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Re: Approximate relationships » alexandra_k

Posted by Tamar on May 27, 2005, at 10:41:09

In reply to Re: Approximate relationships » Tamar, posted by alexandra_k on May 26, 2005, at 18:51:47

> > Hmm… I think of the way I love my students, and I think I love them freely, without expecting them to reciprocate. It’s nice if they like me, and if they work hard, but I’ve had students who didn’t work hard and I still loved them. Even when one or two students haven’t liked me much I’ve usually liked them. Some of them are a pain in the *ss, but I still love them. And my students are adults; many of them are older than me.
> Yes. But you are like the therapist there.

Yeah, that’s my point. Maybe a therapist can love freely, without hoping for reciprocation.

> Wouldn't that be an 'approximation' of love in your relationships just there?

I just don’t see that it’s approximate. Maybe I’m being dense. Feels like love, looks like love, is love. In some cases it could be approximate, like in my bigger classes when I don’t know my students very well. But in small classes I think it is love.

What I will say is that it’s not so much like love for my friends (adults) as love for my children. It’s kind of maternal.

> > Well, certainly I have more freedom to be myself with my students than a T has with clients. But I’m also somewhat limited; I wouldn’t expect to be telling them much about my private life. However, we can talk about things that aren’t too personal, and it doesn’t seem to stop me feeling love for them. And love always has limits, in all relationships, doesn’t it?
> Yeah. But there is a similar power imbalance in teaching relationships as there is in therapy relationsips. Thats why there is a general policy of not getting involved (ie sexually) in both cases...

Absolutely. And I don’t tend to think of my students as potential sexual partners, possibly because I feel maternal towards them.

> > Yes, that is a hard question. Maybe it works through a combination of the relationship and the subject matter.
> I'm not sure whether it does work.
> Thats what I have been wondering...
> People get to there...
> People get to that point...
> How many people come out the other side?
> Wake up one day and say
> 'Why on earth am I paying you to listen to me and care about me when I can find that for free in the real world? Why on earth would I find more satisfaction out of an artificially contrived one sided relationship than with what I can find in a reciprocal RL relationship?'
> How many people get there?
> And how many people just get stuck...

Well, I can’t answer for other people, but I didn’t feel I was ‘employing’ my T just to listen to me and care for me. I was talking to him because of his incisiveness and perception about things I found hard to talk about; things my friends didn’t know how to respond to. It was important to me to believe that he cared about me because it helped me to trust him so that I could say things I’d never dream of saying to other people. Things that didn’t show me in a very good light.

> > > Can you buy love?
> > > Can you buy the 'love' of a therapist?
> > > I would say 'no' to the first and 'yes' to the second. IMO therapy would therefore be an approximation of love.
> > I’m not sure I’d say yes even to the second. I’m not convinced that feeling loved by the therapist has much to do with paying a fee.
> Paying a fee seems to be a necessary though not sufficient condition. Nobody will work with you if you can't pay them - but even if you do pay them there is no guarantee...

That’s true.

> >I’m curious about the possibility of thinking of it in terms of a petit différend (are you interested in Lyotard?)...
> ???
> I haven't heard that expression or that person...
> Do you want to say some more???
I probably can’t explain properly what I mean in one paragraph. Better people than me have tried to explain Lyotard. And I’m not a philosopher. But here goes…

Lyotard’s idea of the petit différend comes from his work on Kant’s idea of the Sublime. Sometimes an idea can’t be fully expressed in language. In that case, different parties may have different ways of expressing the idea. These different ways of expressing may rest on assumptions that are so different as to be incomaprable (this situation is a différend). Other times, there may be some assumptions in common, and there can be some degree of mutual understanding, but at the borders of this mutual understanding there may be areas of incomparable assumptions. This situation is a petit différend.

Note: this attempt at a single paragraph summary of Lyotard’s thought is likely to be deeply flawed and would no doubt attract derisive comments from serious philosophers!

Anyway… I think the idea of ‘the therapeutic relationship’ can be understood in terms of the Sublime. And it seems pretty clear that what therapists and clients understand is based on some different premises. It’s still possible for therapists and clients to negotiate the relationship, so it’s not a différend. But there are points at which making a judgment in favour of one side could leave the other side bereft, because the two sides of the relationship involve some boundaries of negotiation in which there are incomparable assumptions. Thus it may be a matter of a petit différend.

Again: one paragraph doesn’t really do the idea justice. And maybe it would fall down at some point. But I’m quite curious about the possibility that the therapeutic relationship involves a petit différend, because it might have interesting personal and political consequences...




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