Monday, December 22, 2014

THE COUCH AND FREE ASSOCIATION

My desk is always shiny and neat. The telephone, my major stock in trade, buzzes insistently and frequently. I pick up the phone quickly, fix appointments for my boss, the analyst and jot down the details in a diary. Occasionally, if the patient is a neurotic, attention seeking kind i have a brief discussion with Dr. Wright, my boss, to deal delicately with a problematic patient. I am taciturn and polite and generally non interfering. The shouts and yells i hear from the closed room where patient and analyst interchange are largely ignored. I don't even wonder what is going on. I proceed to perform my menial work as unobtrusively as possible.
I do recognize the patients over a period of time. X ,i identify as the schizophrenic woman who sits silently, her hands twined around herself,with a glazed distant look. She is always unfailingly polite and decorous. Then there is A the anorexic young woman who is always ready to exchange pleasantries. I like her freckles and wide, toothy smile. I wonder whether her circumstances have improved but quash the thought as it is not strictly my concern. B, the suited booted businessman is brisk and peremptory, M, the secretary to a bank manager is officious and sanctimonious. Beyond greeting them politely and asking them to seat themselves my ministrations chiefly consist of circumspection and invisibility. I am a necessary but expendable mediator. I stall the proceedings with an interlude of propriety before the darkness of the human psyche , ineluctably materializes in patient/analyst colloquy.
I am rather unimaginative. I do my work, collect my pay and live a life of quotidian imperturability. My unconscious scarcely bothers me at all because maintaining a facsimile of a functional life is wearying enough. Occasionally i dream vivid, sexual dreams, centred around random people who i recall in my slumber. But these disquieting intimations of the corporeal are rarely discomfiting and never impinge on my consciousness.A dream is after all a dream and quite unremarkable. Whatever it may have to say about my inner life is irrelevant because my routines will be unaltered, my unimportance unchanged. So the whole point of excoriating my mind, given the staidness of my protracted structure around life, is frankly unnecessary and fruitless.
Sometimes a patient with conspiratorially confide a secret or a problem which they then hint, with becoming flushes of self consciousness, that the psychoanalyst wouldn't understand. I am told that i have a glamorous job ,as a assistant to a shrink. 'You must meet so many interesting people' being the breathless exhalation of prurience from my interlocutors. As i alluded to above reticence keeps me afloat.
I have never experienced depression but i have felt sadness. An indefinable sadness, inchoate yet momentary. I bounce back pretty fast. I do take sleeping pills though because the tedium of the working day, unrelieved by any spark of conflagaration, enervates me, rendering even sleep impossible to submerge into seamlessly.
Today my boss called me in, asking routine questions about whether i was having problems with the job and my health. He has cancelled all appointments today. His eyes rove over me thoughtfully,speculatively. On impulse he asks me to lie on the couch. He tells me, avuncularly, to free associate. Initially i am hesitant and my mind, unaccustomed to rumination, faces a stasis. But suspending all misgivings, evincing loquaciousness, i pour forth my consciousness unimpeded by rational restraint.
I am deeply resentful that a portion of my salary is deducted as fees for analysis, thrice a week. But presumably it is for the best. Patients who come now are no more spectral or consigned to wilful oblivion and dealt with formally. We speak fulsomely now, exchange stories, histories neurosis.And in a way by discovering that i am not what i thought i was or repressed precipitately due to both inertia and purposelessness i have now come alive.

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