The Other I

December 4, 2007

Astrology and psychotherapy

Filed under: Just Stuff,Life as a Nun — theotheri @ 8:55 pm

Someone recently posted a comment on my November 27th post about Sister Mary Edith.  I was eager to read it because I thought it might have some new information about Sister Mary Edith that I hadn’t known.  But alas, it was not. 

When I left Maryknoll, I knew it would be to my advantage to understand a little bit about the motives I’d kept hidden from myself about why I’d entered the convent in the first place.  It was the 1970’s, I was a graduate psychology student, and lived in New York, so the royal road to self-knowledge seemed quite obviously through psychotherapy.  I spent several years at that time analyzing my life thus far, and I cannot say it was a total waste of time and money. 

However, I gradually began to see an eerie resemblance between invitations to bare ones soul in therapy and seductions from men who ultimately were interested in a sexual relationship with minimal personal commitment.  By the time I had my doctorate in psychology, I thoroughly distrusted a good number of men and most therapists who seemed to try to seduce people with little self-knowledge with apparently insightful analyses of their abilities and problems.  I say apparently insightful because they were, in truth, about as accurate as astrologists, who are careful to say things that are general enough to apply to anyone gullible enough to think the prophecy applied personally to them. 

It’s been a long time since I worried about faux therapy for myself or anyone else.  But when I read the comment, giving me an analysis of my relationship with my father that was wide of the mark and inviting me to get in contact if I would “like to talk”, I was reminded of the conclusions I had reached about offers to talk decades ago.

Perhaps I misunderstand the intentions of the woman leaving the comment as fully as she misunderstood me.  Perhaps she doesn’t really think she has some special insight into my relationship with my father, as her comment suggested.  Perhaps she is actually describing her relationship with her own father, and her proscriptions to me those that she has given to herself.

In any case, I could not agree more that a mind is a terrible thing to waste, and as a university professor, it was not unusual for me to call a gifted student into my office to make sure they appreciated just what a treasure – and responsibility – they possessed. 

And although I think there are few truly gifted psychotherapists, they too are treasures that can be invaluable when one does not understand what is happening in a life that feels like it’s falling apart.

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