Week 7: Frances

Paul is alone in his office obviously waiting restlessly. He calls Sunil. Leaves a message.  Sunil is late. Then he leaves a message for Julia. He asks her to have him call. 


Frances is with Paul -- she asks if he thinks she is doing the wrong thing. He asks why she judges everything. He says she wants others to confirm her own negative view of herself or validate her. He says his job is to help her discover what she thinks of herself and if she doesn’t like that, change it. She asks what he thinks of what she did. He says what she did was reasonable. Frances tells him Izzy says she was wrong and should have kept Tricia there at home and let her die there. Paul says that sounds simple in theory. Tricia wanted to die at home. Then Sunday Frances came for the night. She says they had a pretty good night. Tricia seemed almost stronger and she was asking about her father. Paul asks what she told her. She says he has faded for her too but she told her of a memory from when Tricia was a baby.

The rest of the night, she says, was a blur. She collapsed and then Frances called the paramedics after giving her more morphine and the nurse did not answer. And she was off to the hospital. Paul tells Frances it was beyond her control. Izzy accused her of doing what she wanted not what Tricia wanted. Paul asks how Patricia is. She says she is sedated and on a ventilator. She is in and out of consciousness. She won’t be going home again. Frances feels she screwed up. Paul says he doesn’t think so , that she did the best she could. 

Frances gets out Tricia’s living will. It says Frances has power to make medical decisions. Paul says he isn’t surprised at that choice. Frances says that this is why Izzy is so furious, because she was entrusted with the choice. Frances isn’t sure what Tricia said, if she asked for help or not. Paul asks what comes next. Frances says they have to decide about taking her off the ventilator. She wonders why Tricia chose her, because she is not up to it. Paul asks who she should have chosen. Izzy opposes removing the ventilator because she could recover. Izzy said Frances has always hated Tricia and wants her to die. Paul says Izzy is a teenager and angry and Frances has to remember this. 

Paul says it is normal when this is over to feel a sense of relief. Paul asks what the next decision is -- Frances says a feeding tube which Izzy wants. Frances says she cannot not feed her. Paul says Tricia believed she was strong enough to do this. She trusts her to make the right choices. What if Izzy is right, Frances asks. Paul asks what Tricia would want if she were sitting right there? What does the will say about extraordinary measures? Paul says it is clear. Frances protests that if she pulls the plug there is no chance for her to die at home. Paul says that it is a fantasy that she can give her sister that. What Tricia really wants is for her wishes to be followed. Frances says what will I do when she is not here? No one who knew me back then is still here. She says Tricia grounds her, she believes in her. Paul says she won’t be completely alone, she has Izzy who needs her when Patricia dies, that relationship can be repaired, it will take time but can be done. She has her work and her career. Paul says he read her reviews and that they were good. 

Frances reminds Paul that she had asked him last week if it is true that narcissists cannot benefit from therapy. Then she asks Paul if he will be there for her. She notices his hesitance. He asks if choosing him was the right thing, for the right reason. She says she wants to keep that connection. Paul asks what she is going to do. She says she will tell him next week. At the door she asks if he was in love with Patricia. He says he cared about her a great deal.  She leaves.


Paul seemed distracted throughout, as likely he was because of Sunil. When a patient a therapist has cause to be concerned about simply does not show up, therapists become anxious. Of course. And we see Paul is exactly that. That Julia and Arun did not return his calls is puzzling, because even if they are angry with him, it would be common courtesy to let him know what happened. The way they failed to respond seems off to me and not consistent with the way we have seen Julia.

Anyway, Sunil is a no-show and we see Paul with Frances and he does seem distracted. The whole session felt flat, as if they just didn’t know where to go given it is the last one for this patient/character. The session was fine as supportive therapy for Frances, which she no doubt needs right now as she navigates her sister’s death and her daughter’s rage. But it seems a big departure from last week when Paul was very much still in the game with her as a therapist. We can only hope that Paul is able to get back on track with Frances in the weeks to come in their universe, where we know she plans to continue to see him, though we will not be privy to their work. I was disappointed the session was short -- shades of Lacan, I guess as we got just about 20 minutes not our full time.

© Cheryl Fuller, 2018. All  rights reserved.