Shirah Vollmer MD

The Musings of Dr. Vollmer

Archive for the ‘Tardiness’ Category

Tardiness Tales

Posted by Dr. Vollmer on September 27, 2011

  Alana, thirty-three, comes routinely ten minutes late. Ordinarily she is a prompt person, but to our sessions she sheepishly apologizes for her tardiness. “I am going to do better next time,” she says, as if she can be more disciplined. “Maybe you are ambivalent about coming here and so you compromise with yourself by coming late,” I say, stating that her unconscious has a large contribution to her behavior. “I never thought of that,” she says, as if stunned by my comment. As the session proceeds, she begins to tell me how she is still having problems with her boss at work. She knows she needs to find a new job, and she knows that we have discussed this before. “You came late because you did not want to face me and tell me that you have not sent out your résumé.” I say, pointing out that she anticipates our conversation about how unhappy she is at work, so to avoid this uncomfortable conversation, she delays the experience. At the same time, she finds our time together valuable, so she has deeply mixed feelings which are exhibited by her consistent tardiness. The striking aspect to her lateness is that she has pushed out of her awareness her strong fear of talking about her work; this fear only surfaces as she begins to tread familiar ground. Now it suddenly makes sense to her why she is late. She fears, what she perceives, is my silent scolding for not pursuing new employment. The ah-ha moment happened. I suspect she will continue to be late since this ambivalence still needs to be processed. For now, we are both frustrated that we don’t have much time together. Still, we both see that this frustration is preferable to the unconscious fear of my disapproval. The human mind never fails to impress with the depth of its processing and the compromises it makes, whether we know it or not.

Posted in Psychotherapy, Tardiness | 2 Comments »

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