I don’t usually bring politics to my therapy blog but waking up on Friday June 24th 2016 to such a sense of shock and the subsequent sequence of clients through my consulting room all of whom had been triggered in different ways by this referendum result has given me pause for thought.
The easiest response is to blame the 17 million people who voted ‘Leave’, to judge them as racist imbeciles who want a return to a long lost fantasy of a bucolic little England. But that, in psychological terms, is splitting and projection. You know, I rid myself of any shadowy bits of my unconscious (my own internalised xenophobia ?) and place them firmly within ‘the other’. But do I really believe that over half of my fellow voters are complete idiots ? That doesn’t sound like a very humanistic position - ‘I’m OK, they’re NOT OK’ ! I still disagree with their opinions and feel angry and dismayed by what the consequences of this decision may be in years to come. Yet how do I understand what has happened without diminishing myself or my neighbours ?
I have been thinking about the generally accepted truth that we all crave intimacy, and that many of us fail to find or maintain it. What is it - this thing that shows up as central in loving relationships, that drives so much of human activity, yet presents so many pitfalls ? And what has any of this to do with therapeutic relationships ?
I've been thinking about the project of therapy
Parents will fail us. Its practically a given and not something to regret. We will fail our children in some way, if we have them - its part of the job, to grow resilience and autonomy. Show me the offspring of parents that perfectly and immediately meet every developmental need and I will show you a hothouse flower that cannot trust themselves to survive outside of that cushioning.