Shirah Vollmer MD

The Musings of Dr. Vollmer

Archive for February 5th, 2013

Not Too Late!

Posted by Dr. Vollmer on February 5, 2013

2.9.13   8:00 PM –Freud’s Last Session
Shirah Vollmer, MD


Talkback….Ever wanna ask Freud or CS Lewis a question? Here is your chance….


Judd Hirsch and Tom Cavanagh in
By Mark St. Germain

JAN 11 – FEB 10

Love, sex, death and the existence of God. It’s all up for discussion in Freud’s Last Session, starring Tony, Emmy and Golden Globe award-winner Judd Hirsch (Taxi, Ordinary People, Independence Day, Conversations with My Father) and Tom Cavanagh (Ed, Providence). Winner of the 2011 Off Broadway Alliance Award for Best Play, Freud’s Last Session imagines a late-in-life meeting between Dr. Sigmund Freud, the devoutly atheist father of psychoanalysis, and the philosophical Christian author-professor C.S. Lewis. What follows is a riveting, tension-filled discourse on life’s most important questions just weeks before Freud’s death amidst the ominous sounds of World War II.

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Wanting Change/Wanting Stability: Push/Pull Continued

Posted by Dr. Vollmer on February 5, 2013

As Bromberg says, every patient enters into the consultation room with the internal dialogue saying “I’m here because I’m in trouble, but the trouble I’m in is not something I need rescuing from, even though it may look that way. However, I fully expect you to try to cure me and I’m prepared to defeat you. I don’t have an illness; I am my illness and I won’t let you cure me of being who I am.” In other words, the patient comes, as Phillip Bromberg PhD continues, “for a secure nest in which to stay safe and accepted forever, not having to bear the discomfort of the new and unfamiliar, while at the same time, looking for metamorphosis (growth, movement, transition).” Bromberg continues to describe this paradox by suggesting that the fear of therapy is represented by Prometheus, the Titan who in trying to create a better civilization, ultimately was punished and tormented. Bromberg says that therapy moves along by “enhancing the patient’s perceptual capacity….creating a change in the structure of his personality organization.”

Clarissa, fifty-five, an endocrinologist, wants to retire. She has plenty of financial resources, so that is not the issue. What stops her is her perception that her parents will disapprove of that decision. “My parents immigrated from India so that I could be a doctor. They would be devastated if I stopped working. They would feel that they wasted their life supporting my education, only to see it used for such a brief period of time.” Clarissa says, clinging to her need to please her parents, while at the same time, hoping that our work together will free her from the shackles of parental affirmations. “You have quite the dilemma on your hands,” I say. “You can please yourself or you can please your parents, but in this moment, it feels impossible to do both, or even to reach a compromise.” “There is no way I am going to upset my folks,” she insists, as if I have just told her to disregard their opinion. “I can see that option feels very uncomfortable for you,” I say, again, highlighting her conflict. Clarissa’s inner tension has come to light in my office. She is at war with herself. I am not championing her to retire, nor am I supporting her belief that she needs to keep her parents content, but I am listening to her struggle and helping her consciously make decisions which will impact her future. Her dynamics with her parents have been life-long. Changing those relationships are really scary. At the same time, Clarissa is flirting with the option to have a life of flexibility and relaxation which she has longed for, for many years. I do not know how she will sort out her conflict, but I am interested in helping her explore this internal process.


See also…


Posted in Resistance, Teaching, Teaching Psychoanalysis | 11 Comments »

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