Cocreated Dysfunctional Patterns of Relating
One way to understand how doing treatment challenges the clinician’s sense of self is that working with our patients can highlight problematic aspects of our own character styles. Elsewhere, I have explored how my own schizoid tendencies emerge more clearly than usual in relating to schizoid patients (Buechler, 2002a, 2004, 2008). Confronting this can bring discomfort, anxiety, and shame, particularly if being “schizoid” raises lifelong “bad-me” or “not-me” specters. I suggest that the same may be said for the obsessive, paranoid, narcissistic, depressive, and other aspects of the analyst. Each may be brought into the fore in coping with the behavior of a particular patient. Depending on how I most need to see myself, when my paranoid, or obsessive, or narcissistic aspects are highlighted, I may suffer especially painful bouts of shame and anxiety. For example, those of us who pride ourselves on being non-narcissistic are likely to suffer acutely when faced with our own narcissistic tendencies. In that situation, I may dread seeing the patient who brings out my narcissism (perhaps without consciously understanding why).