In Control without Me

The couch had known me for ten months. Why did this feel like the first time we’d met? As a writer, and as someone who lies on the psychoanalytic couch frequently, I’m not alarmed by the opening two sentences. They show me that I’m alive in my imagination. Am I imaginative on the couch, a psychoanalyst seated behind me and not saying much, in a situation that sometimes leaves me feeling as if I’m alone and unprotected in my own mind? I felt imaginative yesterday morning. I entered her office in silence, glanced around the room, and prepared myself for the kind of speaking that I was about to experience. And I’m surprised that I write it this way. Writing and the personal experience of psychoanalysis have something important in common for me: I’m not in control, or at least much less than part of me would like to be. I was surprisingly calm as I started to utter sentences yesterday morning. “I feel as if this were my first time lying here, which is hard to believe since I’ve been on this couch for so many months. It’s as if this were the first time that all of this were real to me.” These sentences seemed to speak themselves through me. They were in control, or were they? Images came to me before words as I started speaking. I imagined being alone in this space with the couch, and I approached it with caution. Then, in an instant, in this imaginative experience, I knew that this physical object welcomed me to lie on it. In reality, I continued speaking: “I’m welcome in my own mind.” And the couch and I spent another fifty minutes together.

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