Posted by Dr. Vollmer on March 20, 2014
Cliche as a defense is my topic this morning. Lapsing into clichés’ often gives people the opportunity to hide behind more difficult, more complicated and more nuanced experiences. Byron, sixty-four, was recently diagnosed with a catastrophic diagnosis, in which he was told he has about eight years to live, in which he will likely experience a deteriorating mental course. He is upset, devastated, yet to maintain his always pleasant demeanor, he speaks in clichés. “I need to live each day. Carpe Diem. I am so happy I am alive.” He says with complete sincerity, but with a tone of falsehood and denial about his fear and profound feeling about the unfairness of life. “If I am to be honest about how I feel, I will be Negative Nancy,” he says, as if he has no choice other than to lapse into clichés. “Yes, but when you are here, and we are together, you do not need to put on your pleasant demeanor for me. I suspect that you are so polished with your clichés, that you do not give yourself the opportunity, even with me, to be honest with your experience.” I say, highlighting that although I understand he wants to maintain relationships by avoiding negativity, at the same time, he loses touch with his internal process. “There are many truths,” Byron tells me, again, a cliché, I think to myself. “Yes, but I do not know your many truths,” I say, reminding him that he hides behind these over-used mantras. “I am not ready to know my truths,” Byron says with uncharacteristic refusal. “When you are ready, we can go there,” I remind him. “Yes, but some truths are better not known,” he argues. “And some truths seem to be better not known, but when known, are less terrible than imagined. Name it to tame it,” I say, “yes, that is a cliché,” I needlessly remind him.