Posted by Dr. Vollmer on March 21, 2011
Veronica, sixty-two, writes me a letter before her weekly appointment. I have known Veronica for fifteen years, but this letter writing activity is only within the last six months. She has termed our current chapter as a “crisis,” meaning that she feels that I have “gotten too hard” on her. The letters always reassure me that she will see me at our weekly time. She is as reliable as they come. Still, the prose portrays the agony she experiences between our sessions. She feels like I “have lost patience with her.” In fact, I have been more direct in my comments, which I believe she has taken as character assaults, and not as understanding her character. As usual in my work, there is a very narrow path between character assassination and insight. Helping Veronica develop an “observing ego” as Freud would say, is my task. Veronica’s need to see herself in a brighter light than I see her, at times, creates her despair, creates the “crisis”. On the one hand, Veronica has deep trust in my opinions; she told me that. On the other hand, she sees my current view of her as “harsh and far from how I see myself.” “Therapy can be hard because we have to face our demons,” I say. “That is too trite. You are better than that,” she tells me. “If I say you are not taking responsibility for your own life and that rings true, then there is something to think about. If that does not ring true, then I am off-base. If it rings true sometimes, but not all the time, then it gives you agony, so maybe that is what you are going through.” I say, helping her see herself in layers. Veronica is not happy. “We are in a crisis,” she repeats.