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Tolerating the Intolerable

Dear Consultant: I’ve been running a coed group of people ages 35 to 60 for the past 7 years. Two years ago I added a Jewish woman, Rebecca, to my group who complained of severe anxiety that was exacerbated by the plane crashes into the World Trade Center. Her parents were holocaust survivors and Rebecca had grown up in Brooklyn. She was in Brooklyn the day the planes hit and was devastated by what she saw. At first, she shared little of her history with the group. She might make a comment or two, but never said anything substantial. Once she shared a retaliatory fantasy against a person who had parked too close to her car. She said, “I wanted to blow torch his car so it melted like the Wicked Witch of the West.” I was taken aback by this comment because her fantasy evoked images in me of the infernos of the Nazi death camps. My problem is that as Rebecca has opened up, her comments have become more bigoted. I consider myself a liberal, and feel that I tolerate a wide range of beliefs, but a recent event in my group has me questioning whether I can work with her.