[Written around 2007.]
1) Purpose of the Relationship
Therapist: The therapist’s purpose is to help the patient face his buried traumas, uncover his blocked feelings around them, resolve them through grieving, ascribe appropriate blame, discontinue his repetitive acting out, and integrate – and thus grow toward enlightenment. This is what the patient pays him to do, and the payment is what balances the scale of the relationship. Where the therapist desires any more from the patient he fails as a therapist and instead acts as a regressive force in the patient’s evolution.
Patient: The patient’s purpose is to grow at all costs. He pays for the right to be fully selfish in the relationship – and thus to discover what a healthy self is. He uses the therapist as a tool toward this end. In therapy he is safe to express and explore the deepest truth of his being and the darkest chambers of his grief and rage – both without fear of rejection. He need not attempt to win the love of the therapist, because that love – the true love of NURTURANCE – is already inherent in the process. If that love is not inherent then he has not found a mature enough therapist.
Friendship: Friendship is mutually beneficial selfishness. Although each member primarily nurtures his own path toward enlightenment, what drives the relationship is freely offered and freely received mutual support and understanding. Neither member devotes his energy more toward the other than the other offers in return. This mutually agreed upon balance is what gives friendship its beauty and power. Yet if both members of the relationship are not devoted to their own individual paths to know truth, then the relationship is not a pure friendship. It would then be a relationship whose partial purpose is mutual deception.
2) Boundaries and Respect
Therapist: The therapist absolutely respects the boundaries of the true self of the patient, yet all the while walks the fine line of respecting as few of the boundaries of the patient’s false self as the patient can emotionally tolerate. To do this the therapist must be keenly aware of the boundaries of his own true self, and quickly and accurately delineate them in the relationship. Where he is not clear on the boundaries of his own true self he will not appropriately respect the patient’s boundaries and will fail to be therapeutic.
Patient: Although the patient must be capable of a basic level of respect in the relationship (respect therapy times, respect payment, exhibit no violence toward therapist, etc.), it is not his job to respect the therapist any more than this. His job instead is to learn to respect his own boundaries and thus honor himself. The way he will accomplish this is by letting his guard down and going through his wrenching healing process, which at times involves disrespecting the therapist’s boundaries in the very same way that he himself was disrespected in his own childhood. Had he not been disrespected by his own parents he would have never been traumatized, would have never developed a false self as a reaction to the trauma, and would have never developed an ability to be disrespectful to others. As he heals he will come to discover who he really is, and as a consequence he will spontaneously become more respectful of himself, and by extension others – including his therapist.
Friendship: In a friendship there is an understanding that each member is individually responsible for his own growth – and not the growth of the other. Thus friendship is based on a mutual respect by both members of the other’s true self – and false self as well. The only time it is acceptable for one member to pierce the false self of his fellow is in defense of his own true self. And if his fellow cannot understand how he pierces the true self of his friend – and rectify his behavior so that it is not repeated – then his fellow is no friend.
3) Personal Questions
Therapist: The therapist goes to any length to ask the most deeply personal, and often even seemingly intrusive, questions to help the patient explore and uncover the root of his pathological behavior. Yet he asks no questions that are not good for the patient’s growth. If he asks personal questions to suit his own needs – even simply his own curiosity – he is not behaving as a therapist.
Patient: The patient may ask the therapist any question, personal or otherwise, that he wishes, for whatever reason. This is his right. It is the therapist’s job to weigh the appropriateness of answering these questions – even personal questions – in light of optimally benefiting the patient’s personal growth. It is his sacred responsibility to answer or to not answer accordingly. Sometimes this entails answering very personal questions, and sometimes it entails refusing to answer. Either way, this process can be incredibly frustrating and uncomfortable for patient and therapist alike, but comfort is sacrificed in the growth process. If the therapist cannot tolerate such frustration then he is not fit to be a therapist. And if the patient cannot tolerate such frustration he does not really wish to grow.
Friendship: It is acceptable for a friend to ask any personal question for the sake of his own personal growth, but only insofar as it respects the delicate balance of the friendship. This requires much patience, self-awareness, and appropriate mutual self-appraisal on the part of both friends. On the contrary, it is rarely appropriate for a friend to ask – or request – a question intended to stimulate the other to grow or explore. That is a therapeutic question and does not belong in a friendship.