Shirah Vollmer MD

The Musings of Dr. Vollmer

Archive for the ‘caring therapist’ Category

Do Therapists Really Care? A Commenter Responds…My First Guest Blogger!

Posted by Dr. Vollmer on January 28, 2013


I suppose every Zach has his own reasons, but I can say for myself that the idea that a therapist cared about me in a personal way came to me only with profound astonishment.  It is, after all, your job to help your clients.  It isn’t your job to care.  That’s a bonus I don’t ask for or expect, and you give it to your patients only because that’s the kind of person you are.

Understanding that people care just because they do is such a difficult idea for me, if I really think about it, my head hurts a little at the strangeness of it–like how my students feel when they are exposed to a very advanced type of math. Because it is not quite solidly in my mind that other people have the capacity to care in a sustained way. I grew up surrounded by people who interacted with others solely to use them, and who mimicked an appearance of care for personal gain or just to look good to themselves.

It isn’t that I think people can’t care about me, but that I’m not clear that others can care about anyone.  My model of normal human behavior and thinking continues to be, to some extent, grossly pathological–I still assume people’s insides to be vast emotional wastelands, although I do know better.

If the issue for Zach in your mind is about care, then I would guess some element of that may be at play: he grew up with profoundly selfish people, and still assumes emotional callousness and disengagement are what he can expect from others.  If you disrupt that view by being caring, it may even frighten him, as that means he lives in a world he now does not understand and cannot trust himself to be able to navigate  safely or successfully.

A world in which people care is not necessarily a safer world to Zach.  It can seem dangerous.  Selfish people have flattened inner worlds, and less complex desires and responses.  They may be violent and homicidal, but they will be predictably violent.  They can be managed with a little attention and skill.  Caring people are complex.  There’s no telling what they will do.

To see the fictional Zach narrative, check out…

Posted in caring therapist | Tagged: | 13 Comments »

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