Cognitive Pearl #025 Tevet 10, 5775 January 1, 15

For many, proxies and doubles become ‘experiencers’ and spokesmen. Certainly, these proxies can do nothing to satisy the basic human need for authentic expression and to deeply experience life in all of its riches.

We turn to doubles and proxies when we feel as though we have no words or our shame leads us to the presumption that our words and actions are not ‘liked’. Granted, that speech is a dialectic of mimicry and improvisation. A baby must mimic; he says ‘mama’ or ‘dada’ simply because he lacks a vocabulary. As soon as a utters those words, he suddenly and joyfully finds a new world of communication opens to him. The hope, of course, is that such mimicry will serve only as a kind of artificial ‘scaffolding’ through which he is able to create and improvise his own personal experience.

The tragedy occurs when the child or the teenager or the adult is silenced; he1 is too ashamed to open his mouth. For him, there is no acceptable place for his words; it makes no difference whether this conclusion is justified or not. He finds some relief in others, fantasizing that they will speak for him. He chooses strong, well spoken, influential, charismatic, and multi-talented characters (Harry Potter, for instance) who he fantasizes speak the words that need to be spoken and do the deeds that need to be done; words and deeds that he believes he lacks.

The relationship that ‘happens’ in psychotherapy is THE place for another chance; a chance to open his mouth, to be encouraged, to be guided and supported, and validated so that that stifled voice becomes a sweet, mighty part of cosmic celebration.  

Shabbat Shalom Gut Shabbos to all!


1 Please excuse the exclusive use of the male gender. After some experimentation with various gender inclusive writing techniques, I’ve come to the conclusion that they are simply too wordy. No gender bias is intended.