I started a group therapy shortly before Christmas. I've been to about six meetings, even seven. There was a meeting last night. They last an hour and a half. After it, I slept poorly and have a headache today, set off by things I said last night. It has lowered my mood. Is this progress? Probably. Something is going on.
It is quite a serious business. Lying in bed this morning, I had the urge to get up and write something humorous about it. Humour is many things, a form of defence but also a form of release and it is the latter I need.
I am up now and coffee-d but what I am writing is not humorous. Well, at least I'm writing, which makes a change, and I am out of bed, always an achievement.
There are six of us and the, I don't know what to call her, leader maybe. Analyst, facilitator, conductor? I've just found this last word in a book by S.H. Foulkes and E.J. Anthony Group Psychotherapy sub-titled The Psychoanalytic Approach (Penguin 1957, 1965) that I bought second-hand through Amazon the other day for £1.79 plus £2.75 'shipping' and that arrived last night. Foulkes was the main founder of group-analytic psychotherapy, at least in Britain. The place where I go, an old-fashioned, upper middle-class set-up in a large apartment - definitely an apartment not a flat - in a mansion block flat near Baker St., it could be two apartments knocked into one, I must ask, with a whiff of Harley St. not far away about it - is the practise that Foulkes (died 1976) set up with others.
I'm having problems with what the group is, what a group is. I am resistant to it, very. Foulkes writes in the above book (Some chapters are Foulkes, the others are Anthony.):
"To look upon any natural group as if it was the result of a confluence of isolated individuals is untenable. Paradoxically our own particular groups are really constructed of isolated strange individuals [I think he means 'stranger'. English was not his mother tongue. C.J.] meeting for the purpose of treatment. Yet behind this strangeness [same problem again, I think. The German word is Fremdheit, here in the sense of 'being strangers'] are certain pre-conditions - often silently made - of which the most general ones are as follows:
1) That the biological species is the same. 2) That the cultural background is similar, which means among other things that there is agreement as to what is desirable, normal behaviour; what is sick, good, bad and so forth. 3) That the patient and therapist speak the same language. literally as well as metaphorically - otherwise there cannot be an efficient communication between them. 4) That the patient has reasons to lay himself open to the therapeutic process (his motivation by suffering). 5) That we have a method of access to unconscious processes.
The last two points, 4 and 5, indicate why there is a premium on psychopathology; because it does appear that without disturbance, these conditions are not fulfilled."1
Foulkes then lists two more pre-conditions.
I have 'issues' with this (I hate the use of 'issues' in this way. Do I use it because I hate it?).
I will have to come back to this later. Also, this is all terribly serious again.
The woman whom I will call 'I' - everything is strictly confidential, of course - who sat beside me in the group last night is tall and thin with very long legs. She was wearing, as she usually does, short trousers with black leggings and designer, plimsoll type, trainers. She usually looks at her shoes, has dyed black hair and is rich.
To be continued, but please drop me even the shortest of comments if I have made you smile, which will have made my getting out of bed worthwhile.