Sunday, January 20, 2008

Ms. P and the Mental Giants

I've been seeing Ms. P for several months now. She is one of my most challenging clients and, therefore, my favorite of the bunch. She is wonderful in the way a love-blind new mother thinks her objectively ugly baby is the most beautiful creature to grace the human race with its presence. Yes, Ms. P is fantastic in a psychology case study sort of way. She is quite old (90s), spry, and very bright. She also doesn't care for people in similar ways as Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) in There Will Be Blood. She's got a competition in her, she doesn't want to see anyone else succeed, and she hates most people. Yet, as is typical borderline fare, she is deathly afraid of being alone (think Margot of Margot at the Wedding). Despite her unfortunate character flaws, she is a whopper of a storyteller.

Ms. P came to me for her mood--she was depressed, according to the form I received. If you ask her, she isn't depressed, she's just smarter than everyone else, which makes her sad. I always chuckle at these statements which, in turn, fuel her fire. "Let me tell you about X and Y...well these two mental giants think they've got me figured out but the only thing they've figured out is to come in from the rain!" she says of the only family members willing to check in on her from time to time--by phone, of course. Ms. P has the comedic timing of a Catskills stand-up act. "These days, no one has to work. In my day, if you didn't like your boss raising his voice to you then he'd tell you to find a boss who won't!" She is always so grateful for my commitment to working with her but makes sure I know that if she didn't like me, I wouldn't be there. She hates NYers, but I'm different. She's also pretty racist. It's some good times, our sessions, that's for sure.

We set small goals, like her getting her hair done by the next time I see her. I ask about how she feels after it's done since she looks dramatically different--younger and more energetic. "So now people say that I look nice before they try to screw me, am I right? Dear, it's the same shit different day, pardon my French. You know how important manners are to me." It is really difficult to get her to do anything quasi-therapeutic. "Honey, at my age, how am I supposed to change?" In some ways, she's right. What can I expect of this? Personality disorders are hard to work with in young clients. She's lived the majority of her life this way, isolated herself, and now wishes she wasn't alone. How can I undo this damage? Well, I'll be coming back to Ms. P, often, so stay tuned. Last week she admitted to seeing a little progress. I did a tiny victory dance in my mind. I'm sure she sensed it because she quickly added, "Don't get too excited." At least she was smirking.

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