Ktismatics

19 May 2007

Nothing Really

Filed under: Psychology — ktismatics @ 5:40 pm

The client comes into the office. She’s here to talk, and you’re here to listen. You’re sure she talks all the time, to everyone she knows, but it’s never enough. Sure they listen, but they don’t really listen, not really listen. They listen for awhile, and then they talk about themselves. They listen for a minute, then they change the channel, change the topic, you know? Yes, you know.

I have this friend, she lives up in Winchester, she spends every cent on clothes. She wants to spend the summer in Australia, I don’t know, she doesn’t know anybody in Australia, and do I want to go with her? Well sure I’d love to go, I’ve never been to Australia, but two weeks? I mean, what would we do? The beach, the shops, the bars. Alicia took a trip to Australia, she positively loved it. But she went with her boyfriend, so what do you expect? They broke up as soon as they got back, just as soon as they got back. She showed me the pictures. I want to see some places, but I don’t know, Australia? I don’t have anything to wear, and that’s bullshit because I don’t care. But this friend, she’s a maniac about clothes, you know she’ll have everything and I’ll have nothing. She’s not all that cute you know, kind of a big nose, kind of a strange little thing on the side of her face, I don’t know. I like her a lot, but two weeks? We went to the auto show together once, which was ridiculous, but we had kind of a fun time. Mustang. She was talking about getting a Mustang. I don’t remember.

She writes her check, smiles, walks out the door. Why does she come here? She could talk to the Mustang, she could talk to the Australian. She could sit here in an empty room and talk and talk and no one would complain. There is absolutely nothing you can say.

There are fat people who want to be thin, depressed people who want to be happy. They are fat because they want to be thin, depressed because they want to be happy. Or because they want to be fat, want to be depressed.

Well Tom Waits he don’t wanna grow up. He don’t wanna put no money down, don’t wanna get him a big old loan, work them fingers to the bone, fall in love and get married then boom! how the hell did it get here so soon?

If there was revolution would anyone come talk to you about it? Would they wonder out loud about the dangers of taking sides? Would they talk like they were under interrogation, as if they’d been tortured then isolated for three weeks and now they’re shown into your office and they’re ready to talk want to talk? Would they talk in code like gnostics hoping you could interpret and not tell the authorities? Would they try to guess which side you were really on? If the revolution itself came in the door and wanted to talk, would you be able to keep your mouth shut?

When you write it down like that, somebody’s always coming in the room to look at it and you put it away quickly but smoothly, slip it into the bottom drawer like you’re not really hiding anything but just done with some ordinary activity and now you look up expectantly ready for whatever it is they want to say. They want to look at it, that’s why you have it there, so they’ll want to see. It’s just something you write when there’s nobody there. It’s your suicide note, it’s your confession, it’s your last words, it’s nothing really.

There will be no revolution, at least not one you’d be able to recognize. If it’s talking to you now it’s not saying anything.

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12 Comments »

  1. having a purpose, or wishing to have a purpose, or wishing to seem to have a purpose, or not having a purpose and feeling guilty about it. Motivation. What was there in the unconscious that bubbles forth seemingly purposelessly, or is it really purposeless?

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    Comment by samlcarr — 19 May 2007 @ 6:48 pm

  2. Sam –

    I’m concerned about feeding addictions. I can’t be sure whether people’s egos need strengthening or dismantling. Do people need more attention paid to them or less? Is psychotherapy just another part of the capitalist happiness-making machinery? If society is a cause of psychological distress, how does the therapist effectively counteract this noxious effect of the collective on individuals? It’s a problem.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 19 May 2007 @ 10:40 pm

  3. Yes, i got that, but the fact is that we are needy. Our needs are real whether we recognise them or not. Finding the real need and helping the individual to cope with it should be the goal of the authentic therapist.

    It may prove that this does not work out commercially, maybe people are not willing to pay for authentic therapy, maybe what they want is the emptiness of the sham that allows them to make some very minor adjustments and keep on going pretty much unchanged…

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    Comment by samlcarr — 20 May 2007 @ 7:57 am

  4. Sam –

    This issue of “real need” is problematic. Lacan says the real need is for the person to recognize an unresolvable lack at the core of the self, to stop trying to fill that gap with relationships or ego strengthening. The ego and relational psychologists say just the opposite. I’m not even fully persuaded about “authentic.” Again, the Lacanian is going to present himself to the client as a representative of the Big Other, not empathic at all — to empathize for Lacanians is to reinforce the illusion that the self can be completed through the other. This is clearly an artificial presentation, not at all authentic relative to ordinary relationships in the world. But it is authentically Lacanian, consistent with a particular theory of the psyche and of change. There may be many authentic presentations to a client, relative to the specific theory and praxis that underlies the therapeutic relationship.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 20 May 2007 @ 3:31 pm

  5. Hmm, so the basic type of therapy has to be tailored for the individual, but how does one decide what would be a good fit? Lacanian reinforcing of the ego or something that fulfils the lack more relationally?

    In either case, the client may not feel ‘positive’ until the process is somewhat completed, and may not ever feel so. It seems almost as though giving a person what they want may be commercially more viable than giving them what they really need.

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    Comment by samlcarr — 20 May 2007 @ 8:54 pm

  6. This is related to the Deleuzian versus Hegelian desires. If we serve desire-as-lack then we’ll probably be feeding the addiction and reinforcing the lack. If we serve desire-as-drive then maybe we can close the loop with authentic fulfillment. I.e., in this latter case maybe what they want really is what they need.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 20 May 2007 @ 9:22 pm

  7. (1)Do people need more attention paid to them or less? (2)Is psychotherapy just another part of the capitalist happiness-making machinery? (3)If society is a cause of psychological distress, how does the therapist effectively counteract this noxious effect of the collective on individuals?
    (1) both; (2) both yes and no; (3) how to = read your own words.

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    Comment by Odile — 24 May 2007 @ 9:28 pm

  8. Agreed on points 1 and 2. On point 3 maybe people need to hear their own words. They can say what needs to be said if they only would.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 24 May 2007 @ 9:32 pm

  9. Yes, it is a concern, a genuine concern. I think this is the crux of it:

    …but it’s never enough. Sure they listen, but they don’t really listen, not really listen. They listen for awhile, and then they talk about themselves.

    If someone really listened, would it make a difference? It’s like trying to drink Coke when you are thirsty; you want more and more and more but it doesn’t quench your thirst; what you need is water.

    Try the water. If it works, the gulping will slow down, the thirst satisfied.

    Maybe when she’s had a genuine audience then she can hear herself? Maybe her need to talk will abate and she can listen too. Will it spillover so that all the world begins to hear?

    (Suddenly I am hearing strains of “I’d like to teach the world to sing”…somehow this isn’t quite what I had in mind. I wasn’t going for a Kum-by-yah moment. Such the way of Unformulated Experience. Fooey…)

    I have to stop. But I do think genuine listening is worthy of consideration.

    Meilleurs voeux!!

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    Comment by bluevicar — 31 May 2007 @ 1:54 pm

  10. bluevicar –

    If the desire to talk in its natural form is interpersonal and satisfiable, then talking wouldn’t be an unquenchable thirst. We all speak in expectation of being heard, so the questions are: (a) is the listener really hearing, and (b) does the speaker believe that the lister is hearing? The listener can do her best on (a), but (b) is a trickier problem. And there’s the further problem (c): why doesn’t the listener do something about it? I believe that the Lacanian analyst listens but never speaks until the speaker finally becomes silent. Only then can the speaker realize that the silence is the truth — the hole, the loss, the lack in the self.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 31 May 2007 @ 2:25 pm

  11. Yeah, yeah, whatever…

    Meilleurs voeux!!

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    Comment by bluevicar — 31 May 2007 @ 2:30 pm

  12. Good one. Have a Coke on me.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 31 May 2007 @ 3:31 pm


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