Sunday, November 27, 2011

Marc. A Remembrance

This isn't the first ode to a client dying young about whom I've blogged, but, I assure you, it will be the last for a while. I suppose my adolescent romanticism remains with me and one of its allures is the early death of an attractive boy. Perhaps, another motivating factor is the desire to memorialize a loss from the days of plague; losses that often came so frequently that grieving was interrupted by the next loss and, so, continues.

Marc was fifteen when he became my client at the Gay Social Services Project in the late Seventies. He was on the short side and had features that clearly showed aboriginal genes in his inheritance. His eyes were black, his hair jet black, his complexion rudy and his teeth a startling white. To me Marc was an attractive boy; he was very aware both of his attractiveness and that he had made a conquest. His inclinations were towards older men, whom he approached with a winning flirtatiousness. Though clearly pleased that I had been assigned as his case worker, he was savvy enough to observe boundaries and never in the years that he was my client did he make an overt sexual gesture. I, myself, realized that observing a professional boundary was essential if our relationship was to be productive. Nevertheless, the sexual energy that passed between us contributed to the effectiveness of our working relationship; to deny its presence or to think negatively of it would be both hypocritical and a manifestation of a sex-negative mentality.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Mind and Matter. A Reflection

In a recent conversation a client used the word "narrative", then remarked with a smile that it was one of my favorite words, which he had learned from having discovered my blog. The concept of narrative is certainly one that I find very helpful both in the work of therapy and the understanding of my own and others lives. Sometimes I imagine readers of the blog must find it tedious to see the term employed with such frequency. I may have felt more defensive about the repeated use of that concept had I not, happily, stumbled a few days before upon a fascinating article in the New York Times; an article which boldly leads me to voyage into spaces the specifics of which I know very little;  employing the concept of narrative to sketch an understanding of what is real

Saturday, November 5, 2011

A Twist of the Kaleidoscope

When I first thought of writing a blog, I was going to use the adjective "kaleidoscopic" in its title in order to signal my intention to employ the kaleidoscope as a metaphor for the human person. Our individual experiences of sensory data, what we are capable of perceiving of whatever is there, are continually constructed and deconstructed through language and perspective; shifting as we move through life from one time to another, through space from one context to another; just as the bits of coloured glass are formed and fractured by turning a kaleidoscope, emerging as new patterns; changing patterns that make a life. A friend suggested the use of that adjective rendered the blog title more than a little obscure, so I chose the more straight-forward one of "brucethoughts". What I am describing here represents another turning of the apparatus; a different configuration of the bits of the self; something which, in its specifics, may be of interest only to me, but is an instance of a process present in each of us.

In my last post describing some of the narratives that construct my present life, there is a striking absence of one that informed earlier times in my life: there is no significant political narrative; no struggle against oppression or repression; a detachment from the major issues of the world. The political narrative remains as a part of my thinking, but is embodied in my activities hardly at all.  As an illustration, despite my contention that older gays should continue to be included in the political life of the gay community I have taken no action to further that goal. Today, it is almost exclusively my interventions as a therapist that represent a domain of action informed by a political perspective: the propensity to often view conflicts within a person as a product of oppression and repression.