Medium 9781780491103

The Stolen Girl and Other Stories

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The Stolen Girl is a collection of seven tales written in the genre of short stories. The narratives are fictionised accounts based on the author's work as an analyst. They carefully open the door of the consulting room giving the reader a chance to glance at the psychoanalytical encounter and get an understanding of what therapy might be. Written in simple accessible language, these tales are aimed at a general public who enjoys fiction as well as to anyone interested in or considering psychotherapy. They will be of particular interest to current practitioners, students of psychoanalysis or individuals thinking of training in the profession.These short stories will also be a valuable tool for teaching programmes concerned with the clinical aspects and practice of the 'talking cure'.

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From two to one

ePub

“Dichotomy: a separation into two divisions that differ widely from, or contradict each other, or the phase of the Moon or a planet when half of its surface appears illuminated by the sun.”

“To dichotomise: to divide something, or become divided, into two classes or groups.”

From two to one. This story unfolds over about three years of weekly meetings and marks the beginning of a reconfiguration of this man’s life.

It started with a feeling of unease and guilt. There are two women involved: the one he is trying to leave, and the one he has recently found anew, a woman whose trace he had never quite lost. They had been lovers, years back. Desire beckons again.

For the first time in his life, he is turning to therapy. Old ways no longer suit him: he is seeking help to facilitate a decision and would like to make a choice; he is also hoping for radical changes he cannot yet fathom.

He is smart and confident; his presence fills the room. Agile, sleek, seductive, he strolls in: an uneasy combination though, as tears could just erupt at any moment it seems. Subsequently, in the course of our meetings, they often will.

 

The child of May ‘68

ePub

Annie had come back to analysis a couple of years earlier. She is the mother of two, married for the second time. She has doubts. What is it she has become? Is there any value to her life as it is at present? She fears it is so distant, so alien from anything she was brought up to aspire to. She is puzzled by the undeniable satisfied ease she experiences as a mother, but she dares not be lured. In parts, she seeks “analytical” validation.

She is recounting a dream. She meets with her mother; her mother denies: she is not a liar; she has never told any lies, surely her daughter knows she does not lie. She, Annie, should be enraged: so many instances of deceit, the complications of a life she had difficulty understanding in her childhood. So many secrets, the hardship of keeping them, as a young girl, and later on, in her adult life too; yet this time she can just walk away, no resentment, no frustration. She wakes up. The dream is over. Her analysis is reaching its end.

Another dream. She is in a bathroom, surrounded by chaotic mess—could it be in her father’s apartment? What can she make of the set of disparate objects scattered on the floor? Some used tampons, a blue cooking pot, fractured in two, more blood on the discarded life support machine her father might no longer need.

 

Love. With death? With life?

ePub

She had been living in Paris. One day, out of the blue her analyst of some time, an eminent academic, died. She was shaken and profoundly saddened but on her return to live permanently in England, she made her mind up. She would seek new conversations.

She decided to have analysis with me and her choice was a surprise. Her previous analyst came from such a different background both intellectually and analytically. I found myself intrigued, possibly flattered, yet amazed to be an attractive or likely alternative for this woman.

Soon she started making the journey, twice a week, continuing for several momentous years, and with one momentous interruption.

I doubt my mind was really open at that point. Imagining what she is likely to bring to sessions, I muddy the waters of desire.

My likely failing was to underestimate the leap, largely unconscious, this woman was making in her analytical choice, as if an unrealised necessity, not yet formulated, for a radical difference, was pushing her to meet the unfamiliar she had been finding attractive for a while. Or so it gradually transpired.

 

The stolen girl

ePub

Going back several years, I had met them jointly as a couple. At first, I had heard how he described her as hard, unyielding. He wants her to mellow, to become more relaxed. Elegantly facing me, a bewildered, fragile, pleading woman, hoping to have her case considered. A dignified plea.

They had come together. Both dissatisfied, they were seeking guidance. How could their life with one another become harmonious? They both missed love.

When they had left, I remember wondering whether I would see them again. Wondering what drives us to make choices rooted in incompatibility? What had these two individuals seen in one another to imagine the possibility of parenthood together? Although they had both wanted their child, they must have asked themselves very different questions, possibly conflicting questions, or no questions at all, at the onset.

Only she came back.

“Once a week, I could see you once a week, no more; this is as much as I can bear,” she had declared, and we started meeting regularly, without fail, for several years.

 

Unpredictable

ePub

Analysis starts in unexpected ways. A mystery. Who will knock on your door? Today? Another day? Always unknown, unforeseeable. It often surprises me how this initial connection happens. The unpredictable quality of who might be coming next is one I enjoy. In this instance I am moved, full of admiration too.

Parents of young adults witness a transformation in their children; it takes place gradually, at times brutally. A visceral bond remains and yet distance has crept in. A necessary distance, hoped for, if hard to bear.

Scrutinising the face of the young adult. Where has the child gone? Evanescent; fully present in this familiar look, and yet vanished. No recapturing; just another individual heading into a future only he can conceive. Powerless parental nostalgia coupled with intimate understanding.

* * *

She has just come in. We are now sitting opposite each other. A first year undergraduate. A foreign student. She is in a state of acute distress. That much I have been told. That much I can now see for myself, marked on her face; deep black rings of sorrow; she shows a tentative smile of a fleeting instant too.

 

When time is not of the essence

ePub

In some instances, analysis does not last very long. A genuine analytical experience takes place, yet time is limited from the outset. The outcome is even more unpredictable than customary, and the consequences also remain unpredictable.

I am not thinking of situations when someone does not stay: just a few sessions maybe, a realisation they cannot, or do not want to engage further with that particular analyst, that particular way of considering themselves, or quite simply, life suddenly takes an unexpected turn. What had seemed pressing now appears differently. That person does not come again. They deliver a snippet of their life to your consulting room then omit to return; a forgotten parcel on the platform, only noticed once the train has already left the station.

Ephemeral encounters, not void of consequences one can speculate, but nevertheless they stay largely unknown to the analyst.

* * *

When this man arrived, there was a distinct chance, even a hope on his part he would only be seeking a brief analytical hello, before following his destiny in another country. All the same, I agreed to see him. His plea was intriguing, although I was unsure the framework was sufficient to engage in analytical work.

 

Christmas Eve in Paris

ePub

One day, she had given me this to read:

I want, I desire, quite simply, a structure […]
Of course, there is not a happiness of structure but
I can perfectly well inhabit that which
does not make me happy.

“Pigeonholed” in A Lover’s Discourse,

—Roland Barthes

Thanks again for everything over the last three years. You helped keep me going. Best.” This is what she had written. “You helped” and “kept me going”. On receiving this message I notice my surprise. Was this all which could be acknowledged at the end of three years of twice, sometimes three times a week, face-to-face analytical work? I had been deeply moved by the intensity of my encounter with Martine and I had little doubt she too had experienced our meetings in a similar way.

Yet, had the project been to “help” and “keep going”? Martine had come in a state of acute distress, been referred by another long-standing patient of mine. She had come with a recommendation from someone I really liked. I received her with potential affection. Her pain was so intense that I instantly wondered whether it was right to offer to work with her as I was about to take an extended summer break, but almost immediately she had told me, “I will manage to wait for your return.” “Just,” she had added.

 

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