This site is being maintained as a legacy site to display the thinking and writing of the late Dr. David Jacobs. We have left his writing (such as that below) to preserve his work.
I have been a licensed clinical psychologist in California since 1989, and am currently providing services as a San Diego therapist. I grew up in Brooklyn and Queens, New York City. It took me a long time to realize how aberrant and damaging my formative experiences in my family of origin actually were, despite my undergraduate education in psychology and graduate education in psychology in my 20s. I’m inclined to think today that it takes a good deal of living to come to appreciate the real and long term effects of what was taken for granted (due to immaturity and naivete) growing up in the family of origin. Perhaps no one comes to fully see it without prolonged discussion with a person who appreciates the impact of the formative period of life on how one is doing in adulthood.
One of the main things I try to do as a therapist is to create an atmosphere in which personal issues can be discussed in a manner they cannot be discussed anywhere else. Of course confidentiality is crucial for this. But that’s not enough. I have to be someone you want to discuss recondite matters with; matters you will not discuss openly and candidly with anyone else. Recondite is an uncommonly used word. It has two somewhat different meanings: firstly, profound, difficult, complex, hidden; secondly, beyond ordinary knowledge or understanding. I have to be someone you discuss complex and hidden matters with, and I have to be someone that can grasp what you are talking about in a manner most others are not likely to. I’ve been working on both parts for a long time.
I appreciate that the presence of long-term personal problems indicates a lot of harm was done during the course of growing up. The challenge and task growing up in a family that is noxious in important ways is to survive and adapt as best you can. The child growing up is not in a position to realize how present-time survival and coping strategies will problematize life in the future as an adult. Later in life the very coping and adaptation strategies that enabled the growing child to survive in the family are major impediments to successful living. They have become second nature and as such can’t be disowned or even modified much without a great deal of effort over time and assistance. I get that the person seeking therapy has done all he/she can do to self-fix. I think it is imperative that the therapist realizes this. There is no proper place for blame in therapy, as I see it. This applies as well to the difficulties and pace of altering what has become second nature once therapy begins. Experience has shown me that benefit can accrue over time if both parties persevere. I can remind clients of this when necessary.