In Treatment -- Alex, week 3

Alex comes in with a big box -- and when Paul asks him what it is, he says it is an espresso machine, top of the line. Paul asks if it is a hint about the coffee last week and he says it's no hint, it's a statement.

Alex goes on and on about buying it on eBay and his strategy for getting bargains, ignoring that Paul said he can't accept it. Finally Paul tells him to turn it off. And asks him if he doesn't think there is something aggressive in his behavior.

Paul tells Alex he is trying to understand what all this is about. Alex wants coffee that is top quality and he needs that there in order to open up. Then he whips out 6 kinds of coffee beans.

Alex says he met Laura. Alex thinks it is significant he met Laura who is also a patient and says he wants Paul to help him understand. Paul tells him they have now started therapy -- he brought a coffee machine because he needs it, which indicates he plans to come back, and then identifies himself as one patient who meets another. Paul agrees to allow Alex to leave the coffee machine so long as he continues in therapy, though he reserves the right to think the whole thing over.

Alex has left his wife and he says it is because of Paul, of Paul helping him. He says telling her was as unemotional as telling her he was taking the car to the garage. His wife was not surprised and told him he did not surprise her even then. Alex can't admit to being hurt by her indifference. His kids haven't been told -- Alex thinks his son will understand that he had to leave to find his new life.

Notice that Alex's son, Roy, sounds like Paul's son, Max. A loner, not involved in sports, different. Alex says he finally understood that Roy is happy, just different from his dad. It turns out that Alex sees the women in his life -- his wife and mother  -- as pure and wholesome and, Paul suggests, the men as dirty. Alex agrees about his father, whom he describes as a womanizer. He sees his father as having trusted only his mother, yet still he cheated on her. Paul draws the parallel between Alex in his marriage and his father in his, that Alex leaves where his father never did, his father cheated, whereas Alex leaves, he acts. Alex denies that there is any connection.

Alex says he wants to return to talking about Laura. And then he talks again about the coffee machine. Paul directs him back to the therapy. Alex tells him Laura thought the machine was terrific. He says he lost track of time because of the weekend time he spent with some gay friends and so he showed up on Monday instead of Tuesday and met Laura. He describes Laura as having something fierce about her, that she is used to getting her way and that she told him Paul was capable of ruining a cup of Lipton tea. They went to see if the dog was where it was hit but the dog was gone. They never did find the dog. Alex's phone rings and it is Laura. He takes the call and tells her he is with Paul.  He hangs up and asks -- So what do you think? Should I go for her? 

Paul has to repeat he can't answer that, can't give him advice. 

Alex tells him Paul always helps in the end and then tells him when Laura is there to pull the handle fast because she likes a lot of foam.

Tonight we see parallels between Alex and Paul -- sons who are different, fathers who cheated, mothers revered, and marriages if not over, at least in dire jeopardy. And Laura. Like I said last week, we get the patients we need.

Alex is very difficult to deal with, because his drive to control and his aggression are so persistent. Paul tried to engage him more therapeutically but for the most part, Alex resists. We can guess that Laura and Alex talked more about Paul than he mentions and this connection between the two men hangs in the air throughout. The dynamics here are very complicated -- Alex's need to be better than best, to defeat his father and the accompanying Oedipal issues,  are surely involved. He has so far shown very little willingness to submit to the therapy process, to allow himself to not be in control. What does it mean for him to be forming a relationship with Laura, who like him is Paul's patient? What are his fantasies about this, about what Paul feels? That Laura has intruded into this relationship and created a very difficult triangle has immeasurably complicated everything.

And all of this is further complicated by Paul's issues -- with his marriage and with Laura. 

© Cheryl Fuller, 2018. All  rights reserved.