Shirah Vollmer MD

The Musings of Dr. Vollmer

Mobilize

Posted by Dr. Vollmer on February 16, 2011

Tom https://shirahvollmermd.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/success-rebellion/  describes painful loneliness and sadness. “You know, sometimes I wonder if your loneliness and sadness are a way for you to get back at your mom to show her what a lousy job she did raising you. I wonder that, unconsciously speaking, you want to maintain your inner pain in order to prove to her that she was an inadequate mom.” Tom looks at me with wonder and some anger over suggesting that he is causing his own pain. “What am I supposed to do Dr. Vollmer? I had a difficult childhood. I had no friends. I had an isolated life. That was my mom’s fault. It is not easy for me to make friends now and I blame her for that.” Tom says through his tears. “I understand that, and I feel for you around that, but at the same time, you are an adult now and you are capable of creating a meaningful social network.” I say, hoping that I am not sounding too harsh, but at the same time, wanting to empower him to change his life. “That is really hard for me,” Tom says with more intense anger. “Yes, I understand it is hard and I understand that your past experience might make it harder, but you are still a bright, engaging young man and you have the capacity to have really good friends.” I say, both reminding him of his strengths and reminding him that he is not using his skills to make his life better. “I will have to think about that Dr. Vollmer, but my mom really did screw up my life.” Tom says, as if trying to convince me. “Yes, I understand that is how you feel, but hopefully she did not paralyze you. You can mobilize yourself into actions which will help you feel less lonely.” I say, not thinking too much about my choice of words. “Mobilize,” Tom says, “that is an interesting choice of words. It makes it sound like I have to prepare for a fight, like in the army.” Tom says, free associating to my comment. “I guess that is what it feels like for you,” I say, implying that although it was my choice of words, he took the word ‘mobilize’ in a direction that I did not expect. “Let the battle begin,” Tom says with good humor and calmness.

4 Responses to “Mobilize”

  1. Shelly said

    Interesting blog. Is Tom’s mom still alive? Does Tom express his feelings of loneliness and sadness to her so that she feels that she did a bad job of mothering? Why was Tom’s lack of friends and isolated life in childhood his mother’s fault? Are feelings of loneliness and isolation rooted in childhood, and especially in relationships with parents?

    • Yes, Tom’s mom is alive. Yes, Tom wants his mother to know his perception that she (his mother) really disappointed him. Tom’s narrative is that since he grew up in what he perceived to be an isolated environment, had his mother been more social, he would have more social confidence. Feelings of loneliness and isolation are multi-determined. Factors such as genetics, childhood experiences, attachment to loved ones all contribute to an overall sense of connectedness. Tom focuses on his childhood, without having a broader notion of the many factors which go into his current feeling state. Once again, humans tend to want to reduce complicated experiences down to one identifiable event, in order to make things simple. My job is to remind him of the complexity and to help him avoid reductionistic thinking.

      • Jon said

        Albert Einstein once said that an explanation should be as simple as possible, but no simpler. It sounds as though Tom’s understating of his situation is, unsurprisingly, oversimplified. Hopefully he will be able to “mobilize” his resources to come up with a “new battle plan” with a deeper understanding of the root cause of the problem. This augurs well for a more successful victory on the battlefield of mental wellbeing.

        • Life is a strategy game, after all. As you know, games mimic life and life mimics games. The more complex the game, the greater the reward, or so I believe. Thanks, as always for your comments.

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