Self-Abandonment and the Clinical Treatment of Couples
Here is what I believe the therapist Paul, as portrayed in the TV series In Treatment, would view their challenges:
• Jake & Amy are to face their fears.
• Paul also thinks their inability to accept each other is bringing out the worst in them.
• Amy’s behavior sometimes encourages Jake’s suspicion of her.
• Paul also went on to educate them that relationship is not about “yes” or “no” to their abortion; it is more complex than that.
• It is quite possible that Jake believes with Amy’s pregnancy it could be a form of control over her.
• They are trying to force their perspectives onto each other and after a while becomes a power struggle and that has become the dynamic between the two.
• Paul’s most poignant point is that it seems Jake and Amy’s intimacy was created with a conspiracy between them (Amy was married to Nick when they first met) and when Amy tries to step out of the house to break up that conspiracy, it made Jake uptight, therefore, the conflict between them intensifies.
• Paul suggested that sometimes ending a conflict between them may not be a good thing for the relationship because they are so used to that and when the conflict stops the interest stops.
• Paul also realized that both Jake & Amy have little boundaries.
• Amy claims Jake is pathetic so she does not have to look at her own insecurities.
• It is highly possible that Jake married his “father”.
An Alternative Viewpoint
I have a different perspective in viewing this couple’s relationship challenges. I have already mentioned earlier of the concept of self-abandonment. In my opinion, it is more about the treatment of neurotic conflicts. As Paul mentioned, they do not realize that their relationship deeply provokes each other and leads them into an encounter with those aspects of their family histories, of themselves (immature defenses) and their experiences that are most painful for them (childhood wounds).
In Amy’s case: She feels disregarded, judged, disrespected or outright shamed or abandoned; her feelings that are familiar to her:
• to be emotionally alone in the face of “helplessness”
• identified with “toxic shame” for her father’s death and she thinks her mother has never forgiven her; she’s overweight when young; and she was triggered by her recent miscarriage and affair
• behavior of self-hatred & self-abandonment
• she demonstrated behaviors that illustrated by Karen Horney’s ‘Self-Theory’ – vacillating between despised self and ideal self.