DIY Freud

I have been suffering from chronic pain in my hands, arms and shoulders for years now, leading me to lose almost all hope of being able to work seriously with a computer any more. I recently discovered the mind-body approach of Dr. Sarno, Dr. Schubiner, as well as Alan Gordon, and am currently in the process of developing tools to tackle my condition using an anxiety/depression-based approach (pain as learned pathways in the brain, rather than damage in my tissues).

However, given that I cannot type properly, one of my absolute core anxieties is that I cannot commit to any serious work I have qualifications for, since all of them require tons of typing (every now and again I try to learn to dictate, with brilliant tools like Talon, and yet as if my pain worked as precisely as a piece of sadistic clockwork, I start getting pain in my throat whenever I do that, in a way that feels could become chronic as well, no thanks!). I feel I would like to do therapy, but that costs a lot of money, which at the moment just adds more anxiety to my personal heap. Full disclosure: I know there are many pay-as-you-can counselling services, but an inner brat within me yearns for the gravitas of someone older, experienced, with a fair bit of clout, and I haven’t yet succeeded in making myself believe that these people can be accessed without paying significant sums.

Given all that, isn’t there a way to be smart about this?

Yesterday I had an idea. In the old school Freudian practice 🖤, the therapist would be as silent as possible, trying to be this blank screen on which you can project the Bayeux tapestry of your fantasies, this mostly empty intergalactic universe that you can explore at light speed, snugly seated in the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon of your traumas. Cranking things up a notch, and one might simply replace the therapist with a literal blank screen: a non-sentient recording device.

Recipe for a therapy framework on the cheap:

  1. Make sure you have a recording device. This can be your computer, mobile, or another device.
  2. Set up a timer as well, that clearly delineates the time frame of the session. Variations include: a pre-agreed time (15, 30, 50 minutes), or simply a running stopwatch, trusting yourself to go on until you’ve had your fill1.
  3. Set a theme for yourself. You will drift off, that’s part of the joy, but it can help you keep a direction or focus on something in particular.
  4. Press record and start speaking. (You may delete the recorded file after, as you wish, the important thing is that you know the machine is listening.)

    Optionally, you can also:

  5. Set a direct debit in your bank account, as small as you’d like it to be, to whomever, a friend, a charity, etc., to integrate a financial commitment to your sessions.

    And finally:

  6. Organise your sessions around that regular payment, which would also act as the time of your session, so that you not only do you have the financial constraint set up, but also the simulated limited access to your ‘therapist’, with only, say, one session per week, that you can look forward to, prepare for, get all angsty about, etc., while you also go about your life doing other things.2

My CPU-felt wishes to you all on your path to recovery 🤖.

  1. Jacques Lacan, the infamous French psychoanalyst, developed the concept of ‘short session’, that advocated for a variable duration of psychoanalytic sessions. One of the ideas was, for instance, that you can reach a point of ‘unknotting’ during therapy, and, if you kept on, this progress could be undone. This had the cheeky consequence that Lacan could charge for a full session while, most of the time, cutting the session short before the allotted time… 

  2. My gratitude to my good friend Alan Cunningham for this last suggestion, and more broadly for the very helpful discussion of points 4 and 5.