This is a story about Althea. In her early thirties, Althea is a curator at a museum in one of the European capitals. Some three or four years ago she fell in love with a client of mine and found her way to therapy with me. She worked through her family material and along with becoming a student of the Sacred Attention Therapy (SAT) Online Training Course experienced many significant breakthroughs and radical healing. What had always endeared me to her was her conviction that she believed in her spiritual destiny and experienced it in her life as the presence of love and surrender to God. Later, it would be revealed that her therapy with me affirmed her spiritual nature, which she had been less certain of than I had realized.
Her relationship with her father and others showed an abiding attraction to the psychopathic mentality. Her ability to relate to people demonstrating psychopathic defenses was truly exceptional. She considered her learning ground had been her own family in which she had been exposed to the psychopathic types 1 and 2 in each of her parents. She considered that she out-psychopathed the psychopaths in primary love relationships and friendships, by deepening with them into the authenticity and vulnerability beneath their defenses.
For a long time she related to me as “the therapist.” While this may not seem inappropriate, it is an epithet that some clients seek to reinforce in order to repel emotions or a deepening relationship to the therapist. In Althea’s case she did not want to know that I had feelings. My emotions, when they would become a part of her awareness of our relationship, dynamic would become something she felt responsible for; then she would feel responsible for me and she fiercely resisted this. First, by maintaining a primary belief in me as my title and therefore in role as “the therapist,” second, by continuing to assert it that I was “the therapist,” and, third, by rejecting any idea that I had emotions she may be accountable or responsible for.
This of course kept me in a position of unfeeling power in her projection. As the therapist and not a human being with feelings, her relationship with her father manifested in the transference and her response to the psychopathic mentality on which she could utterly depend, since she was so accomplished at it, could dominate and limit the therapeutic relationship.
One day I revealed some feelings I had toward her and I related these feelings to her behavior and activity around me. Alongside this revelation, sensing that the time was right, I took her physical-emotional defenses apart and revealed to her just how I saw her and told her what her inauthentic behavior revealed to me about her and how she concealed herself behind her defensive strategies.
After the session she sent me this message:
I feel betrayed. I share everything deeply and sincerely in sessions and it’s as if you never believed me. I feel angry because I have the impression that you knew things about me for a long time that you did not tell me. I’m sad because these feelings are caused by someone I love. I understand that a step is made in my therapy and that these feelings are surely a very good sign and that these feelings are what I feel about me. But at this stage they are against you… and they keep me awake and make me cry very often.
In a further message she restated how angry she felt and asked what she could do with it. I invited her to express her feelings in a further message and send it to me, along with an encouragement to come for an extra session the next day. She replied:
I felt worthless until I became your client. Since I work with you I became more confident. I believed that I had something to do here, on earth, or maybe not. But at least you helped me to believe in the child of God I am, that my spirituality was deep and sincere, and that my therapy was working. Now I feel more worthless. Because I thought that, during sessions, I was honest with myself and with you. I shared everything. I have heard that it was a role you are not interested in. I am angry toward you because I wish you told me that before. I don't know what’s true or not. I don’t care anymore. I don’t know if I can support your look again. I want to discover myself, the real one, but I don’t know if I can do this with you. I am so in pain that I want to hurt you. It’s unfair for you and I really feel sorry. I believe you. I trust you. I love you.
Commonly at this stage, clients believe that the therapist is somehow against them. Althea expresses it here in the idea that I am not interested in her. She has misinterpreted, misheard, and not understood what I said, which was that her true nature, her essence, is more important to me – and to her – than her mask. This point constituted the theme of the next session in which I spoke of childhood survival, the creation of a false self, the absolutism of the false self and the core self, i.e. it is one or the other, and the urgency now at this point in her process to rescue the core self, her very essence, in order to realize “the child of God” she really is. She finally understood and the vestiges of her attachments to her psychopathic and other defenses were released. Before I left her in the therapy room, I walked over to her and, looking down at her as she looked up at me, I had never seen her so vulnerable, so child-like, and so luminous. I knew in that moment that she understood.
Later that day, I received the following message. She had written it in the form of a poem:
I don't know how to say it:
I get everything now
I know what you are talking about
I feel everything
All is Love
I am very grateful
For what I’ve done with you
And the time you spent with me
During these few last days.
Thank you Richard
And thank you for letting me see you
I feel you
I love you so much
Richard Harvey is a psycho-spiritual psychotherapist, spiritual teacher, and author. He is the founder of The Center for Human Awakening and has developed a form of depth-psychotherapy called Sacred Attention Therapy (SAT) that proposes a 3-stage model of human awakening. Richard can be reached at [email protected]
Richard Harvey is a psycho-spiritual psychotherapist, spiritual teacher, and author. He is the founder of The Center for Human Awakening and has developed a form of depth-psychotherapy called Sacred Attention Therapy (SAT) that proposes a 3-stage model of human awakening. Richard can be reached at [...]