27 September 05

Psychotherapy with Dr. Allen (Part 1)

Psychotherapy is available again, and I’ve had three sessions with Dr. Allen. The first two sessions were assessment orientated, but during the third session Dr. A began to explore my mind. Here’s some dialogue from session three:

“What’s your definition of success?” Dr. A asked.
“It was material success, but now I know that being mentally successful is what matters.”
“You mentioned big cycles of success and failure in your life, can you describe them for me?”
“I had two big runs: one when I was a stockbroker, and one when I traded stocks online. Both times I thought I had it made. I thought that I had found the right woman. I had plenty of money, cars and gadgets. Then I self-destructed – both times. I partied more, and I lost nearly everything – my wife, my house. The peaks were so high that I felt on top of the world, and the troughs were so low that I contemplated suicide.”
“Here’s what I think, and it may or may not be true: you seem to thrive during the building up part – when you have a challenge. But when you achieve your goals, you look around, and ask yourself: what do I do now? It’s almost as if you have no purpose when your goals are achieved; so, you knock down everything that you’ve built up, and start all over again.”
“That may be true. I sow the seeds of my own destruction with the choices I make. I succeed, my behaviour changes, and before I know it everything is knocked down.”
“It seems as if you allow no happy medium between work and play. You work tirelessly to build everything up, which seems to be your main drive. Then when you’re successful, you switch to the partying and raving which brings you down.”
“That’s correct.”
“You said that for the most part you lived reclusively, but on the weekends you’d go raving and be the life and soul of the party.”
“That’s right.”
“When did you start living reclusively? At what age did you withdraw from your friends?”
“As I became an older teen, I studied more and hung out less with my friends.”
“What did you study?”
“Schoolwork, homework, revision for exams, and I became obsessed with the stock market. I ordered dozens of finance books from Widnes library.”
“Why did you stop hanging out with your friends?”
“They wanted to have fun, later on some got married. I was into studying, whereas, most of my friends frowned on higher education. They celebrated when they finished high school.”
“I have another thought that may or may not be true.”
“Is it possible that your American raver friends were substitutes for those you separated from in England? It’s as if when you went raving you were going back to your original friends.”
“I hadn’t looked at it that way, but it’s possible.”
“Here’s a suggestion: instead of following periods of all-absorbing stock trading and success, with self-destuction and wild partying, perhaps you should organise your time better. What if you researched stocks until three pm, and then allocated time for your social relationships? Wouldn’t you achieve a balance, instead of letting stress build up in your system, switching to partying to deal with the stress, and losing control of your life? You seem to be a well-organised person. Why don’t you organise your life better, starting with managing your time?”

As I wrote this blog, I thought about the comment posted by Stranger in August. Stranger asked how I perceive rave culture, and urged me to reveal more about myself. There are various reasons why I don’t write more about myself, which I would like to put to my readers.

Firstly, the blog was started to expose jail conditions, and to describe jail life. To suddenly start prattling on about myself – I feel – would risk boring readers. I consider myself on the outer limits of the nerd scale, and disinteresting in comparison to colourful characters such as Frankie, Slingblade, Two Tonys and Xena.

I enjoy describing events objectively, as opposed to pushing subjective opinions – especially about myself. I have written attitudinal blogs from time to time because I do discover things that I get emotional about (such as atrocities committed by the Arpaio regime), and I let my opinions flow at the risk of compromising the original format.

I don’t think I could do a good job writing impartially about myself. I don’t fully understand myself, and I am a biased observer.

Finally,by addressing readers questions from time to time, I get to write about reader- requested areas of my life, as opposed to self-selecting areas that may bore readers.

Perhaps psychotherapy dialogues have enabled me to write some unbiased blogs about myself because a professional is asking the questions and doing the probing. Blogging extracts from these therapy sessions seems like a novel way to disclose more about me.

I want to know more about me to become a better person, but I’m unsure how many readers are interested in this area.

Your comments on this matter would be greatly appreciated.

Email comments to writeinside@hotmail.com or post them below

Jon’s book wishlist – he is allowed used or new books as long as they are sent direct from publishers such as Amazon.

Copyright © 2004-2005 Shaun P. Attwood


Cheryl said...

It does seem that your need to learn has transmuted slightly - you obviously have a skill at learning about people, really understanding what makes them tick, getting into synch, earning trust.
From your posts I never would have guessed at antisocial periods.
Perhaps a career in people skills,(counselling, advocacy etc) were the subjects keep changing and there is always more to learn, would be another middle path?

Anonymous said...

Hello mate
I think the reason you interest your readers so much is you have the opportunity that most of us never will. You are able (whether that is good or not) to look at yourself as yourself. What we on the outside do is look at ourselves and evaluate that with what we think people should be seeing.
Given your situation you are able to, or have to, look at yourself only. That may be hard to follow; I guess I’m just saying that given your lack of physical freedom you are able to have complete mental freedom. The only thing that impacts directly onto you is limited by your inability to change factors impacting on you whereas we have unlimited factors of change surrounding us constantly.
I believe the reason we enjoy reading your blog is you are like us, we can relate to what you have done and relate to how you became who and what you are just like we did. There isn’t much difference between yourself and me as an example but I am able to get to know you without ever having met you and that is weird at the least.
Continue writing, you’re a great writer and I have little doubt that one day the time you are spending on the other side of the wire will actually shape you into what you would have been without the excess you (and I) have enjoyed earlier in life.
Whether to write about yourself; do. It will interest us your reading public and if it anyway helps (not that I believe you need help) you understand where you are mentally and why you are that’s got to be good all around.
Take care and keep the thoughts coming.

Anonymous said...

Hi, it's Jamie from Sheffield here. I'd like to see you delving into your character and understanding yourself more - something I call emotional literacy. I think there are loads of people reading the blog who relate to you and that would be my main reason for seeing you explore that avenue on the blog. It's amazing that we have a tool such as this available (i.e. the internet) and it's great to see it used in novel ways. I find your comments insightful and they probably help me to learn about myself as well. If I was gay I'd probably fancy you in a narcissistic kind of way - in actual fact I reckon I'd probably fancy your sister! Keep it real dawg.

Nunzia said...

im learning all too quickly how poor the conditions in jail are :( thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

C'mon, admit it, you're no different than the average plonker that used alcohol, and other stuff, to enhance what they belived to be a sub-standard personality, never really seeing the true beauty in your own self.

There, now you made doctor Tony come out.

I'll take payment when you get on the outs. K?

Anonymous said...

"What if you researched stocks until three p.m., and then allocated time for your social relationships?"

Prior to getting arrested, hadn't you already begun to do this?

Anyhow, I think you are far from being "disinteresting". You and your experiences would bore only those that find nothing interesting. However, you may want to save all that for a book or a movie perhaps. =P

Take care Shaun.

Anonymous said...

Dear Jon
I have read and enjoyed many of your postings after unearthing your on-line diary during the Deputy Dawg era of your imprisonment.
Your writing immediately struck a chord, both satirical and humane you have placed flesh on the bones of those dead to the rest of society.
In response to your question about whether those that read your blog enjoy a sightseeing trip through your synapses .I would pose that it is an esential part of your shared journey
All life is cyclical, as the Shinto Buddhists build and burn their temples so do we track the Moebius chain of situations and circumstances that defines our existence.
Some cycles are made to be broken the ones of violence and self immolation for example but I for one don't believe there is such a thing as smooth water anywhere but on the lower reaches of the river Styx.
Go forward and conquer your future, you have shown us that even chained in the darkest hole the mind is still free.
Thanks for the lessons and please keep them coming