Professional group study & Consultationkeeping ourselves alive & Engaged in depth work
MGM EU Study Group
December 3rd 2021 Theme:
– Working With Character – As Defense & As Communication
- SOMATIC EXPERIENCE – CHAPTER 6 – ‘Traces Of The Other’ – pages 73-88.
PSYCHIATRIC DIAGNOSIS – ‘Maturational Issues Embedded in Character’ – pages 43 – 51; emphasis on pg 48.
BEING A CHARACTER – CHAPTER 3 – ‘Being A Character’ – pages 47 – 65.
SELF EXAMINATION – CHAPTER 5 – ‘Finding A Mind Of One’s Own’ – pages 63-79
We can consider our character defenses as a sort of “fort of last resort” when we are up against emotional and somatic disturbances that threaten our capacities to function—or even to survive.
When we are able as therapists, partners, friends, to receive character defenses with curiosity and compassion, we can also understand that these defenses are telling an unspoken story, that these are means of communication that have no words.
Part of the therapeutic endeavor is to receive and explore verbal as well as nonverbal language. Character patterns are deeply somatic, and live at the edges of our conscious awareness. These are the times in therapy when we come up against the limits of the resources of our “family bodies”.
It is not only the client who brings character level struggles to the work, so do we as therapists in our patterns of countertransference.
“We can make our minds so like still water that beings gather about us that they may see, it may be, their own images, and so live for a moment with a clearer, perhaps even with a fiercer life because of our quiet.”
– William Butler Yeats
Love Poem With Toast
By Miller Williams
Some of what we do, we do
to make things happen,
the alarm to wake us up, the coffee to perk,
the car to start.
The rest of what we do, we do
trying to keep something from doing something,
the skin from aging, the hoe from rusting,
the truth from getting out.
With yes and no like the poles of a battery
powering our passage through the days,
we move, as we call it, forward,
wanting to be wanted,
wanting not to lose the rain forest,
wanting the water to boil,
wanting not to have cancer,
wanting to be home by dark,
wanting not to run out of gas,
as each of us wants the other
watching at the end,
as both want not to leave the other alone,
as wanting to love beyond this meat and bone,
we gaze across breakfast and pretend.