Friday, September 19, 2014

Learner therapist (46)…… Uplifting thoughts in times of down

Torrey Orton
Sept. 19, 2014

A cream pie in the mind

I’m working through very complex lifelong injuries with a very willing and able but psycho-spiritually compromised patient. At the moment we are picking apart an eating/body-image distortion which expresses a lifetime of deprivation of affection by family and schooling and….as we get closer to the core structure of the eating distortion, unguarded by its automatic functions (bingeing, constraining, etc.), the pain of sessions increases and cannot always be nicely balanced within the session timeframe. That is, we cannot often end on an upswing, or even a bit of flat earth.


The 42 year old female patient started introducing what have come to be known as cream pie diversions in the last minutes of a session still in its down (appreciating the pain of the past in the present) phase. She developed this tactic by chance a few weeks ago and it has become a signature skill for self-management around the hardest parts of our work. She can now confidently shift her mood out of obsessive / dark places in a few minutes before the end of a session.


The effectiveness of the pie in the face move initially arose from the summoning up of an image of pie smushing a face, but found enduring perceptual legs through my general vulnerability to desserts and ignorance of fine details of their contents. For instance, what really lies below the cream in a cream pie? Once opened, this doorway led into matters of cultural ownership of dessert types, with potential for pleasingly simpleminded explorations about what a real apple pie is, which naturally degenerates into memories of childhood pies, and we’re back in the lap of our mothers again. Which is where it all starts for her (and me in my way, of course)…

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