It is very exciting to see Harold become comfortable enough with his thoughts and feelings to "become a patient". Don has described a series of sessions where Harold is "testing" (Weiss's concept of how patient's use their therapist) his relationship with Don to determine what work he can do in treatment. An example of this might have been when Harold acted as though it was rather difficult to think about matters, and that Don should really - not press him so hard. He then missed the next two sessions. This easily could have been seen as provocative, defiant, and hostile. I think Don intuited that a deeper fear of knowing , seeing and understanding his feelings was at play here for Harold. I do not think Don went along with this view of Harold as either weak, fragile or explosive (which were compliance's and identifications with his mother).
We later learn that Harold never complained about anything. Harold handled anger by "appearing" to submit and remain passively indecisive with the hope of forcing the other person to make the critical decision. These could not possibly be pleasant for the recipients either and would lead to a very unhealthy relationship. I think this is what Harold replicated in the testing sequences in treatment. Harold was exploring how Don would handle his complaining and anger. It appears as though Harold felt accepted and allowed to express his feelings in both words and importantly in actions- missing sessions (without retaliation or attack) appear to have a special significance to him.
Harold has begun to question the family "tradition" that one is never to be seen as "emotional" or in any way out of control. In treatment I believe he will come to see that he is able to know and explore his feelings directly without leaving any dead bodies in his wake! It seems as though his view of women as fragile causes him to hold back and act indecisive in order to elevate woman (be it his mom or wife). These fears led him to feel compelled to use the pattern of indecision in order to attempt to get his needs met in his marriage. He didn't believe that he had any other choice. The news that his wife is also in treatment is encouraging. Perhaps they will both learn healthier methods of relating and dealing with conflicts.
In another test, Harold invited Don to see him falsely as a little boy who wants to have too much fun. In fact he goes on to tell us that he always had to do his best and felt compelled to perform at top notch level. I would guess that this is how he felt when as a child he wanted to play, - have fun, and not take care of the store or his parents needs. Don doesn't appear to be taken in with this picture of Harold as a boy who just wants to have too much fun.!
When Don suggested that he had become so good hiding his feelings that often he had no idea what was going on beneath his surface. Harold got the message that Don wasn't afraid of, uncomfortable with, or threatened by Harold's feeling and he was touched to the point of tears. The sequence ends with Harold requesting to work more deeply. I think we would all agree that this reflects a successful treatment. It will be interesting to see how Harold's relationship shifts as he becomes clearer about his own needs and actions.