Jimmy

Full permission has been given by the client to tell this story on GoodTherapy.org. All identifying information has been changed.

The client ‘Jimmy’ that I described in the previous blog, who created a video project in art psychotherapy, has completed his video. He decided sometime ago that he wanted to upload it to YouTube. His intention was to come out from hiding his story and to possibly help others who are struggling with their own past experiences. His decision was an opportunity to discuss in therapy the possible positive and negative effects of such an action. Of course, he didn’t need my approval but sometimes experiences of such an emotional nature can create ‘blind spots’ in understanding our motivation and vulnerability.

Electronic media such as YouTube allow anyone to upload, look at and/or appropriate images. The danger is that previously secret information would be divulged. Persons involved may retaliate, blame, or shame the victim. Anger and rage maybe stirred in people who are judgmental, or hypocritical. Even when the original intent is for compassion, healing, forgiveness, and closure, as it is here, a person disclosing personal information must have a healthy ego to withstand whatever comes from the disclosure. Jimmy uploaded his video on celebration of the 20th Anniversary of his recovery. The video has been uploaded but not ‘published’, which means that the video cannot be searched by his name, the title of the work or by key search words. This does not provide protection but rather makes it more unlikely that someone will stumble upon it. Jimmy, for good reason, is very proud of his accomplishments both emotionally and technically.

Jimmy has agreed to allow me to display the link to his video entitled ”Ward of the State” which he uploaded to YouTube. When you watch this video, please keep in mind that it is not a documentary in the sense of having a mission to communicate and/or educate an audience. Consequently, some references are very private and will be a mystery to the viewer. Click here to view the video. Please do note this video contains language and images that may be difficult for some viewers and is not appropriate for minors. The video is 15 minutes long and is advised to let the entire video load before viewing.

There was a comment on the previous blog when I first introduced this project. It came from a woman whose husband has resisted looking at old photographs and in her words “…can’t look at pictures of his childhood because they bring back so many bad memories of how harsh it was. He has very vivid recall and seeing them upsets him. If he had his way they would all be thrown out. I talked him out of that. One day he may find them useful. Till then, they are in a dust-covered box.”

When something bad happens in our lives, particularly as children, sometimes it is possible to walk away and never bring the subject up again, ever. The impact of the original experience and subsequent memory can be blocked without noticeable affect. However, if the event(s) caused significant distress or happened over a few years time then significant amounts of energy are needed to hold the resistance in place. That is why sometimes when a catastrophic event happens in someone’s life who has had early childhood trauma, they cannot get over the event like other do because those earlier traumas have never been dealt with and now they don’t have enough energy to hold all of it together. Energy that is used to block past memories is unavailable for other useful things like maintaining health, doing activities, or helping others.

Talking about an event is often not enough to transform the pain and suffering into growth and understanding. Therapeutic processing is not only an engagement with the memories but working through the meaning and understanding the subsequent behaviors that were formed to cope with the experience. Like most coping mechanisms, ‘resistance’ is effective. It offers protection from becoming vulnerable. That works while we are children but as adults we need to be vulnerable at times, particularly in intimate relationships.

In addition to therapy, Jimmy has a regular exercise routine and a spiritual practice, all of which contribute to his wellbeing. Jimmy does not show signs of depression any longer. He has access to a full range of feelings. He would be the first to say that he is a work in progress. When his anger is triggered he understands now that the person or experience at hand is not the cause of the intense feelings. Knowing that on a deep level, he is able to take measures to not act out or respond in a destructive way. In a sense he has freed up his energy to make better choices in his life. Today he is volunteering at a nonprofit of his personal interest. He has been talking about volunteering with children in the future. I am certain the exchange will be enriching for all of them.

I want to thank Jimmy for allowing me to share his story and video with you.

© Copyright 2011 by By Barbara 'Basia' Mosinski, LCAT, ATR-BC, MA, MFA, therapist in New York City, New York. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

  • 7 comments
  • Leave a Comment
  • Paul Smith

    Paul Smith

    March 11th, 2011 at 7:25 PM

    Childhood trauma is experienced by most individuals but only to a small level.This may be the reason why people may be unable to experience the nuances of childhood trauma when they hear or see someone else going through it.

    They may say it is sad or that such a thing should not have happened but most people do not understand how it feels to go through all that.

  • Hal

    Hal

    March 12th, 2011 at 5:50 AM

    Must be pretty powerful to have that to share and to know that not only has it helped you but that it could also serve to help others too

  • jessica

    jessica

    March 12th, 2011 at 12:04 PM

    the worst thin about such a thing happening is that a child cannot forget it thinking of it as a nightmare. it remains somewhere in the mind and continues to give problems even later on in life. and when that happens it can be very difficult to actually remember and recall this incident as a potential cause!

  • Lonnie

    Lonnie

    March 14th, 2011 at 4:31 AM

    It must be pretty great to have an outlet like this in such a creative way that not only moves you to action but can move others to do the same.

  • stella

    stella

    March 14th, 2011 at 4:38 AM

    does it help to actually make a video and put it out for the world to see?yes I may bring open-ness within the boy but it does have it’s own set of problems…broadcasting it is not such a great idea if you ask me…

  • Jacob

    Jacob

    March 14th, 2011 at 7:41 PM

    I have read the previous blog post too..And although it is an unusual technique to creat video,it sounds like a good way to help himself in the future whenever he is traumatized by his past issues..A good don’t-worry-it-has-a-solution reaffirmation.

  • Basia Mosinski

    Basia Mosinski

    March 22nd, 2011 at 9:58 AM

    Each of the comments touch on different issues surrounding early childhood trauma, such as: shame, nightmares, memories, blocks, and agency. I want to emphasize that there is not a ‘one size fits all’ approach in therapy. this clients process was his unique one. That is perhaps why Art Psychotherapy is different in that it uses the creative processes to aid the verbal processes of therapy. Making a video maybe therapeutic but in itself, not therapy.

Leave a Comment

By commenting you acknowledge acceptance of GoodTherapy.org's Terms and Conditions of Use.

* Indicates required field.

 

Advanced Search

Search Our Blog