A woman had to see the cardiologist. The first thing he said to her was that she had to give up smoking. So she did, just like that: it was her health, she knew she had to, she did. She saw him again a month later, and expected a little stroking: did you? Oh well done, that is difficult, congratulations, it will make you feel so much better etc. Instead he said, “You’re far too fat. You need to lose a stone”. She left the room wanting nothing so much as a fag and a creamcake.
I saw one unsympathetic specialist, and could not bear to see him again, though I needed what he only could prescribe. I went private.
I find that if people tell me their woes, and I show my respect and sympathy, they feel better for it. I feel as if I am a wire, earthing distress. I can generally shed any distress I feel from the story quite quickly, though in the case of a schizophrenic woman it took two hours, and I had to talk to a friend to do it. She told me things which were true- she had problems at work, then got sacked; or clearly false- there was a radio transmitter in her head, which transmitted her thoughts to the Government; but it was the things which were in between, not clearly either, that most messed with my head.
And I have heard people who seem to have a bottomless pit of distress, and can pour it out to me yet have an infinite amount more. I feel ill after, and feel I have given no benefit. It is the sense that I give a benefit that makes the experience worthwhile for me.