PsychBytes

A publication of the Washington Baltimore Center for Psychoanalysis

Share This Post

Change at a Cost

Robert Gerlits, MSW
Member, Washington Baltimore Center for Psychoanalysis
May 2021 | Volume 7 | Issue 10

I recently recalled a moment in my personal analysis in which I discovered that an issue I had brought up many months prior was gone. I didn’t recall steadfastly working on it or even thinking about it but I recognized the undesirable behavior was a thing of the past. I was joyful. It was a significant change and it felt like it was achieved without labor or suffering. Effortlessly, I had apparently put the behavior in the rear-view mirror and added distance.

Surprisingly, the joy I felt was interrupted by sadness. It turns out the behavior was a valuable interpersonal tool in my insulated and isolated family of origin. Now, as an adult exposed to a broad swath of people, cultures and races the “successful behavior” of my youth was untrustworthy. While I hadn’t consciously given up the behavior, I also hadn’t tossed it in the dustbin; I had incrementally moved it to a lower place in my arsenal of interpersonal tools. In fact, it continues to show up when spending time with my family of origin or in groups reminiscent of my family.

When I responded to the “random” urge to write the draft of this piece, it was effortless and satisfying. Later, on the cusp of retiring as a psychoanalyst, I realized that this urge was not random at all. It was a response to an unconscious recognition that my desired behavior change (retirement) came with a cost — the loss of my career, my identity and most of all my rewarding work with patients.

Explore more in PsychBytes

Horizons

A favorite amusement during my elementary-school years was a puzzle-map of the United States. The puzzle pieces comprised all the states. The top of the puzzle went beyond the USA halfway up Canada, and the bottom ended halfway through Mexico.

Mad or Sad?

Here I am, taking comfort in the sunroom and emailing off another cartoon to my sister. I have two sisters and have always been especially close to sister number two, Patti. It could be said that we are close because we are nearer in age, but really, we are close because we are pretty much on the same wavelength. We enjoy a lot of the same things including guffawing over clever memes. We like to laugh.

Content Edit Request

Please submit one request at a time.