Thursday, September 04, 2008

Between Fear and Hope

Hope is itself a species of happiness, and, perhaps, the chief happiness which this world affords: but, like all other pleasures immoderately enjoyed, the excesses of hope must be expiated by pain; and expectations improperly indulged must end in disappointment.

I fear disappointment. I tremble before the prospect of disappointment. My early years sensitized me to dashed hopes, and the inevitable disappointment that followed. Today I shrink from life, lest I be seduced by hope, only to experience that hope evaporate.

I fear that psychotherapy holds out hopes for me that cannot be realized. Those who have been subjected to attempts at soul murder require one quality from the therapist or analyst above all others: patience. It is not hard to understand why change must be slow: there is so much distrust. The emotional connecting necessary for insight is initially more than soul-murdered people like me can bear. I learned as a child that to be emotionally open, to want something passionately, was the beginning of frustrating torment. The deeply ingrained bad expectations are felt toward parents and all "grown-ups." The distrust is based not only on the projection of "bad" feelings (derived from the aggressive drives and the inevitable frustration of wishes), which give rise to intimations of losing control and a terror of being overwhelmed by feeling. Such fears beset every child in the course of development; they also lurk in our subsequent fantasy life (although their intensity varies with the individual).

In addition to this, the distrust of parents and the entire affectively charged environment is based for soul-murder victims on experienced reality. I was abused and neglected and have learned a lesson: if I cannot trust mother and father, whom can I trust? So a really meaningful alliance with the analyst takes a long time to develop, although at first it may appear that one exists; in therapy I am likely to behave in an "as if" fashion, to posses a facade of relatedness that combines compliance to what is usually expected with a provocative defiance that has a gamelike quality for me. People around me must not matter too much.

And so I live in fear of hope.

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