i've gained about 20 pounds since i quit drugs and cigarettes are they gonna tell me i'm fat? it's a setup. not real smart.

 

Re: bikini! crushedout

Posted by cubic_me on June 3, 2004, at 4:37:25

In reply to bikini! cubic_me, posted by crushedout on June 2, 2004, at 19:36:20

>
> oh, i've thought about going in in a bikini many times! i want to! you don't think she would mind? alright, the truth is i'd be waaaay too self-conscious.

I'd never have the courage to do that - tho' at least she would see that I do have enough flab to be complaining about...damn the fattening meds!

 

Re: Comments on Appearance in Therapy Dinah

Posted by karen_kay on June 3, 2004, at 8:08:47

In reply to Re: Comments on Appearance in Therapy, posted by Dinah on June 1, 2004, at 21:53:42

dinah, about weight loss..... i've trained myself to say it. but i still hate to hear it. if someone says 'oh karen, have you lost weight?' i hear 'you used to be fat and now you aren't' so, we are in the same boat there. but, i only make comments regarding weight to my close friends and family, those who i wouldn't mind commenting if i lost weight.

my boyfriend's parents used to comment on my weight loss often (my weight goes up and down often) (and never anything negative of course, just the basic 'you look like you've lost weight, ect.). i finally told him that if they persisted, i wouldn't visit anymore. i think he told them, because i've not heard another comment about it. or perhaps i just haven't changed my weight?

 

Re: Comments on weight

Posted by Racer on June 3, 2004, at 8:48:13

In reply to Re: Comments on Appearance in Therapy Dinah, posted by karen_kay on June 3, 2004, at 8:08:47

Reading karen_kay's post brought up comments about my weight, and how they tend to make me feel. A former girlfriend, who knew me when I was not experiencing any sort of disordered eating, saw me for the first time after it started up again and said something like, "I know you say you're underweight, but I think this is the best I've ever seen you look." Since I was underweight, and knew it, that was a bit of a stunner.

And my family is notorious for totally inappropriate comments about my weight. When I've gained weight from the drugs, they'll come after me constantly with 'jokes' and critical comments. (usually framed as, "You know I love you, so I want you to know you've gained too much weight.") The one time I said that it was from the drugs, I was told that I should, therefore, stop taking the drugs. (After all, if I couldn't or wouldn't say what I was depressed about, then I wasn't really depressed. Just lazy, weak, and displaying bad character.) Now that I'm restricting my eating again, I get the comments about being too thin. I've said, a number of times, that my weight needs to be off limits, that it's not a topic for conversation, but that just means that they change their strategy: "I know you don't want to talk about your weight, but you could start drinking Ensure to gain some weight..." or "I know you said we couldn't talk about your weight, but you need to hear this..." That sort of thing. (In other words, I was spawned by a family of human steamrollers.)

I'm pretty careful when I comment on others' weight. Usually, I only say something when I *know* that someone has been dieting or exercising to slim down, and it really shows. And I never comment to anyone who hasn't already heard my mini-lecture about women looking better with their natural curves, and health being more important than appearance or a number on the scale.

The other thing that I react to with comments on my weight is that I doubt very much that many people realize how much/little I actually weigh. I am not that thin right now, despite what my family is saying, but I know from the scale that I'm probably 10 or 15 pounds less than most of them would guess. That means that most comments strike me as being based on something other than me -- notice any sort of a theme to my life? Comments on my weight usually add to that feeling that I'm actually invisible, and that people are seeing something with no relation to me.

OK. 'Nuf rambling

 

Re: Comments on Appearance in Therapy

Posted by Dinah on June 3, 2004, at 9:34:53

In reply to Re: Comments on Appearance in Therapy Dinah, posted by crushedout on June 2, 2004, at 22:13:31

I'm glad to hear that this particular set of rules isn't one of mine with no basis in reality. I agree with what everyone has said. Weight comments are especially tricky. I don't like getting them either.

And Karen Kay, a family member once commented on my extra weight at a time when I really wasn't overweight, just not super slim. I've been told that I have a manner of freezing people with a look when I'm offended and I must have utilized that. I never heard another word about it. Even when I got really overweight.

 

Could it be...? Dinah

Posted by Racer on June 3, 2004, at 12:20:40

In reply to Re: Comments on Appearance in Therapy, posted by Dinah on June 3, 2004, at 9:34:53

Your post made me laugh, when you said that you never heard another comment. Could it be that your family is just more considerate than some of ours?

Honest to goness, many members of my family seem to think that, if they don't point out to me my weight problems, I won't realize that they exist! They literally *have* to tell me that I'm too fat/thin, because otherwise I won't know. Um, hello?

Maybe I should borrow your freezing look, as well as your mother? (My mother just got back from Chicago, with yet another pair of fabulous earrings for me, by the way. I've worn them twice now, and each time I've gotten compliments from strangers. Mom's batting 1000 in the earring department so far. Maybe we just need to join the families?)

 

Re: lol Racer

Posted by Dinah on June 3, 2004, at 15:14:09

In reply to Could it be...? Dinah, posted by Racer on June 3, 2004, at 12:20:40

I think the person's daughter might have given her a stern talking to. But I really do have a "look". When I was growing up, several men told either me or my mother (in my hearing) that they felt sorry for my future boyfriends.

Enjoy those earrings, and the mother's love that come with them. :)

 

Re: Comments on Appearance in Therapy

Posted by lucy stone on June 3, 2004, at 16:01:40

In reply to Re: Comments on Appearance in Therapy, posted by Dinah on June 3, 2004, at 9:34:53

I decided to see what kind of comment my T would make about my appearance if I directly asked him. I got my hair cut yesterday, something I very much dislike. I don't like to talk about my appearance I don't like to ask for what I want, I don't like to look at myself, and I don't like to be touched by people outside of my immediate family. Obviously, hair styling is very hard. We talked about the Hair Experience today, and as I was leaving I asked if he liked my new style. He said "I do, but I think you do to." So I asked again, "so you do like it?" He said again, "I do, but I think you do to." He was willing to say he liked it, but he made sure that I also liked it. He makes sure the focus is always on me and how I feel about things.

 

Re: Comments on Therapist's Appearance

Posted by starlight on June 4, 2004, at 13:59:35

In reply to Re: Comments on Therapist's Appearance, posted by Racer on June 2, 2004, at 13:02:29

My jerkhead Pdoc commented on my appearance, just not to my face. He wrote in my chart that I appeared garish, wore too much makeup and wore clothing that was overtly sexual. He even wrote once that I dyed my hair much darker than usual.

When I found this I was stunned. I'm still stunned and with the other things he wrote I'm so angry I just can't believe it. First, I hardly wear any makeup at all, I don't even own foundation or blush. I usually wear a light eyeshadow, with a bit darker eyeshadow on the lid. I fill in my eyebrows some, wear mascara, and lipstick - but when the lipstick wears off, most the time I don't even bother to reapply it.

I think I tend to wear more conservative clothing, I hate anything tight, and since I have always gone to my appointments directly from work, I dress in work attire. I work for a man as his secretary and am always cognizant to not wear anything too revealing. Anyway - I fired the **hole and hope he rots!
starlight

 

LOL! Sorry, but... starlight

Posted by Racer on June 4, 2004, at 16:33:31

In reply to Re: Comments on Therapist's Appearance, posted by starlight on June 4, 2004, at 13:59:35

I read my chart, too, and got a shock on the appearance front: every entry said the same thing about my appearance:

"Casually dressed, neatly groomed"

EXCEPT for one, which said:

"Casually dressed, adequately groomed"

Hello? I shower the same way before every appointment. I wear clothes from the same wardrobe - because that's what I own and wear. If I didn't look "neatly groomed" one day, it's a perception problem on his part, or a reaction to me being overwhelmingly depressed that day.

(I did wear contacts instead of specs one day, and did put on some makeup that day for something earlier in the day. Sure would like to see what showed up on that entry. "casually dressed, over groomed?")

You know what though? I'm glad you saw it and got to fire him. I can't imagine the attitude that would have gone with a note like that. (Although it does tend to support my theory that most men are incapable of "seeing" women. They see something they make up themselves superimposed on the REAL woman in front of them. Just a theory.)

 

Re: Comments on Therapist's Appearance starlight

Posted by terrics on June 4, 2004, at 19:53:56

In reply to Re: Comments on Therapist's Appearance, posted by starlight on June 4, 2004, at 13:59:35

Good for you! terrics

 

Re: Comments on weight Racer

Posted by cubic_me on June 5, 2004, at 5:55:10

In reply to Re: Comments on weight, posted by Racer on June 3, 2004, at 8:48:13

My parents make joking comments about my weight too. The meds I'm on at the moment have made me put on a bit and I have to dress in baggy clothes all the time so that they don't make too many remarks. They don't know I'm on meds, so its hard to explain it away.

My way of dealing with it is just to ignore most of what they say, and go by how I feel about my weight. I know that in BMI terms I'm not overweight, and I go to the gym to keep healthy, so that's good enough for me.

Good luck

 

my response and another question

Posted by Aphrodite on June 6, 2004, at 6:54:32

In reply to Comments on Appearance in Therapy, posted by Miss Honeychurch on May 31, 2004, at 20:20:02

What a popular thread. I felt peer pressure to join in even though I don't have much to say on the subject :)

My therapist has commented a lot -- mainly if I am dressed up or down. I think when I am dressed casually, he is concerned that I've been too depressed to go to work, which is not the case. Sometimes, if I have no meetings, I am just a slob! He's commented on my large eyes (all the better to watch what he's doing); he's asked, "What's different about you today? You look different? Is it your hair?" He went on for quite some time when I got a lot of sun one weekend since I am fair-skinned.

I never thought about it much because he's spends much of his time talking about my personality traits.

I'd like to ask this -- do you guys ever comment on how your therapist looks? I never have. I've wanted to comment on his very piercing eyes, but I am afraid that would sound inappropriate, and that's not what I mean at all. I just think they are symbolic of his very intense personality.

 

Re: my response and another question

Posted by Racer on June 6, 2004, at 8:28:01

In reply to my response and another question, posted by Aphrodite on June 6, 2004, at 6:54:32

I've commented on our marriage counselor's appearance a few times. Sometimes it's something she's wearing, once I asked if she'd lost weight. (It was very noticeable that day.)

So far, it's been well received. And she was very pleased to tell us about the weight loss, I guess it was one of those good weight comments, rather than the more common kind.

 

Re: my response and another question

Posted by lucy stone on June 6, 2004, at 8:59:34

In reply to my response and another question, posted by Aphrodite on June 6, 2004, at 6:54:32

I have commented on my Ts clothing, telling him that I like a sweater or if he looks summery when the seasons changed. I have been seeing him for over 4 years and in that time he has gone noticebly grayer. I commented on that and we laughed about how we are both getting older. He has a beard and I asked once why he wears one, he was surprised at the question and said he didn't know. I think that was avoidance ;) I don't think he really likes me to comment on his physical appearance because he wants the focus to be on me but he is always gracious.

 

Re: my response and another question lucy stone

Posted by fallsfall on June 6, 2004, at 10:39:45

In reply to Re: my response and another question, posted by lucy stone on June 6, 2004, at 8:59:34

My therapist wears both bowties and regular ties. I like the bowties because to me they symbolize that he is willing to be different - to think outside the box. He also is less fussy about himself when he wears a bowtie - he isn't making sure that his tie is lying just so on his shirt when he sits down. I had made a passing (pleased) comment once "You have worn bowties 3 sessions in a row". I didn't say anything else about the bowties until he hadn't worn any for a couple of weeks (I see him 3 times a week and he usually has a bowtie on at least one of the 3). Recently we had an intense, but not painful session and as I was leaving I said "I think that you have lost all of your bowties". He agreed that it had been a while since he had worn one. He didn't wear one the next session (he would NEVER let me tell him what to do...) but he wore one the session after that, and has been wearing them regularly since. I know that if I comment too regularly that he will stop wearing them because he will see it as a control issue.

He never comments on my appearance, but I really wear the same kind of thing every day (the question is whether I've washed my hair). I wore a dress once when I was on the way to my father-in-law's funeral - we talked about my plans for the rest of the day, but not necessarily related to my clothing.

 

Re: my response and another question Aphrodite

Posted by DissociativeJane on June 6, 2004, at 12:48:35

In reply to my response and another question, posted by Aphrodite on June 6, 2004, at 6:54:32

Sometimes I compliment my therapist but only if there is something I really like ie: jewlry, clothes etc...
Jane

 

Re: my response and another question

Posted by Dinah on June 7, 2004, at 9:51:25

In reply to my response and another question, posted by Aphrodite on June 6, 2004, at 6:54:32

I don't think I make personal comments on weight loss or gain or hair style. But he dresses in jeans on Friday and always seems more laid back, I think I've mentioned that.

The other day he was sockless again, and I had to work really hard at not shrieking at him to please wear socks. But I'm a bit wound up right now. :)

 

Re: my response and another question Dinah

Posted by pegasus on June 7, 2004, at 11:05:36

In reply to Re: my response and another question, posted by Dinah on June 7, 2004, at 9:51:25

Really? Lack of socks is an issue for you? Interesting. We all have our things, don't we?

My old T used to wear shoes that slipped off easily, and when we were having a really comfortable conversation, he would sometimes slip them off and run his socked feet up the wall, or the corner of his desk. I was always shoeless, because I'd slip my shoes off to sit cross legged in my chair. For some reason, I loved it when we were both sitting there in our socks and no shoes. It felt like an indication of intimacy, or something.

pegasus


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