I am not sure what it says about therapy, but a New York therapist named Sarah White has just discovered a new technique.
According to The Daily, the new News Corp iPad app, White strips naked during her therapy sessions. She claims that her nudity helps her patients to focus…. Link here.
In the video clip, reporter Justin Rocket Silverman has a session with Sarah White. He talks about his wish to stop smoking, and she offers a semi-Freudian interpretation about the erotics of smoking, all the while removing her clothes.
Silverman seems very pleased by the session, though one has to wonder whether he will be induced to abandon smoking by talking it over with a “smoking” hot therapist?
As you might guess, White is not a licensed therapist. On her website she claims to offer a quasi-therapeutic experience, though one does suspect that her work more closely resembles what would be called, most charitably, performance art.
Which does not preclude the possibility that her work might reveal a basic truth about psychotherapy, especially the kind based on psychoanalysis.
White’s clientele seems mostly to be of the male persuasion. Does her striptease help these men to focus on their problems? For my part I doubt it.
But then again, classical therapy was never about focusing on one’s problems. It involved free association, saying whatever came to mind, openly and uncensored.
The sign that a patient was really free associating was that his ramblings and mutterings were incoherent and unfocused.
Would a naked therapist be more likely to make a man’s utterances incoherent and unfocused? I would say yes.
If you accept the authority of my therapist, Jacques Lacan, psychoanalysis has always been about seduction. Lacan would have qualified it as mental seduction, but still, it was a form of seduction.
If libido drives all human behavior, then it makes good sense to say that the psychoanalytic transference is based on libido.
Let’s say that the protracted process of psychoanalytic therapy involves the patient discovering and revealing deeper and more intimate truths. It is not unreasonable to say that it resembles something like a striptease, the gradual stripping away of veils of repression to reveal the naked truth.
In its early, glory days psychoanalysis involved the interaction of a male therapist and a female patient.
While the female patient was supposed to reveal more and more of her intimacy, the male therapist was supposed to reveal as little as was humanly possible of his thoughts, feelings, and fantasies.
Over time, however, more and more therapists were women. And women are far less interested in being silent witnesses of a striptease.
How did the profession adapt to the influx of woman therapists? Through something that is called countertransference theory, therapists told themselves that it would be alright if they revealed more and more about their thoughts, their feelings, and their fantasies.
Therapists would bare their souls, the better to induce patients to bare theirs.
When you come to think of it, that is Sarah White’s idea.
If you still think that therapy is based in science or medicine, then you have been have a real problem, one that you are not going to solve through therapy.