In Treatment -- Jake & Amy, week 6

Did you see Gabriel Byrne on Charlie Rose last night?

We begin this week as Amy is outside the office talking on her cell phone. Paul comes out and she says she is a little early. Paul asks if she can wait a few minutes and goes back inside.

Then we seeAmy is alone. She gets up to close the curtain. Then fluffs the pillow on the couch. Paul asks how she is and she says good. She says she rushed to get there. She says Jake is not coming. She tells Paul that they are together, that everything is fine and they are seemingly in love.

Amy says she was miffed that Paul asked her to wait outside and wonders if he would let another patient, someone he likes more, come in early. She says she knows she and Jake are not easy as patients. Paul asks how she would describe herself. She says maybe she would like for him to be different -- Harrison Ford. Paul asks how he would behave if she arrived early for a session. Amy says he wouldn't make her wait outside like a naughty schoolgirl. And she acts a bit flirty.

Paul asks what has happened since last week. She says everything is fine. Paul asks why she said they were seemingly in love. Amy says Jake is meeting with someone who might commission some music and sent her alone because talking does her good. She says he is so sweet, but she sounds like she does not believe him. Paul asks if sweet is not good and she replies that sweet is fattening. Paul asks if this is worse than whispering that he was going to kill her. And she says much worse. She says even when they were having trouble together they had angry sex, that no matter what they had that. She blames Paul for that being replaced with sweetness. She says maybe she deserves being  knocked around a bit.

Amy asks if Paul likes her necklace and tells him that it was a gift from Ben, her boss. She tells Paul that Ben is picking her up after her session and they are not going back to the office. She alludes to an affair. Paul asks why she doesn't say it, does she want him to stop it. She says it can't be stopped. That no one can stop it, that it is a ticking time bomb. He asks what set it off and she says the lousy sex, which she blames on therapy and Paul. She wonders why she can't stop it. He asks her if she likes Ben. 

Paul goes back to the previous week and Amy saying se was overweight as a child. She says she was fat, not overweight, that her sister was gorgeous. She says that right after her father died she decided to stop eating and the next thing she knew she was 45 pounds lighter. She describes ow much she liked the control over her eating she had, that it made her feel high.

She described her father as a lovely man. And when asked about her mother, she replies that her mother is dead. She says her mother became like the evil stepmother and her sister like the evil stepsister. She grows silent after telling an incident about a dress. Paul asks if she had talked with her father about it or could she have talked with her mother. She says no and that her mother would say she was making it up.

She tells of getting even with her sister by meeting a boy she had gone out with some time before and having sex with him. Paul says she evened her account in bed and now she is evening the account with Jake in the same way. She says her father was kind and would come into their room at night and kiss them on the eyes. She says he would tell her how he loved her and hold his face in his hands. Paul points out that when Jake is tender she finds him disgusting. Does she think that tenderness is scary because she is afraid they will leave her, die on her. So she provokes Jake and gets him to treat her badly.

She says Ben will be there any moment. What should she do? Paul asks if she really wants him to tell her it's okay to have sex with her boss.  Paul says he thinks it would be a really big mistake. Then she asks him to tell Jake she can't help it because she is fucked up. Paul asks if she thinks that sex with Ben will go unpunished? Isn't she maybe starting the punishment herself. She says Jake's tenderness is not love, it's neediness, weakness. Paul says she needs to look at it more closely. Amy says she feels it has happened already. Paul says it hasn't, that nothing happens without her. She says she has to go to the bathroom.

She gets her phone and calls Jake. She leaves a message that she just wanted to hear his voice. The hour ends with her sitting in the bathroom.


I underestimated the power of conflict to hold a couple together because I would not have guessed that Jake and Amy would be back together. But together is perhaps not the right word here as nothing has been dealt with at all. Jake has done a 180 and become sweet, which I suspect Amy may be right in seeing as arising from his neediness. And Amy  can't feel attraction to a man who treats her well or with tenderness. We get some tantalizing insight into her as she talks about how she sees herself as having been Cinderella at the hands of her mother and sister. But unlike Cinderella, she does not seem to feel she got the prince, though we don't know much about her first husband or what he was like. Did he become soft and tender too, driving her into Jake's arms? 

And we detect in Amy, as in Sophie, control over chaos through restricted eating. Sweet makes you fat, she tells Paul and I wonder if she is also saying that if she accepts Jake in his new attitude, she will become as she used to be, fat and undesirable? 

And what about Jake, who believes that therapy will cause his divorce? He sends Amy to see Paul because he says talking helps her, but he doesn't come. Because maybe if he came, the wound would be opened again and the fragile peace broken?

I believe more strongly than ever that each of these people should be in individual therapy probably more than in marital therapy. The problems in the marriage reflect the problems in each of them. Amy's history with men, with her mother and father, with her feelings about herself and her body and her use of sex to get even with those who have hurt her. Jake's issues are also present with his dependence on Amy, his sense of himself, his difficulty succeeding.


© Cheryl Fuller, 2007. All  rights reserved.