Potholes and Divans


15 keys to One Green Bottle. N° 7: The psychotherapist plaque.

On behalf of my client, Mme Carole Borde, I hereby inform you that she has lodged a complaint against you for the usurpation of the title of psychotherapist.

‘Does it mean I’ll go to jail?’

‘I’ll visit you. Bring you oranges.’

‘No, seriously. Does it?’

‘I doubt it. I don’t know that particular legislation. But it does sound as if you might be well advised to get a lawyer.’

Private detective and pyschotherapist. Magali made a mistake with those plaques: she was breaking the law in both cases. I’ve already written about the Private Detective legislation, enacted in 2005, so what about therapist? Well, here it’s more recent. Though the law itself was voted in 2004, it wasn’t actually applied till 2010. Difficult to plead ignorance all the same – to be a psychotherapist, you must have a diploma. All Magali has is a couch and a lot of patience.

And yet, with a little more thought, she might have got away with it. Not as a therapist but as a psychoanalyst. No qualification is needed there – the requirement is simply to undergo analysis yourself. But it isn’t enshrined in law, and only you decide if your analysis has been effective enough for you to analyse others.

I don’t go into these details in OGB – they remain part of the background research. Nor do I explain why Magali went for therapist rather than analyst. Was it just that she hadn’t done her homework? Could be. But in fact I prefer a different reason – honesty. Paradoxical, yes, since she chooses to break the law, but consider the alternative. Psychoanalysis isn’t just long and costly, it’s a journey into the depths of a person’s subconscious. If you do that without any understanding of the process, it’s the blind leading the blind, a pair of potholers with no helmet, torch or map.

So she opts for therapist instead. Lighter, she thinks, less perilous. Unfortunately, as she finds out to her cost, she’s wrong.

She sat in the porch for a couple of minutes, shivering. Somewhere in Sentabour, a manic-depressive in a hot-blooded rage and an all too cold-blooded psychopath were on the loose. And both were after her and her family.

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