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|Getting It Right - Page 8|
We watch Paul pause. Same dream? he asks, and settles into his chair to listen to the patient's recurring imagery. Yeah, I'm in the boat, but she's in the water, the patient says.
We understand now that Paul's face will be attentive, his hands will be knitted. As best he can in the pulsing reality of this patient, he'll allow Kate's bitter revelation to rest, to hover. It's a snapshot of how many reverberating layers the therapist bears within him- or herself.
The psychotherapist could be Oedipus—not the character that Freud created, the child who unconsciously wants to kill his father and marry his mother, but the passionate character out of Sophocles, the person who thinks he knows who he is, but actually doesn't; who stumbles around in the dark, who doesn't know who his own family is. It's what they mean by Sophoclean irony, the particular irony of the character who speaks, but is blind to the fuller, truer meaning of what's said.
We're born into this world with the horrible prophecy that we'll hurt even the people we most want not to hurt. The therapeutic response to this fate isn't a wished-for flight into arrogant perfection, the dream of a transcendently guilt-free life, but toleration, awareness, the open eye. I thought the writers of In Treatment got that right, too—to show the therapist seeking wisdom even as he fights against it. The daunting project is to tolerate ourselves, to understand our family.