An agitated child: Jeremiah
This is a little vignette provided by Helene Bonnaud in her book: 'L'inconscient de l'enfant.'
The mother of Jeremiah had been very reluctant to consult a therapist or counselor for her child. When the psychoanalyst H. Bonnaud meets the mother and her child she meets a very anxious woman who is having great relational problems with her son. She had been struggling with him since the time that he became more indepedent: when he could walk on his own. Before that he was mostly in a body to body contact with his mother. When he was 3 years old the nursery school noticed Jeremiah's problems, and pointed it out to the mother. The mother refused the idea that her son had a problem. She thinks he is doing well, and is very similar to how she was at that age. She is worried being labeled a 'bad mother.'
In the meetings with the therapist it becomes apparent that this term of 'bad mother' had used to predict what she would be like as a mother. 'My mother wanted to destroy me, ' she said. She also suffers from destructive thoughts regarding her own mother. In this context the problems of the child seem to be a response to the mother's experience of being hated by her mother. it is as if the mother is saying : 'I am a bad mother just as my mother has predicted, look at my child: he is the proof.'
This way the mother is enclosing the child in her own problems, without leaving any place for mediation between herself and her son. The voice of her mother is confirmed in the reality: her child's behavior proofs she is a bad mother. So her mother's knowledge is absolute. Her son is also the one that potentially threatens her, as he is the one that makes her into the 'bad mother,' making the grandmother's predictions true. That is why she experience her child as dangerous.
The child himself is also afraid of the mother. He fears being destroyed by her. His ceaseless agitation shows he cannot be at the place of a subject. During his therapy sessions he enters and leaves, switches the ligh on and of in a repetitive manner. He seems little receptive when he is addressed. He seems invaded by a massive worry.
The calming down of the child becomes possible at the moment when the mother finds a solution for the unbearableness of her mother's damaging words. Therapy was able to help the mother to operate a shift in the way she saw her child. She started to be able to see him for who he was, and not just as the proof of her belief in the all powerful thoughts of her mother.
This vignette gives an idea of the kind of work therapy could help with - both the parent and the child.
To schedule an appointment call An Bulkens at (530) 321-2970