Out of Treatment, Episode 1

I’ve never conducted therapy in good faith. I reached this realization yesterday after going off on a Dunkin’ Doughnuts employee who kept badgering me about Strawberry cream cheese. I will discuss this incident in another post. Suffice it to say, I felt guilty and wanted to discuss my horrified reaction to flavored cream cheese with a professional, but I have never found a therapist who suits me. In this post, I would like to discuss the various reasons why I have fired my therapists.

It all began 9 years ago, at the Student Health Clinic. I was dating someone and wanted us to both get blood tests so that we could start the relationship with zero doubts (hah! so naive…). Anyway, the doctor came in and asked why I wanted a blood test. I told him why and he said he’d like his intern to conduct an interview with me for practice (this was always a very strange thing when I was in graduate school. Asking to be tested for STDs led to a lot of extra nonsense and concerned emoting on the part of the health-care staff, unlike where I went to college and getting tested was just something everyone did.) The doctor left the room so that the intern, a young, nervous, Asian woman, could begin her inquisition. Asians are outnumbered in the Mid-West, and always have an air of victimhood about them here. But this lady radiated her sense of intimidation, covering it up with rigid medical formality. I didn’t really appreciate the third degree, so when she asked how many sexual partners I’d had in the past year, I sarcastically answered “500, mostly men.” She was shaken, and it amused me that she wrote it down. I was obviously lying, but she continued. “Were these all people you knew?” “Not really, but I find that sex is a good way to get to know people. Don’t you?” She ignored my question and continued on with her list.

When the doctor came back in, she whispered to him that I’d slept with 500 people in the past year. He ate it up! “Promiscuous sex is normal in the homosexual population,” he loudly proclaimed to us. The intern wrote that down. I found the way he spoke about me as a member of a “population” to be kind of thrilling, even if technically offensive. He turned to me and said that they would “go ahead” with my blood test, but felt that the number of anonymous sexual encounters I’d had was a little high. I nodded as if I were taking this seriously. He told me that he’s a psychiatrist as well as an MD and that he’d like to start seeing me as a patient. He felt that I should start off with a small dosage of lithium, and wrote me a prescription.

This is exactly what I didn’t want! Lithium. For promiscuity!All my friends were on adderall and other ADHD meds for their orals. Lithium would slow me down, preventing me from studying. But the seed was planted. Once I had seen how easy it was to get meds, I figured I’d follow the pack and adjust my symptoms for the next shrink.

Therapist 1:

At my first appointment at the student clinic where I would arrange to see a different psychiatrist altogether, I was subject to another laundry list of questions. Asked how often I drank alcohol, I said, “I usually meet my friends at the campus pub twice a week. I don’t really drink more than two beers at a time. I didn’t drink much in high school or college, so I never developed a high tolerance for alcohol.”

“I see, ” she said. “We will have to address alcoholism, then.”
“I don’t really consider myself an alcoholic.”
“You said you drink but don’t have a tolerance.”
“I said that I drink four beers a week. Are you a teetotaler?”
She didn’t answer nor did she seem to believe me. I sensed that this was a ludicrous person; we wouldn’t work out together, and I’d never get the Ritalin I required to pass my exams. I asked for a referral.

Therapist 2:

We had two decent sessions in which I complained that “I can’t sit still” and “can’t concentrate.” I mixed things up by discussing actual problems, like my three serious pet peeves

1) Baristas who chit-chat and ask me to spell my name so that they can write it on a cup.
2) Romanticists.
3) People who hail cabs in cross-walks, interfering with my getting across the street.

All three of those types cause me unreasonable anger, and I thought since I was in therapy I might as well address these issues.

Her professional curiosity was piqued by my hatred of Romanticists (she told me that the Department of English sent the clinic more frustrated students than any other department). I explained that in my undergrad and graduate career, I had taken three classes in Romanticism. Two of the three professors had traumatized me. The third, I wanted to have sexual relations with even though he wasn’t super-attractive, and could be described as ‘short.’ “I never want to have sex with other academics, so this was just bizarre!” He just had this distracting “aura.” She wanted to know what bothered me about Romanticism. “They’re constantly blabbing about lakes, water, ghosts, Wordsworth, and Caleb Williams. It’s so goddamn boring. I can’t stand it. Or they’re endlessly spouting gibberish about Spinoza and God.”

“You have a problem with… Spinoza?”
“Spinoza and Leibnez. Yes.”
“What about God? Are you an atheist? A Muslim?”
“I’m apagnostic.”
“What does that mean?”
“It means I’m too apathetic to even wonder whether or not God exists. It’s a ‘philosophic question’ that doesn’t interest me in the least.”
“Okay.”

I told her that I was so fed-up with people talking about Spinoza that when a famous critic, Fredric Jameson, had come to the school and given a lecture on Modernity, he pontificated wildly before finally starting in on ‘Spinoza and God.’

“I couldn’t bear it anymore. Finally, I stood up, stuck my tongue out at him and left. I’m a little ashamed I did that. It was very immature. Also, it was a packed house; people were sitting in the aisle. On the way out, I accidentally stepped on the Chair of the German Department’s hand.”

“How do you feel about stepping on his hand?”
“I think he shouldn’t have been sitting on the floor, sticking his hand out in the aisle. That part isn’t very important.”
“Do you have a problem with German Professors?”
“No. Spinoza wasn’t German. I like German literature.”
“So the two Romanticists you disliked taught Spinoza?”
“No, interestingly, the one I was attracted to used to blather on about him. It was this line about Spinoza being a pre-Marxist. I didn’t really care for that school of thought, but whenever he would start talking about Spinoza, he would radiate this energy that would totally turn me on. The same thing happened whenever he would talk about William Blake’s cartoons.”
“And when Fredric Jameson spoke about Spinoza, you didn’t feel the same thing? “
“No. Jameson was actually my prof’s dissertation adviser. But he doesn’t turn me on. The opposite. He looks like Porky Pig with muttonchops. He was nauseating me. He’s let his fame turn him into a pig.”
“He’s famous?”
“Yes, very much so. He’s not stupid. To become as famous as Fredric Jameson, you have to have said one or two smart things. Fred has said one. But the guy who introduced him was practically fellating Jameson. I was immature. I stuck my tongue out at him.”
“For being the opposite of the professor who turned you on… ?”
“He’s disgusting.”

Eventually, in the third session, we fought. I came in and she had a copy of Black Sun by Julia Kristeva on her desk. I asked, “Why are you reading that?”

“A patient recommended it. It’s very interesting!”
“Is it?”
“Yes. Do you know it?”
“Yes. I know Kristeva’s oeuvre all too well. Could you please put it away?”
“It’s my desk.”
I sighed – “I would prefer it if you took that book off your desk while we’re in session.”
“It’s my desk. Why do you want to control what’s on my desk? It’s personal property.”
Pissed off laughter from me – “Having Black Sun on your desk in a therapy session is akin to shouting ‘Fire’ in a crowded theater. It’s not ‘your’ desk.”
“It is my desk.”
“The desk belongs to ‘the community.'”
“Would you like to talk about your control issue?”
“You’re the one with the ‘control’ issue.”

We bickered for about twenty minutes.

She refused to remove the offending book, so I asked her for a referral to someone else. I knew I’d never get any speed from someone who thought Black Sun was ‘interesting.’

Therapists 3 & 4 coming soon in Out of Treatment, Episode Deuce.

What happens when darknessatnoon can no longer control the conversation?! Find out if darknessatnoon ever got the speed he wanted! darknessatnoon goes downtown, eschewing campus shrinks! Discover what happens when a therapist shares personal information while physically resembling a well-known fat bear of a comic book writer. The results are not pretty but they will be thrilling!

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5 Responses to “Out of Treatment, Episode 1”

  1. Zed Says:

    I once wrote a post like this, about all the different ways in which my therapists have sucked. I currently have a referral that I can use for one of two therapists. I tried to research them online and was reminded again that the problem with the internet is TMI. I won’t get into details, but I will say that I found out which YahooGroups each belongs to.

  2. darknessatnoon Says:

    ACK!Thats part deuce! Never learn anything personal about them!

  3. Luches Says:

    Dear darkness,You forgot that this too is a species or instance of ufuckery!Anyway, two things that classic psychoanalytic theory claims are that you can only lie in therapy (e.g. there’s an enigma that’s blocking your flourishing) AND that the reason you need to pay is so that you don’t feel that you owe your shrink anything for having blathered on lyingly in front of her/him. You don’t seem to have been overbound by feelings of obligation to your shrinks.Once someone told me that the point of the talking cure is to tell your story until it crumbles; you tell your lie until it crumbles and then you’re just there with yourself in the room and, if you’re lucky, you then accept life with your ridiculous failed defenses as a kind of comedy. (Slapstick, alas.)And speaking of failed defenses, all day today and tomorrow the Winter Soldier hearings are streaming online at http://ivaw.org/and the stories about the war have been also hard to be in the room with. If only we could fire our President. I’m inspired by this great post to write something on my blog too, about therapy and the fear of transference with the wrong object.

  4. Zed Says:

    One thing I’ve learned from my clients is that the important question isn’t whether someone is lying, but why they are lying.

  5. Aurthur Says:

    OMG, thank the gods above for free clinics in CHicago. Therapy for nothing? Annd they are halfway decent? Gotta love it!!! On a personal note, I find that I was more receptive when a therapist shared intimate knowledge with me, rather than shy away from him. Kinda makes me an all-american zombie, huh?

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