The roles of therapist and patient are not tightly scripted. In many respects, psychotherapy changes with each new relationship. Like jazz musicians, psychotherapists must be capable of improvising, gracefully. Much of the work of psychotherapy consists of exploring the unique ways in which patients respond to the complexities and ambiguities woven into the therapeutic interaction.
In “My Love Has Dirty Fingernails” the therapist pulls together the unconscious themes of the session with a transference interpretation. But the interpretation is overly theoretical and too lengthy—an attempt to “convince” the patient. The story masterfully recreates the uncertainties and power struggles, and the emotional atmosphere, of a psychotherapy in which a central question is: Who is seducing whom? (17 pp.)