Is Love An Altered State That Makes Effective Psychotherapy Impossible?

Is it impossible for therapy to be effective when a person is in love? I’ve come across this theory. The idea is that being in love in an altered state, akin to being drunk. It’s hard to tell anyone anything when they are “in love”. When you’re in love there are just too many ways to escape. and to hide. However, I have Venus (love) square Neptune (drunk) and this may me personal to me and not true for you.

You have to form an intense connection with a therapist to do deep work. If you have a partner, you’re already bonded.  I am not sure this kind of three-way offers the same opportunities.

What do you think? Is being in love anathema to effective psychotherapy?

29 thoughts on “Is Love An Altered State That Makes Effective Psychotherapy Impossible?”

  1. Well..possibly. But I don’t think it matters, because you’re being opened up in all kinds of new ways and that’s valuable, too.
    Six in one, half a dozen in the other 🙂

  2. No, I don’t think so. If anything, love makes me less vulnerable. I feel good and supported, and taking a look at tough things isn’t so scary. I feel like: I am loved, I can face anything. All the warts, all the shit, I can deal with it all, because I am loved. This is my experience anyway, but then again I have Venus Trined Neptune…

  3. cj – for me it was enormously effective but I went back for a tune 10 years later (when I was in love) and got squat from that experience.

    Initially I felt the therapist ineffectual but in hindsight I am not so sure that was the problem. It’s just that who wants to dig in deep when you’ve got a date in an hour. 🙂

  4. Kasmiri said, “love makes me less vulnerable.” my theory is that you have to be in a vulnerable state for therapy to work. I’d think that the ability to be vulnerable is the key factor and that being in love may have an effect in that regard.

    so, if that is accurate, those who fail at therapy, narcissists, borderlines, can they fall in love? perhaps the key to those problems lies in the possibility that whatever plug-in exists for that quantity is missing.

  5. Satori, I hear kashmiri’s words as “love makes me less afraid of being vulnerable.

    Aside of that both Satori & Kashmiri totally echo what a shrink described about making patients feeling safe about opening up, able to deal with & face issues. She was speaking in a lecture about the judicious use of mdma with therapy patients to kickstart love chemicals in their brain, helping them feeling in love/at one with life, drop the fears and become more open to digging in. (google: iraqi vets ptsd mdma)

  6. Huh, I just spotted this. It’s weird to re-read old comments. My first thought was, what drug was I on that day? Unfortunately, I’m an existentialist at heart. LOL. Seriously, I more meant: being loved makes THERAPY less scary!

  7. I think some of us are just resistant to therapy, period. I’ve been forcibly sent a few times, by people who thought to cure my handicap, as child, teenager and young adult; but I loathed every moment of it and I prefer to get my support and advice where I choose. I’ve never had much respect for psychotherapists (certainly not enough to allow them to rummage around in my subconscious) since I’ve always felt they all have ‘issues’ of their own which are at least as great as my own. A couple of them seemed to me laughably stupid, and vain with it. And several people I know who have had dealings with therapists have been fleeced, and manipulated, and worse.

    Satori wrote “those who fail at therapy, narcissists, borderlines…”
    – Ahem, just a moment – I don’t think there is necessarily any reason to label people as fuck-ups because they ‘fail at therapy’. It may just be that such people have a very strong sense of themselves, and a need to work through their own problems and find their own solutions to them.

    This respect for and semi-dependence on therapy is an almost exclusively American thing, I might add. The rest of the world gets along perfectly well without personal psychotherapists, in most cases!

  8. PS I also have Venus square Neptune (as does my First Great Love!). I was in love with one man or another for most of my adult life, but I don’t think this had any bearing on my rejection of and resistance to therapy

  9. As a psychologist, I can confidently say that the number one reason people find therapy effective is that they are ready to change their life BEFORE they come through the door. Like the saying “when the student is ready the teacher appears,” well it’s the same with therapy – When the client is ready the therapist appears. And the opposite is also true, if the person is resistant to change before they walk in, no matter how wonderful the therapist is they will not find therapy effective, period.

  10. combining A’s point with Elsa’s, it seems true that one who is in ‘love’ would want to preserve it and may view any type of change as a threat.

    i have venus cancer inconjunct sag neptune – this is a big fear of mine. didn’t used to be, but for some reason it is now – that loving someone will cloud my judgement. it’s a block i’m working on….so while i agree 150%, i’m on the other side of the pendulum swing and looking for ways to find middle ground.

  11. I think when we’re in love, we’re not thinking all that clearly. Early days of it at least. This is same reason a good friend advising us against loving a jerk is not heard – we *think* we’re seeing clearly when in love but usually not. So no I don’t think therapy would work.

    Therapy is hard work and if you’re closed off (in love) in any way, you’re not capable of doing that work and getting anything out of it.

    As said in Sleepless in Seattle – “Love is simply two neuroses recognizing they’re a perfect match” lol

  12. I must first confess that I have a background in pscyhotherapy, so I know this subject well.

    It depends more on the therapist. Some are very good at what they do, others are not. If the therapist is very talented then, no, love will not be able to stop the effects of the therapy primarily because if I need to get through to someone, even if they are in love, then I will use that altered state (yes it is an altered state) to create a different state (usually a better one).

    Unless, of course, they are heading in a direction that takes them into harms way then the different state will not be a pleasant one, simply to alter their course and protect them.

  13. Perhaps I’m misunderstanding your meaning, but my immediate reaction is, “Uh, no. People are capable of having more than one very intense relationship/interaction/bond in their life.” So, uh, no. I think that maybe the initial stages of bliss and endorphins might make *everything* in a person’s life less effective, but once life settles in, being in love with a spouse, etc, should not preclude other bonding relationships.

  14. Plus I agree with Kashmiri’s original statement that “love makes me less vulnerable”. True for me as well. That’s why it’s so devastating when it’s lost – I no longer have the courage and strength to face all the warts etc. Feeling unconditionally loved is essential to being able to take on life courageously. If you didn’t experience it as a child you need to find it somewhere else. However, replicating that unconditional love that a parent can give you is very difficult.

  15. When I was in love and in therapy at the same time, I found myself withholding things in therapy that in hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have.. all of a sudden, my emotional investment in the lover was greater than the emotional investment in myself, that prompted me to seek out therapy in the first place.

    Plus, I was in a situation where my lover actually felt intimidated by my therapy (i.e., jealous that I might be more open with the therapist, than I was with him). It certainly had an impact on therapy. Not good.

  16. Might depend on the situation. You can’t do anything with someone who is in a bad relationship but is still in “but I luuuuuuv him” phase, so in that case HELL YEAH. But otherwise, I wouldn’t rule it out.

  17. BP, I never said people who failed at therapy were fuck ups. or narcissists or borderlines. I said narcissists and borderlines fail at therapy, which is pretty well documented.

  18. perhaps where I was unclear was in not being precise at saying I meant those specified groups such as narcissists and borderlines, groups which statistically are unsuccessful in therapy…

  19. OK Satori, now that’s clear!

    HAHAHA Nota! I almost never notice the date on a thread – if it pops up in the current list I assume it’s a recent one 😉

  20. Please, dont take this as a mocking sarcasm , the fact is you do not need to be in good shape to go to psycho-therapist even you could be sick or seriously trastorned. Ha! Now, talking serious, the therapeutical bond occur regardless of other ties with another people, in fact psychologist (more precisely psycoanallyst) analyses that relationship to infer your extern bonds and past ones… I don’t know of that a such things ,…with individual therapy

  21. The consuming desire of most human beings is deliberately to plant their whole life in the hands of some other person. For this purpose they frequently choose someone who doesn’t even want the beastly thing. I would describe this method of searching for happiness as immature. Development of character consists solely in moving towards self-sufficiency. — Quentin Crisp

    In real love you want the other person’s good. In romantic love you want the other person.
    — Margaret Anderson

    When one is in love one begins by deceiving oneself, one ends by deceiving others. That is what the world calls romance. — Oscar Wilde

    Love is a gross exaggeration of the difference between one person and everybody else.
    — George Bernard Shaw

    To be in love is merely to be in a state of perceptual anesthesia — to mistake an ordinary young man for a Greek god or an ordinary young woman for a goddess. — H.L.Mencken

    There is hardly any activity, any enterprise, which is started with such tremendous hopes and expectations and yet which fails so regularly as love. — Erich Fromm

    To fall in love is to create a religion that has a fallible God. — Jorge Luis Borges

    You will become as small as your controlling desire; as great as your dominant aspiration.
    –- James Allen

    Even in the common affairs of life, in love, friendship, and marriage, how little security have we when we trust our happiness in the hands of others! — William Hazlitt 1822

    The continued propinquity of another human being cramps your style after a time unless that person is somebody you think you love. Then the burden becomes intolerable at once.
    — Quentin Crisp

  22. Yalom, a famous psychiatrist and psychoanalyst wrote Love’s Executioner. That is the first time I was aware of this concept.

  23. Avatar

    I am having flashbacks of the Love Is comics/gift store propaganda that I have an aversion to but it is not nearly so onerous a task to see a LOVE IS in a thrift store as I find myself repelled by a couple of the comics still in syndication.. And Love Is made me think of Cathy. I was just really put off by that comic. About nothing. Seinfeld is about nothing but it’s hilarious. And Ziggy. I was just a little kid and the filthy filter to my imagination was limited to bathroom jokes. But now, I am going to have to shoot over to the random topics thread. I have a confession of sorts.

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