Shirah Vollmer MD

The Musings of Dr. Vollmer

Archive for February 14th, 2013

“The Price You Pay”

Posted by Dr. Vollmer on February 14, 2013

Martha Stark MD talks about helping patients understand the “price” of their conscious and unconscious choices in life. Megan, fifty-nine, constantly complains that she is always there for her friends, but her friends are never there for her. “You chose friends who are not as reliable or devoted as you are. That is very interesting.” I say, thinking about Dr. Stark’s point of view that ¬†choosing relationships which lead to disappointments is the “price” paid for finding people who you otherwise find to be good reflections of your internal state. Megan, for example, seems to be pick friends that her mother, age eighty-six, would approve of. Megan thinks about re-creating her mother’s life which includes re-creating a friendship circle like her mother has. This desire to emulate her mom, comes with the “price” of picking folks who do not value loyalty or devotion in a friendship. Creating a consciousness about this “price” allows Megan, in this case, to see how she engineered her own unhappiness and she is not the victim of horrible people in the world who just “don’t care about anyone but themselves.” Every decision, every turn of events in life, is a constant weighing of pros and cons, a constant evaluation of “price”. Megan can see that she can compromise on her car, by buying a car which is not her ideal, but which fits her budget, and yet this concept, when it comes to relationships, is more elusive. Every relationship, in fact, does involve such a compromise. We never get all of what we want, and hence our job is to choose what is most important, to prioritize. Simple and complicated, at the same time, since so much of this “prioritization” is outside of our awareness. When a great deal of our decisions are based on keeping our parents happy, then we need to take a closer look. Again, that is obvious and not obvious. We will grow to resent our relationships if they were not what we wanted in the first place. Once again, the problem is almost always within and not without.


Posted in Teaching, Teaching Psychoanalysis | 9 Comments »

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