Self-Abandonment and the Clinical Treatment of Couples

Self-Abandonment and the Clinical Treatment of Couples

Paul’s Viewpoint

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.


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About the Author

Barbara KiaoMs. Barbara Kiao is an Australian licensed clinical counsellor (MACA9601), published author, integrative life coach and inspirational speaker. She has been providing counseling and life coaching to individuals, couples, and organizations for more than a decade. Barbara is a sought-after speaker who regularly conducts workshops and lectures globally. An Australian national for 25 years, Barbara recently moved her 8 year private practice from Shanghai, China back to her home Sydney, Australia. She has also served on the board of SIMHA “ Shanghai International Mental Health Association for a term of 7 years. She specialises in relationships and behavioural counselling so offer executives, families, couples and individuals a calm environment where personal and relationship difficulties can be explored. Prior to becoming a full-time counselor, she also assisted hotel owners in development of marketing plans and business strategies for new and existing properties. She was a Student Counselor and an adjunct Lecturer at the T.A.F.E. College (Australia) and Northern Territory University in the field of Human Relations, Organisational Behavior, Communications and Marketing, Management Her Mission is to be fully present in the NOW so to engage, serve and empower every client that is attracted into her life to live their fullest potential. Together they push humanity forward by standing in their own truth.

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