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Re: To read or not to read vwoolf

Posted by fallsfall on September 26, 2004, at 16:28:44

In reply to To read or not to read, posted by vwoolf on September 26, 2004, at 12:02:33

I have read a lot. I often take 10 Psych books out of the University library at a time.

In many ways it has helped me. It helped to understand what was going on, so I wouldn't be so scared. I tried to understand what to talk about so that I could be more productive in therapy. I got ideas of things to think about. I found definitions of terms that were confusing to me. I was comforted by reading case studies (vicarious comfort?).

But there are things have not been helpful. I spend a lot of time trying to figure out what my therapist is doing (presumably so that I can work in the same direction, but there are times when I end up critical of his decisions). When I'm reading Psych books I'm not getting on with my life. Since I read primarily Psych books, my life revolves around therapy - rather than having other stimulation from other parts of life. I figure that I know enough to help all of my friends (and many times I do help them, but focusing on helping them helps distract me from working on ME).

At this point in my therapy, I am not reading very much (I'm actually reading a novel right now - and it doesn't even have a psych plot!). I find that I read more when I'm not sure that I'm making progress in therapy. It's almost like I don't trust my therapist (who is very good) to know what he is doing. I have to research everything so that I can tell him what he has missed. I can tell that I'm more upset when I am making weekly trips to the University library - and in fact, I now tell my therapist when I fall into reading phases. I also read to keep my mind busy. If I'm reading I can't be ruminating about my life. Many times I will read all of the words, but not get any of the meaning - I use it as a distracting busywork.

But I think that my reading comes down to control. If I am reading, then I can "analyze" myself. I'll be sure not to miss something. A therapist could miss stuff because maybe I wouldn't tell him about it, but *I* won't miss stuff... Except that there seems to be a ton of stuff hidden in my unconscious, and I'm now figuring out that he has more access to that than I do. It terrifies me to think that he can understand things about me that I don't understand. If I read a lot and plan each of my sessions (deciding what to talk about and how much to say), then I have control over my therapy.

But control is not necessarily a good thing to have in therapy. I've had control in every facet of my life for 47 years, and - to be honest with you - that hasn't been all that successful. So maybe it is time for me to "live" in therapy, rather than "perform" in therapy. Maybe I shouldn't be thinking about how he will interpret what I say before I say it, and then choose to say or not to say it. Maybe I should be unguarded, and trust that he will do his job well.

I do trust that he wants what is best for me. And I trust that he is skilled. And I trust that he cares.

Does this mean I always like what he does or says? Not at all! And I oscillate between being more controlling and less controlling. Giving up control is a major issue for me.

So, does that mean I don't read anymore? Not at all. I still scour used book sales, and visit my library when there is something I don't understand. I'll be back to getting stacks of books for a period, I'm sure. But I'm trying to be more comfortable with the idea that I *don't* have to control everything, that my therapist just might be able to do a good job and take care of me. It is truly a strange feeling for me.

In general, my therapist would prefer that I didn't read. Initially, I was angry that my therapist didn't want me to read - like he was putting a roadblock up that would make it harder for me to get well. But he knows enough to know that if he forbade it, that I would read even more. So I know what he wants, and as I can be comfortable with not reading, I try to read less. For me, this is a slow process.

Your reasons for reading are personal to you - they may be vastly different from my reasons. My guess would be that if you can really analyze why you feel the need to read, that you will learn more about yourself.

Good luck, and if you ever want me to recommend some titles on a particular subject, just let me know.




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