You Want Us to Join Your Pain? You Must Join Ours
As a practicing clinician, from time to time it's useful to explain to clients the division of responsibility in psychotherapy. I say, "Your job is to put your bottom in the chair, and my job is everything else." I tell clients they can talk about whatever they wish for as long as they need. Every feeling, every memory will get us where we need to go. They don't have to find the mot juste or write a term paper about themselves. If something makes them uncomfortable, please tell me as soon as you can, even if you have to circle back to it.
A few days ago, a client said to me, "You do not understand how I feel when I see the video of George Floyd." I said, "It's true I don't understand your experience." That response is called joining.
Several schools of psychotherapy employ joining as validation to advance the therapeutic relationship. Joining communicates to the client that every aspect of your experience is indispensable. In fact, during therapy, nothing else exists. Joining can be simply staying quiet and listening to another's pain, which is what decent people do all the time. Narrative therapy creates a momentary, healthy, healing narcissism in which the client's experience is all that matters. After my client had poured out all to be said, I sealed the session by saying, "I was also heartbroken when I saw what happened to Mr. Floyd. It's true, I don't understand as you do, but I have been through the pain of tragic death as his family is going through." I did not mean, "OK, now let's talk about me." That will never happen. I said it because I believed that the client could accept the message that beneath our differences, there is a unifying reality of suffering that we all must experience. The client's provisional, therapeutic narcissism can then resolve into the shared experience that unites us all.
I believe that connection through our shared suffering as Americans is gone. American society has ruptured into two irreconcilable camps with no evident path to being reunited as one constitutional republic under God. That brutal rupture happened in 1973, when the left embraced the doctrine of disposability of the youngest human beings. Since then, all that's been happening is the inevitable spreading of infection through the body politic. The path ahead to defend the Constitution and preserve traditional morality is either armed revolution or organized socioeconomic secession and apartheid. The third path is surrender to those who hate us, while swiping our cards to pay for their abuse.
One way of conceptualizing the psychodynamics of this schism is that the left wing has become the collective psychotherapy client of the right wing, while being too immature to reciprocate the attention and emotional joining it demands. That one-sided, permanent narcissistic assumption, which never resolves into a mutual understanding of both sides' pain, has destroyed our society. The left wing disgorges its blame, rage, and discontent, believing that its bile deserves recognition and joining, while viewing our anguish and anger at the persecution of our great president, the desecration of our dearest constitutional rights, and the destruction of our national sovereignty as not worthy of understanding, but rather a symptom of the right wing's stupidity and hatefulness. Furthermore, the shrieks and groans expectorated by the left about racism, sexism, "homophobia," kids in kages, global gorming are rarely based on any form of direct knowledge, much less on personal suffering. In fact, it has been my experience that people who have actually suffered racial trauma, generally older like my client, are most capable of forgiveness, while pampered, wannabe victimlettes, sporting liberation fashion statements, are revenge-seeking blood-lusters in their histrionic wailings and gnashings.
Psychotherapy often begins with emotionally painful presenting problems. Here are a few of the deep wells of pain that tens of millions of Americans deserve to be joined. We are sick of your verbal abuse of calling us racist. We are so nauseated by being guilty until proven innocent of racism that we could vomit. So gagged by being called privileged, you can add bulimia to the presenting problems. The most race-privileged people in American history are Barack and Michelle Obama. We are angry at your multifarious criminality in persecuting our great president. We are enraged by your schemes to nullify our votes, to disenfranchise us, to cheat us with fraudulent elections. We are tormented by your relentless attack on the U.S. Constitution, on our right to bear arms, our free exercise of religion, and the enslavement you envision for our grandchildren in the banana republic you are building. We grieve every life your evil abortion philosophy has ended.
Barack and Michelle Obama have done more to damage race relations in America than any human beings since the end of legal segregation. Their respective booties — one skinny, one super-sized, extra fries — have been in a ginormous therapy chair sharing the pain of how racist Americans are, which amounts to verbal abuse of the American people. On May 29, Barack sauntered from one of his mansions with a tall shaker of salt to rub in our wounds. His lesion-salting ended by encouraging us "to work together to create a 'new normal' in which the legacy of bigotry and unequal treatment no longer infects our institutions or our hearts." See, normally you are a racist swine with an infected heart from the legacy of bigotry. Thanks for sharing, Barack.
Oprah Winfrey's bountiful butt cheeks have been crammed into the client's chair so long that she can't stand up straight. Oprah emotes passionately about her pain and is unaware of yours. On the death of George Floyd, Oprah writes: "If the largeness of a soul is determined by its sphere of influence, George Floyd is a mighty soul." If largeness of soul is determined by sphere of influence, then Hitler, Stalin, Mao had gigantic souls. Tragically, George Floyd's sphere of influence has already resulted in the bloody murder of at least five black people. Oprah will not publicly grieve for federal officer Patrick Underwood or police chief David Dorn. She may believe they were smaller souls according to her methods of spiritual calculation, though Underwood sacrificed his life for his oath to the Constitution and Dorn died protecting a friend's store. Right-wing people tend to be equally pained by all tragic deaths; for the left wing, someone murdered by a cop is more tragic.
Oprah writes of George: "While pouring coffee, lacing my shoes, and taking a breath, I think: He doesn't get to do this." So many babies won't ever draw a breath because they were murdered in the womb. So many souls, so many black boys, won't ever learn to tie shoe laces because of that cataclysm of killing. Oprah doesn't join that ocean of pain.
For many, our worst suffering is due to the destruction of the Constitution, for what that portends for our grandchildren. The Constitution is near death. First it was cut open to harvest its organs for abortion and "gender-neutral" marriage. Now there is a knee on the neck of the Constitution, asphyxiating the black-letter rights of the First Amendment. More than anything, the left hates Christianity. It has exploited and perverted and now is simply murdering Christianity. When Americans assert their free exercise of religion, the eunuch John Roberts kneels before a radical left-wing governor and degrades the Supreme Court as "an unelected federal judiciary" which may not "second-guess" the restricting of church worship. Where does he think he works at? The Jiffy Lube? It is especially sickening because the so-called science on the Wuhan virus (which figured in his capitulation) is a pile of trash.
When will our fellow Americans, so sensitive, so aggrieved, let us sit in the therapy chair? When will they join our pain? Never.