Alfred Adler Institutes of San Francisco and Northwestern Washington

Demonstration of Fifth Interview in
Classical Adlerian Depth Psychotherapy

This is an unedited transcription of a demonstration of various stages of individual adult psychotherapy. It was presented at the Cape Cod Seminars in June of 1997. Henry T. Stein, Ph.D. worked with Martha E. Edwards, Ph.D. who played her client. This material is protected by copyright and may not be reproduced, in whole or part, without the expressed consent of Dr. Stein.

H= Henry


H - Good morning.

M - Hi.

H - You ok?

M - Huuuh! Yeah, I -- you know, we talked before about my job and stuff and I tell you, I’m not really very happy. Um, I’m -- I’m just feeling like maybe I should quit, um, I don’t feel like I belong, you know, I don’t -- I don’t -- actually, I don’t know where I belong.

H - How long have you been feeling like that?

M - Like I don’t know where I belong?

H - Yeah, like what you’re telling me right now. Is this, like, recent or is it...

M - Most of my life.

H - Most of your life. Do you have any sense of where you might belong? A fantasy even. It doesn’t even have to be logical or real.

M - Well, oh, I -- I -- I felt much better when I was in dance, when I was in theater.

H - Much better.

M - Oh, yeah.

H - How much better?

M - It was wonderful.

H - It was wonderful better.

M - Yeah. You know -- I didn’t even have to do much -- you -- there was this -- there was this time -- you know, I love to dance, I love to -- to choreograph, but there was this time when, um, a friend of mine was -- was choreo -- choreo -- choreographing something and she needed someone just to come on stage and to stand and to walk off stage. It was not a big deal, and, um, I don’t know if (I was the person she had to do it or she just needed someone). So, she asked me to do it and I said sure, you know, I didn’t need to -- to be involved in it that much. But it was such an incredible experience because all I did was walk on stage and stop, and I could feel the audience just, like, drawn to me. I -- I just felt them. And then I walked off. People came up to me afterwards and said (whispering), “Liz, that was incredible.” (Whispering) I didn’t do any -- I mean it was -- it was just (normal voice) -- but I know the feeling of focus, the feeling of, you know, just that -- the audience. It was -- oh! That was wonderful.

H - Did it ever happen again?

M - Well, I didn’t have that kind of a situation, but that -- I feel that with the audience when I dance, when I, you know, when I have -- I -- I feel their -- I feel them, you know.

H - Yeah. Tell me more about that feeling from the audience. What is it like? It feels good?

M - Yeah.

H - Very good, yeah, but...

M - Oh, very.

H - But what is it like? What kind of good?

M - Well, you know, I -- uh -- they -- there was someone who talked about it in terms of flow, you know, like you feel this -- just energy flowing back and forth, but from the audience to you. I mean, it’s just -- you know, there’s this -- there’s this -- just -- interaction.

H - Ok, it’s an energy. But is there any feeling connected with the energy, from them to you? Is there a sense of how they feel about you when they’re doing this?

M - Well, they’re -- they’re very interested...

H - They’re interested, yeah.

M -, they’re just, you know, riveted maybe is the word.

H - Riveted.

M - Yeah. Um, I don’t know what the feeling would be.

H - What is the effect on you, when this is coming at you?

M - It just makes me feel alive, you know? Like I belong, like I’m there, you know, just -- I belong there.

H - That you belong there.

M - Yeah.

H - So there’s a real feeling of connection with these people.

M - Yeah.

H - Do you feel they’re accepting you?

M - Yeah, yeah.

H - Do you feel that they’re liking you?

M - Yeah.

H - Are they admiring you? I mean, how strong does it get?

M - Sure I -- I guess they probably admire me.

H - Admire you, too?

M - Yeah.

H - Does it ever get very strong, like do you ever feel that there’s an affection coming from them?

M - They might -- they might love what I’m doing. They - they...

H - Love what you’re doing.

M - Yeah. I mean, people have said that to me. I loved that...

H - They love what you’re doing.

M - ...yeah, I loved you in that, you know, dance.

H - Do you ever have a sense that they love you because of what you’re doing?

M - (I don’t know) about that.

H - (But it felt) very good.

M - And I’ve never felt it since.

H - But you felt it whenever you had danced?

M - And -- I was much younger when I was acting, but I think I felt it there, too. And I -- when I was acting, I felt like I was part of the company, you know, that I was accepted.

H - By the company, not just the audience.

M - Yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean, I hung out with some weird -- kind of weird characters and we did some not too great stuff. But at least I was accepted somewhere.

H - You don’t feel this today...

M - Not at all.

H - ...anywhere?

M - Nope.

H - Not even a little bit?

M - Nope.

H - (Have you) ever experienced anything like this in your dreams, that sensation that you talked about?

M - Hmm.

H - Ever have daydreams about this? Fantasies during the day while you’re awake.

M - I mean, I feel kind of silly...

H - Are you embarrassed by this question?

M - Well, sure. I mean, you know.

H - Well, look, we have worked together for a long time. You’ve told me an awful lot.

M - Yeah, but...

H - Are you concerned about how I would -- what I would think about what you say? Or it’s just...

M - Well but -- I mean, it -- don’t you think it’s kind of childish to, like, fantasize?

H - I have a great respect for children. I admire them. If something is childish, to me that’s probably positive.

M - Really?

H - To me. I don’t know about you. Do you think differently?

M - Well, I don’t think adults ought to act like children.

H - All the time? They should never act like children?

M - Hmm. Maybe -- no, I’m -- maybe you’re right. Yeah.

H - I mean, what about actors? You know, actors in a comedy, for example.

M - Yeah?

H - Have you ever watched Tom Hanks?

M - (Laughs).

H - He’s really serious and adult all the time, right?

M - Yeah, right.

H - We love him for that. Maybe there’s a time to be child-like. So what is it that you fantasize. Can you tell me? It’s a little risky for you, ok.

M - (I think I did) not have a good time when I was in high school. You know, I was with the theater group, but sometimes I think of going back to my high school reunion -- actually, there’s one coming up in the summer, um, and I wish I could go back and kind of, you know, be famous and show them that, you know, I do something important and I -- you know, I’m not ugly and I’m not a freak and I’m not bad and I’m not, you know.

H - No more negatives for you.

M - That’s right.

H - If you could reach this wonderful high point of being famous, that would erase all of these bad feelings forever.

M - Well, at the reunion, at least.

H - At least. Well, but in fantasy...

M - Yeah, right, right, right.

H - could do that. You had a taste of it, and who knows, it might (really work). (Inaudible) very powerful. (Inaudible) that you would like to erase and never have to feel again?

M - Not feeling like I don’t belong. Not feeling ugly. I mean, I’ve spent my life -- I buy clo -- I mean, I buy boots, I -- I buy fabric to make clothes, I’m constantly trying to look the part -- I can’t you know -- at the center, I -- you know, there’s all the -- the rich ladies who I can’t compete with, but I try anyway and I don’t feel like I belong, and I -- I’ve always tried to -- to take the outside and make me look, you know, like I want to feel on the inside. And it doesn’t work.

H - So if you had the body of who, you’d be fine?

M - Uh, Cheryl Crawford?

H - Cheryl Crawford.

M - Yeah.

H - And if you had the clothing from where, you’d be fine?

M - Well, I vary. Some days it’s Chanel, some days it’s Betsy Johnson, some days it’s -- I don’t know.

H - But this is sort of like the outside stuff, right?

M - Yeah.

H - If you had a lot of good outside stuff, you’d be fine.

M - (Inaudible)

H - That somebody like Cheryl Crawford or a very -- a woman with a -- you know, an exceptional body who’s wearing beautiful clothes, do you think that they feel good inside all the time? All of them?

M - Well, they probably don’t. I’m -- I know that. I mean, I know that, but -- they probably feel better than I do.

H - Yeah, it may be true. (They may) feel better, until they get a little older (or) until their economic changes and they can’t buy good clothes anymore. Is that possible?

M - Yeah, but that’s what I -- you know, I have to make my own clothes.

H - Yeah. But I’m wondering if there is a way to find out what’s underneath all of this that originally started (bothering you).

M - Umm...

H - Think back into childhood, before your weight was a problem, before clothing was, you know, an issue. How did you feel in your family? (As a) young child?

M - Like if I wasn’t doing the right, perfect thing, I might as well not be there.

H - Ok. So you didn’t feel accepted.

M - No.

H - For who you were as a child.

M - That’s right.

H - That must have been (awful). Think about it. As you think about it now, does it bother you? As you remember it? Because this could be painful, you know.

M - I’m not sure I’m feeling much at all right now.

H - You’re not. (Inaudible) At me?

M - No!

H - At what, who?

M - My parents. They had no business having children, you know that? They really didn’t. They didn’t know what the hell they were doing. Thank God they only had one kid.

H - (Inaudible) that they omitted with you that you’re so angry about?

M - They didn’t -- they had no idea how to just focus on somebody else. They were so selfish, and self-centered and so worried about their own skin and worried about their image. I was never good enough for my father. I had to -- to wear the right clothes, and he didn’t want me to wear anything but dresses, and he wanted me to have perfect little curls. If I wasn’t anything like that, well, forget it. My mother wouldn’t pay attention to me half the time. Screw ‘em.

H - (Inaudible) didn’t give you what you really needed very early was that feeling of acceptance, the feeling of approval, the feeling that you counted.

M - Yeah, hardly.

H - Yeah. I wonder if that left you very early with a sense that you weren’t very worthwhile.

M - You know, like, duh!

H - Duh?

M - I mean -- (how) could they do that?

H - I don’t know, but it -- it sometimes happens. Parents make mistakes. Sometimes also they’re very unprepared to have children.

M - Well then why didn’t they just keep their hands to themselves?

H - (Let’s) look at what you did, ok? Let’s say they made mistakes, ok? I don’t know if they were conscious of it or not, but they -- they didn’t do what you needed. But you then had this feeling that you didn’t count, you weren’t worthwhile, they weren’t interested in you, they didn’t care about you. And you were stuck with a miserable situation and nobody to help you, right?

M - That’s right.

H - Ok. Then you must have started thinking what am I going to do later on? How am I going to get out of this? A creative mind started working as a child. It must have. I wonder if you started to imagine something in the future that would correct all of that.

M - Well, remember I told that I used to imagine being a dead princess?

H - Yes, I remember that.

M - I think I -- I felt that would help. It was like, I’ll show you. You’ll be sorry. Is that what you mean?

H - Well, I think that’s part of it, but I don’t have a sense that that’s really the main thing. I think that’s sort of like a back up. Is it possible that initially you had this dream or idea that I’m going to be wonderful, I’m going to do something wonderful, I’m going to dazzle people, not just one person, a mommy and a daddy, I’m going to dazzle a lot of people. Lots and lots of people. Is it possible that you sort of thought, like, on one hand I have this terrible situation, they don’t pay any attention to me, they don’t care about me, but on the other hand, if I do this other thing, I will have lots of people who are interested in me, who care about me, who like me, pay attention to me...

M - And I’ll show them.

H - And then I’ll show them. And then I could -- what? Let’s say that happened, ok? And you became famous and you became famous and you dazzled and all of these people thought you were quite wonderful, all right? Then how would you do the I show them part? What would you -- how would you carry that out?

M - What? Like, I show my parents?

H - Yeah.

M - (Laughs). Remember how Cinderella took her mother in, or step-mother in, after she got the prince?

H - Tell me about that part. It’s not fresh in my mind.

M - Cinderella, little twit that she was, she finally gets the prince, and she forgives her step-mother and forgives her step-sisters and she brings them into the castle and they all live happily ever after. Know what I’d do?

H - What would you do, yeah, tell me.

M - They would come up to the door and I’d slam it in their face and they’d -- they would -- and then they’d -- they’d have their little faces pressed to the glass and they would never get in. And I would -- I would be eating fabulous food and I’d have wonderful balls and I’d be wearing gorgeous gowns, and they’d be looking in and they’d be trying to get in, and they wouldn’t.

H - And you’d be very, very happy...

M - Oh, yeah.

H - ...and they’d be very, very sad.

M - Yeah. And they’d be sorry for what they did.

H - And they’d be sorry.

M - We should have treated her better.

H - So in addition to your own success and luxury, there’s a little bit of revenge here, yeah?

M - Well, yeah.

H - Yeah.

M - It’s deserved.

H - How close are you to achieving this?

M - Well, you know, I got a little of it, I have to tell you, when I got this job at the center. You know, my mom was pretty impressed, and you know, I’m working for an important place and, um, I think she felt like, oh, you know, my daughter’s too important now. So, you know, that felt good. I have -- I have to tell you, I have to be honest about it.

H - Because what I’m wondering is, with this very big goal that you have, this fantasy that you have, and the promise of that, and how much excitement there is and how compelling it is for you, I’m wondering what -- how your husband fits into this. If you husband were to be loving and caring to you, and pay attention to you, this is one man just being very caring, (at this scale) of one person, how would that feel to you. Would -- would that be...

M - (Laughs). Have you been talking to him?

H - I’ve been talking with you and you’ve been telling me about him.

M - He gets so mad at me because, you know, I come home, I’m upset and he says, you know, but I think you’re good at it. But you know what? That’s not good enough. I mean -- and he says, if someone else tells you you’re good, you might believe them but he says I never believe him.

H - So perhaps he gets the experience of coming in too small with what he’s saying, compared to what maybe you would like him or other people to do. See because I’m wondering where your satisfaction, your real satisfaction in life is going to come from, whether it can come today with people in your life where you could feel happy and satisfied, or whether it’s only something that’s going to happen in the future when something really huge takes place.

M - How am I going to feel satisfied? Here I am, an events coordinator with a kind of a jerk for a husband -- I mean, he can be sweet but he’s really kind of messed up. I mean, that’s not very satisfying.

H - It’s not satisfying to you right now because I think you have an idea of something very large and you’re comparing what’s happening right now to this very large thing and it never measures up.

M - But it’s not that good to start with. I mean, how -- I don’t think -- it seems to be I’d be upset and depressed and -- no matter what.

H - Unless you started where you are and started working on improving it, and got the satisfaction from improving. See, Liz, I have a sense that you’re almost hypnotized by something very huge in the future and you’re never there, and you’re never satisfied, and you’re trying to just get rid of this bad feeling from childhood that you can’t quite shake. You don’t want to do any small potatoes things because it just seems like it’s too small and too insignificant and it’s not going lead to very much.

M - Yeah.

H - I wonder if you’re missing something, right here, right now, today, with the people in your life, missing some kind of satisfaction.

M - I don’t think they’re going to give me anything, frankly.

H - I’m not concerned with what they give you. I’m concerned about what you’re going to be doing and the feeling you get from what you’re doing. You seem to be waiting for the applause of the crowd rather than having a sense internally of I’m satisfied with what I’m doing right now.

M - I -- I don’t know if I agree with you. It wasn’t the applause that was important to me. I mean, you know that a lot of people do it for the applause, but I don’t think that -- I don’t it was that for me.

H - Then what was it?

M - It was that feeling of, you know, we’re there, we’re connected, we’re -- that, you know, that -

- that interaction.

H - But how many people are we talking about?

M - Ahh...

H - A lot of people.

M - But still, it wasn’t the applause.

H - It was the feeling.

M - Yeah.

H - What if you could get a feeling from one other person, a feeling of caring and of interest, that was so deep and go genuine that it would connect with you even better than all of these other people. Would that be worth trying? You’re looking at me skeptically.

M - I don’t know. I don’t know if I buy it.

H - I don’t think you do buy it. Right now. But what if it were possible to do that? What if that would solve that feeling within you that you have never solved yet? What if you’re going in a direction that won’t really ever solve it? Wouldn’t that be sad, to keep going in that direction, if there was another direction here that was much simpler, much easier, that would solve how you’re feeling? Wouldn’t it be sad if you didn’t try that? Because it looked too small? The love of just one person? (Maybe) this is too much to go into right now. Maybe just....

M - I mean, when you -- uhhh -- when you say the love of one person --- uhhh!

H - It sounds....

M - Well, but -- you know, there -- uhh...

H - What? Go ahead.

M - I mean, on -- in some ways, what you’re saying, I kind of see. But when you say the love of one person, you know -- so what if that one person doesn’t come through?

H - What if they do? (Excuse me), why wouldn’t they come through if you made it very inviting for them to do that?

M - (Because) I’ve never seen it.

H - I believe it. Maybe...

M - Maybe I don’t -- maybe I don’t know what love is.

H - The kind of love we’re talking about right now.

M - I don’t think I know what that is.

H - That’s very honest. You think a little child knows what this love is? Or does a child have to learn about it.

M - They have to learn.

H - Well, if you didn’t learn about it early, can you learn about it now?

M - How?

H - By talking about it. How do children learn about it. They see it...

M - They get to feel it.

H - They get to feel it. Who do you feel honestly cares about you in your life today? (Do you feel a) tiny little bit of interest from me?

M - Interest? Yeah.

H - Interest. Do you feel a tiny little bit of caring from me, that I care about how you (felt).

M - Yeah, but I’m paying you.

H - So? Does that spoil it?

M - Yeah.

H - Do you think it’s fake?

M - Yeah, you care about a lot of people. I’m not special.

H - That’s true. Is there anything wrong with my caring about other people as well?

M - Well, it doesn’t make it special between us, so it’s different.

H - It would only be special if I only cared about you and nobody else?

M - If you cared about me more than anyone else.

H - More. But equally is not sufficient?

M - You asked me, you know?

H - Do you believe there’s a Santa Claus?

M - No, I don’t.

H - When you found out that there was no Santa Claus, how did you feel?

M - (Cheated)

H - Do you still feel that way?

M - No. (Laughs.) Maybe a little bit.

H - What? What? What are you laughing about?

M - I guess -- I realize maybe I do feel cheated. I feel cheated about a lot of things.

H - (inaudible) you wouldn’t feel so cheated if you would accept a fair share of things, including affection and attention and caring.

M - Are you saying I want too much?

H - What do you think?

M - I think that’s what you’re saying.

H - Do you actually need as much as you want? Or do you just want it?

M - If I didn’t get it as a kid, yeah, I need it.

H - Quanti -- you need the quantity.

M - Yeah. I mean, I think all children need it. And if you don’t get it as a child, you’ve got to get it somewhere.

H - Ok. So let’s look at the parents, two parents and two children. What we’re saying is that for one child to feel good, the parents have to like that child the most and care about that child the most, more than the other, that they can’t care about them equally. That would leave one child short-changed won’t it? But if the parents care equally about their children, and the children accept that, then nobody is short-changed.

M - Maybe as a child, that’s ok, to be equal. But if you -- if you didn’t get that as a child, you need to make up for it. You need more.

H - Excuse me, Liz. I think that’s what you believe. Ok? But it may be that you actually need different, not more.

M - Different in what way?

H - A different idea of being loved or cared for. Your idea, which I think comes from your childhood, is that you need the quantity of hundreds of people to have this feeling about you, ok? I’m suggesting to you that it might be that one person who loved you very deeply and cared about you very deeply might be better than that. It might actually make you feel differently if you would accept it and digest it and feel it, that this was happening to you. (You might) like these other people giving you a good feeling, but you wouldn’t be looking to them to solve this issue.

M - I don’t think I know what you mean by that deep loving feeling, but I kind of get a sense of what you mean.

H - I think it’s a lot to go into today. I think we need to talk more about this, just to sort of leave a little opening that maybe this different kind of feeling at a different scale but deeper, would change how your feelings are. But I have to tell you something. It’s not just the person giving it to you; this is a kind of a cooperation. You have to accept it and digest it. You can’t just kind of sit there and let it happen. You have to make it work. So it requires your consent and your participation to make it work, to feel loved. Feeling loved is not a passive thing. It’s an active thing. It includes letting the person who’s loving you feel successful by seeing the result of it.

M - Hmmm.

H - Hmmm! Yeah.

M - It’s a hard one.

H - It’s a hard one. I think that’s enough for today, don’t you?

M - Yeah.

H - Yeah. Ok, we’ll continue.

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