Jack, a 28-year old man, tells you: “Most of my life I have felt pushed and pulled. My father pushed me into school, sports, and so forth, and over the years my resentment grew for him. He was always directing and controlling my life and beating me when I challenged his authority. My mother always gave me a warm, unconditional love and tried to pull me under her protective wing. My parents divorced when I was 18 and without parental control I began a life of self-will in my relationships and in my use of drugs and alcohol. On graduating from college, I rejected my father’s wishes to pursue a career and returned to school to seek another degree. In some ways, it’s just a place to be that I like. Most of my life revolves around living for today, a hedonistic style that has no concreteness of goals and aspirations, with a lack of definition of `what a man should be.’ I float in and out of people’s lives. They see an image of me as disrespectful to women, a drug freak, and a cold human being. My fear is that I am nothing more than that image, that I am empty inside. I want to be able to open up and let people see the warmer, more sensitive sides of me, but I have terrible difficulty doing that. I have a strong need to become close and intimate with others, yet I never let myself become vulnerable because I fear being dependent on them and trapped by their love.”
Assume that Jack comes to you for personal therapy and that all you know about him is what he told you above. Answer the following questions on how you might proceed with Jack within a Psychoanalytic frame of reference:
1. As a psychoanalytic therapist, do you think that Jack’s current unwillingness to become vulnerable to others out of his fear of “being dependent on them and trapped by their love” has much to do with his mother’s unconditional love? How might this experience be related to his relationships with women now?
2. Jack describes his father as an authoritarian, controlling, and cruel man who apparently had conventional ideas of what he wanted Jack to become. What are the underlying psychological aspects that you see involved with Jack’s rejection of his father’s wishes? How might you use psychoanalytic counseling theory to explain the fact that in many ways he became what his father did not want him to become?
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