Saturday, February 02, 2008

Have patience: I wrote this on an HBO blog which is devoted to thoughts about its new excellent series called "In Treatment." If you haven't begun to watch this you should. It is fascinating programming. It involves one half hour psychotherapy segments of four different patients of Paul, a psychotherapist. It takes place every day from 9:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. on HBO. There is limited glitz to this show but I think it is supremely riveting. If you missed episodes you can retrieve them by going to HBO Series and you can even concentrate on just one of the patients if you choose. I enjoy all of them. Each one is unique. You can concentrate on Paul too who has his own session with his own psychotherapist/supervisor/friend (and maybe intimate friend), played by Diane Wiest.This is a summary of my initial feeling when the question posed was who was the bloggers' favorite patient.

Paul is my favorite patient. This show brings up so many issues. The one that permeates my thoughts is the question of what is therapy. How does a therapist learn or develop technique and does the traditional form of uncovering layers of personality so the patient has revelatory experiences which are supposed to transform their life really WORK? Do patients feel better as the therapist guides them to that end?

When one goes to a doctor, for example, for diabetes there are ways of treating a patient that we KNOW work. This is not so for the biology of the mind. We know so little about how it works and why it is so different from other organs and DIFFICULT to treat to make people change their behavior or make them feel "better."

I never understood what therapy actually does accomplish and why SO many people feel so negatively about so many therapists and why so many therapists are SO bad. My guess is traditional therapy, as we have come to understand part of it, simply does not help much and maybe does some harm because many therapists (not all of course) do not know what in hell they are doing or what to say to make the patient feel better and may even make them feel worse. Therapy really is not a science.

In my opinion, the only thing that SEEMS to work a little better or perhaps somewhat more predictably -- even then it surely is not perfect -- is treating mental or emotional illness pharmacologically. This, however, is FRAUGHT with problems as medications are thrown into a hat and chosen wily nilly to see what works. Sometimes the medication(s) work, sometimes for only a little while and sometimes not at all. Sometimes, the side effects can be too much to bear and can even be fatal.

PBS radio broadcast a great segment interviewing an author named Jonah Leher who wrote a book entitled "Proust was a Neuroscientist." This book links the creative and emotional part of the brain with its biochemistry. It was fascinating and reinforced the complexity of our most mysterious organ and its emotional and artistic relationship to science.

I wonder in this program what Paul trying to do and does he even know what to do or say when his patients throw an emotional cacophony in his presence. His own life, too, is such a mixture of emotions which are diffuse and explosive. It's hard to know if HE or ANY therapist has their own house in order or if they do not how on earth they could help anyone else with theirs.

Having said all of that, for me, however, Paul, has become the most interesting character. His confusion and relationship with HIS own therapist/supervisor is absorbing as he has at least SOME insight and can talk about SOME of his feelings a bit more easily than his patients. Other times, though, he is similar to his own patients in that he simply will not face that which assaults his equilibrium. This makes for an interesting brew.

This show is EXCELLENT and presents an oasis of programming in a sewer of disgusting, irrelevant, stupid, inane, profane, and brutal television which occupies a large segment of time in so many lives. What a better nation we would be if many more switched from American Idol to this.



Paul is my favorite patient. This show brings up so many issues. The one that permeates my thoughts is the question of what is therapy. How does a therapist learn or develop technique and does the traditional form of uncovering layers of personality so the patient has revelatory experiences which are supposed to transform their life really WORK? Do patients feel better as the therapist guides them to that end?

When one goes to a doctor, for example, for diabetes there are ways of treating a patient that we KNOW work. This is not so for the biology of the mind. We know so little about how it works and why it is so different from other organs and DIFFICULT to treat to make people change their behavior or make them feel "better."

I never understood what therapy actually does accomplish and why SO many people feel so negatively about so many therapists and why so many therapists are SO bad. My guess is traditional therapy, as we have come to understand part of it, simply does not help much and maybe does some harm because many therapists (not all of course) do not know what in hell they are doing or what to say to make the patient feel better and may even make them feel worse. Therapy really is not a science.

In my opinion, the only thing that SEEMS to work a little better or perhaps somewhat more predictably -- even then it surely is not perfect -- is treating mental or emotional illness pharmacologically. This, however, is FRAUGHT with problems as medications are thrown into a hat and chosen wily nilly to see what works. Sometimes the medication(s) work, sometimes for only a little while and sometimes not at all. Sometimes, the side effects can be too much to bear and can even be fatal.

PBS radio broadcast a great segment interviewing an author named Jonah Leher who wrote a book entitled "Proust was a Neuroscientist." This book links the creative and emotional part of the brain with its biochemistry. It was fascinating and reinforced the complexity of our most mysterious organ and its emotional and artistic relationship to science.

I wonder in this program what Paul trying to do and does he even know what to do or say when his patients throw an emotional cacophony in his presence. His own life, too, is such a mixture of emotions which are diffuse and explosive. It's hard to know if HE or ANY therapist has their own house in order or if they do not how on earth they could help anyone else with theirs.

Having said all of that, for me, however, Paul, has become the most interesting character. His confusion and relationship with HIS own therapist/supervisor is absorbing as he has at least SOME insight and can talk about SOME of his feelings a bit more easily than his patients. Other times, though, he is similar to his own patients in that he simply will not face that which assaults his equilibrium. This makes for an interesting brew.

This show is EXCELLENT and presents an oasis of programming in a sewer of disgusting, irrelevant, stupid, inane, profane, and brutal television which occupies a large segment of time in so many lives. What a better nation we would be if many more switched from American Idol to this.