Posted by Dr. Vollmer on August 15, 2013
Vivian, forty-two, stresses over what media to consume. She used to avoid television, as she was bored by most of it, but recently, she finds herself drawn to series such as ‘Mad Men,’ ‘Homeland’ and ‘Newsroom’. She also loves her podcasts which she feels give her great pleasure. On the other hand, she misses reading books, an activity that seems to have fallen away. She says “I am just disgusted with myself that I cannot read a book,” Vivian says with such intensity that if I only listen to the tone, I would think that she did some heinous act. “I wonder why you are so mad at yourself all of the time,” I say, thinking that her preoccupation with media consumption is yet another way for her to do serious emotional self-injury. ” I just do not remember a time before where there were so many things to stay on top of,” she says, now with a sound of fear, that someone she is falling behind. “Are you frightened that you are losing touch with the younger generation, since their cultural references are so different than yours?” I ask, thinking that a part of this beratement is a result of her realization that she is entering a new phase of life. “Yes, that is so right on,” she says with great enthusiasm. “I am just so shaken by how fast technology is changing and how hard it is to keep up,” she says with dismay. “You sound like there will be some test at the end of the week,” I respond, pointing out that Vivian treats life like an academic challenge, where she is constantly competing to be the best, but that competition comes from a deeply insecure core. “It must be really hard to accept all that you don’t know and all that you can’t consume, ” hoping that she will begin to see that accepting limitations is part of an ongoing maturation. “Yes, that is hard for me, but on the other hand, wanting to stay current motivates me to explore new media,” Vivian says, reminding me that her competitive side has some benefits and it is not all about insecurity. “Yes, it would be great if you could bottle the part that propels you forward and discard the part that makes you hate yourself.” I say, trying to parse out the components of her personality. “Maybe I will try to read a book,” Vivian says as she leaves, as if she is winking at me to suggest that she is still on her own case.