Shirah Vollmer MD

The Musings of Dr. Vollmer

Archive for April 19th, 2012

‘Thanks For Reminding Me Not To Get Binary’

Posted by Dr. Vollmer on April 19, 2012

“Mixed feelings” I say to one of my students to explain the back and forth nature of a patient’s decision-making process. “One minute he wants to divorce his wife and the next minute they are planning to have a baby,” my student says in utter disbelief. “I just can’t stand Jessica,” my twenty-year old male patient says to me about his current girlfriend. “I think you have a lot of feelings about her,” I say, reminding him that there is an array of internal experiences going on in this moment. Immediately, he responds, “thanks for reminding me not to get binary,” he says, bringing in the computer age of ones or zeroes. Kleinian therapists call this splitting, when a person goes to extreme reactions without being able to experience the gray area. Tolerating confusion, this gray area, is psychologically challenging and uncomfortable, making it such that one has a tendency to think and/or act in a binary fashion, as if there are only two options. Idealization and devaluing are another example of this phenomena. “My mom is loved by all,” Bethany, fifty-two tells me, wanting me to understand what an amazing mother she has, despite the fact that I am aware how much Bethany’s mother fails to be sensitive to Bethany’s feelings. Creating a more nuanced narrative is the challenge of a deeper existence. Psychotherapy, like many art forms,  is one way to go there.

Posted in Psychoanalysis, Psychotherapy | 8 Comments »

%d bloggers like this: