Monday, 16 March 2015

Folie a Deux: An experience of one-to-one therapy, by Mickey Christian

This is an account by Rosie Alexander, a British woman, of her difficult and traumatic journey through a course of psychotherapy in Paris. This was where she lived and worked at the time. Pursuing a goal to become ‘more self-confident, assertive, less anxious and guilt-ridden’, she at first tried various therapists of mixed ability or competence. Finally she settled on one, Luc, and there her travails began. 
Many of us have entered into psychotherapy treatments; or have thought about it; or are involved in one right now. Whatever the dilemma, it’s always a rocky road; we can only hope or pray for a reasonably contented outcome at the end of it, out of the tunnel. 

Writing with clarity and precision, Ms. Alexander describes her imperceptibly swift descent into unbearable dependence, obsession and unrequited lust for this man. This was exacerbated by their having to meet at his home for the sessions, as he has no separate facilities. Inevitably she picks up on traces and signs of his private life there. These include glimpses into his bathroom and bedroom, etc. and then of course his current girlfriend in person. This propels her further into a vortex of jealously, rage, frustrated sexual desire and despair. 

The hapless author had fallen into a massive and helpless state of erotic transference for the therapist. However tempting it may be to think Ms. Alexander as possibly too critical and analytical for her own good, she didn’t deserve this. An emotional car-crash. Despite only having her version of events, it is abundantly clear that the therapist Luc bears his own measure of responsibility for this debacle. As with many practitioners of his trade, he remained rigidly attached to his own particular ideology and doctrine. The treatment must be correct, even if the patient suffers an ocean of pain in the cause of personal enlightenment. Often casual or cavalier in his attitude and behaviour, he neglected to alter or monitor the ever-fading boundaries between himself and his client.

This book is informative, revealing, often amusing and frequently very explicit in its narrative. Ms Alexander’s written English is flawless and immaculately eloquent. One wonders, though, how natural her spoken French was, and whether she may have fared better back home with a British therapist. Many people do benefit psychotherapy, but evidently an unknown number become the casualties of therapy.

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