Counselling, Psychoanalysis, Psychotherapy, Religion, Spirituality, The Inner World, The unconscious, Uncategorized, Ways of Being

The Black Dog

black-dog I was talking with one my patients yesterday.  He came in,sat down and we exchanged the usual pleasantries. He was then quiet for several minutes.

“Where  are you?” I asked.

” I’m not sure. I feel a bit stuck.”

“Can you talk a bit more about this stuck feeling?”

“You’ll think I’m stupid if I tell you…”

“You’re feeling embarrassed …?” I suggested.

He sighed deeply. “I may as well tell you.”

He paused. I wondered  to myself what it was he was finding so difficult to talk about.

“Do you believe in ghosts?” he asked.

“Carry on” I replied. “Talk to me about ghosts.”

” I see one quite often. You know we’ve got a couple of dogs. A pair of Rottweilers. Lovely dogs. Soft as anything. But very protective of us as a family. I usually take them out for a walk early evening across the fields. Sarah puts the kids to bed whilst I walk our dogs. Takes about an hour there and back again. I come home, tuck the kids in and we have dinner. Recently I’ve gone out and come to the bit  where the filed goes into a lane. There’s a sort of gate you have to go through to get to the lane.” Here he paused again and shuffled in his chair, looking very uncomfortable. The pause lasted for several more minutes.

“You see to have gone away again ” I prompted. “Where are you?”

“I don’t know if I can do this. I saw this big black dog siting at the gate. Bloody great thing it was.Just sitting there. Big red eyes.Looked like something out of one  the kids books. My dogs just sat down and wouldn’t move. No matter how I pulled on the lead or anything.They were terrified. So was I. We didn’t hang around to see what it was. Just turned round and went back the way we’d come. I’ve never seen the dogs run like they did.  It took me about ten minutes to get them back. I called into the pub on the way back and had a drink to steady my nerves. I sent Sarah a text telling her where I was. Just so she didn’t worry. Anyway I got home  and told Sarah that something had spooked the dogs and that was why I was late…”

“So you didn’t tell her about the dog you saw?  Why not?”

” I don’t know really. I didn’t want to upset her. I’d half convinced myself that it was a trick of the light. I’m still not quite sure…”

“That sounds very real. Whatever it was happened obviously scared you and your dogs.” Pause. “And what do you think now?”

He sat quietly again and looked uncomfortable.  We sat in silence for a short while.

I wondered aloud if there was more to this story than he had so far managed to tell me. ”

” Yes, I told friends about this. One of them, Mike, is a bit of hard  man. He works on building sites. He was sceptical.”

‘I don’t believe in ghosts. Ain’t no such fucking thing’ was his response. He offered to come with me next time. I dearly wish he hadn’t. I feel so guilty.”

The clock had moved on and our 50 minutes was up. I was tempted to extend the session, following Lacan. But settled for keeping to my time.

” It sounds like there’s a lot more to explore in this story, Mike, but that will have to wait until our next session. I’ll see you next week at the same time.

I was tempted to make a comment about drinking less this week but forbore to be so unprofessional. As it was I was left feeling all manner of things. Confused, intrigued, annoyed. Not helped by the knowledge that I had a difficult patient in ten minutes time.

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