I read both of these books very quickly in one day. Years ago I tried bending spoons when Uri Geller was on telly. It didn’t work then. Let’s just say it wouldn’t work now. But good on him, I say, the multimillionaire got away with it. There’s that moment in Elmer Gantry when Burt Lancaster gets caught up in his own rhetoric, he convinces himself he’s not a fraud. So far, so human. The most dangerous type of human is the one that is never wrong We’ve got the moron’s moron in the Whitehouse as an ongoing exhibit.
Susie Orbach’s conversations are, as you’d expect, low key. She doesn’t claim any otherworldly powers, or perhaps she does, in our increasingly fraught world, she listens, really listens. She’s there in the moment. And she smiles. That’s important. Like Judy Garland clicking her heels three times in the The Wizard of Oz, Orbach smiles three times. Numerology is very powerful. If the analysand doesn’t smile back then she knows the relationship won’t work.
Becky Walsh tells her readers that ‘The word personality’ comes from the Greek word per-sona, meaning ‘through sound’, personality being the expression of ourselves through sound.
Sound is a form of energy and each of us is…well… you know and I know. Orbach goes for extended periods of silence. The client finds himself questioning, or interrogating his own questions and finds his real self. I’m OK and You’re OK. I’ve always wanted to argue the point and say, Am I fuck OK.
Both practitioners do a different kind of cleansing before meeting new clients. The mind is fragile as falling stardust, but as strong as a planet and can create meaning from nothing. We get the archetypes for therapy from Walsh and not Orbach.
Walsh breaks it down better for us novice tea-spoon benders.
The non-sceptic, sceptic.
You will recognise this person from one of their first sentences: ‘I believe in what you people do.’
The blind believer.
A good question to ask is, What are you doing when you like yourself the most?
My friend was fooled, but I won’t be.
I come without a purpose, I just want to know what you see for me.
I want to know what the future holds for me.
Orbach would, I’m sure, recognise these characteristics in her clients. Her four case studies of Richard and Louise, Jo, Helen and John, who declared he was in love with her, didn’t have the gizmos or psychic fireworks of Walsh, but really it’s all about love. Holding that moment up to the light and helping people into the light. It takes all kinds.
Orbach in her Afterword puts it this way:
Therapy, like any special work, can seem odd to the onlooker. It has been my aim as a psychotherapist when outside of the consulting room to show what is fascinating and potentially life changing about the process and apply the insight of therapy to the wider world.