Dispatches from the Couch #1
During the august break from analysis I found myself smoking cigarettes again. This is something that I've struggled with recently although I actually quit smoking over 5 years ago. I have been reflecting on what might be happening unconsciously. It's possible the cigarette is a proxy nipple, an attempt to self feed, to prove that I can regulate my own emotions. A way of avoiding a dependancy and prove to myself that I do not need my analyst.
The smoking could also be a regressive defence. To a younger time when risk and the death drive are more flippantly related to myself, it might be a way of avoiding the process of transformation and working through that has been on pause during the break. There may also be something triumphant in the pause of therapy, again something omnipotent arising to deny the need for dependancy. Another idea I had about it is that it may be something related to anger. I am aware I have a great deal of unsymbolised anger and hate some of which has been triggered over the break. The smoking could be a way of turning that anger in ward by attacking and poisoning myself. It could be none of this. I am aware that there is something much deeper at play within this symptom which I think is triggered as a way to modulate an emotional working through that must take place. I am cognitively combating the addiction. In this way I can will the breaking of the habit but I assume it will recur. I hope to dive deeper into the causal need around the symptom in my therapy and I wonder if the symptom will alleviate.
For various reasons there has been a holding off my using the couch. So I've been in upright therapy with my analyst until now. Before we begin my analyst asked me what my feelings were about starting on the couch. I am in part excited to begin the process but I also have a number of anxieties and predictions of what I might feel. It's possible that I will experience something of an infantilisation, of an baby being left on it's own to cry and struggle whilst a carer looks on. This might be something I am making of what I myself might do if the roles were reversed, or a fear of what I might do, something sadistic and cruel lurks there perhaps as a fear of vulnerability. I imagine a curiosity will be ignited, what is happening behind me? Am I being watched and judged? Necessarily the power alters drastically, I am now prone, the analyst upright. I am physically being looked down upon, will this be experienced emotionally also?
There is also a breaking of the relational upright dynamic. I can no longer look at my analyst, be held by their gaze, understand their reactions to my words physically or in more conventional social terms. Will I find the disembodied voice containing? Will it take on a new quality? I imagine I will fixate on the tempo, the sound, the rhythms. The change in dynamic reinforces that I am the patient, we are no longer upright as physical equals I am prone and wanting. There is something seductive in this, a greater intimacy and a greater emphasis of my vulnerability. Will I lie there expecting something to be administered something medicinal? Or to receive something sexually? I am now required to let go of the pre suppositions of the relationship, does the analyst become something other than human in this respect? I have to face the fact that all of the above is phantasy.
I have been thinking practically also, do I keep my shoes on? There is a great fear of getting it wrong, of being incorrect. This fear of failure is following me through training, therapy and life. How will I cope with staring up at the invisible void; Will I become mute or will the associations tumble out freely?