I sometimes feel that my therapists want me to be a vulnerable person in therapy. My current therapist pointed out a few weeks ago that I was expressing vulnerability with the implication that that was good.
I am not often vulnerable in therapy and never needy. This seems to trouble therapists. I don’t know what to do about that, if anything should be done. I was never vulnerable with Dr. Palombo. I saw him for a year and he never talked about that. I’m not a vulnerable person in life, so how would I be a vulnerable person in therapy?
When my mother died in early January 1980 it was the first week of my second semester of the first year of law school. Despite the pressures of law school, I did not become vulnerable. I did my studies and finished my first year at the top 15% of my class.
When I got fired from my job in 1991, I didn’t become vulnerable at the termination meeting. Some fired employees might get into a tizzy with the employer, particularly one who was fired suddenly for no good reason and who had a stellar employment record. When I was told I was fired I just packed up my stuff and walked out. It was just another day at the office. The last day had come !
On the afternoon of October 12, 2004 I got a knock at the door. Outside my door were ten police officers and four FBI agents, some of whom entered my apartment. After talking to me for a while, they hauled me off in handcuffs to D.C. General for an emergency forensic psychiatric examination. I wasn’t particularly concerned. I thought, “I’ll talk to the psychiatrist and go home.” My only nagging concern was “How am I going to get home?” When the police hauled me off, they didn’t give me time to get my wallet. I had no wallet and no money. All I thought about at the hospital was, “How am I going to get home?” In the end the psychiatrist gave me money. Nice psychiatrist. (Diane Martin, M.D.).
It is well to keep in mind, one of the criteria of high ego strength is, “Faces reality calmly.” I face reality calmly. How do you do therapy if you are a person with high ego strength?
I read the following account on the Internet written by a therapist, about the therapist’s need to see the patient in a vulnerable position.
I often felt Nick attempting to communicate with me as if we were colleagues, rather than turning to me in a vulnerable, needy way as my client. In one session, he talked about how much he liked to be the one dispensing wisdom: what he really wanted to do, he said, was write a philosophical-type book and get paid for speaking engagements. It felt as if he were making some comparison between us. In a later session, he made similar remarks; I addressed the ongoing comparisons and told him that it was deeply painful for him to compare himself to me, a man the same age, and to feel what he might have done with his life. The loss of potential, the waste of the years, the shame about his damage felt excruciating and unbearable.
“The loss of potential, the waste of the years, the shame about his damage felt excruciating and unbearable.” I am struck by that line. The same could be said for me, but I don’t have these feelings.
I think of the line from Significant Moments:
“Perhaps my best years are gone. When there was a chance of happiness. But I wouldn’t want them back. Not with the fire in me now. No, I wouldn’t want them back.”
–Samuel Beckett, Krapp’s Last Tape.