Welcome to Roger Lewin.com



Each patient resonates differently. Resonance is a matter both of the inner strings of the therapist and of the inner strings of the patient.   When a note is truck near a piano, it often sets strings singing, waking sound from them by elective affinities. It is a matter of a string’s recognizing something of itself in the waves of sound that reach it.   So it is between patient and therapist.   Resonance explores links and kinships that may not be obvious.   One was a young guy, big, burly, voluble when his mood was not so low that it interfered with his getting out of bed. He was unmarried, without a girl friend.   He had no children. He had hallucinations, delusions.   Sometimes he did things hat made perfect sense to him, but only to him because he had his own distinctive take on what was going on around him.   Or you could call it his own idiosyncratic rake on things.   He was sometimes too much for himself, often too much for others.   His size scared people, as did his intensity, suggesting that he was out of control.   Most often, when others saw him as out of control, he was not quite out of control, near there but not having reached it.   He had suicidal impulses, not just when he was down, but also when he was flying high.   Yet he had never gone too far and injured himself or anyone else.   He could not tolerate sitting still in an office and talking.   So we walked and walked and walked and talked as we walked, noticing what was... read more


At the very height of the financial crisis as the sub-prime mortgage bubble burst,the federal government was spending some tens of thousands of dollars to send to jail a patient, let us call him Hugo, who had been involved in a piece of financial chicanery to finance his education.   Hugo was guilty as charged,  although he argued that he had been subtly entrapped. Did Hugo lie about a number of things? Of course he did.   Once the indictment came down, Hugo was deserted by almost all those he thought were his friends and allies. There were a few exceptions, for which Hugo was deeply grateful. But he was terribly hurt by  a shunning that deprived him of his social and work milieux.   A man of frail self-esteem to start with, this shunning was devastating and dangerous. It made him think ill of himself against his own will.   The prosecution and the subsequent incarceration were costly. They were justified on the grounds of the importance of protecting against “moral hazard.”   Less than thirty thousand was involved in the patient’s financial chicanery, not billions.  The little man takes the fall. The big guys smile, apologize, asking for permission to do it again, and move on to do it again. Hugo was fully aware of this.   With a rueful smile of his own, Hugo remarked that he had always been a little guy.   Upon conviction, Hugo was suicidal, overwhelmed by sorrow, shame and dread.   He had grown up in the midst of South America’s most bitter civil war . The dead were a part of everyday experience. He was in... read more

Whining And Complaining

“I’m whining. I should just stop it. It’s an ugly sound. No one wants to hear it.   It would be better if I were just gagged.” “All I do is complain. I don’t know why that is, but it gets tedious. I can tell by the look on your face that you hate it.   You listen because I pay you.   I know there are better things to do than complain.” It is possible, of course, to whine about whining and to complain about complaining.   I have puzzled over the years about how to respond to these regressive sallies.   I call them “regressive sallies” because they aim to close down psychic space, to preempt any investigation that aims to reach psychological depth. Instead of proposing to listen to themselves, the patients who propose these solutions through will power are trying to shut themselves up, to shut themselves down, to shut themselves in.. The Free Online Dictionary defines “whining” as “to utter a plaintive, high pitched protracted sound as in pain, fear, supplication or complaint.This is a reasonable place to start, although whining can be applied to sounds that are not so high-pitched, not so protracted. It can be applied to what would be described as normal speech were it not tinged with overtones of reproach and accusation.   Whining has to do with frustration and rage. Whining has in common with itching that it has a direct route to the limbic system. When a person whines, we feel a distinctive kind of discomfort that reflects and propagates in the interpersonal field the acute discomfort of the whiner. Two important ingredients... read more