Ask a Psychiatrist and Get Answers to Mental Health Questions ASAP
There are many theories as to why people dream what they dream. No one is really sure yet though what the answer might be. Researchers continue to try to understand what dreams mean. However psychologically, it helps to talk about the dreams by looking at the details and associating them with the feeling that goes with it. That is the best way to understand why you dream what you dream.
If you are dreaming that you desire the attack, that does not mean you wanted it in reality. Dreams are about working through thoughts and feelings we normally would not address in our daily lives. We feel things throughout the day in response to what happens to us and around us. As we dream, our mind try to work out these feelings and cope with solutions to problems we have. If you are feeling that you deserve or wanted what happened to you in the attack, your mind is going to take that and try to work it through. It does not mean that you actually believe you wanted the attack, it just means that you have thought about it and do not know how to work the feeling through yet so your mind is trying to do it through your dreams.
Dreaming about the trauma you suffered is normal. And the feelings associated with it are also normal. When you feel upset about it, you may dream that you are upset. When you have doubts, this will enter your dreams as well. Traumas are overwhelming situations that the mind is trying to cope with what happened and has no resources to do so. So it just does the best it can and replays the details.
By talking to L about your dream, she may be able to help walk you through and associate your feelings with the dreams. The idea is to associate the feelings with the dream events so you can work the details through.
I don' twant to tell L. What do I say? Hey, by the way, I'm now having dreams where I enjoy it? Then she'll ask me all sorts of questions about specifically what was I enjoying, etc. I don't think I would be able to tell her even if I wanted to.
All I can say at this point is things are so much worse then before I started therapy. I wish I had not started. I was fine, just having nightmares, and not even always. Now I can't sleep, I'm still having nightmares, I think about it during the day, too, I'm becoming fixated on it, I am upset all the time, I'm seeing a psychologist, psychiatrist and sleep doctor, and I'm on 5 different medications (so I can't imagine how I'd feel without them). I am not a negative person, but I now feel negative all the time. I want to undo all of this.
I know this is hard. You are in the midst of dealing with a horrific event that occurred to you. No one wants to have to deal with something like this.
Telling L about your nightmare and your feeling in the dream that you desired the attack is hard. I think what you might be reacting to is the overwhelming nature of having to deal with what you feel. And it is overwhelming. It may feel almost too much to handle. That is normal to feel. It can make you feel frightened, angry, scared, sad and anxious. Any person who went through a trauma feels this way.
Feeling worse now than when you started therapy is also normal. You are working through your feelings now when you were not before. But although suppressing your feelings in the past may have made you feel you were better, in reality you were not. It was taking great energy to keep those feelings and thoughts out of your conscious mind. The nightmares started because they were telling you that this was not working. Somehow your mind was going to push these feelings to the surface and they did, through nightmares that bothered you enough to get you to seek help.
How you feel now is difficult but it will pass. You are just now exploring the feelings about the attack. It will take time to look at all of it and understand it. Once you do that, you will begin to work through them and put the pieces all back together again. But this time, you will feel better and have no nightmares because you will have come to terms with the attack and it will no longer affect you as it has.
What was it about what your therapist said in her points about your dream that you didn't agree with?
What makes you feel she thinks you are too dependent or that you are stuck?
Thanks for the clarifications.
What your therapist said is right. Those are all good interpretations of your dreams. The concern here is that you are feeling ashamed about what she said. You are seeing something in what she said that is bringing out a feeling you have from the attack. There seems to be a focus for you on being responsible for how you reacted during the attack, a need for you to feel this was somehow your fault, which is far from the truth.
L's disappointment about the lack of progress probably has nothing to do with you. As with any good therapist, she feels it is her responsibility to help you. And when she does not and you continue to suffer with the dreams, she may feel to blame. I would call her and talk to her about it if you feel you cannot wait until you see her again. It would help you feel better about it.
It is very common for people to feel dependent on their therapist during the time they are working through their issues. When you think about it, you are working with someone who most likely has the answers you want. You are sharing deep emotional traumas, thoughts and dreams that you are not sharing with other people. And this person is there for you, totally focused on you who has also sworn to hold what you say in confidence. They work with you to find solutions and ways to help you feel better. They are in essence the only person you can count on right now to be there for you when you feel most vulnerable. And that is ok. Right now you are vulnerable. But there will come a time that you no longer feel that way and you will not need her anymore. It may not be now, but you will know when you are ready.
I'm not sure about sharing how you feel with P, either. I don't want to go against what your therapist said because she gets to see you face to face and work more closely with you than I do, but it may warrant some further discussion if you are feeling that uncomfortable with talking to P. Be sure your hesitation about it is not just your unwillingness to trust or that you feel you don't want to share with anyone ever (you have done that and got burned so it is a consideration). But besides those issues, waiting until you feel comfortable enough to share (and P has worked through her grief) sounds ok.
My hesitations about talking to P. are not an unwillingness to trust. I trust her more than anyone, and she knows everything, and has dealt with my nightmares, etc. I have shared some of what L. and I have worked on/discussed. But since her mom died and her dad got so sick, I do not want to bring her focus on what I am thinking/feeling/ working on from all those years ago. She is really suffering right now, and it would just be selfish. And I am concerned about her not dealing with her grief. She didn't really deal with her grief after her mom died, because she instantly went into the role of being fully responsible for her dad and his care. It is true that L. knows me well, but she doesn't know P. She is right about P.'s caretaking nature, but I don't think she sees how much P. has on her plate right now, emotionally.
I do understand about the dependency, and it makes sense. But it makes me feel weird to feel this dependent on anyone. I used to be super independent. I know it is probably a normal thing that happens in therapy -- but I've never experienced that before. Doesn't that dependence get to be too much for the therapist sometimes? And can't it get to a point where it is unhealthy?
I don't know why her comments about the dreams made me feel that way. I know I have some need to be responsible, but I just also feel responsible for certain things. They were my choices. But I also now see that a lot of it was not my choice, and those things were their choices, not mine. And I don't think it's fair for me to have to face the consequences of what I did and what they did, while they face no consequences at all. But L. said last night that maybe I am holding on to that guilt/responsibility because it gives me the illusion of having some control over the situation, and I think that's probably accurate, and I think you have said the same thing.
But her comments made me feel, in some way, that the fact that I sometimes have sexual feelings somehow sexualizes what happened, or if I may have sexual desires, it meant I must have desired that. I can't really explain it - or, really, figure it out - but does that make any sense? And I have felt before that if I were to have sex and enjoy it, although I kind of want to, it would somehow mean I enjoyed and wanted what happened. I know that's not rational, but I feel that way.
I also understand what you said about L.'s frustration about me not improving. But I am working really hard, and I do want to please her because I appreciate that she's helping me. I don't want her to give up and refer me to someone else. I won't go to someone else and explain the whole thing again and start over. I'm not willing to do that. Plus, I felt comfortable with her very early, and when I tried to get counseling before, I never felt comfortable, and therefore wouldn't share much and quit going after a few times.
Maybe I'll call L. today and just ask her if she feels I'm becoming too dependent. Should I tell her how her explanations of the dreams made me feel? I don't want to make her feel bad or not feel like she can say what she thinks. It's kind of funny, because she was making some comments when I was upset and ruminating on the whole bottle thing, and she would make a comment and then ask "is that okay that I said that?" I don't even remember what she said, but it was all fine. But she didn't ask the one time when what she said really upset me. :)
Dependency is something a therapist is trained to recognize in therapy. It can be part of the person's diagnosis, as in dependent personality disorder, or it can be a way someone learns to cope when they are working through their issues. But some dependency is normal but if it becomes unhealthy, the therapist can help you work through it. Therapists know to expect dependency and how to deal with the issue for themselves as well. It is part of our training to recognize our own issues and deal with them outside of therapy.
Taking responsibility for what happened in the attack is a way to control. It is also a way to cope with the shame too. But L's comment about your sexuality is correct. You were young when this happened and at the height of your sexual feelings. Instead of being allowed to explore relationships and sexuality to develop your own feelings about it, the perpetrators took that from you and exposed you to their deviant view of sexuality. Normally, you would have had sexual desires as a person but you never got to express them because of the trauma. But that does not mean they still are not there. You are mentally and emotionally healthy. So your sexuality is normal. But before you had a chance to explore it, it was interrupted by the attack. As you work through the trauma, it will be important for you to reconnect to your own sexuality and instead of the trauma being the center of your sexuality, you will be able to find your own.
You can let L know about how her interpretation made you feel, but you might want to do that in person. It's harder to resolve in a phone call and it may leave the issue unresolved if you talk about it over the phone.
Let me know how it goes with L if you contact her.Kate
Thanks. I called L., but a client was just walking in, so she'll call me back. I am glad, because I hadn't received your response yet and was going to bring up how her comments made me feel. But I agree -- I should do that in person.
By the way, I didn't have a nightmare last night, but I did have a dream that I was making out with this guy (who used to go to our church) pretty heavily, and in my dream, I thought "I don't know how this works -- he's probably expecting and wanting me to have sex with him" and then he said he had a condom, and I froze and told him I didn't want to have sex, and left. I don't know why I seem to recently have a preoccupation with sex. I guess maybe I didn't realize until I started therapy that not having sex through my 20's and 30's was abnormal. I just thought I probably didn't find the right person. And also, the fact that the mean one told me I would never have sex with anyone again. I don't want him to be right. And I am unsure, really, if I like guys or girls, which is a big concern for me, but L. thinks that is something I can figure out later, after we work through some of this stuff.
But the thinking about sex a lot makes me feel like I'm doing something wrong.
I'll let you know what Linda says.
It's good that you didn't have a nightmare last night, but the dream you did have is very telling. It is a good indication of where you are right now in your recovery. The fact that you are having sexual feelings that have nothing directly to do with the attack is very good. It's ok if you did not want to have sex in the dream. It shows that you may be ready for a relationship but you are not yet ready to feel vulnerable with a man, which is normal. It may also mean that you are worried about what normal sexual relations are like and how it might work between you and someone else.
Not having sex after the attack was ok. You had just gone through a severe trauma and you were physically hurt in the attack. Any association with the pain, mental or physical, would have caused you to run the other way to protect yourself. You needed time to heal but because the feelings you had about the attack were repressed, you didn't have the chance to work through them. Now that you are starting to heal, your feelings are beginning to work their way through the repression and surface again. It is also normal to feel unsure of your sexuality. You were severely hurt by two males. The thought of being with another male, even if it is of your own choosing, can cause you to experience a strong aversion to the thought. Once you work through your feelings, your preferences will become more clear to you.
Okay, so, before that happened, I had had sex with my boyfriend, who I dated in HS and for the first 1.5 years of college. We did it less than 10 times, when I was 18 and 19. He was 17-18. I never did it again until this happened. I have often wondered if this was kind of my "worldly consequence" of having sex outside of marriage. My parents didn't really care if we had sex or not, but I knew even then it was wrong. L. says no, and that one has nothing to do with the other. But she said because of our ages, it was "kid sex" and neither of us knew what we were doing, and it didn't feel good at all (to me), that is more the reason I don't understand normal sex and confuse it in my mind with what happened.
Your attack had nothing to do with having sex outside of marriage. Everyone makes mistakes like that when they are young. God does not come after you and punish you by allowing two men to attack you viciously. God loves you and wants the best for you. You are allowed to make mistakes in life and ask for forgiveness. Why else would Jesus have died?
I understand that you are looking for ways to make this your fault. It is a common survivor reaction to see what you might have done wrong to bring something so bad on yourself. You look for clues, see what you could have done differently and try to find a reason why you were chosen for the attack. The reason you do this is because being victimized makes you feel ashamed. Being attacked dehumanizes and humiliates. It exposes you to the violence and cruelty of the perpetrators. It does not make you like them, but it breaks through your trust and shows you another side that you were protected from before. It makes you feel things you never thought you'd have to feel. This brings shame and the need to self blame.
You have to relearn to love yourself. And one of the first steps to this is to realize that the attack was not about you, but about the perpetrators. You were chosen at random. Not for who you are, what you did in the past, or what you did before the attack. Nothing you did before, during or after it happened was your fault. This was totally about the two perpetrators. It's hard to overcome the need to blame yourself, I know. By taking one step at a time, you can get through it. Take some time to work on changing your thoughts about the attack and seeing yourself in a different light. If you are not already working on this with Linda, you and I can work it through together. Let me know what you think.
What do you mean exactly by working on it? I think I am workng on it with Linda, but I guess I'm not sure what you mean.
I don't know why, but stuff like you wrote in your last reply just makes me feel like crying. ???
I meant to work on changing your thoughts to positive ones about yourself. I figured you were working on this with Linda but I wanted to be sure. I don't want to confuse you by interfering with your therapy.
It's ok if you feel like crying. It may be that what I said touched a defense you have or that it triggered another feeling around the attack. Learning to love yourself and letting go of the self blame are important steps in your recovery. It may be that you are recognizing that feeling and letting it in.The important thing is for you to express your feelings as you experience them. Why you are upset may come to you later or we can talk about it further when you feel you are ready.
It's ok. Being in touch with the feelings right now is enough. You may not be able to cry now. Don't try to force it. Just try to relax and be good to yourself tonight. The feelings will come to you when you are ready.
It's understandable that you feel frustrated. Part of the problem could be that you do not have a lot of experience dealing with your feelings from the repression you dealt with as a child and after the attack. Keep in mind that when you were attacked, you were very young. You were just starting to be on your own. That is the time that most people begin to move away from childhood and into discovering who they are. You were just leaving the emotional repression of your childhood and beginning to find yourself. Then the attack happened, you buried your feelings and carried on until now when the feelings would not be repressed anymore and came out. Now you suddenly have this flood of feelings and you are not sure what to do with them. You have no frame of reference.
In our previous post, talking about the attack not being your fault and exploring your feelings about caring for yourself may have triggered your deeper feelings, especially around your defenses. Because that can be overwhelming, you may just be feeling upset without knowing exactly why or even what feelings you are dealing with. If you have time, it might help you to journal your thoughts and feelings as they occur to you during the day and at night before you sleep and as you get up in the morning. Just jot down any random thought you have about your feelings. It may not make sense now, but once you have a day or two of journaling down, you might find that you can see a pattern or find feelings you did not know you had.
This is not how things will be forever, This is only while you work through the feelings from the attack. Everyone who experiences a trauma will need to go through a time where they have to deal with the effects of the experience. If you think of it, just dealing with a stressful time at work will have an effect on you. You may feel extra tired, have some anxiety or have trouble sleeping. You may even take a vacation to get a break. And that is just a reaction to stress in your job. Now think of comparing that to going through what you went through and you can understand why you are experiencing these symptoms. You were faced with a life and death situation, not just some on the job stress.
When facing a life and death experience, your body and mind are going to be put to extremes. And at the time of the attack, you cannot afford to react emotionally. You have to survive. So all of your reactions get shut off except for those geared to keeping you alive. It's not until afterwards that you feel the effects, especially when you feel safe enough to express how you feel. And that safe time for you was when you were talking to your psychiatrist. At the time, you may have felt that she was safe, as well as your therapist. And you and I were beginning to talk more often. So you were surrounded by women who were there to help you, focus on you and support you. In your mind, you probably felt safe enough to let your feelings go.
How you are reacting is very normal. If it were not, your therapist, psychiatrist and I would be saying something to you about it. But you are doing well.
It is hard to keep trying, but you are going to get better. It's just difficult right now to see it. Journaling may help a lot. It does not hurt to keep trying whatever you feel might take the edge off your symptoms.
You're welcome, I'm glad the last post helped. As you described your situation after the attack, I agree that sharing what happened would have been very difficult. You probably would not have gotten the support you have now, or you would have had to look for it through your doctor and the hospital which is hard to do when you are feeling so vulnerable. And as you said, your parents would have made it harder on you by reacting badly.
It's good you were able to overcome the nightmare and migraine and get some sleep. I have a relative with bad migraines and he says that the medication really helps you sleep it off.
Your perception of what Linda, Dr. M and I would feel if we saw what you did during the attack is very much about transference. Those are all feelings that you experience when you think of what you did during the attack.
I can tell you that my reaction to seeing someone being so horribly attacked would not be disappointment. It would first be to get some help then tremendous empathy. I would want to help, not judge how you reacted to the attack. I think it would have been pretty obvious to anyone who saw it that you were there against your will. And no one asks to be attacked with a broken bottle. The fact that you never sought out any sexual contact like that again after the attack tells you that you did not want that to happen to you. If you had wanted it, you would have continued seeking out others who would do that to you again. What you do want is to overcome what happened (which shows you that you did not want what happened) and move on from the attack. You want a relationship, kids and a healthy sex life. These are all telling of who you really are and what your real desires are. Not to be attacked and raped.
Self esteem and confidence comes from feeling you are worthy and competent. Over self confidence is a defense against feeling lower than others. It makes you compensate for a low self esteem. It usually happens when someone feels unloved or unworthy, which are both developed during childhood. If you feel you are confident and have a good and healthy self esteem, then that will help you cope better.
Well, I really do feel pretty confident and good about myself, except in this one area. It has been a black spot on me, I have felt, but I have kept it so separate from my life that I think I was able to develop self confidence. I definitely, I think, had some issues with it because of how my parents were, I would guess (although I attributed it to a middle child thing, and being the younger sister to the cheerleader/homecoming queen). But as I have said, despite the lack of attention and affection, I did know for certain that my parents loved me unconditionally, and also, they have been far more supportive in adulthood. And they would never blow smoke. If we performed poorly, they would be honest about it. But I knew that if they said I did a good job, I actually had done a good job. Also, I would say starting in late high school, I got a lot of positive feedback from people outside my family for things I did, such as basketball, singing, humor, etc. So I think that helped.
I don't think seeming overly cocky is as much a defense mechanism to compensate for low self-esteem as it is other people's misconception, perhaps due to my aloofness sometimes and, as we have discussed, I guess I lack affect. I don't intend to act cocky, and I don't feel cocky. However, I also don't think there is anything wrong with me (generally) and I do just fine, and I do not think I need to go around saying bad things about myself or acting like I'm nothing. One of the problems, I think, is that I find people are drawn to me (I think because I am confident) and apparently want to be my friend. But I don't really have time to do a lot of meaningless socializing, and I am the kind of person who wants several really good, close friends, as opposed to a lot of surface friends. Plus, when I have a real friend, I generally have that friend forever. Also, I can see manipulation a mile away, and I don't tolerate it, and I remove myself from that person. Unfortunately, I do recognize that most people are trying to manipulate the situation only because they need to get their needs met -- it's not to try to scam anyone; it's to get the attention they are lacking or whatever. But I still don't tolerate it, and it frustrates me, because I want to tell them that if they dropped their agenda, and acted normally, and did not try to manipulate things, they would get exactly what they are putting all this effort into trying to get. They would make friends more easily, get attention because of who they are, and be appreciated. Anyway, apparently, as I have been told by my legal assistant, who I knew before hiring her, and she goes to my church, I come across like I do not like people and won't let people into my life. I have also been told that I have a "clique" of the "chosen," which is ridiculously high school. And people think that I think I am better than others because I don't go around saying "I'm no good" or "you're better than me." But I guess that is the impression people get. Plus -- I think part of it is jealousy. I am not that good at the drums, although I love to play them., and I love when I get to fill in at church. I understand I'm not that great, and I am trying to improve, but that's fine with me. And I am not jealous of our regular drummer who is a lot better than me -- I appreciate her talent. However, I do know that I am a decent singer, and C. has me sing all the time, because he tends to choose songs that fit my voice, because he likes the style. I'm not the best, XXXXX XXXXX't think I'm the best, XXXXX XXXXX get pissed, apparently, because I get "chosen" to do the solos they want, or to sing on praise team or whatever. That is not me -- that's them. And the thing is -- I don't really care. I don't understand why people have so much tied into that, when we are adults, and nobody is a professional singer. It's dumb, and if it means so much to people, they can do it. It is not that important to me. But apparently the whole thing is offensive to some people.
I am also sure that part of the way I come off to people is because I don't trust people in general and I don't want to be in a place where I am vulnerable to them. They probably see this as I am rejecting them, but really it is about me and protecting myself.
So --- very long explanation as ot why I don't feel like my being seen as cocky is a defense mechanism. :) Sorry. :)
I do feel more supported now than ever. I don't know if you, L. and Dr. M. actually care, but you all certainly come across in a caring and supportive manner.
As to you, L., or Dr. M. being disappointed -- I don't think so much that any of you would think I wanted the bottle or anything, or made the thing start in the first place. But it's my specific actions during the whole thing. The things I said and the things I did. The ywould probably make you cringe. Didn't they make you cringe a little when I told you my "story?"
Okay -- so, if we were to work on what you suggested yesterday, what would that be and how would that work, exactly?
Also, this seems so weird that I talk to you almost every day, multiple times, and we have never met. It is probably the reason why I could be open so quickly -- because of the anonymity. But now I have grown to trust you. I realize I cannot know who you actually are, and that is totally fine, and very smart. However, if you wanted to kind of see who I am, I could give you my law firm website, but I wouldn't want it on here for everyone to see who I am.
You have some very good insight into yourself and other people. Are you sure you don't want to be a therapist? :)
Your explanation of your self esteem and your view of others seems to work well for you. And that is a good sign. Having a healthy self esteem means you do not feel the need to cater to the needs of others, in an unhealthy way. Which is good. And knowing that you want a few close trusted friends instead of many surface type friends is also good. It shows you want a good support system that you can trust and that you can have a give and take with that is rewarding to you.
You mentioned other people telling you that you seem cocky. It may very well be because of your confidence. But I also wonder how much of your ability to shut down your feelings like you learned in your childhood has affected how you feel towards others. If one person was telling you about how you seem, it would be easy to dismiss. But many people saying this to you might indicate that you are more off putting than you want to be. It could be that you feel a need to protect yourself or it could be that you are used to shutting your feelings down. Just a thought.
I do believe that Linda and Dr. M do care for you. They both seem like they want to help and from what you said about Linda being concerned in your sessions, I think that is a sign she really cares. And I know I do. I don't have to assume on that one!
I did cringe when I read your story. But not because of how you reacted. I cringed because it was horrifying to think that someone could be so cruel and that you had to endure something so awful. I felt sad and a great need to comfort you. And being a woman, I reacted to how violating and damaging the rape must have been. As for your reaction to it, I felt it was necessary. You did what you had to in order to keep yourself alive. Anyone else would have done the same.
Relearning to love yourself and not blame yourself for the attack is important in order for you to heal. We can talk about whatever comes to mind for you about what you feel about it. In your case, I think it is two fold. One is about your childhood. You have said that you know your parents loved you unconditionally and that is good. But on the other hand, they forced you to act in a way that they approved of. Their love and attention may or may not have been based on this. What do you think? And the other part is your feelings about how you acted during the attack. Those are two of the main points. You can bring up anything else that you feel relates.
It is different to work together so closely and not know each other personally. But in terms of therapy, it can work very well because you are not distracted by me as a person and you can concentrate on yourself and our communication totally, which is what therapy is about. But I understand what you are saying about not really knowing each other. I would love to see your website if you are comfortable sharing. And if you ever have a question about me, it's ok to ask. Therapists usually refrain from sharing too much because it can interfere with transference and also distract from therapy, but I will answer the best I can.
1. No - absolutely no desire to be a therapist. As you can see, I don't deal too well with feelings. In fact, we have been tempted to put a sign on our conference room wall that says: "I am an attorney, not a therapist" because people in general, and my clients, seem to feel they can share all of their personal issues with me and I will give them insight or solve it for them. Perhaps it is that they know I would not tell anyone, which is true, for clients and other people alike, but I can't solve personal issues for them, and I do not understand why someone with whom I do not have a close relationship would tell me these personal things. But, as I said, I can spot manipulation very clearly, and can also tell when anyone is lying. People lie all the time, though, which makes me not trust people even more.
2. You are probably right that my need to protect myself or to shut out feelings may have a lot to do with how I come off to people, and I may be more off-putting than I intend. But I don't want people to know a whole lot about me. I show what I want to show. I don't think the rest is their business and I resent people trying to gte information or wriggle themselves into my life. Protecting myself is more important to me, I guess, than how I come across.
3. I don't know if my parents' love and attention was based on my acting in a way they approved. I don't know. I was a pretty bad kid. My grades usually were not up to par, for which I would be grounded for very long periods of time, I got in a lot of trouble at school for acting out and doing things that I thought were funny, but the teachers/administrators did not appreciate (I was voted class clown, which seriously dismayed my parents), I fought with my siblings, and was generally very secretive, which my parents took as being devious. The police showed up to my house for me a few times (nothing serious - again, I thought it was funny), I had a preoccupation with burning things in my room, I drank and smoked pot (which my parents didn't really care about), and spent too much time for their liking in choir and show choir, which they felt took away from basketball and track, which were their priorities. I also used to purposely false start during track meets when I was running the hurdles (don't ask me why I ran hurdles - I am only 5'2") because I would be too nervous, and it would make my dad pissed. I did not act how they wanted. On the other hand, in addition to being as unemotional as us, my brother didn't do anything wrong. He got straight A's, never got in trouble after elementary school, never drank, never had sex, never did anything. (In fact, my parents were trying to encourage him to let loose a little). But I don't think he got any more love or attention than I did.
So I guess I don't think so. Except that crying or whining or getting bad grades or doing something of which they did not approve brought on negative attention, and they would let me know how disappointed in me they were, which would be upsetting, and they would punish me, but I guess it didn't deter me a whole lot.
4. I see your point about not being distracted by you "as a person." But you are a person. But I do see the other side of it. I probably know way too much about L. and her family. I appreciate it, since I am telling her all my personal stuff, but I can't help but tell her what I think about some of her stuff. :) I don't know much of anything about Dr. M, except that her daughter is a walk-on freashman at the university basketball team here, which she shared with me only because we were talking about basketball, and I happen to know her husband is a geriatrict doctor, because he was P's dad's hospice doctor. I'm not sure which is more helpful, although knowing what I do about L. makes me not put her on such a pedestal. But it has also shown me what a normal mother thinks/feels/acts like towards her children, form what she has told me.
I guess the only questions I have right now are: (1) do you have an in-person therapy practice as well? Do you work for a counseling center, or for a private firm, or on your own, or for the government, or what? and (2) why do you care about people who randomly seek your help on the internet, and do you ever just want to block/delete anyone because you don't want to deal with them any more?
5. I don't mind you looking at the website and knowing who I am. It doesn't give a whole lot of info --- you know much more inf from our chats. But at least you could see who I am. However, I don't know how to do that without my website address, then, to be available to others looking at this site, and therfore let everyone know who I am. I am NOT okay with that.
6. I think maybe I have a misunderstanding of transference. You said knowing too much can interfere with transference. Is transference a GOOD thing? I thought it was bad. And I guess I thought more personal info would foster transference. So I don't think I know what it is exactly.
You must have one of those faces. I do too so I can sympathize. People I don't even know will come up to me and tell me their life stories. It happened to me recently in a grocery store. My brother was with me and he was laughing at me from two aisles over giving advice to this poor woman with bad family situation. It sounds like attorneys get their share of confessions too!
It's ok if you want to protect yourself from people knowing much about you. As long as you are aware of what you are doing and why, that is all that is important.
It is interesting that you acted out so much as a child. It is usually the middle child that reacts the most to the family dynamics. And class clowns are usually hiding a deeper side of themselves that is sad or even depressed. Getting into trouble is attention getting behavior. And where you refused to conform to what your parents wanted, your brother conformed too much, even for your parents tastes. You both may have known your parents expectations, but each of you reacted differently according to how you felt you could get your needs met.
It appears that you had no doubt of your parent's love for you. But how they showed that love may have been different than what you needed and that may be why you acted out.
To answer your questions, I have worked in community mental health to being a county delegate. I also had a private practice and been in consulting since, which is what I do now.
I care about anyone who needs help. My job on JA is not much different than working anywhere else. Everyone, no matter who they are, needs someone to talk to at some point in their lives. And I want to be there to help that person feel better by helping them develop the tools to be able to help themselves. Yes, I do get stressed. But as a therapist you learn to do things to help yourself including talking to colleagues to reduce the stress and to get support.
It's ok if you do not want to share because of privacy issues. I will try to think of a way you can communicate the website without giving the actual address and let you know if I can figure it out.
Transference is good in therapy in that it tells the therapist some of the issues the client is having. But you don't want to let someone you are working with know too much because it can interfere. For example, if I told you that I drive a Ford truck and the perpetrators that hurt you did as well, you may not mean to connect it in your mind, but you may unconsciously. That is not a great example but it shows you how the information might hurt you.
Yeah, well some information about my clients I need to know, and some confessions are necessary. However, if I am filing a bankruptcy for someone, it makes no sense for her to stop by, crying, and telling me they had an abortion the week before. (Of course, if she had told me that BEFORE she had the abortion, I would have been really glad she did and would have tried to help her go another route or understand the consequences). I frequently have to deal with people during really bad times in their life (probably not as much as you), but I really can't help someone emotionally through a divorce or something, and I really don't care about why the family is fighting over a probate estate. It is usually my job to STOP the clients from looking at things emotionally, and to get them to look at things economically and objectively. That's why I don't do family law. People going through divorces and custody fights can't be rational. And, I have to do what my clients want, within ethical and legal boundaries, and if my client wants custody, but I happen to know s/he only wants custody to upset the spouse, or I know a reason why s/he should probably not have custody or just don't think they should, I still have to proceed as they want, and I can't deal with that.
I have a strong sense of fairness. It may not be the same as everyone else - I don't know - but it's fairly black and white, and it's fairly objective. I want things to come to a fair resolution, which isn't usually possible when clients' emotions take over.
But I think that's also why I often get calls from opposing counsel or the opposing parties down the road, after cases are over, asking for my help or representation. I get a lot of my referrals from attorneys against whom I work, which is good.
What does a consultant in your field do? Help other counsleors? Or do you still see clients directly?
And I'm still not quite sure what transference is. In the truck example -- wouldn't that still be transference, but just in a negative way? I thought I read that transference was projecting feelings or expectatons onto your therapist that you feel about/expect from other people in your life. If that is the case, then does everyone see his or her therapist as a stand-in for someone in their life? L. isn't like anyone in my life, which is probably why things are working out so well with her. And how do transference and dependence differ and/or how do they relate? I used to think transference was just falling in love with your therapist. I think I got that from tv. :)
Oh yeah -- also, a few posts ago, you said:
"Your explanation of your self esteem and your view of others seems to work well for you."
What did you mean by that exactly? Is it one of those comments like when you said however I feel comfortable seeing my parents' issues, that's fine. (when I was saying I did not think they were emotionally abusive)? Like -- you don't agree, but if it makes me feel better to think that way, go ahead?
I did not know that attorneys had to hear that much personal information from clients! That is a little irrelevant to the situation. But I imagine people feel safe with you since you are on their side and sworn to secrecy (there are exceptions, I imagine?). I do not get the feeling that most people have others they can share their deeper feelings with so they take the opportunity when it's there. It sounds like you are a good listener too which might be why you hear your fair share of personal stories!
Therapists can consult in many ways. Working for a company is one. Working on your own is another. I work on here and with another therapist. Right now, we are thinking through some ideas for new projects. There are also students to assist who are getting Master's and need help with testing. I've subbed for college classes too. Things like that.
I meant the truck example as a way to explain how giving a person you are working with in therapy personal information might cause an issue for them. Sorry I did not explain it better. Transference is as you described. It is projecting your feelings onto your therapist. For example, a person grows up in an abusive home where the mother hits them and tells them they are unloved. Basically rejecting them. In therapy, the person is convinced that their therapist does not like them and looks for clues that the therapist will reject them, even to the point of making up or misinterpreting signs. The therapist can then use the transference to show the client how strong the feelings are and work through how they feel so they can recover.
By my comment on your self esteem I meant that for you the way you look at the situation is something you feel settled with. You do not appear to have any issue with how you feel about your self esteem or how you view others. So at this point, this is not a problem for you. And that is fine. There is no reason to bring it up and make an issue out of it if you are comfortable with it. So unless it becomes a problem for you, it's not something we need to address.
As for confidentiality, there are few exceptions -- now, if it is public record, like "so-and-so filed Chapter 11," it's fine to repeat. Or for me to sayto you that a client came in and told me she just had an abortion, that is okay because (1) it has nothing to do with my representation of them; and (2) I did not give you any information by which you could identify them. I merely used it as a general example. But mostly, I don't even share things when they are public record, just to be safe, and I would not share an example with anyone who could in anyway figure out who I was talking about --- I have filed hundreds of bankruptcy cases, so there's no way you could have any clue about whom i was talking. But if I were to say "I have this client who owns a shoe store, and we filed bankruptcy for her ..." well, it would be easier to figure out. Also, there is no attorney-client privilege if it is said in front of someone else who is not also the client's attorney or a member of my office staff or a mediator. I could also disclose to the authoritites (and would, in fact, be required to) if a client told me that s/he was going to commit a crime. If s/he told me they had already committed the crime, however, I couldn't share it with anyone. Even if they told me where the body was buried. (I used to practice federal criminal defense before I moved here, and during law school, I worked in the death penalty division of the state public defender's office, working on death penalty appeals. It was fun).
I listen, and I do give advice (I'm especially good at giving relationship, marriage and parenting advice, with none of which I have any personal experience :) ), and I wouldn't disclose what they tell me, and I guess people grasp that. But I'm not always the most sympathetic. I'm kind of likely to tell them to get their act together or that they are being unreasonable, manipulative, are lying, etc. Not such a good thing, so it's good I'm not a therapist. :)
I totally understood you were saying with the truck example. I knew you meant it would be harmful to the client, but I didn't know what you meant by saying it could mess up the transference.
So - another question about transference --- is it transference that I was jealous about how L. supported her daughter when she went through what she did? Can it be transference if I project my own feelings abut myself onto you or L. or Dr. M? (Like what you were saying about my statement that if any of you had seen what I did, you would be disappointed in me)? And if so, is that good or bad transference?
And as to the self esteem comment, you did not clear that up at all. You were just as evasive this time. Basically, what you are saying is that I seem fine with what I perceive to be my self esteem and how I view others, but you obviously do not agree that what I perceive/view is accurate. I appreciate your not coming right out and just making stuff up, and I realize you are trying to be careful and nonjudgmental, but since I asked, it's a pretty good bet that I can handle the truth. It is actually kind of humorous. :)
By the way -- what on earth made the lady in the grocery store talk to you about her personal problems? Did she know you are a therapist? That's so bizarre!
Oh, and another question -- are you older or younger than me? I would guess younger, but I'm not sure.
It sounds like attorneys have the same kinds of ethics they have to follow like therapists do. I liked reading about what your rules are and the boundaries of sharing for your profession. It's not often I get to hear what other professional codes of conduct are and how they are handled.
Your job in the state public defender's office sounds intriguing. I bet you heard a lot of interesting stories.
Giving advice on your client's personal issues would be difficult. It's not your job to counsel them (in a therapy way!) and they need to know those boundaries are there. That is what a therapist is for, not an attorney. Though I can see why they confuse the two if you are a good listener.
I don't think your jealousy about Linda's support of her daughter is transference. That is just your feelings coming out about your childhood and missing what you did not have. But the assumed disappointment that Linda, Dr M and I would feel seeing your reaction during your attack is. Disappointment may be what you felt, but it is not what I feel. Far from it. But you assume that I would feel it because the feeling is so strong in you so you transfer it to me and the others.
The self esteem explanation was not meant to be evasive and I'm sorry if it came across that way. Therapy is not a black and white thing so sometimes explaining what I mean can seem like an evasion. Therapy is also not about judging, it is about what you are comfortable with. So if you feel that you are comfortable with your self esteem where it is and you are ok with what you are hearing from others about it then it is ok and does not need dealt with. But if you said to me I don't like how I feel then we work on it. How I feel about it is not as relevant except if I felt it was harming you. In that case, if you didn't see it, I would mention it to you. You could see it and want to fix it or not see it and resist talking about it. Then it would become an issue for you that hopefully therapy would help you recognize and eventually resolve.
A new thread would be good. The moderators here notice longer threads I guess because they take longer to load and clog things up (you can tell I'm not to literate in computer speak!).
I think you mentioned that you are 40 years old, right? I am 45 so I'm a little older (but I feel 25, if that counts!).
I'm heading to bed so if you write I will try to respond first thing tomorrow. Good night, I hope you sleep well.