Shirah Vollmer MD

The Musings of Dr. Vollmer

‘I Am Willing To Talk To You’

Posted by Dr. Vollmer on May 6, 2012

“I am willing to talk to you,” Marla responds to Monte upon his request for supervision. The arrogance overwhelms Monte. The words reverberate in his head. Monte, disturbed by this interaction seeks help from me in psychotherapy. “Yep, it sounds like arrogance,” I affirm. “Why does the grandiosity bother you so much?” I ask Monte. “We are colleagues. I am asking for help, but she treats me like she is doing me a favor.” Monte says with internal turmoil which appears to exceed the current interchange. “You are so disappointed with Marla, over and over again. Why do you keep going back for more disappointment?” I ask, thinking that Monte might be replaying an experience in his life where he gets his hopes up, only to be met by crashing devastation. “I really don’t know,” Monte says, almost pleading with himself to come up with an answer. “Maybe you feel you deserve to be disappointed.” I say, trying to gently suggest that he set himself up for this by calling her up. “Maybe,” Monte tentatively says, with a sense of personal disgust in his voice. “I am willing to talk to you too,” I say, trying to make light of this situation as the time comes to an end. We laugh, but we know the pain is still there.

6 Responses to “‘I Am Willing To Talk To You’”

  1. Jon said

    I have said it before, and I will say it again – Monte needs to move on from Marla. In the words of folk singer James Lee Stanley, “Last time should have been the last time.” ‘Nuff Said.

    • Yes, Jon, but in this fictional account, Monte is stuck, suggesting that he is unconsciously enacting a previous interaction. Mining this experience helps us explore Monte’s sense of himself so that he can see that he engineers relationships in which he gets what he feels he deserves. By understanding this, Monte comes to see how he feels about himself. Yes, the action item here is that Monte needs to move on, but the journey, the time he takes to do that, is his way of understanding the depth of his inner being. Marla is an unwitting member of Monte’s mining expedition. If Monte did not have Marla in his life, he would find another person who would treat him poorly. Monte understands this so he is trying to grasp his seemingly never-ending participation in this painful drama. Thanks.

  2. Shelly said

    Are you saying that in other aspects of Monte’s life, this could be a recurrent theme as well? That not only in his professional life, Monte could have a relationship with someone where he feels he is unworthy of his superior’s attention, etc…? For example, the same could be taking place in his private life, or between himself and his mother and/or siblings? And that for Monte not to experience the same in these other aspects of his life, he needs to get to the root of the cause and “work it out?” I.e. If I’m unhappy where I am at work and in my current position, I should look at my relatioship with my spouse, and/or with my sibling?

    • Yes, that is exactly what I am saying. The recurrent theme is that Monte “recruits” people in his life who subsequently make him feel “less than” and this hearkens back to very early experiences where he felt very inferior within his family. Thanks for the clarification on my post.

  3. Ahhh yes…..Freud’s “repetition compulsion” is alive and well in this post…the reliving newer versions of old early family dynamics over and over and over….and over. Hopefully at some point awareness, insight and in many cases immensely hard mental work can intervene and the individual can have the freedom to move ahead with wiser choices in life and living. This tendency to “repeat certain aspects of our past” is something that is probably universal to one extent or another in all of us and the more we take the time to understand this tendency the wiser and better off we will be in the long run. Well worth the effort. However…with this said, with the growing new clinically based medical model in Psychiatry at learning institutions, understanding the human “self” or “soul” will slowly become a thing of the past or at least a rareity. I hope not.

    • Thank you, Eleanor for your eloquent expansion of my post. As you know, I am deeply concerned about Psychiatry losing the “self” but I, and many others, are putting up the fight against that. As you also know, this blog is one small step in that fight. Thanks again.

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