Monday, October 30, 2006

Hans Strupp Dream Visitation (In Memorium)

I am in Scotland; Hans Strupp
Visits me again in my dreams:

He has a large family with him,
Children and grandchildren,
Psychotherapeutic and biological.
He is frail but alive, this dream-ghost of Hans.
He is on his way to some kind of treatment.

He and his large family fill
The big house we are staying in
By the loch, the late sun lending
A glow to the green hills and water.
He wants to know
Why I haven’t been to visit him.
I can give no reason.

* * *

I awake and remember all the other times
I have dreamed of Hans.
Down the years, he has been
A persistent ghost, even in life.

Somewhere buried in my notebooks from grad school,
I have written down my first Hans dream.
All I can call up now is this image:

He is standing next to a Door;
He is the avatar of Psychotherapy Research,
The gatekeeper of the fellowship
I so desperately want to join,
Like Lord Osirus judging whether I am worthy to enter.

Ever after that, every few years,
He would appear again in my dreams,
As if marking my progress,
While in the my waking life
I contemplated applying for a post-doc with him,
And followed his research,
Collecting his articles and books.

* * *

Encountering the Hans of my dreams
I was always afraid
The door to Psychotherapy Research
Would be barred. Over time,
This became increasingly puzzling,
Because the real Hans,
Like the Scottish ghost Hans
Always invited me in.

The real Hans
Wrote strong but honest letters that helped me get tenure.
The real Hans
Invited me to apply for a job at Vanderbilt.
The real Hans
Graciously briefed me as green junior editor
Of Psychotherapy Research.

The real Hans
Was loved by his students, who became
Some of my closest friends
In the Society for Psychotherapy Research

The real Hans
Wanted to retire to write therapy dramatizations
Like Irving Yalom;
But we remember him because he ended up
Writing so much of what we know today
As Psychotherapy Research,
Tackling its toughest problems with unflinching honesty.

Far from barring the door, in fact,
He held it open, and invited me in
As he did for so many of us.

* * *
Now we, his large psychotherapy research family,
Gather at the door of the big house,
A house filled with many rooms he himself built,
Looking out over many places:
A lake in Ohio, a loch in Scotland.

It is time for him to go.
We gather by the open door, without judgement.
The ghost of Hans Strupp passes among us,
Drifting over the lake, beyond the mountains, to the West.

Somehow, I am comforted by the feeling
That his ghost will be back again
In time to help us dream
New rooms for Psychotherapy Research.

-Robert Elliott, 28 October 2006

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