My girlfriend started therapy a few months ago to deal with her “parent issues,” which I supported at first, but now I find she is always using therapy speak and clichés, like “I need to nurture me for a change,” and “I’m learning to forgive those who infringed on my personal space.” Herc, it’s like she’s a different person, and not necessarily a better one. She seems brainwashed, if you ask me. I want my old girlfriend back, “parent issues” and all. Can you explain what the hell happened?
We all act according to this code implanted inside our brain. Imagine this code is a sort of screenplay that determines all your actions. Many of us know that this screenplay is there and we are haunted by the possibility that it is a poorly written one resulting in self-destructive behavior.
The screenplay, if I may sustain the metaphor, can be complex but isn’t necessarily so. For example, some people operate on the simple principle that they are bad and deserve bad things to happen to them as a sort of righteous punishment. Others believe they deserve great things to happen to them without having to put forth the proportional effort. Others believe that they have lived a virtuous, hard-working life but because they didn’t get the fruits that such a life promised they have the right to feel bitter. Others believe they have to save their boyfriend or girlfriend in order to save themselves. As you can see, these are all faulty scripts leading to misguided behavior.
The promise of psychotherapy—and religion and philosophy for that matter—is that it promises to identify our defective screenplay and replace it with a superior one. It is this hunger for a new screenplay that is the impetus behind therapy, philosophy, and religion. Some "brands" do a better job at re-orienting ourselves and giving us worthy scripts than do others.
That your girlfriend has become a robot spewing therapy clichés attests to a rather abysmal screenplay or bad "brand" that she has embraced.
But in my experience such cliche-laden screenplays are just band-aids, temporary fixes, and she will exhaust this fad and hopefully replace it with a screenplay that is more authentic and palatable to both her and yourself.
Do not expect her to abandon her search for a new script, for it is a universal longing. The Danish philosopher Kierkegaard once said that “hope is a new garment one has never worn.” And this “garment,” if I may be so bold, is the new screenplay people wish they had to govern their lives.