Psychoanalytic Therapy Session Essay, Research Paper
Situation: Billy Bruce has been suffering a mild form of manic depression, or bipolar disorder and finally decided to seek help from a classical psychoanalyst, Michelle, who was a strict Freudian. Following is an excerpt of the conversations between Billy and his psychoanalyst during a typical therapy.
M: Are you feeling comfortable on the couch?
M: Now, relax every single strand of muscles in your body, and close you eyes…yes, that s it. I want you to feel completely relaxed and just talk.
B: Just talk…?
M: Yes, talk. You can tell me anything, how you re feeling now, how you were feeling yesterday and the days before, of any dreams that you ve had, of your childhood memories… Anything really. Free your mind, allow yourself be completely sincere and say whatever that comes to mind, no matter how trivial or embarrassing it may seem to you.
B: Okay…well, I was born in Lafayette, Indiana, and I grew up there. My father, whom I found out later wasn t my real father, was a maniac. He came into my life when I was three or four, and I didn t even know my real father existed until I was 17. I hated that man, my stepfather. He completely damaged my childhood.
M: Why, do you suppose, did you hate your stepfather so much?
B: Well, for one thing, My mom always picked him over me, even though she knew that he s a horrible, horrible person. He was an egomaniac who wanted everybody pressed under his fingers. Like, we d have television one week, then he would throw the T.V. out because they were satanic. I wasn t allowed to listen to music. Women were evil. Everything was evil. One time I was just staring at the TV —not thinking, just watching — a cigarette commercial with two girls, and my dad smacked me and I went flying across the floor. Yeah, he physically and mentally abused me and my brother, who was his own son too. Even my sister.
M: And your mother knew about it?
B: Of course she knew. She wasn t stupid, she was just too insecure to be without this second husband, after being deserted by the first who happened to be my real daddy, by the way. She was never there for me or my sister or my brother. I used to feel this obligation to go back and help my mom, since she was pretty helpless in her situation, but I don t anymore. She fed me and put clothes on my back, but she was never there for me.
M: So you are saying that your mom often chose to neglect you for your stepfather, even though she knew that you were abused in many ways by the same man?
B: Yeah. I understand that she needs to feel secure and everything, but it was almost like she doesn t give a rat s ass about me. She even tried to please that man, regardless of whether I was getting molested or screamed at or kicked around. As long as she can keep her marriage and husband intact, stick a nice normal family label over us, she can blind herself to everything else that were obviously wrong.
M: Do you feel that, in certain ways, you were similar to your stepfather?
B: Y…No, of course not. Are you kidding? That man was just a masked criminal.
M: You re telling me that you are not in the least bit, like him? Billy, you can tell me the truth.
B (silent for a moment): Well…maybe I am just a little like him. Hey, how can I not be? For God s sake, he had me squeezed between his hands for, like, 15 years before I had enough of that oppression and ran away from home. He was the only male model I had before I knew any better, okay? You dig that? I m not evil like that man, I don t molest my own daughter.
M: Calm down, Billy, breath. Okay, that s better. Yes, I do understand that you re not just like your stepfather. But tell me how were you alike?
B: I m pretty bent on destroying things when something sets me off, which could be virtually anything. He was like that. Also I always have this urge to…well, establish, I guess, to others — especially women — the fact that I am a tough guy. (Laughs) Hey, maybe that s why I m so screwed-up, because I m sort of like my stepfather.
M: There s more to it than that, Billy.
B: What do you mean by that?
M: For one thing, you were probably experiencing what Freud called the Oedipus Complex, a boy s sexual desire towards his mother and feeling of jealousy and hatred for the rival father.
B: So you re telling me that I hated my stepfather not because he oppressed me like hell and treated me like crap, but because he was sleeping with my mom. You make lots of sense, Ms. Psychologist.
M: Billy, you have to calm yourself down and think. I understand that you d be denying my interpretations right now, but I hope you ll eventually listen and learn to accept the unconscious part of you. That is the way to truly know yourself, Billy. To dig up the unrealized past, events and motives, uncover the unconscious, learn to face it and cope with it. Only in understanding yourself completely can you deal with the obstacles presently with rationality.
B: Okay, if you say so.
M: I ll try to present to you what I see from what you ve told me so far. I know that you may feel the urge to deny it, but I want you to just think about what I ll be telling you. I just want to help you see yourself more clearly. Are you ready for it?
B: Yeah, I guess so.
M: From what I understood by your disclosure, you were probably experiencing the Oedipus Complex, feeling threatened that your stepfather would take your mother away from you. That probably contributed to your hatred toward that man. I m saying that the Complex was one of the factors, among with many others that you ve mentioned, that caused your rivalry. Eventually you had to accept that you couldn t be involved with your mother the same way that your stepfather was, so you decided, unconsciously, to be like him. More or less if I can t beat him, be like him. That was how you ve achieved your somewhat twisted gender identity, through your identification process in which you incorporated your stepfather s values.
Of course, since you decidedly hate that man, to consciously acknowledge would stir a tremendous turmoil within yourself, therefore rationalization, a defense mechanism, decided protect you and let yourself believe that you became like him only because he was the only male model you had. Also, repression banished all sexual desires you felt toward your mother from your conscious mind, and that is why you do not remember such a childhood lust. However, repression is often incomplete, with repressed urges seeping out in dream symbols, which we will explore in due time.