Tag Archives: Therapy

What’s Wrong with Me?

This question, and the accompanying statement, “there must be something wrong with me,” are those that I hear most frequently in the course of a working day.

In some ways, perhaps this isn’t surprising. People generally don’t come to therapy when they are thriving and full of joy.   And yet… are unhappiness, depression, feeling alone, etc. best conceptualized as something “wrong” with you?

I would say not, and that this way of thinking about things, and oneself, is pernicious and destructive, and more importantly, a kind of violence to the truth.

Let me try to explain.

Let’s say you hate being in groups of over three people. You feel anxious, bored, foolish, or very alone. Thinking of this in terms like “what’s wrong with me?” may come easily to you – it seems to come awfully easily to most of us.

[Do take a moment now to substitute your own version of this – the kind of situation where you think: “something is wrong with me.”]

It may seem to you that thinking “something is wrong with me” adds something new to the original observation. But what exactly? What do you know now that you didn’t know when you noticed you were bored or anxious?

Nothing, I would say. You don’t know any more, but you have the illusion you do. You “know” that this bored/anxious person is defective – morally/ genetically/spiritually/psychologically, take your pick.

Why does this feel like knowledge? Why do we go to this place so easily?

I tend to locate the answers to these questions in our earliest thinking/feeling. I think the idea “there is something wrong with me” is a transform of one of the earliest proto-thoughts/feelings we have – “I’m not loved.”   In any normal, let alone abnormal, childhood there are literally thousands of moments where we might come to think this: when we’re terrified and crying during the night but no one comes, when we’re starving and there’s no mum/breast/bottle in sight, when we are overwhelmed by any feeling – love/hate/anger/aloneness/fear and there is no one there to hold us and help us digest the feeling. And of course these are just the earliest such moments where we might come to think “No one loves me.”  Later, there’s the arrival of a new sibling, the priority given to another over us at family gatherings and school, the lack of recognition of what we can offer to the world, etc.

I believe that thinking/feeling “I’m not loved” is just too painful, especially to our earliest consciousness. So we replace it with another, slightly less painful thought – “there is something wrong with me.” Initially, I imagine, this is also a hopeful thought – in that if there is something wrong with me I can discover and correct it. And then I Will Be Loved!

But as time goes on, the thought becomes more solid, and the hope fades. The link with its painful origin is forgotten. And, in the fullness of time, it becomes a part of our identity. There Is Something Wrong With Me.

At this point, the thought comes very easily, and gives a kind of comfort – that of “knowing” ourselves.   I believe that for my patients, and indeed all of us, thinking, “there is something wrong with me” stops the pain of feeling anxious/bored/alone and substitutes Bitter But True Self Knowledge. We have come to conceive of ourselves as a malfunctioning machine, rather than a human being in pain.

But of course, there is no self-knowledge here, no truth.   As I’ve shown above, there is nothing added by this strangely reassuring thought to the original perception that we are anxious/bored/alone in a crowd.

Quite the contrary: it helps us avoid the truth. It stops us in our tracks and prevents us from enquiring into what is going on that makes us anxious/bored/alone. It prevents us from seeking our reasons for feeling what we do. In other words, it takes away our power to look at ourselves as rational creatures responding to something in an environment in a way that makes a particular sense to us.

It has become so obvious to me that thinking “there is something wrong with me” is a defence that I’ve become increasingly puzzled about why my clients are so attached to it, to this negative proclamation/conclusion about themselves.

It can take months, years even, to get past this repeated assertion, to get clients to focus on the phenomenology (a fancy word for “what is happening”) of a particular situation that makes them anxious, or bored, whatever.  It’s as if they cling on to this idea “there is something wrong with me” for dear life.

Of course, any identification, even a negative one, is hard to give up. Giving it up means facing the pain that was avoided by it. When people stop telling themselves there is something wrong with themselves they have to face something – a loneliness or self-effacement, for example, that echoes painfully through their lives into their pasts. We are pain-avoiding creatures.

But we are also fed in a powerful way by recognizing the truth. And getting past the empty identification “there is something wrong with me” can put us solidly, if temporarily painfully, on the earth, in our bodies and in our lives. It can give us the future this empty self-knowledge has deprived us of.

A price worth paying?

Therapy and Meditation

Psychoanalysis begins in a strange way.  You come in — depressed, anxious, fearful, suicidal, cut off, despairing, lonely — and after you have agreed to start, your therapist will ask you to “say whatever comes into your mind.  Don’t censor anything, even if you think it’s unimportant, irrelevant, nonsensical, embarrassing or distressing.”  This request has come to be known as the “fundamental rule of psychoanalysis.”

Say whatever comes into your mind?  Why? How is that supposed to help?

I’m surprised at how few patients ask these questions.  Of course, many people are forewarned and know what to expect. But…  just in case these questions were in your mind, and you didn’t follow the “fundamental rule” and suppressed them, here’s my attempt at an answer.

Freud called this process, freier einfall, literally, ” free” and “eruption.”  It has been translated “free association” which, especially given the more technical meaning of association in experimental psychology, is profoundly misleading.

As the German words suggest, rather than a scientific experiment (I say “cat,” you say “dog.”), we are suggesting something more like a mindful meditative state — in which you attend to the thoughts that “erupt” into, or “appear” in, your consciousness and report them truthfully, without worrying about whether they are “correct,” “good,” “useful,” “relevant,” “shameful,” “stupid,” “silly,” “appropriate,” etc.

In other words, we ask our clients to enter a state very different from that in which their difficulties are so pressing.  A state in which they suspend their usual judgments of everything.

Of course, we know they will find this totally impossible.

If our clients could suspend their judgments of themselves and their thoughts, if they could allow themselves to think and say whatever they felt,  they wouldn’t be sitting opposite us.  They’d be getting on with their lives.

But the point of asking this is not to simply have them fail, but for us to come to understand together how they fail, how they introduce qualifications, criticisms, how they censor themselves based on their ideas about what it is “right” to think and say.

I’m sure I’m not the first person to notice how similar what we ask is to that which is asked by Zen and other meditation teachers:  Simply observe your thoughts and feelings.  Don’t sit in judgement. Let thoughts and feelings pass through you like ripples on a lake.

In my twenties, I spent eight months sitting, several times a day, in a Paris dojo with Master Deshimaru. From this experience, I know it’s just as impossible to follow these instructions as the fundamental rule.

While meditation and psychoanalysis ask their participants to do similar things, in therapy, you are asked to speak your thoughts.  Speaking your thoughts makes the experience inter-personal, rather than intra personal.  It allows another to get to know you as you come to know yourself.  It creates the possibility of another’s judgement — about what is “appropriate,” “right,” “shameful,” “embarrassing,” “irrational,” etc. — to modify your own.

But I don’t think the initial “instructions” are the only similarity between meditation and psychoanalysis.  Both encourage one to examine one’s prejudices, judgements, and passions.  Both value having a calmness to think and act free from one’s passions and fears.

And finally, and perhaps most importantly, both foster a state of what Freud called “evenly hovering attention,” where you are aware of your thoughts, feelings, reactions, and body but not impelled to action by them.

For Freud, this evenly hovering attention was the ideal one for the analyst.  And I have to admit, that while my ability to attain this was fleeting in my first years of “practicing” (such an appropriate word), I still found it far easier than sitting in the Paris dojo.  I think meditation felt “selfish” to me, whereas it made more sense to sit in silence in service of another.

Strangely enough, over the years, I have found that the silence and concentrated judgement-less attention that escaped me when I tried to find it sitting in that Paris dojo now comes more easily. I am grateful to my patients and my tradition for fostering this.

On Feeling Worthless

Some people know, deep down, they are worthless or “bad.”  This “knowledge” underlies everything they think and do, and everything they think about themselves.

It may not be obvious to others. Because what others will often see is a normally productive, generous, and caring person.  A good friend and a good colleague.

But those who are intimate with them will almost certainly know about this underlying feeling, even if it is never spoken about.  That’s because the knowledge that “I am worthless” is a slow acting poison in a relationship.

Because every appreciative feeling from the other will ultimately be discredited.  And every negative comment remembered and rehashed.

Many people who know “I am worthless” make do and try to manage this feeling by ignoring it or proving it wrong.  Others are driven by a feeling of worthlessness or badness to act it out, or prove it right.  They take drugs, are sexually promiscuous, commit crimes, fail badly, etc.

I’ve always been struck by the enduring power of this “knowledge.”  One reason it is so hard to shift is because everything that happens is interpreted in its light.  If someone tells the “worthless” person they are loved, beautiful, generous, intelligent, whatever – they won’t rejoice.  They won’t regard this as evidence which contradicts and even disproves their “knowledge.”  Rather they will interpret the comment as evidence the person making it is lying, has an agenda, or simply has no taste or judgement.

This is a vicious circle which easily produces despair.  No accomplishment, evidence of value or “goodness” seems to make a dent on the underlying feeling/knowledge.

In therapy, we’d regard this deep down knowledge as a fantasy or defensive structure.  A fantasy because it seems hyper real, more real and certain than any evidence to the contrary.  A defensive structure because we’d regard this understanding – “I am worthless” — as an unconsciously arrived at defence against some greater, earlier painful recognition or feeling.

The action of adopting this understanding made sense at the time – it’s less painful to think “I’m worthless” than say, that my parents have knowingly allowed me to be abused for example.

But like all defences, its costs increase over time.  And as a foundational identification – one which defines one’s very being– it’s difficult to shift – because people will fight when their basic reality, however painful, is threatened.

The first step in the process is for someone to recognize that the knowledge/feeling — “I’m worthless” – is a construction.  A conclusion arrived at in a context in which it made sense – at the time.

This understanding begins to undermine the absoluteness of the knowledge’s hegemony.  If the “worthless” person then starts to put their energy into being curious about how such an idea came about, rather than confirming its truth,  its days may be numbered.

Memory and the Ability to Bear Pain

The other day a patient reported a conversation between his teenage children at dinner.  The topic was how long the baby in the family would remember his parents if they suddenly disappeared/died.

Of course, this conversation, and the reporting of it at the end of a session, was highly overdetermined (psychoanalytic jargon for “had many strands of meaning”).  But I’m not going to address all that here.  Those meanings were particular to the session and the patient.

Rather, I’m going to talk about the very counterintuitive, but I believe profoundly truthful, psychoanalytic understanding of the kind of memory his children were discussing.

To put it simply, we believe that someone’s ability to remember another in their absence is a function of their capacity to bear pain.  If someone you care about and depend on is absent, and you think of them, you experience loss. If this feeling is overwhelming or the pain goes on too long, you might deal with the pain by deleting the painful object from your emotional memory – you “forget” them. Presto!  The pain is gone.

So… what’s the problem?  We’ll talk about this in a moment, but first, let’s backtrack a bit.

Think about a mother and a baby. (Analysts do, all the time!) The mother is everything to a baby, the source of food, warmth, comfort, understanding.  The baby literally can’t live without her.  So when the mother is absent, the baby is flooded with feeling – panic, anxiety, fear of dying, loss, etc. The good-enough mother will gradually acclimatize the baby to their absence, by being away only for short and then gradually longer periods of time. She will also remind the baby of her presence (by singing, talking) when they are out of sight. This mother instinctively understands that if she’s gone “too long,” the baby will cut off, “forget” her, as he will be overwhelmed by feeling and pain. But as she slowly extends her absences, the baby begins to learn that when she is absent, the mother is not gone/dead but simply away.

As no mother is perfect, it is inevitable that the baby will repeatedly break the connection with her, when she is away for unbearably long.  And that the mother and baby will need to re-make the emotional link between them.

The baby’s capacity to bear absence is increased by the acquisition of the ability to symbolize.  Freud observed his grandson (at 18 months) playing with a reel that had a string attached to it.  The young boy would throw the reel over the side of his cot so it couldn’t be seen and say “fort” – gone.  And then he would draw it back using the string, triumphantly saying “da” – here.

Now, back to the problem.

“Forgetting” or breaking the emotional link with the other works like a charm in terms of getting rid of the pain of loss.  But it has serious unforeseen consequences.  To enumerate a few:

  1. It makes it difficult to learn.  Painful lessons you learn from relationships are “forgotten” along with the pain.  So you keep making the same mistakes in life.
  2. It makes it difficult to sustain relationships.  When your partner or close friend hurts you, or is away “too long,” you cut your emotional tie to them. So when you get together again, you are “cold,” “aloof.” In the case of friendship, it might mean you don’t contact them again, or don’t respond to their attempts to understand what has happened between you.
  3. It means you are denied the comfort of being able to remember and think fondly of those who are absent or who have passed on, to reflect on what you’ve shared and learned from them.
  4. It creates “gaps” in your memory, and in your life story.
  5. It keeps you “young” or like a child, at least in certain areas of your life.

For all these reasons, therapists are always concerned with how people deal with absence and loss.   Our clients are often repeating painful situations, seemingly unable to learn from them.  Their early defence of forgetting/cutting off/breaking emotional links which shielded them from unbearable pain when they were young, has become a serious liability to their capacity to form satisfying relationships, or lead fulfilling lives.

This is part of why the relationship between a therapist and a patient becomes so important. Because as a therapist becomes more important to a client, the pain of the end of a session, the weekend, or of a holiday can become unbearable, in the same way as the mother’s, a partner’s, or a friend’s absence.  Naturally, a client will deal with this pain by their old tried and tested method — they’ll cut off. But this will mean that in some way they start each session afresh, needing to re-establish a relationship, before any other work can be done.  And of course, they’ll lose the capacity to reflect on, and learn from what happens in the sessions between them.

But as this is all highlighted by the therapist, the client may find a different way to deal with the pain of absence, by putting it into words.  And as they do this, their ability to recall the past and to learn from it and the present will increase.

It’s slow work.  It’s counterintuitive.  Men, in particular, often find it difficult to see the advantage to experiencing loss/dependence/neediness. Every fiber of their being protests against it.  But as they understand the cost of their “pain free” existence — the absence of intimacy, not being in contact with others, being alone – they may come to make different conscious choices.  And discover that life can indeed be profoundly different when one can bear the pain of keeping in touch.

Good Advice or What do Therapists Know

 The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.

I believe that a scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy.

Richard Feynman

That was good advice. Good advice costs nothing, and it’s worth the price.

Alan Sherman

I’m going to try to explain why I try to avoid giving advice. And to do this, I will need to start what may be a blog long meditation on what a therapist truly knows, and what he doesn’t.

First let me be clear about a number of things:

  1. I don’t avoid giving advice because I’d be dispensing my services for free.
  2. I’m not afraid of being sued.
  3. I enjoy giving advice as much as the next person.

In a nutshell, the problem for me is that people think my advice would be “expert advice,” that I somehow, by virtue of my profession, know “more” about people and relationships than other people.

(This is, of course a belief shared by many psychotherapists, psychiatrists and psychologists.)

Here, I’m going to try to explain why the general public, and psychotherapists, are wrong in this shared belief.

To do so, I’ll have to confront the thorny issue of what it is that psychotherapists know, or are good at.  (Because I do believe, and of course perhaps I must, that psychotherapists do have something to offer, are good at something.)

The analytic hour is a very unusual construction.  Two people, in a room, both attending to the words and actions of one of them for 50 minutes.  In a psychotherapeutic relationship, these hours occur regularly, at least once a week, often 3 to 5 times a week.  Inevitably, as a result of this very special and unusual situation, a relationship develops, one which dispenses with much of the ordinary stuff of conversation.

Through their training, therapists learn the idiosyncrasies of this very special situation.  This learning occurs both from their training analysis (psychotherapists usually undergo a long therapy themselves) and from their teachers and supervisors.  The theory they learn (Freud, Bion, Klein, Lacan, etc.) is mainly written by therapists who have spent most of their lives practicing, and who have gained most of their understanding from reflecting on what happens in the analytic hour. It helps give the trainee therapists a language and frameworks within which to understand the phenomena that occur between them and their clients.

(Of course psychoanalytic theorists do not just draw from their experience in the consulting room — they bring ideas from many other disciplines to shape and illuminate their thought.)

So far, so uncontroversial.

Often, the theory is written as though it will help create an understanding of everyone, or as it’s frequently conceived, the human mind.  So, though based on the practice of sitting in a room with someone for an hour (with particular constraints on the therapist, and a very specific take on how what happens should be understood), the knowledge is generalized to all of humanity.  Stages of development, growth, aspects of mind, etc.

This is one reason why psychotherapists are prone to mistake themselves as experts on the human mind, human behaviour, even human being.  The theory they study lends itself to this confusion.

But I don’t believe this is the crucial reason that psychotherapists so often end up “fooling themselves.”  That is to do with another peculiarity of the therapeutic situation. The way in which clients come to regard their therapists as wise, intelligent, exceptional human beings.

Some of this is transference, of course.  (That is, clients project onto therapist the wise, emotionally intelligent parents/mentor/holy man they wish they’d had in their lives.)

And some of it is because in this very particular situation, in which:

  1. they are constrained not to speak of themselves,
  2. all their attention is focused on the other (except as their own responses might illuminate the actions, unconscious or otherwise, of the client)
  3. they have the space and time to be thoughtful, to think before they speak, and
  4. their training and the contractual relationship with the client means they are not relying on the client to satisfy their own needs,

a therapist can be thoughtful, wise and emotionally intelligent.

In other words, in the analytic hour, a therapist can be a true mentor, not because they give advice – therapists are warned against this – but because they help their clients articulate their difficulties, their desires and their goals.

The way Lacan puts it is that the therapist is in the position “of the one supposed to know.”  That is, for the purposes of the analysis, a therapist allows him/herself to stand in the place of the wise/intelligent/holy other, a focus for projection.

The trouble with this position (and this problem is not unique to therapy) is that someone standing in it, can begin to believe they are indeed wise/intelligent/holy, that they truly understand the human mind and human behaviour, rather than, as I would argue, at best, they have a profound understanding of a very particular human situation, the analytic hour.

In the Meno, Socrates talks about the knowledge of virtue, and how, you would expect that if someone truly understood virtue, was truly wise, they would be able to pass it on to their children, or teach it. He concludes that no one truly understands virtue, because even those who are virtuous or wise, have children who are most certainly not.

I believe the same argument applies to therapists. If they did truly understand themselves and others in the way they sometimes imagine, you would expect their relationships with those with whom they are intimate (partners and children) and colleagues would be relatively straightforward, perhaps even virtuous.

This is clearly not the case.  As a field, psychoanalytic organizations are as prone to schism, bullying, arrogance, envy, contempt for colleagues, disregard of inconvenient truths, as any other group of people.  (There is, of course, also generosity, sympathy, respect for true learning and understanding, etc.) Neither is it obvious that the children of psychotherapists are better adjusted than those of say plumbers or policeman.

To return to the question of advice, I would therefore say that outside the area of their expertise, the consulting room, a therapist is in the same position as a scientist looking at non-scientific problems – just as dumb as anyone else.

I know this.  And while I believe I’m competent, even in my more fanciful moments, gifted, in the practice inside my consulting room, I have no illusions about my “expert knowledge” outside it.

That’s why I don’t like to give advice, especially if it is understood to be “expert.” But if you have a problem with Microsoft Word, well, ask away!

It Ain’t Necessarily So

Today I promised to begin to answer my question, “why a blog?”

I’ll start by addressing why I don’t feel (too) restrained by the reasons therapist don’t generally blog.  Let me start with

1.  You can’t talk about yourself.

and

3.  Your clients will probably end up reading your blog.

All psychoanalytic therapists are cautioned in their training not to reveal personal details,  to maintain themselves as a blank screen for the patient’s projections. But as many people (including analysts) have pointed out, the whole idea of a therapist as a blank screen is a bit of a myth.  You reveal all sorts about yourself in the way you dress, the words you use, your accent, what you pick up on and what you don’t (one of Ralph Greenson’s patients famously commented that Greenson only interpreted if he said something pro Republican, never pro Democrat), if something needs explaining to you (the latest play at the National, the most recent Iron Man blockbuster) and what doesn’t.

“Ahhh.. “ but a true psychoanalyst will say, “but none of that is personal details.” Which is nonsense, of course.

But for the moment, let’s accept it as fact. What about personal, personal details.  Like if you’re married, have children, who your parents were, etc.

By complete accident, I now have something to say about this.  Sitting comfortably?  This is a bit of a long (and personal) story.

Six years ago, I had a children’s book published by Orion Children’s Books. (Boobela and Worm, to save you looking it up on Amazon. The series is now mostly out of print.) The Orion publicist asked me for a blurb for publicity purposes.  I duly supplied it.  I didn’t know that Amazon has a direct feed from the Orion database.  The following appeared, almost immediately, on Amazon:

 “Joe Friedman was born in Chicago to deaf parents. He has written stories since he was seven and sold his first play at 13. He currently lives in north London and divides his time between writing and working as a psychotherapist. Boobela and Worm is his first book for children.”

The first I knew about this was when a patient said, “I didn’t know your parents were deaf…”

“Oh my god!!”  I thought, panicked. “How will this affect their transference?”

The patient later confessed that they’d googled me, and found this information in Amazon.  As soon as they were out of the room, I was on the phone to Orion to get them to undo the Amazon listing.  I wasn’t successful. It seems once something is out there on the internet, it’s there for good.  This description had already popped up on numerous book-related websites.

After a while, when I got used to the idea that there was all sorts of “personal details” out there I had no control of, I put up my own website to publicize my series of books (www.boobela.com).  As my target audience was children, I put up a photo of me riding a bike as a child, photos of my young daughter, and a cute (unposed) picture of our golden retriever sleeping with our bengal cat.

Those patients who googled me found the website. But it didn’t seem to affect them badly. Rather, it seemed to humanize me in their eyes.  It made them think I knew what I was talking about, and what they were talking about.

In fact, I recently had a patient come to me who said the reason they’d chosen to see me was that I was the only therapist they’d found who had a photo of themselves smiling!

(I know this probably says more about my profession than myself.)

All the above won’t make the case to a proper psychoanalyst.  Their objection to a client’s knowing these humanizing personal details would be that it would affect the patient’s negative transference – their ability to project their negative emotions towards past significant figures onto you the therapist.  This would deny the patient the important therapeutic experience of hating/loathing/despising you, and having you withstand this and help them understand it (unlike these significant others in their pasts, who reacted badly to being hated/loathed/despised).

I happen to agree with this, that if knowing that my parents were deaf (for example) would inhibit a patient from expressing hatred towards me, it would be a significant loss.  (Although I must say that my first supervisor, R.D. Laing, thought this was nonsense.  He said once that he thought a mild positive regard of the therapist was the best condition for the conduct of an analysis.)

But is it the case?  Would knowing humanizing personal details deprive your patients of the opportunity to hate you?  (It doesn’t seem to happen with teen age children…)

As it happens, I have some experience of this also.

I’m part of a charity called the Philadelphia Association.  It was originally founded by R.D. Laing and colleagues. One of its main aims was to provide asylum, or therapeutic communities, for people who were suffering emotional and mental distress.

These therapeutic communities involve a group of people in distress living together in an ordinary family household.  No staff live in, but a team of therapists (usually two) visit the house regularly.

I was one of the therapists involved with a long lasting PA community.  As I was there five times a week for meetings of an hour and a half, the residents inevitably came to know me pretty well.  In fact, as the house residents were considered part of the PA community at large, they were able to come to PA functions. There, they might meet my wife.

Of course, though the PA communities are therapeutic, they’re not psychoanalysis.  But it is still interesting to note that this setup, with residents knowing all kinds of details about my life, did not prevent negative transference.

In one notable instance, a resident, following a perhaps ill-advised interpretation on my part, hardly spoke to me for many months afterwards.  Every time I saw her (which was regularly) she glared at me with naked hate in her eyes.  Often, it seemed it was more than she could bear to look in my direction. I (and the other house therapists) tried to get her to think about what was going on between us, but for a long time, she preferred to hate me.

After roughly two years, the storm of negative transference passed. We’d both weathered it. Afterwards, I believe we came to understand what it signified.  The resident went on to leave the community, to work and to form a very successful relationship.  She’s still keeps in touch.

I recognize that one instance doesn’t disprove the theory, but at least I can argue that knowing some details about me won’t be harmful to my clients.  (In saying this, I am in no way justifying those therapists who burden clients with personal details – about their divorces, traumas from their childhood, etc. — during sessions.)  Rather, I am just questioning the received wisdom that therapy only works if a therapist is a “blank screen.”

Why I Shouldn’t Blog

There aren’t many blogs by psychotherapists.  (That’s why an obvious blog title like thetalkingtherapist is still available.)

Let me list a number of reasons why:

  1. You can’t talk about yourself.
  2. You can’t talk about your clients (i.e., your “work”)
  3. Your clients will probably end up reading your blog, so you have to write with that in mind.
  4. Potential clients might read your blog.
  5. Other therapists – perhaps the most schismatic and judgemental community in the world when not seeing clients – will read your blog.
  6. You don’t want to end up giving free advice.  (As Alan Sherman once sang,   “Good advice costs nothing and it’s worth the price…”)

In other words, it’s a barrel of worms.

If that isn’t enough, I’ll give you an example of something that makes sense to say in one context, but not in a blog.

“Everyone knows you need to be crazy to be a psychotherapist.  No sane person wants to spend hours, days and years with people who are suffering, in pain and often have family histories that make you despair of humanity.”

I often say this to people in supervision or  trainee therapists.

But it sounds different in a blog.

Am I having a joke at clients’ expense? (Not on.) Or at my own? (Allowable.)

Given all this, why am I here?

I’ll begin to answer in my next posting.

(But believe me, I’m not discounting the above – you have to be crazy to be a psychotherapist – as a reason.)