A Curious Kind of Love

June 16, 2015
Richard M. Berlin, MD

Volume 32, Issue 6

Sometimes when proposing a treatment plan, I flash to an image of my patient seated beside me on this orchard bench watching orioles court in May’s sharp sunlight...

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a treatment plan, I flash to an image

of my patient seated beside me

on this orchard bench watching

orioles court in May’s sharp sunlight,

the female feathered in spring-leaf-green,

her mate glowing orange and new-moon

black, the couple a cloud of chatter

and lust. Strange, you might say,

for a psychiatrist to compare

the start of treatment to a mating ritual,

though Frieda Fromm-Reichmann

once said our work brings us

as close to one another as we can be

without having sex.

Yes, I know about boundaries,

how fantasy differs from action,

and the way we bond with patients

in an imaginary nest, woven with

strands of listening, limit setting,

and a curious kind of love.