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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Dr.? No!

Which professions strike you as particularly difficult on relationships?

As counter-intuitive as it may sound, I think being in a relationship with a psychologist or psychiatrist would be very difficult. This might be one that jumps out at me because I already spend too much time in my own head; having a partner with me in that confined space is not an appealing prospect. It could also be I watched too many episodes of "In Treatment" when it was on HBO.

But how does someone trained to explore the motivations of others turn that off in everyday interactions with a partner? When a partner is acting irrationally, how does someone with a mental health background ignore it? How do these professionals avoid tallying up the number of self-defeating statements uttered by someone they love? I'm getting anxious just composing the questions for this paragraph.

Conventional wisdom counts the high stress professions as being the toughest on relationships. And two people trying to make a relationship work when they're in the same field can also be challenging. Me? I prefer arguing without being reminded I'm relying on a defense mechanism. I'm quite fond of some of those defense mechanisms, actually.       


1 comment:

  1. Hi Pat,

    I was very interested in your thoughts about some issues you've enountered in the mental health and how they may impact a relationship.

    I do understand your concerns Pat. Did this statement sound like the therapist I am? How about "how do you feel about that?" LOL!.

    In some cases, perhaps there may be a sense of feeling "analyzed" by a partner or friend who is in the mental health field. In my experience though, this is usually the exception.

    Mental health people experience the same life issues as everyone else such as divorce, financial problems, major illness (as I recently did) or the passing of someone close to them and other losses where being a mental health person doesn't necessarily help.

    I know several mental health types who are married or have life partners but who don't waste time analyzing the other's defense mechanisms or behavior. One key is the ability to communicate what's on one;s mind in a constructive and positive way. Easy, no; doable,yes. And continually working to maintain and strengthen their relationship.

    You said you spend a lot of time in your own head and don't want someone else to intrude. Me too! But often we want to make sense of all that clutter and let it go or, conversely, hang on to it. That's where a competent psychologist, psychiatrist, social worker or other helping professional (on duty!) can help you sort things out and support your efforts to make changes if that's what you want.

    I and most therapists I know turn it off and hang up our therapists' hats at the office and put our "civilian" hats on when we leave. It's sort of akin to folks whose job involves talking on the phone all day. The last thing they want to do is talk on the phone when they get home. Different job, same principle. That's how I feel after listening to people's issues all day.

    Taking home and practicing our profession on others is a sure road to burnout as well as damaging social relationhips. I know because I tried that early on and ended up feeling frustrated as well as having alienated others.

    We sometimes gather socially but rarely talk shop. We talk about things everyone else talks about: the weather, sports, the economy, politics, our children, cracking jokes, having a beverage, etc.

    If any of this sounds at all defensive, it's only to illustrate that most mental health people don't spend personal time trying to figure out someone's motivations.

    In summary, mental health people are like everyone else and are capable of having "normal" relationships. Unfortunately the perception of them as a group can be skewed by the actions of the few. But isn't that a common occurrence in life with almost any other group?

    My best to you my friend and be well.