If you enter therapy assuming it will cure all your worries or rid you of inner demons, you’re bound for disappointment. We need a little “crazy” in our lives, if only to ensure we don’t go completely mad. But what happens when therapy itself goes bonkers, when the healing process generates new maladies?
Therapy encourages introspection and self-correction. If I can identify cognitive distortions and challenge negative thoughts, my behaviors will change. If I behave rationally, I’ll feel better about myself—and then think clearer, act more rationally and feel better, on and on ad infinitum.
But therapy has unwittingly taught me to question my motives in even the most banal, nonthreatening situations. I’ve internalized the voices of my therapists—their inflections, cadences, turns of phrase—such that I can’t hear myself think anymore. I’m willingly suspended in disbelief of me.
Then again this fear of psychological takeover might be a manifestation of my illness. I’m afraid of losing myself in the piercing gaze of rational-thought enforcers. At the mercy of an overactive superego, I follow the program to avoid reprimand.
Perhaps my self-critical nature, solidified long before my first session, finds comfort in a soul-searching, hyper-analytical exercise. Isn’t this post—and my entire blog—an example of over-thinking?
Maybe I should share this concern with my therapist, to process how I think it makes me feel.
“The principle is to exaggerate: that is how to destroy reality.”—Jean Baudrillard
One of Baudrillard’s most intriguing concepts is reversibility. Pushed beyond the point of no return, the entire consumer-driven capitalist apparatus will collapse under the weight of its own logic. One example: In February 2005 a mob of bargain-seeking Ikea customers in North London caused a riot, fighting over furniture and bed frames, forcing police to close the grand opening of the retail giant after thirty minutes of chaos (see also William Merrin in Jean Baudrillard: Fatal Theories 61-82).
On the page at least, the theorist’s task is to steer oppressive systems like racism, sexism and classism over the edge, in the hopes of forging a path to radical freedom.
With emancipation in mind, I’ve decided to push my depression beyond the limits of its own ill-logic. Some principles to exaggerate: I shall listen to and absorb all negative thoughts; I shall accept my inferiority complex as absolute truth; I shall maintain no hope of recovery, etc.
Rather than fight against it, I shall afford my depression full range of motion. Delighting in a presumed but ultimately false sense of victory, my depression will ignite the flames of its own implosion.
Liberation through misery: the goal is to survive the onslaught of sadness and anxiety—to come out on the other side of depression refreshed and empowered to finally live without debilitating guilt and self-doubt. It’s a thought I’m free to entertain even in my darkest dreams.
We approach our tech devices as black boxes, aware simply of their input/output functions. Few of us can comprehend the intricate internal processes of a Galaxy S6 or Kindle Fire HD. Devices just work until we discard them for newer models, like Leonardo DiCaprio does with girlfriends.
But there’s been a seismic shift in the history of subject-object relations. Tech devices now see human beings as intriguing but indecipherable black boxes. They want to crack us open. Murder to dissect our souls. They’re dazzled by our moving parts, anxious to curl up in the palm of our sticky hands. When we turn them on, we turn them on.
As our TVs and tablets, refrigerators and dishwashers, cars and coffeemakers flirt with consciousness, we retreat into sub-consciousness, a sleep mode of existence in which there is no alienation but no freedom either.
For years my iPhone has analyzed and categorized me—for my own good. It feeds me headlines, guides me to unfamiliar places, enhances my dick pics, reminds me to exercise. I dream one day it will hear my confessions and rub my back after a long day at the office. Siri, how do I stitch this hole in the fabric of my being? Instead of talking, I’ll find relief in the texting cure.
Forget the internet of things—we are the (play)things of the internet, bound in wireless chains. The human subject has achieved its final objective: to erase all memory of selfhood in the automatic writing of advanced computer codes.
“If you understand, things are just as they are.
If you do not understand, things are just as they are.”
I imagine many folks enjoy art in itself. Maybe it takes their breath away. Maybe it shocks their bourgeois sensibilities. However art affects them, they move on—back to their families, 401k’s and streaming video subscriptions.
Against reason I’m driven to create my own art—a gratifying but often frustrating endeavor. Sure, I’ve been proud of a poem or essay here or there, but when I step back to judge my oeuvre against established writers I’m thoroughly unimpressed.
This is probably my depression speaking. To combat a severe lack of confidence my therapist has me on a new drug called Self-Esteem, a generic form of Empowerment. I’m still learning how to take it. Everyone—the most recent psychological literature suggests—has the same intrinsic value. This includes me apparently, but it takes four to six weeks before my gut fully absorbs the concept.
Perhaps my hesitant nature—an inability to assume a position of strength, to let words flow beyond my control—bolsters my writing. A deep consideration of language might constitute a conscious ethical choice. My ideas, unsure of themselves, reflecting the anxious tone of my unique artistic presence. Mastery of an uncertain craft.
From (and against) a place of fear and pathological aversion to criticism I put pen to paper and begin anyway. To reluctantly own myself, to inscribe my name in doubt: the mark of not just a struggling artist but a deeply conflicted human being.