Jung At Heart blog

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Watch my interview with David Van Nuys  for his podcast, Shrink Rap Radio. — https://youtu.be/4qZLmY7KGJk 

The Third Act

Almost 10 years ago I taught a course I called Conversations in the Third Act at the local branch of the University of Maine’s life-long learning center. If life is a drama in three acts, then all of us over 50 are in the third act and dealing with a whole new set of issues, questions, and challenges

In the secret hour of life's midday the parabola is reversed, death is born. The second half of life does not signify ascent, unfolding, increase, exuberance, but death, since the end is its goal. The negation of life's fulfillment is synonymous with the refusal to accept its ending. Both mean not wanting to live, and not wanting to live is identical with not wanting to die. Waxing and Waning make one curve. C.G. Jung

Coming to terms with the loss of youth and the dawning realization that life is finite intrinsic to midlife. Much has been written about the passage into midlife and we have no doubt all heard of the Mid-Life Crisis. One person may experience the fear of losing control and the sense of self that once worked. Another may feel the fear of further losing areas of self-expression. Frequently, there is the existential fear of mortality and diminishing time, the realization that half of life is gone.

It is common  to experience anger or depression in response to lost time and opportunity for more authentic experience. Depression and underlying regret may reflect an emerging sense of emptiness and the superficial relationship to life of the “adapted self.”

Where I work

I choose to have my office in my home. This is a philosophical choice based on my understandings about therapy. Both of the analysts I have worked with have had their offices in their homes, so it is something I am used to. And to the extent that most of us model our way of practicing on those therapists we admire, they are a part of my choice. But more than that, I see this choice reflecting the fact that I do not see therapy as a medical treatment. I see therapy as a part of life and needing to be grounded in the ordinary stuff of daily life lest it become too rarified and too removed from day to day existence. My office space is not just another room in my house -- there are no photos of my children and no deeply revealing personal items. Access to my personal living space is closed off. But it is clear that  it is located in the place where I live. Occasionally there are noises from life going on elsewhere in the house. Or the smells of food cooking. I take care to make it that my husband, the only person who shares the house with me, is not able to hear what is said in my office -- for the most part, I see patients at times when he is out doing his own work. 

How things have changed!

Sometime a long time ago I happened to see the film, ˆLady in the Dark” and just loved it. Because it is essentially about a woman in psychoanalysis — and stars Ginger Rogers! 

Then a few days ago, I happened across this from Freud Quotes - There was a comic book called “Psychoanalysis” published in 1955. Just 4 issues but still - a comic book! Three issues are available to view free online at the Freud Quotes link. 

I cannot imagine either the film or the comics appearing today. A novel here and there, yes, but something like these from a time when popular culture embraced psychoanalysis? Not really.


Crossposted from TheFatLadySings

This morning I read Ragen Chastain’s latest post, They Want Fat People to Swallow Balloons Now about yet another invasive, potentially lethal weight loss device called Obera. As Ragen explains, Obera is a silicon balloon inserted into the stomach and left in place for 6 months and is promoted as non-surgical, non-invasive (though how having to be sedated in order to have the balloon inserted qualifies as non-invasive beats me), non-permanent, and no incisions. The “non-permanent” part is correct because as with any such effort the weight loss is not permanent.  

If you go to their site, way down at the bottom in tiny print is the following.

Important ORBERA® Intragastric Balloon System Safety Information:

The ORBERA® Intragastric Balloon System is a weight loss aid for adults suffering from obesity, with a body mass index (BMI) ≥30 and ≤40 kg/m2, who have tried other weight loss programs, such as following supervised diet, exercise, and behavior modification programs, but who were unable to lose weight and keep it off.

To receive ORBERA® you must be willing to also follow a 12-month program, beginning with the placement of ORBERA® and continuing for 6 months after, that includes a healthy diet and exercise plan. If the diet and exercise program is not followed, you will not experience significant weight loss results; in fact, you may not experience any weight loss.

Losing weight and keeping it off is not easy, so you will be supervised throughout this program by a team of physicians, physiologists, and nutritionists. This team will help you make and maintain major changes in your eating and exercise habits.

ORBERA® is placed for no more than six months. Any time that the balloon is in the stomach for longer than six months puts you at risk for complications, such as bowel obstruction, which can be fatal.

Some patients are ineligible to receive ORBERA®. Your doctor will ask you about your medical history and will also perform a physical examination to determine your eligibility for the device. Additionally, at the time of placement, the doctor may identify internal factors, such as stomach irritation or ulcers, which may prevent you from receiving ORBERA®.

You must not receive ORBERA® if you are pregnant, a woman planning to become pregnant within six months’ time, or breast-feeding.

Complications that may result from the use of ORBERA® include the risks associated with any endoscopic procedure and those associated with the medications and methods used in this procedure, as well as your ability to tolerate a foreign object placed in your stomach. Possible complications include: partial or complete blockage of the bowel by the balloon, insufficient or no weight loss, adverse health consequences resulting from weight loss, stomach discomfort, continuing nausea and vomiting, abdominal or back pain, acid reflux, influence on digestion of food, blockage of food entering the stomach, bacterial growth in the fluid filling the balloon which can lead to infection, injury to the lining of the digestive tract, stomach or esophagus, and balloon deflation.

And if at the very bottom of that page you follow their link to full safety information, you find this - a lengthy PDF meant for physicians detailing the procedure and adverse events and complications. Do take a look.

So what we have here is another device, like the AspireAssist, which is basically a device which works by inducing bulimia without the messiness of vomiting. And though less drastic than the various and sundry bariatric surgery procedures, nevertheless physically assaults the fat person’s body, causes pain and other unpleasant side effects and which can kill the patient, all in the name of eliminating fat. Procrustes’ dream!

Does it work?

I am occasionally asked if I can see a difference in my own life from having been in therapy. A fair question, I think.

Someone who knew me when I was 25 and knows me now would not notice too very many things different about me except that I am heavier, my hair is grey and I am wearing glasses rather than contacts -- all external manifestations of age and the life I have lived. Someone who knew me very well then and now might notice that I am calmer, less prone to sarcasm, more contemplative, warmer, maybe more confident. They would recognize my delight in words and willingness to express opinions, that I have a dry sense of humor. That I am a bit shy and reserved, keep a pretty tight zone of privacy around myself. But on the whole, I would likely seem more relaxed. When we change, for the most part we change in degree, not in kind. So I am still noticeably myself.

The changes I have experienced in my life as the result of a long  analysis are interior, and though they shape what others see, are most likely unknown to others. Those inner changes are hard won. The forces against them from my early life were and are fierce and did not go down or stay down without a ferocious fight. Through those hours of talk with my analyst, I began to be able to see the destructive bits and then to be more able to not act on them, to let them go by, like bubbles rising in champagne. I still have moments of feeling like I used to feel,. I am more likely see it, I feel it when it happens and when i do see, I now have the freedom to make choices that do not feed those moments and so they do not grow into hours or days as once they did. 

A Place to Talk About Fat and a Typo

Cross-posted from The Fat Lady Sings:

I started The Fat Chronicles when I began to gather material for and write my book. I have bounced back and forth between keeping it separate and itself and just merging it into my more general blog, Jung-At-Heart. Here we are in another bounce and a name change.

Having published my book, The Fat Lady Sings, I hope that the Fat Lady Sings blog can serve as one where we can explore together issues I write about in the book and pretty much anything related to anti-fat bias, fat acceptance, being fat.

Today when I thought to look into changing the name of the blog from The Fat Chronicles, which I still like, to The Fat Lady Sings, I was beside myself with disbelief and delight when I thought I found the domain name thfefatladysings was available. So I quickly purchased it and asked my web host to change the name. The this morning I discovered that actually the name I thought I had found available hadn’t been and it was through the grace of a typo that I found what I did. My hope, for now, is that people will come here through links in my email sig file, on Jung At Heart, and on social media. So please know that thanks to my typo, the domain name for the site is actually thfefatladysings.com. 😞 

Therapeutic Space

In my search for how others have thought about the issue of therapeutic space, I encountered some of the writing of Yi-Fu Tuan, a geographer. Tuan wrote a very interesting little book, Space and Place: The Perspective of Experience in which he muses about how people think about space and place, home and neighborhood. One of his thoughts is that space is what we encounter when are are someplace new and unfamiliar and it becomes place as we learn its features and landmarks. This leads me to contemplate the fact that every time a new patient comes to see me, not only is the patient is a space which is not yet place, but so am I, because, though the physical features of the room are the same from patient to patient, the addition of a new person changes the space. As we begin the process of coming to know each other, we are each creating place, place which contains the other.

And I am pondering who the therapy space is for -- the patient or the therapist? Or both? 

A Red Letter Day

Today is a red letter day for me: my book is now available. And even before April had her baby!

The person inside...

There is a story about how Michaelangelo created his iconic sculpture of David. According to the story he chipped away all of the stone that was not David until David appeared. 

Search Google using the  inside every fat woman and you will see thousands of instances of that phrase. The diet industry and much of healthcare fervently believe and promote the belief that everyone is meant to be slender, that fat is concealing who we truly are. Consider this image* widely used to promote and encourage weight loss


It makes me cringe seeing her chipping away at her own body in this way. The image on the sculptors website is even clearer --


We wish that it were so but there is no sculptor who can come and magically chip away all the excess flesh so that out of the raw material of what is left of our bodies will emerge the real us, the thin version, the one who has been inside trying to get out all along. She just isn't there. Despite what many believe, the woman inside is ME, not some thinner other me. To believe in that other thinner me, to believe she is the REAL me is to believe I cannot be me and be fat. It is to believe that this me, this fat me is false, is not really a person. And is that not in an unconscious way exactly what fat phobia and our culture’s fat complex would have us believe — that a fat person is not really a person because fat makes that impossible?

© Cheryl Fuller, 2016. All  rights reserved.