Shirah Vollmer MD

The Musings of Dr. Vollmer

Archive for July 25th, 2011

Fear

Posted by Dr. Vollmer on July 25, 2011

     Buck, the focus of the documentary, knew one thing. Fear inhibits coöperation, often resulting in aggression. By contrast, trust creates team work and serenity. This is as true for people as it is for animals. Paige, a fictional patient, reports to me that our relationship has taken a turn for the worse. She feels I am critical and judgmental of her. As she continues to describe her negative feelings, she is clear that she has come to fear my commentary such that it is very hard to work with me. Her trust that I will say things in a gentle way has been threatened. Sure, her fear could come from her childhood, which is now transferred on to me. Sure, I could have changed in a way that made her substantially more fearful. Either way, Buck’s point is still valid. Fear could destroy our working relationship. To build it back up, trust needs to be re-established. Buck shows in the film that creating trust involves patience, understanding, and calmness. As he worked with the horses, Buck reminded me of my work as a psychotherapist. He gives the horse a space to be so that he can develop an understanding of that particular horse, in the same way that I try to give patients a space to unfold in order for me to really understand their mental processes. Intruding into that space too soon can create fear. Waiting too long can cause the person, the horse, to feel abandoned. The art of knowing when to introduce a new way of behaving is the challenge.

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