Jack had been seeing his psychoanalyst on a weekly basis since he was nine and now he was twenty-nine and wanted to quit.
“Isn’t twenty years of psychoanalysis enough? Shouldn’t I be well by now?”
“You have a great deal of deep-seated neuroses that have required much work due to an overbearing father, an inadequate mother and castrating sisters. No amount of analysis will be enough. But on top of that, you are resistant to change and with that character flaw, you need double or triple the amount of treatment of others. There’s no telling when you might crack open. I am sorry to say you have not changed at all.”
“That’s correct. You are stuck in the latency phase of boyish irresponsibility manifested most notably this very moment in your stated intention to resign prematurely from this critical work we are engaged in together.”
“What critical work? All I’ve done for twenty years is blather and all you’ve done is scribble and occasionally ask, ‘Can you say more?’ I could have done a lot more towards my happiness with $300,000. Really. I’ve thought about this. I’m done.”
“This is nothing more than you trying to express your adolescent rebellion. You’ve left your parents for college and you think you need to abandon your responsibility to me, I mean our work together. I tell you, you are a classic case of resistance. I may want to get a consultation with a colleague on you. At your expense of course.”
“No, you are a classic case of a bad therapist who won’t let go of her patient gracefully. I have tried three times to quit and this time I mean it. I want my life back.”
“There are no bad therapists. There are only resistant patients,” she said.
Dr. Newman never tried to cajole someone into staying unless they were delusional.
“You want to leave?” he’d say. “That’s great. You must be feeling better. I’m always here. Call to check in if things change.”
If they were leaving out of total denial, they’d be back soon enough.
“I hate therapy. I’ve had enough,” she screamed as she stabbed the couch with her cell phone.
“Well, you have made good progress here,” Dr. Newman said. “At least you are no longer punching walls.”
This did not of course apply to patients who were feeling better because they have decided on suicide. He always checked.
Ellen had a low-paying feminist publishing job in New York when she was accepted to Harvard for Graduate School. Her “feminist” therapist was enraged.
“I’ve been seeing you on a sliding scale for a year and now you tell me you can afford to go to Harvard?”
“But I got grants and I’m taking out student loans.”
“I’m doubling your fee.”
“I’m killing your fish,” Ellen said, and she reached into the aquarium, popped one in her mouth, swallowed and burped.
published 24 April 2013