Background to my interest in teaching children with autism

PSYCHOTHERAPY BEYOND THE FRINGE, continued

Interjected Irrelevant Irreverence — How to Insult Your Shrink

Let’s take a break from the ‘seriousness’ of cases and have a little fun. We have now addressed the main topics needed for this purpose. So, if you would like to return the favour done you by your therapist in ‘giving you a diagnosis’, you might like to know how to do it. It’s quite easy.

First, you should realize that a psychological ‘diagnosis’ shared with a patient is at once a useless and a destructive act. One of its consequences is that it tends to impede progress and to make therapeutic change more difficult, if not impossible. When it is given, it marks the person giving it as a master of the argumentum ad hominem (name calling) ad nauseam. Why not ‘turn the tables’, if you like. Or, if you’d rather, you could just skip this section and move on to the next.

Behaviourally-oriented therapists, such as Felicity, are inclined to be energy intolerant people, who may episodically get angry and who may use their energies in work to propitiate their guilt feelings or to achieve a kind of redemption from their imagined unworthiness. Felicity would say that, in his case anyway, the unworthiness may be more than just imagined.

Psychoanalytically-oriented therapists, are inclined to be closeness intolerant and inference-prone people. They tend to use their love feelings to bond them to those with whom they cannot have a relationship on equal terms, while bitterly resenting perceived slights and rejection by those with whom they might have real relationship.

Then there are those people who seem to sit in between these poles in their approach to psychotherapy. It is possible that either closeness intolerance or energy intolerance lies at the ‘core’ — the deeper level of the personality. Then the ‘defence’ used by the person may itself become anxiety-loaded — hostility in the closeness intolerant, or dependency in the energy intolerant may feel uncomfortable. So the person may erect another layer of defence over his defence — passivity to defend against chronic hostility, or ‘distancing’ to defend against dependency. The result can be a person who feels pretty emotionally empty and joyless — the extra ‘onion skin’ of defence prevents feelings.

And then there are psychotherapists whose sexual drives are anxiety-loaded and in conflict. They are inclined to imagine that everything people do is motivated by sex. Could Freud himself have been one of these people? The psychotherapy pool into which they gaze shows them reflections of their own inhibited or troubled sexual drives.

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