Drawing 1: Intersubjectivity
Intersubjectivity Overcomes Maladaptation 6/20/16
The Patient is depicting real traumatic events, as-well-as recurring nightmares and compulsive fantasies. Some of these are recalled spontaneously during the act of drawing. Others have been revealed in session with the Doctor.
The most theraputic component of this work, from which the entire drawing flows, is the overlapping brains and spine of the Patient and Doctor as depicted in the upper left corner. The two brains and fused spine represent to the Patient the shared conscious and subconscious relationship the Doctor and Patient share in the professional setting.
Drawing 3: Neglected
ART AND TEXT 1
The Patient has discussed the nightmare with the Doctor in session. Based on mutual interpretation the Patient is aware that the trapped animals represent herself and her inability to remove herself from her family where she has been trapped, neglected, and staved for attention.
The closed eyes represent the Patient's dissociation from reality and her own feelings. She is distracted and absent to the degree that she neglects herself. The open eye represents the Patient's longing to remember and understand the nightmare so that it will stop recurring.
The multiple mouths on the face represent the Patient's inability or means to tell someone about the pain she is experiencing and get help before she dies like the animals.
Full Attention 10/31/15
Full Attention depicts a recurring fantasy that the Patient has compulsively participated in since she was approximately 9 years old to the present.
Two figures are embedded inside the Patient's brain like a tumor or an overriding thought process.
The figure on the left is at once the Patient's Father and a Nurse. As the Father/Nurse the figure is cold, cruel, remote and armored. Tubes travel from the Father to control the Patient and from the Nurse to harm the Patient.
The Patient has told the Doctor that she resents that at the earliest moment of her life the Mother was lazy and precipitated a cascade of medical and surgical interventions that began with use of radium to remove her birthmark before age one and continued with eye and cosmetic surgeries through age 35.
In the drawing the supposedly happy Baby wears a mask of anger, pain and humiliation depicted as a clown face due to her "clown nose" deformity. The anger surfaced consciously as the Patient drew and let herself remember.
I remember the hospital. I remember the operating room. I remember the eye doctor and the Head Nurse. I remember surgical instruments and hospital gowns, metallic sounds, bright lights, cold air, bad smells. And to my surprise I remember the feel of the retractor on my right eye, eye patches, bandages and breathing tubes in my mouth. I remember pain. I remember dissociating to blunt fear and bodily sensation. In the moment of remembering and during the act of drawing I am there again, I dissociate."
It is nighttime and the Patient is sleeping in the moonlight in her childhood bedroom. The Patient is enduring recurring nightmares that began when she was very young. The nightmares made it frightening to fall asleep.
The Patient could not explain to the Mother why she fought to stay awake. When the Mother sat with The Patient at bedtime the Father would get angry. He wanted the Mother's full attention.
The nightmares include cars driving on telephone pole wires, atom bombs exploding against the horizon, telephones that will not work, toilets with no privacy, hallways that lead to nowhere, staircases that turn into slides, endless downtown sidewalks, New York City parking lots and subways. Dreams of being in school or hospital and searching storefront windows complete the list.
The patient sits in a doctors office. Bright light shines on her from three lamps. The Patient has come to the doctor because she feels sick. She needs to be sick so she can stay home from school. But the Patient is not physically ill. She is emotionally and mentally ill. No amount of physical examination/light will illuminate her "problem".
The Patient is very familiar with doctors' offices. However, she has never been diagnosed correctly. To quote the drawing, "No one can see there are three of me."
The Patient is represented as three superimposed dissociated seated figures. Her naked body can be seen and represents her somatic symptoms. Her emotional pain is represented by one red heart.
Living with dissociation is like all the words in the drawing. Dissociation has interfered with the Patient's ability to navigate from the Start to Finish of any given day. And then the next day. Dissociation has even prevented the Patient from meeting with the Doctor.
The Patient has been well-schooled in Dissociation. She has experienced the required prerequisite of Chronic Abusive Parenting. She has also: zoned out, panicked, lived in fantasy, felt loud, pretended to be sick, gotten numb, tingly, foggy, voicey, creepy, blurry, lost, stuck, gone. Every single day.
The Patient has been Detoured By Dissociation
Good Old Dad
No Can Do
Here are the Lazy Mother and the Indifferent Father. The Mother is asleep and unavailable to her child. The Mother has not prevented a pregnancy because she was lazy. The Father looks away from his wife and child. He does not know how to be a husband and would prefer to not be a Father.
The Patient is depicted as a fetus. The fetus carries the genetic characteristics of the Nervous/Weak Mother. The fetus will grow up in the presence of the Cold Abusive Father. This is the beginning of the Patient's journey through life.
The Patient is also depicted as a teenager in the 1960s wearing denim jeans and work shirt. The Patient looks back in time toward her Grandparents' home and to her childhood home which were lost.
Good Old Dad
The Father/Brute has risen up to fill the World. Nothing exists beyond his angry face and rage-filled words. The Patient and the Mother are frozen in fear. No one can help. Time stops. The Patient goes away.
This is the Father at home, undisguised. The Father exhibits his essential nature. He is angry, loud, strong, and male. He reeks of cigarettes. The Patient cannot ignore or escape the Father. There is no help.
The Father is represented as a large metallic mechanism designed to pound and press other materials until they are hammered into another shape.
The mechanism is relentless. It will continue to pound and press until an object is deformed, bent until it's intrinsic structure fails.
The Patient has been pushed to the far left side of the drawing by the mechanism. She gradually deforms, then disappears.
This is how the Patient felt when she lived with the Father. She is still trying to repair herself.
The Doctor has advanced the Patient's Leading Edge through psychoanalytic persistence.
The Patient has become less fragmented, less dissociated. She is awake. Almost. The Doctor moves with the Patient from the lower left hand corner of the drawing to the top right. They leave behind multiple sleeping and abused figures, over take dissociated figures, and approach more current depictions of the Patient.
The Angry Baby has washed ashore on a moonlit beach. The Angry Baby and The Patient have escaped the Patient's childhood bedroom. The Past.
The Moon and the Ocean contain the Patient's dissociation. The Patient has less symptoms.
Four figures climb up and out of the broken Angry Baby. They are Child Faye, Teenage Faye, Faye Now and Future Faye. As the figures emerge they find themselves in the Present Moment. This is new, surprising. This is good. And not good.
In The Present the Patient must deal with sad feelings due to the recognition of so much time lost to illness.
No Can Do
The drawing begins in the lower left corner with possibilities prevented by dissociation and agoraphobia: owning a home, visiting The City, enjoying entertainment, traveling, knowing her extended family, retiring near nature.
Also depicted are the Patient's inherited predisposition toward illness when sperm met egg, through the formation of neurons, and the expression of that illness as she developed. Illness goes on to prevent loving relationships and results in the Patient's decision to not have children.
Finally, the Patient begins to "maybe" live. She attends college, works and eventually meets the Doctor.
The Parents are depicted as snails traveling downward, leaving a trail of slime on every aspect of the Patient's life. The Patient is embedded within her family's descent. She must leave her Grandparents and their home, her childhood home, her school.
Equally impactful and dirty are the Patient's experiences in hospital and her obsessive sexual reenactments that take place near roaches and slugs in The TV Room.
The Patient was never asked what she did all day in The TV Room. And she never told, until she told the Doctor.
Nerves. Nervous. Nervous System. Central Nervous System. Neurons. Neural network. The Patient is always self-checking the state of her mind, her brain, her awareness, her "condition", her nerves. The Patient was a "nervous child". The Father thought she had "some nerve". He would ask sarcastically, "Who are you to be nervous?" or "What do you have to be nervous about?" The Patient and The Mother were not allowed to be nervous. Nervous was weakness. Nervous was inconvenient.
The Patient longed to leave her bedroom, to walk out of her house into the dark blue night to stand beside the trees, outside, far away from the Father. Away from dreams of the Hospital that came every single night. But nerves prevented her from leaving. To this day the Patient is still nervous.
I finally know that my Mother, who witnessed my Father's verbal abuse of me, chose to make excuses for my Father rather than rescue me. I knew but I did not know. I always said that she did her best for me under the circumstances. She did not. She had a choice. She had a place to go, friends, family, a car. She didn't do her best for me. And she knew it. Part of me knew the truth. But I forgot.
What I did know that no one knew. I told the Doctor there was another Faye. A more confident Faye. A Faye who was a tomboy who loved The Mommies and the trees, who was athletic and smart in school. That Faye lasted until the Second Grade when Boys came in the bathroom. Until the Summer between Third and Fourth Grade when the Nurse hurt Faye. Until the Third Eye Operation. Until Faye wasn't watching TV in the TV Room. Part of me knew. But I forgot. I know the truth now, again.
The Patient's face has ordinary features now. They are within normal parameters for a woman of the Patient's age and ethnicity. The Face is functional, not unpleasant. But the Face is not always real. Often the Face is numb, stiff, gone. The Face has become a Mask covering a dissociated version of the Patient and another who is even more remote. It is only lately that the Mask has opened so that the Patient can show the Doctor what is underneath. The mechanism that works the Mask is old and has been rarely used.
The Patient arrived at the Doctor's Office fully dissociated. She could not feel the right side of her face. The Patient felt distant from the world around her, her head "felt funny". Her surroundings looked greyed out. Something had frightened The Patient. The Patient had noticed the curve of a woman's legs. "Can't do that", Dissociation said. Full dissociation still happens. Not a pretty picture.
The Patient reads. She encounters concepts and terminology: empathy, subjectivity, empathic attunement, intersubjectivity. Puzzle pieces, glimmers, insight into her condition.
Evidently the Patient and the Doctor co-create an intersubjective field. Whatever you call "it" and however "it" works there are results for the Patient. For the first time in years the Patient's symptoms have lessened. She can feel the right side of her face for days at a time.
Therapeutic dialogue, including words and physical presence, is much more than concepts and terminology, it is an art, it is creative and it heals.