In Treatment, final Thoughts

Emmy for In Treatment

Congratulations to Dianne Wiest for her Emmy for her portrayal of Gina. Well- deserved. I was sorry that Gabriel Byrne did not also win. Now to wait for the next season, coming in 2009.

In Treatment -- Further thoughts

Did you find it interesting that Paul was not  "successful "with all of his patients? This is one of the things I appreciate about In Treatment.  So I thought it might be worthwhile to talk a bit about what constitutes success or failure in therapy, because it is not so easily determined as one might think.

Take, for example, Jake and Amy. Several people have written in the comments that they feel the work here failed because they apparently end in divorce. But is this failure? Before looking at the outcome, we have to think about what we look for as success in treatment. Does it mean a marriage saved Or does it mean that the parties are able to arrive at a choice that they believe works best for them? And it also depends on who one thinks the patient is. If the patient is the marriage, then it can be argued that it is the task of the therapist to support and work for it, for the improvement and survival of the marriage. But if it is the two people, then a successful outcome might well be very different.

In Treatment -- Afterthoughts on Paul & Counter-transference

Laura is not the only person in her therapy; Paul is part of it also. Therapy is a relationship, an immersion of two people in the figurative bath of therapy.

For psychotherapy to be effective a close rapport is needed, so close that the doctor cannot shut his eyes to the heights and depths of human suffering. The rapport consists, after all, in a constant comparison and mutual comprehension, in the dialectical confrontation of two opposing psychic realities. If for some reason these mutual impressions do not impinge on each other, the psychotherapeutic process remains ineffective, and no change is produced. Unless both doctor and patient become a problem to each other, no solution is found. (Jung, Memories dreams Reflections,  p. 143)

So, Paul needs to be able to be open to what Laura tells him, to feel what she is feeling and become able to metabolize it in such a way that he can help her to understand herself and be more conscious of her life.

But, and this is crucial, Jung also says, The patient's treatment begins with the doctor, so to speak. Only if the doctor knows how to cope with himself and his own problems will he be able to teach the patient to do the same. (Jung, Memories Dreams Reflections, p. 132)

In Treatment -- Afterthoughts on Laura & transference

There have been many comments and questions about the relationship between Paul and Laura in the comments to those episodes. So I want to write for a bit about transference/countertransference and look at this from a Jungian perspective. This will probably take a couple of days so get a cup of tea and let's see if we can unravel this knot a bit.

I think it helps to start with the understanding that in therapy, in the therapist's office, a special space is created. A space which resembles in some ways the space of friendship, or of intimate partners. It is quiet. Optimally there are no interruptions, no knocks on the door, no insistent ringing of the telephone. So that each session has the quality of time out of time to it. The ordinary rules of social interaction are not in play. The fundamental rule is to say whatever comes to mind, something we probably rarely if ever do in other relationships. The patient is free to speak whatever feelings or thoughts she has and the therapist has no expectation of reciprocity. It is time that belongs to the patient, is for and about her in a way that most of us simply do not experience elsewhere. That no subject is ruled out, no topic taboo, an unusual degree of intimacy develops. I can say anything, feel anything and all I have to do is put it into words.

In Treatment -- Afterthoughts

Tomorrow I will start writing some afterthoughts on the series. For today, a couple of articles worth reading:

1. Lisa Schwarzbaum writes in Entertainment Weekly about the benefits of watching the show and concludes:

" We're erratic, contradictory, each of us an individual bundle of urges, compulsions, and rationalizations, dressed in shoes. I don't count on the good shrinks of HBO to make sense of me and you and everyone we know, but I rely on them to confirm that I'm okay, you're okay."

Nicely put, Lisa.

2. And in today's New York Times, a nice piece on marriage and marital therapy, which concludes --

"Like dentists, marriage counselors often complain that couples come in too late to save the relationship. “Frequently, they’re actually going to counseling to figure out how to break up,” Dr. Smith said. Or as Barbara Thomas — an artist in New York who with her ex-husband, the writer Michael M. Thomas, saw a counselor for years — put it, “Counseling doesn’t work when it’s putting glue on a big shattered thing.”


© Cheryl Fuller, 2018. All  rights reserved.