by Garrett Oppenheim, Ph.D.
One of my most challenging cases of resistance was that of a young man of executive fiber who appeared to be well motivated, and whose regressions were both vivid and interesting. However, these regressions seemed to have nothing to do with his presenting problem, which was a profound fear of speaking in front of an audience. We worked under pressure because he had allowed only a few weeks to deal with this problem before giving an important talk which, if successful, would clinch a promotion to a higher executive position in his company.
My patient, Monty, had regressed to lifetimes as a prostitute in Algeria, a farmer in southern England, and a caveman in some unknown locale, but the one life to which he kept returning was that of one Harry Dixon, an American infantryman in World War II. Again, none of these regressions seemed pertinent. During one battle scene Private Dixon hoped to distinguish himself for bravery but didn’t. In another, he made love with a pretty girl in France, and the two planned to stay in touch after the war, but soon afterward he was killed by a booby trap. Nothing we uncovered seemed connected to his phobia.
All through these sessions I grumbled to myself, “Resistance! Resistance!” However, I also experienced a growing inexplicable discomfort and began to realize that perhaps this word “resistance” was my own cop-out, one that enabled me to place the blame for failure on the shoulders of my patient, rather than dealing with it myself.