Psycho-Babble Psychology Thread 999082

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Embracing the pernicious inner voice

Posted by Dinah on October 8, 2011, at 9:45:34

That was the topic of therapy yesterday. That maybe all that effort denying the PIV only strengthens in in the end. Because it's not entirely wrong, and a niggling recognition of that fact undermines efforts to silence it.

So maybe it's best to agree with the pernicious inner voice, while maybe adding something onto the agreement.

"He doesn't care about you"
"It's true he doesn't care about me as much as I care about him. He's an integral part of my life, and I'm not an integral part of his. I remember every thing he's ever told me, while he certainly does not. He doesn't care about me the way I'd like him to care about me. He's my therapist/mommy in a very real way. I'm his client/daughter in only the most figurative of ways. He probably does care about me more than any other client he has ever had. He says that, and given what we've been through over the years it's likely true. It's not because of my captivating personal attributes. It's because we've suffered together and fought to relationship together. I am a Jessica to him. Isn't that what I wanted? He cares about me in a somewhat limited way. He probably does occasionally think about me outside therapy, and he probably gives some consideration to how his choices impact my therapy. I may not loom large in his life, but he does care. But you're right, he doesn't care in the way I'd like."

"He laughs at you."
"He does sometimes laugh at me, but not in a mean or nasty way. He finds some of my ways of expressing myself different and a bit odd. He tells me that oddness is part of my gifts, and that I can help him see things in different ways than he's used to seeing them. It's not a terrible thing to be laughed at by someone without malicious intent. Do you ever recall him being malicious, mean or nasty towards anyone? And really, when you think about it, some of the regression in therapy is a bit funny. Even to me."

"You're stupid."
"Boy, I do stupid things sometimes. I can be childish and stubborn and have an overconfidence in my intellectual abilities. It matters a lot to me when I do something stupid because being smart is important to me. Maybe this is what it means to say pride goes before a fall. Sometimes I don't think things through, or don't understand things I do think through. Sometimes I can look at something and not see it at all. Hopefully I learn from those times, and learning from stupidity isn't stupid. It really isn't shameful to sometimes be stupid." (I"m choosing my words in this one to echo the PIV and allow agreement. My nicer inner voice does not appreciate the use of the descriptor "stupid" towards anyone.)

I think the Pernicious Inner Voice would be somewhat taken aback by cheerful agreement.

I told my therapist that I didn't think it was in my best interests to assure me that he really does care and only his human frailties keep that caring from showing sometimes. I think maybe instead he should be empathetic to the pain that comes from loving more than one is loved.

 

Re: Embracing the pernicious inner voice

Posted by annierose on October 8, 2011, at 10:06:21

In reply to Embracing the pernicious inner voice, posted by Dinah on October 8, 2011, at 9:45:34

>>>I think maybe instead he should be empathetic to the pain that comes from loving more than one is loved.

That is powerful, and true.

As always, you have wonderful insight to your inner voices - as pernicious as they can be. They are reasonable but we are always left guessing what the other person (and in this case - our therapist) is truly thinking and feeling.

 

Re: Embracing the pernicious inner voice

Posted by Daisym on October 8, 2011, at 16:58:40

In reply to Re: Embracing the pernicious inner voice, posted by annierose on October 8, 2011, at 10:06:21

Love this "dialogue" with the PIV. So wise and so true.

One of my frequent PIV topics is, "You'll make him feel bad so don't admit to..." And then, "wow- presumptuous of you for thinking you have the ability to have that type of impact."

Ug -
Perhaps the last line is the most painful truth anyone has to face, in any situation. It is painful to care more than another. I sometimes wonder if part of my separation anxiety isn't partly because my therapist is a much kinder mirror than I am for myself. I feel better about me because of the way he accepts me.

You should write a book. Thanks for sharing.

 

Re: Embracing the pernicious inner voice

Posted by Solstice on October 8, 2011, at 22:58:38

In reply to Embracing the pernicious inner voice, posted by Dinah on October 8, 2011, at 9:45:34

Very insightful and provocative post, Dinah..


> That was the topic of therapy yesterday. That maybe all that effort denying the PIV only strengthens in in the end. Because it's not entirely wrong, and a niggling recognition of that fact undermines efforts to silence it.
>
> So maybe it's best to agree with the pernicious inner voice, while maybe adding something onto the agreement.

I like the idea of 'embracing' it. Sounds healthy to me. Maybe another way to think of it is putting it in a perspective of acceptance? What I read in your elaborations sounded like you were bringing balance to it...

And with respect to the PIV that he doesn't care *as much* as you do - I wonder if the word 'need' should be substituted for 'care.' I think it's likely that he does indeed have feelings of affection and attachment and care for you that probably runs deep enough that if it could be looked at objectively, it might be hard to identify one as greater than the other. However, there likely is, and should be, a great divide between how much he needs you, and how much you need him. And that's a divide that you don't want to close - because if he needed you like you need him, then your therapist/mommy would cease to exist. I just can't help but wonder if the valuable difference in 'need' isn't getting mixed up with the genuine emotion of 'care' - which is likely a lot more equal than 'need' will ever be.

Solstice

>
> "He doesn't care about you"
> "It's true he doesn't care about me as much as I care about him. He's an integral part of my life, and I'm not an integral part of his. I remember every thing he's ever told me, while he certainly does not. He doesn't care about me the way I'd like him to care about me. He's my therapist/mommy in a very real way. I'm his client/daughter in only the most figurative of ways. He probably does care about me more than any other client he has ever had. He says that, and given what we've been through over the years it's likely true. It's not because of my captivating personal attributes. It's because we've suffered together and fought to relationship together. I am a Jessica to him. Isn't that what I wanted? He cares about me in a somewhat limited way. He probably does occasionally think about me outside therapy, and he probably gives some consideration to how his choices impact my therapy. I may not loom large in his life, but he does care. But you're right, he doesn't care in the way I'd like."
>
> "He laughs at you."
> "He does sometimes laugh at me, but not in a mean or nasty way. He finds some of my ways of expressing myself different and a bit odd. He tells me that oddness is part of my gifts, and that I can help him see things in different ways than he's used to seeing them. It's not a terrible thing to be laughed at by someone without malicious intent. Do you ever recall him being malicious, mean or nasty towards anyone? And really, when you think about it, some of the regression in therapy is a bit funny. Even to me."
>
> "You're stupid."
> "Boy, I do stupid things sometimes. I can be childish and stubborn and have an overconfidence in my intellectual abilities. It matters a lot to me when I do something stupid because being smart is important to me. Maybe this is what it means to say pride goes before a fall. Sometimes I don't think things through, or don't understand things I do think through. Sometimes I can look at something and not see it at all. Hopefully I learn from those times, and learning from stupidity isn't stupid. It really isn't shameful to sometimes be stupid." (I"m choosing my words in this one to echo the PIV and allow agreement. My nicer inner voice does not appreciate the use of the descriptor "stupid" towards anyone.)
>
> I think the Pernicious Inner Voice would be somewhat taken aback by cheerful agreement.
>
> I told my therapist that I didn't think it was in my best interests to assure me that he really does care and only his human frailties keep that caring from showing sometimes. I think maybe instead he should be empathetic to the pain that comes from loving more than one is loved.

 

Re: Embracing the pernicious inner voice Solstice

Posted by annierose on October 9, 2011, at 7:34:05

In reply to Re: Embracing the pernicious inner voice, posted by Solstice on October 8, 2011, at 22:58:38

I would like to believe that to be true .... that the caring is on more equal footing than the need. But I think our level of caring runs so much deeper - my t is my inner voice of truth and reason - like a healthy mother would be to a child. Your thoughts give me comfort.

 

Re: Embracing the pernicious inner voice

Posted by Solstice on October 9, 2011, at 9:37:07

In reply to Re: Embracing the pernicious inner voice Solstice, posted by annierose on October 9, 2011, at 7:34:05

> I would like to believe that to be true .... that the caring is on more equal footing than the need. But I think our level of caring runs so much deeper - my t is my inner voice of truth and reason - like a healthy mother would be to a child. Your thoughts give me comfort.

:-) It can be hard to differentiate between the feelings of affection and caring, and the strong feelings of 'need.' They were intertwined for me, forever! It's really only been during the last few years that I've been able to separate them. And when they are intertwined like that, I think it's the 'need' that drives the intensity of what we are calling 'care.'

As for a therapist's care.. I think it says a lot when we recognize that the very fact that they spent time longing to even be a therapist - and those that got their master's or phd's invested a huge amount of time, money and work just to be able to spend time with people, helping them on their journey. So your therapist 'cared' before you did! During the time he or she is with you, they are focused on your needs. They set their own aside.. and your needs are their entire focus. Between sessions, they muse over our pain, searching their training, experience, and creativity for insight. I wouldn't be surprised if we don't show up in their dreams at times... we are on their minds as they talk with their peers... we are the reason they get up and go into work.. we are their 'purpose.' It might be a different kind of 'care' than what we feel for them, but I think that at the point that we are able to separate our 'need' for them from our feelings of affection, the relationship becomes more stable. That's how it happened for me, anyway. I care for my therapist, and my therapist cares for me. My therapist's need for this relationship is limited to T's personal need to *be* a therapist - the sense of professional well-being it provides. My 'need,' however, is rooted in my 'need' to be cared for.. my need for wounds to be tended to.. my need to experience a safe attachment.. my need to heal. So maybe our 'need' is what makes it feel more life & death. Their need to be a therapist is not as survival-related, or as personally directed, as our need for this particular therapist to provide what we weren't provided earlier in our life. I think the way my therapist talked about things helped me eventually make the differentiation between need and care. T talked very intimately (which was just excruciating for me at the time) about how I needed to be attached. That was a specific goal T had for me. Here is a therapist, telling me that what I need to do is feel attached - to them... specifically to them. omg.. just the concept was almost traumatically scary for me. I fought against it mentally and emotionally. But over time (a long time).. experience after experience... my therapist did things.. responded to things.. behaved in ways that enveloped me in safe caring. It wasn't about my therapist expressing affection for me. That's never happened. It was deeper than that, actually. It was about my realizing that T *knew* who I was.. accepted me.. delighted in my growth... recognized goodness in me that I overlooked... and maybe most importantly of all.. my therapist put our relationship First. T was very attuned to me.. and I could not hide misgivings, feeling unsettled, being 'off.' At times it could feel like being under a microscope.. but ultimately.. it allowed me to believe I was cared for. Me. Solstice. With all my idiosyncrasies.. all my faults.. my personality as it is - the good and the less-good. Any time my quirks or personality interfered with our relationship, T worked it out with me. And as for attachment, I denied even having the capacity. I did not even know what 'attached' looked like or felt like. Now in retrospect, it was funny when T would suddenly stop me after I'd made a comment (I wish I could remember them!) and would say "That's attachment!" in a celebratory way. I would squirm - because T had called it accurately. I didn't think I 'felt' attached - but some of the things T pointed out as 'signs' that I *am* attached couldn't be denied. Little by little I began to recognize it - and be comfortable with it. Maybe because T talked about it so much.. it was certainly acceptable for me to be and feel attached.

No doubt, I have Needed this relationship. And T has cared enough to be there.. to tend the relationship.. to be mindful of where I am developmentally, of who I am, of what I need therapeutically. That's some pretty deep care, if you ask me :-)

Solstice

 

Re: Embracing the pernicious inner voice Solstice

Posted by Dinah on October 9, 2011, at 15:13:34

In reply to Re: Embracing the pernicious inner voice, posted by Solstice on October 9, 2011, at 9:37:07

It may be true that your therapist cares as much about you as you care about him. It's not true of my therapist and me. He'll admit that, though he argues that the difference isn't so great as I think.

I think it's ok, and even healthy of me, to accept that.

 

Re: Embracing the pernicious inner voice Solstice

Posted by annierose on October 9, 2011, at 16:51:45

In reply to Re: Embracing the pernicious inner voice, posted by Solstice on October 9, 2011, at 9:37:07

I agree ... that is feeling deeply cared for. And I do feel cared by and even loved (at times) by my t (in an appropriate use of the word love). She would say I go in kicking and screaming half the time (not by actions, just an unwillingness to be vulnerable). I think I do have care and need intertwined as well ... I'll have to give this more thought.

I will say - overtime - I do feel more and more loving feelings towards my therapist and from her. Which is a huge shift for me in my work with her.

How long have you been seeing your therapist? In this current go-around, I am approaching year 8 - so hard to believe - where did all the time go?

 

Re: Embracing the pernicious inner voice Dinah

Posted by Solstice on October 9, 2011, at 18:06:34

In reply to Re: Embracing the pernicious inner voice Solstice, posted by Dinah on October 9, 2011, at 15:13:34

> It may be true that your therapist cares as much about you as you care about him.

I think my T cares *differently* about me than the caring I feel. I think it is somewhat parent/child-like, but the point is that my T cares.. very much.. but it's hard to judge its equivalency. It's different. But my feelings of caring toward my T aren't (any longer) tangled up with my strong need. I see and feel my care and need separately. I remember a earlier in therapy, after I started to genuinely recover from the toxic therapeutic relationship that had preceded this one, we had an interesting exchange. I was musing over that painful previous relationship, and commented about the persistence of my pain while I was seeing him (toxic T) of needing so desperately to just feel understood. This may have been a year into therapy with my current T. T stopped me and asked "Do you still feel that need to be understood?" It startled me, because I suddenly realized that it hadn't even occurred to me to feel that need in this therapy. I had never *not* felt understood in this therapy, so the need was absent. This light-bulb moment was exhilarating.


> It's not true of my therapist and me. He'll admit that, though he argues that the difference isn't so great as I think.

Might be more about how 'care' is defined. And I'll bet that he's exactly right - that the difference is really not so great, because he's probably excising the 'need' factor that we clients have tangled up with our 'care.' :-)


> I think it's ok, and even healthy of me, to accept that.

I agree. Regardless of how it's defined. It's healthy to accept the power difference, and the vulnerability difference. We are vulnerable to them.. but they aren't to us. We *need* them specifically much more than they will ever need us. The more realistic we are about accepting those things, the better off we are. But when it comes to 'care' ...I really suspect that those of us with long-term relationships are cared about nearly as deeply, albeit differently.

Solstice

 

Re: Embracing the pernicious inner voice

Posted by Solstice on October 9, 2011, at 18:15:08

In reply to Re: Embracing the pernicious inner voice Solstice, posted by annierose on October 9, 2011, at 16:51:45

> I agree ... that is feeling deeply cared for. And I do feel cared by and even loved (at times) by my t (in an appropriate use of the word love). She would say I go in kicking and screaming half the time (not by actions, just an unwillingness to be vulnerable). I think I do have care and need intertwined as well ... I'll have to give this more thought.
>
> I will say - overtime - I do feel more and more loving feelings towards my therapist and from her. Which is a huge shift for me in my work with her.

You know, one of the things I didn't think about when I originally posted in this thread, is that some of us lean toward being more 'feelers' and others of us lean toward being more 'thinkers.' That may also factor into how cared for we feel, in comparison to how much we care. I recently had to take some of those tests that assess your personality, leadership style, coping mechanisms, etc. I discussed it with my T, and the Myers Briggs came up. I am an INTJ, which is more of a 'thinker' than a 'feeler.' I don't remember all of my T's letters, but I do remember that "F" was the 3rd one, so my T is more of a 'feeler.' I'll bet that plays a role in why I feel so much cared for, a lower amount satisfies me or something. If I were more of a 'feeler' I might feel a bigger gap.. probably especially if my T was a thinker.


> How long have you been seeing your therapist? In this current go-around, I am approaching year 8 - so hard to believe - where did all the time go?

I have been seeing my current T about 4 years now.. and the toxic T before that was about 4 years as well.

Solstice

 

Re: Embracing the pernicious inner voice

Posted by emmanuel98 on October 9, 2011, at 19:31:51

In reply to Re: Embracing the pernicious inner voice Dinah, posted by Solstice on October 9, 2011, at 18:06:34

My p-doc used to say the point of therapy is to end. I am having difficulty ending and his age means we will end sooner rather than later (he is 72 and in good health). We have had this caring conversation over and over during the years I've been seeing him. He cares for me differently he says, than I care for him. I care for him the way a child cares for a parent. But he is not my parent and can not ever be my parent, because I am not a child. He says he is a caregiver by nature and this relationship allows in to care for me in a structured, constructive, but institutionally bounded way.

 

Re: Embracing the pernicious inner voice emmanuel98

Posted by Dinah on October 9, 2011, at 21:25:55

In reply to Re: Embracing the pernicious inner voice, posted by emmanuel98 on October 9, 2011, at 19:31:51

> He says he is a caregiver by nature and this relationship allows in to care for me in a structured, constructive, but institutionally bounded way.

That must give you the warm fuzzies. :)

It hurts to come up against those boundaries doesn't it? I figure that, for me, radical acceptance will help that hurt.

 

Re: Embracing the pernicious inner voice

Posted by emmanuel98 on October 10, 2011, at 20:00:02

In reply to Re: Embracing the pernicious inner voice emmanuel98, posted by Dinah on October 9, 2011, at 21:25:55

I think, on the whole, I am happy with his boundaries. If he had made me feel like our relationship might grow beyone his office, I would have jumped on that. I would have left my husband for him in an instant, and I have a loving husband whom I've been with for 30 years. I'd have been a poor friend or partner for him -- have followed him around like a puppy seeking his approval and not attending his needs. What I want from my p-doc is not something I can have, so I have been learning to want what I do have, to appreciate what he can give.

 

Re: Embracing the pernicious inner voice Dinah

Posted by Tabitha on October 11, 2011, at 3:55:15

In reply to Embracing the pernicious inner voice, posted by Dinah on October 8, 2011, at 9:45:34


> I think the Pernicious Inner Voice would be somewhat taken aback by cheerful agreement.

Yeah, I like using cheerfulness in reply to someone who's trying to incite you to be all worked up and worried. Find whatever grain of truth is there, agree with it, and ignore the rest.

>
> I think maybe instead he should be empathetic to the pain that comes from loving more than one is loved.

Do you think you love him?

THis may be a different thing, but when I experience this sort of not-getting-love pain, I interpret it as wanting love/approval from some source where it's just not available. I never thought to believe I have an excess of love for that source. It's just such a needful feeling to me. Surely love is something else? But I'm not that good at identifying loving feelings in myself.

 

Re: Embracing the pernicious inner voice Tabitha

Posted by Dinah on October 11, 2011, at 8:43:41

In reply to Re: Embracing the pernicious inner voice Dinah, posted by Tabitha on October 11, 2011, at 3:55:15

Not romantic love. Definitely not sexual love. I think of my therapist and sex as I think of my parents and sex. There may be some evidence that they ever had it (me), but I prefer to consider myself a test tube baby.

Maybe not even the first tier love that belongs to my son, my husband, my Daddy, and my beloved dog who died nearly 25 years ago. But definitely in the next tier with a very few friends and a few other beloved dogs. I can't quite place my mother. I know who he is to a larger extent than many clients might, and don't really idealize him - though I might idealize the relationship. I remember most everything he's ever told me. I worry about him when he's not well, and think of him outside session. I'd inconvenience myself a fair amount to ensure his well being. Maybe I wouldn't give him a kidney if my son or husband needed it. But I'd consider it if they didn't and I had an extra one sitting around. I've stuck by him through times when he hasn't really been a very good therapist, as well as the admittedly far greater number of times when he has. I pretty much have his approval, perhaps more than he has mine. Sometimes too much so, and I feel the pressure of expectations I can't meet. My therapist is a pretty accepting guy.

I say I love my dogs to greater or lesser extents, and believe I mean it. Why wouldn't I love the therapist/mommy who helped shaped me into who I am today? Who I imprinted on like a baby duckling fresh from the shell? Mind you, it doesn't hurt that I think he's perfected a cocker spaniel look that he's likely used since childhood to get him out of trouble with his mama, and that he likely doesn't even realize he's using. It brings out maternal instincts in me. Though honestly, I must say I have no desire to involve myself in his real life, or give him fluids or pills like I do my dear dog. I suspect that with that much contact, my love might fade a bit. But then, I also have no desire to be in his life to the extent of living with him. So maybe my love is limited too.

I think maybe we need different sorts of words for love. I may not love him like a husband or lover, but I do love him as I would a mama and sometimes as I would a child or dog. I suspect it's the love for him as a mama that causes me pain.

He loves me like a client. A client who is special to him, no doubt. That's what I always wanted, from back when I verbalized the want. I wanted to be a Jessica to him. I am. It should be good enough.

And, while I don't wish to criticize him, I think part of the imbalance comes from the difference between the two of us as people. I tend to love seldom but fiercely. I'm a sheepdog. Loss affects me forever. I get the idea that he loves much easier, but perhaps not quite as deeply. He's no Greyfriar's Bobby (who of course wasn't a sheepdog, to be fair). At any rate, he seems to uproot himself from his attachments fairly easily and without nearly the pain I'd expect. Maybe he just hides the pain well, but I think it's also true that he protects his core more thoroughly than I do. I once even observed that about him and he agreed. That he really appeared open and caring, but that the openness only went so deep before stopping at a protective layer. To be fair, it's entirely proper that he do so in a therapeutic relationship.

So partly it may be impossible to have equivalent love in a therapeutic relationship. When by definition we open ourselves to the very core, and where by definition they really really shouldn't do that. A therapeutic relationship with equal love, and therefore equal vulnerability, by definition loses the detachment of a therapeutic relationship and becomes a personal one. Which I don't really want. I've always suspected (and again he agrees) that his clients get the best part of him. Just as my husband's coworkers get the most agreeable side of him.

So maybe reconciling the imbalance can come partly from the knowledge that the imbalance is in my best interest. Can you imagine a therapy where the therapist has too much of an investment in the client's outcome? In a client's love, approval, and attendance? Disaster.

I think the idea of agreeing with the pernicious inner voice might be a variant of the "not taking obsessions seriously" that I learned from "Stop Obsessing". Although I don't specifically remember agreement as a vehicle to do that. But then obsessions generally lack the truth that the pernicious inner voice usually has. The pernicious inner voice isn't *wrong*. It just may be short of completely right.


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