The Master as Therapist
In an ideal world, every girl who was drawn to M/s for whatever reason would have a competent Master and a competent Therapist. If, not, let’s hope for one out of two.
A lot of people see “Therapy” as a sort of magical thing that no layman should dare attempt. There is a strong feeling in quarters of the psychological community that laymen with a popular understanding of theories like T/A are more dangerous than no help at all.
Certainly I can see some point to that. Most people aren’t capable of getting past their own defense mechanisms and when rudimentary knowledge of T/A becomes a way to demean a partner by saying “you’re childish” it’s unhelpful. The term “anal retentive” is deeply embedded in our culture now, but it comes from the bastardization of Freud’s teachings in the 1920s, when his personality theory became the talk of every dinner table and individuals were easily dismissed and written off by his models. But it has lost most of its meaning and does little to promote understanding or improvement in human behavior.
I used to assume Psychiatrists were better. But within the last year, I had to pull M. from a Psychiatrist, after the Psychiatrist repeatedly broke appointments, and had what I credibly believe was a blood sugar induced panic attack in front of my girl, where she made bizarre accusations, talked about a body-chemistry altering fad diet she was on, and in this erratic state, said that M’s depression was “her own fault” if she did not agree to go on the same fad diet. Not being a nutritionist, and being clearly out in left field, I sent M to a different and much more successful Psychiatrist.
My point is that “get help” isn’t a magic wand. I have come to believe that kinky people are very unlikely to or cannot receive meaningful non-crisis psychological counseling from people who do not have at least a compassionate understanding of kink. The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom has some good thoughts on this.
But…in Maryland, I see only three listings for Kink Aware Counselors on the NCSF List.
I know there are other Counselors that are kink-aware and that have some idea of scope. But it’s not a guarantee. I’ve heard dozens of stories about being ranted at by Christian Counselors, being blamed, being vilified, or simply having a professional who cannot understand the underlying family and trauma issues that often occur in people who are profoundly drawn to an M/s or D/s lifestyle.
I’m not against Counseling, or recommending to any Master that they don’t encourage their slave or submissive to seek Counseling. And I think that even a bad Psychiatrist may be able to medicate effectively.
But…I think we have to be realistic and say it’s a mixed bag and not as easy as finding a Dry Cleaner, and that leaves the person who is on the spot holding the bag. For millennia, “counselors” were husbands, wives, friends, pastors, old men, community leaders, bartenders, or troubadors. Anyone who seemed to have more than average perspective and insight.
If you’re a lifestyle Master who has any sort of regular relationship that goes beyond “I see you once a week and beat you,” you are going to need to be a counselor to your submissive or slave. And…what’s better? To have some tools to do a good job and promote understanding, or not.
I feel that the “professionals only” approach to therapy is as if Home Depot were stocked with a special section for homeowners with only the cheap poorly made tools that are imported from developing nations. Because homeowners should not attempt repairs best left to contactors…even on their own house, so to discourage them, we’ll give them the crappiest possible tools, so that if they do try the job, they’ll probably fail.
Berne (who if you remember invented PAC) did a very crass thing back in the late 60s and early 70s. He was one of the first Psychologists who started the trend that serious research Psychologists might actually write books about the human mind that could be understood by people who aren’t Doctors. That was very offensive to the Psychological establishment, because it meant that people might actually try to fix themselves instead of depending on their therapists.
So Berne put some really excellent tools out. His work was very respectable, but at the point where he put it in plain English, he alienated a lot of the Community of the day. And unfortunately he also wrote books that now seem horribly dated for their hip language.
It’s my belief that most Therapists intrinsically use PAC to some extent to understand personalities, but prefer to think of it as “revised Freudianism.” Just like I refer to “slavery” as “power exchange” in front of a studio audience.
I think there are two paths to discipline. One is to reinforce the Critical Parent. This means to replace everything “wrong” that is in the Critical Parent with “right” ideas, so that the natural course of action for the trainee is to carry out the desired new behaviors.
This is the method of R. Lee Ermey, the method of Basic Training. The object is not to understand better, but to replace certain drilled behaviors with others.
This is often the goal of D/s. “I am a bad person if I do not accept the abuse and sexual advances of my father” is replaced with “I am a bad person if I do not accept the abuse and sexual advances of my Master.” Who presumably is a person who abuses consensually and within measure.
A fixation on “Serving Master right or wrong” is often a replacement of more destructive urges (including self-destruction) in the Critical Parent. And because this is easy, it’s often the solution that would be female slaves deeply desire and petition for. To have their world shaped by one man.
In the short term this may be the least harmful approach. But I think that the goal of Masters who wish to build self-actualized slaves should be to go further.
It is my personal preference to diminish the role of the Critical Parent and the Rebellious Child, while strengthening the adult. This means
• Strengthening a sense of self worth
• Teaching good decision making processes
• Teaching coping skills
• Explaining the reason behind acts of obedience or service
• Encouraging curiosity and experimentation and providing a safe platform for it.
The PAC model provides three important elements to a D/s couple
a) A tool for understanding contradictory behaviors.
“Ellen desperately wants sex, but feels ashamed and guilty when she has it.”
(The child wants sexual stimulation, but the critical parent says only bad girls accept sexual attention)
“Pauline says she wants to be my slave and obey me, but often lashes out and refuses my orders.”
(Pauline is acting out on the PAC programming given to her by her father…the compliant child wants to seek father’s approval through being a good girl, but the rebellious child wants to lash out at father for abusing/hurting her…additionally the critical parent may chime in that good girls are not sexual slaves)
b) A tool for discussing failures without making each failure about the “bad” girl.
A fairly common structure in D/s is the “bad girl/understanding master.” The girl is a lifelong failure who always “fucks up” and her Master is a long-suffering good guy who punishes but forgives. What separates this from the same (very common) relationship in a non D/s context is the punishment. The Master delivers a punishment after which the girl is “forgiven” which subverts the accumulation of guilt. This can keep a girl with self-destructive/self-sabotaging behaviors on an even plateau, instead of a downward spiral.
By discussing behavioral problems in terms of Parent/Child, the girl can look at them without the guilt and begin to actively work to break the patterns. Understanding self-sabotage in terms of the Critical parent “you’ll never be good enough” and rebellion in terms of the Rebellious child “I hurt” allows discipline to become a joint struggle of the girl’s adult and Master’s adult against previous bad influences and education.
c) A way for the Master to admit fallibility without subverting the paradigm.
We presume that a Master is more mature than a submissive or slave, though…all of us have seen those rather sad situations where this is not the case. But typically the Master has an advantage in age or life-experience. (As always, I assume there is some crossover here in terms of female to male pairings, but it is outside of my experience to give informed advice).
All Masters fail. Despite jokes about “Master is never wrong” nobody undertakes a complex project without problems and setbacks, and training a girl is one of the most complex projects that there can be. PAC provides a model for explaining small to moderate failures without undercutting the authority of the Dominant in the relationship. “I may have been speaking more from my Parent than my Adult when I gave that order…upon reflection in my Adult I feel it is a poor idea and I am going to change or rescind it.”
PAC is an excellent tool for understanding and interpreting the contradictions in our behavior. By studying it, much “mystifying” human behavior becomes clear and where there is understanding there is the ability to create change.