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Posted by: D | 2010/08/08

Acting out in therapy

Dear Professor Simpson

Hope you are enjoying the long weekend. Just wanted to share where I am at. I am obviously still in therapy but it is so good to be able to speak to a sympathetic ear whenever the left brain chatter plagues. It is quite amazing how when one gains distance from a traumatic episode the woods become clearer and clearer and the perspective changes completely. One of the things that my " trangressing therapist"  said to me when his physical feelings became clear, was that I had to trust him not to " act out his feelings" . What I did not realise (and clearly neither did he), was that by not referring me and by engaging me in an intimate email relationship, he was already acting out. No doubt had I fully verbalised my reciprocal feelings we might well have fallen into the realm of professional misconduct, although some psychiatrists maintain he had already done so. Strange how in the beginning I was so fearful that I would come up against a closed shop iro collegial loyalty, now I cant find one psychologist/psychiatrist willing to defend his actions - things have indeed come full circle. So many have pushed me in the direction of the HPCSA but fortunately/unfortunately I have given my word/assurances in this respect and have no wish to take things further. There are so many reasons why I should - he risked my life, he risked my sanity and in pure psychoparlance, he abused his position and he abused me. But at the end of the day what really matters is me alone and holding true to the essence of who I believe I am. Whether he was seeing his own reflections in me or I was seeing mine in him - I guess I''ve read the gambit of transference/ countertransference/projective identification/ projection hooks, etc, etc. All the intellectualisation in the world cannot detract from feelings and genuine connection, however in the context of an uneven power relationship in therapy, these feelings are too easily exploited, distorted and any pretence of control thereof is both arrogant and dangerous. I truly hope that in time he will develop the humility to understand this.

In deciding not to take the matter further I am remaining true to my own sensitivity, my belief that this psychiatrist will not make the same mistake again (I have no doubt that SASOP would be very alert to any further transgressions!!) and my deep understanding of the fallibility of humanity. I have a husband and two children, he has a wife and three children, I have no wish to inflict any further trauma on any of them. There was a time when I rejected the sensitivity within myself as a sign of weakness, now I embrace it with open arms (I guess therapy has had some benefit?). Just to be really sentimental and corny, I''ll end off with one of my favourite quotations and thank you again for being the solid and wise support that you have been (though at times, you must have been sorely tempted to tell me to go to hell!!).

" There is an aristocracy of the sensitive. They represent the true human tradition of permanent victory over cruelty and chaos."  - E. M. Forster

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

I wish I had your faith that SASOP would be alert to anything - how will they know what he is doing in ( or out !) of therapy sessions, in the future, unless they send an official United Nations Observer team to sit in ? They're really not renowned for any evidence of alertness to the content of psych practice, especially not in the psychodynamic sphere.
Anyhow, I'm pleased to hear you are feeling more sturdy and accepting of yourself and the decisions you have made.
As it happens, I rarely tell people to go to Hell. Having been there myself, I hardly ever find reasons to recommend it, even as a holiday destination for a long-weekend.

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Our users say:
Posted by: cybershrink | 2010/08/08

I wish I had your faith that SASOP would be alert to anything - how will they know what he is doing in ( or out !) of therapy sessions, in the future, unless they send an official United Nations Observer team to sit in ? They're really not renowned for any evidence of alertness to the content of psych practice, especially not in the psychodynamic sphere.
Anyhow, I'm pleased to hear you are feeling more sturdy and accepting of yourself and the decisions you have made.
As it happens, I rarely tell people to go to Hell. Having been there myself, I hardly ever find reasons to recommend it, even as a holiday destination for a long-weekend.

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