Shirah Vollmer MD

The Musings of Dr. Vollmer

Archive for the ‘Obsessions’ Category

Obsessions As Attachments

Posted by Dr. Vollmer on June 14, 2012

Sherry, has trouble holding on to the notion that relationships persist in the mind, as well as through face to face contact. She copes with these slippery attachments by developing obsessions which help her latch on to people. When she feels fondly for someone she becomes preoccupied with their life, often by internet stalking. This connection to the person, through her intense focus, helps her feel more securely attached. When she stops focusing on their life, then she becomes sullen and depressed. Her obsession protects her from feeling alone and empty. One could also argue that the wiring in her brain predisposes her to get locked into a feedback loop in which she cannot stop. She is anxious about feeling alone, leading her to use the internet as a “transitional object,” thereby calming her down temporarily, but soon she has to start the loop over again.

“I remember when you were obsessed with Mark and you created multiple narratives in your head about his lifestyle, based on your internet research, and then the obsession went away and you felt very down,” I say, discussing this issue that her obsessions are her way of feeling connected and the loss of her obsession leads her to despair. “Yes, that is how it works. I go from obsession to obsession, and in between I feel empty,” Sherry says with remarkable candor. “It is because it is hard for you to trust that people care about you, even if you are not actively thinking about them.” I say, highlighting the developmental notion of object permanence, the stage of infancy where a baby begins to know that people are still there, even if they don’t see them. “Yes, I do not think anyone thinks about me at all when I am not sitting in front of them” Sherry says, without a sense of sadness. “I think about you when you are not here,” I say, pointing out that she sticks in my mind. “You do,” she says with utter surprise. “That is so nice. I am going to have a good day,” Sherry says, with a childlike sense of enthusiasm.

Posted in Obsessions, Psychoanalysis, Psychotherapy, Relationships | 3 Comments »

Floating Obsessions

Posted by Dr. Vollmer on March 7, 2012

Lola, fifty-five, became obsessed with me, in that scary sense. She followed me home. She thought about me all the time and every session was about what she was thinking about me. The frequency of our visits, three times a week, intensified her obsession. One could have argued that the psychoanalytic approach was exacerbating her condition and not helping her, as our work together fed her preoccupation with me. Yet, five years later, Lola stopped her obsession with me and now she leads a happier and more balanced life. We still work together three times a week and there are many important issues in her life that we explore including her challenging childhood and her difficult interpersonal relationships. Where did her obsession go, one might wonder. She has now transferred her fixation on to plants. She plants exotic flowers in her garden and she obsessively keeps a journal about where she bought the plant, the date she planted it, and how the plants are doing over time. In essence, her obsession with me, potentially destructive to our relationship, has transformed into an obsession with plants, which enhances her personality and is a wonderful outlet for her need to be focused in-depth on one topic. Together, Lola and I marvel at her transformation. We can’t entirely understand it, but we both believe that our tenacity, our sticking to our relationship, despite the hard times, made her see that she could gain insight into her behavior if she stopped focusing on me and my behaviors. In other words, she was testing me to see if I could withstand her intense focus. The “hazing” lasted a long time, but in retrospect, it was time well spent. We are into a more interesting phase of our relationship and it feels like we are on a good track. Who knew?

Posted in Obsessions, Psychoanalysis, Psychotherapy | 2 Comments »

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