Counselling, Psychoanalysis, Psychotherapy, Reflective Practice, The Inner World, Ways of Being

Instant everything

I have been thinking about boredom. I thought I might need to engage with my readers in a more dynamic way, lest sitting reading a blog be too boring. So, here is a clip from a piece by Stop Motion Orchestra which I hope will grab your attention. (It is called “Instant Everything”)

The problem is, of course, that you will decide that is the most interesting part of this blog and switch off -literally and metaphorically. But I’m trying to engage with you! Please let me know if I have succeeded. Your feedback is important to me. (In truth, I am interested in your responses. Why else would I write?)

I was reading today that Spotify has now developed an app whereby the listeners can skip all the boring bits of a song and go straight to the full on crescendo. (There goes Beethoven’s Moonlight sonata, Elgar’s cello concerto and 90% of classical music.) I also recently had a conversation about the process of psychoanalysis. That it is terribly boring! “We talk about the same things every week.” was the complaint. I did point out that CBT could offer a quick 10 sessions with each week building on the previous week’s work. My patient acknowledged that this wasn’t what he needed or really wanted.) Therapy is boring-if that is the word. We do sit down week by week and talk about similar things. We visit and revisit the past. We do it because the past is the key to our present as T.S.Eliot so clearly understood when he observed in the Four Quartets  that “in my beginning is my end and in my end is my beginning.”  (The technical term for this is working through. It is the process whereby we come to understand the implications of a new understanding or insight. Rather like holding a diamond up to the light. Each face reflects a different facet of the diamond. And each facet in its turn adds to the understanding of the whole.)

A friend who has found CBT helpful in the past asked his therapist “I understand how CBT works but I don’t understand why I got depressed in the first place.” His therapist was gracious enough to acknowledge that those kinds of questions were outside the remit of CBT. I had a patient start with me recently. He had been seen by the organisation before and had done some CBT / Self Help work which he had found useful. He has come back for some more work because, he says, he is again feeling depressed. He was taken aback when I said that I disagreed. I did not find him to be depressed. I found him somewhat lonely, sad and wanting to be loved. He came back for his second session in a thoughtful mood. He had not anticipated my responses and had spent most of the week thinking about what I had said. He left this session asking if he could return. The work I’m doing with him is time limited. Ten sessions. In that time I shall be able to map out what I see as the main concern. The point of maximum pain, to use Hinshelwood’s phrase. What he does with this knowledge is then his choice. He would benefit from a longer therapy to give him time to work through his issues. He needs time.Time to think. Feel. Wonder.Argue. Disagree. Time to get bored.

“Boredom, I think, protects the individual, makes tolerable for him the impossible experience of waiting for something without knowing what it could be. So that the paradox of the waiting that goes on in boredom is that the individual does not know what he was waiting for until he finds it, and that often he does not know (for) what he is waiting”…

This is from Adam Phillips book “On kissing, Tickling and Being Bored”. It sums up long term therapy very well. One has time to realise that one is, indeed, waiting for something. I think that should be that one is waiting for someone. Oneself.

Sometimes we take a lot of finding…

So, please join me in a toast “To boredom”.


4 thoughts on “Instant everything

  1. “I was reading today that Spotify has now developed an app whereby the listeners can skip all the boring bits of a song and go straight to the full on crescendo. (There goes Beethoven’s Moonlight sonata, Elgar’s cello concerto and 90% of classical music.)”

    No love for Bohemian Rhapsody then?

    Is “boredom” a modern thing? how did our ancestors cope without the internet, TV, and radio?

    Perhaps our attention spans are decreasing as we have more things to distract us? are we afraid we will miss something on the tv or internet?


    • Sorry to be so long in replying Dave. Life is, ironically, very busy right now! I do like Bohemian Rhapsody. I love the endless crescendos and Freddy Mercury being his inimitable self. I was trying to reflect on how short my own concentration span is getting. I sit and half watch a TV show whilst half doing a card game on my iPad. I constantly berate myself for not taking more time for academic reading, using a skimmed paper to inform my lectures! But boredom comes out of having time to be bored, doesn’t it? If i’ve spent 12 hours each day hunting food Or avoiding being food, I don’t have much spare time. It will be interesting to see how our students manage their time when they reach our exulted age! Must dash now, incoming mail alert!!


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