Repairing patients

Repairing patients
Tuesday November 25, 2008

Dear Ms Miller,

In your reply to a recent letter entitled “How Did I Do It” you say
about psychoanalytical theories:

“Those theories were in fact designed to “repair” them (the patient)
or “put
them straight.”

I wonder if you could describe more what you mean by this? Is it the same
objection to ‘patient socialisation’ you have in your book “The
Drama of the
Gifted Child” or something different?

“The therapist must leave it up to the patient to decide whether she will
a regular job or not; whether she wants to live alone or with a partner;
whether or not she wants to join a political party ……. it is not the task
of the therapist to ‘socialise’ her or ‘raise her
consciousness’ … or ‘make
friendships possible for her’. All that is her own affair’. P.113

I always felt these were striking passages, but I have been unsure what they
meant in full. It seems like you are speaking about a similar subject on
patient ‘rehabilitation’ again now, but I am not clear. I would love to

understand more fully what you mean, or if you could give more examples?

Your statements have been tantalising because I feel these have been some of
the flaws in my relationship with my psychoanalytical psychotherapist. I do
have a feeling that he wants to ‘repair’ me, not only as a person with
difficult childhood and adulthood, but also normalise me into a woman with
certain relationships and values and, in a subtle way, accept his authority in
some way on this. Some problems in our relationship are put down to
transference issues, which is not always the case. Is my example the kind of
thing you mean?

With thanks,
For all your work.


AM: Yes, what you feel is right and your resistence healthy. The tendency to “repair” patients is often tolerated by them because it ressembles the way we were treated in childdhood, Follow your feelings.