For Dr. Von Glahn, Jessica’s therapy was the most challenging, the most profound, and ultimately the most personally satisfying experience. If someone had explained to him ahead of time the actual nature of Jessica’s problem, he would not have believed that it was possible.
Jessica had always been terrified that the unthinkable had happened when she had been “made up.” There was no other reason she could think of for what she experienced when the words “I need” and “I want” escaped from her mouth. For her, it was as if an alien presence was moving her mouth and speaking for her. At the same time, thoughts raced around in her head so fast her mind felt like it was about to dissolve into chaos and she felt like she was floating in space miles above the earth. When all of this happened, a plastic calmness immediately settled over her face, as it always did when she felt upset.
Jessica was shocked that no one had ever noticed and asked if she was okay. She lived with the fear that one day someone would discover who — or what — she really was. She decided that the best way to prevent that was to act as if she really was a needing, wanting person. Without hesitating a second in any situation, Jessica did whatever was expected of her, and in a way that would keep her as inconspicuous as possible.
Jessica was afraid of what would happen if her secret ever leaked out. Until Jessica entered therapy as an adult, she had no way of knowing how she had become such a mystery to herself. After a slow start to her therapy, she asked for multiple-hour sessions several days a week in hopes of a breakthrough. Her intuition proved correct. She started to remember experiences from the first weeks of her infancy. During that time, when every minute should have been filled with exciting discoveries about herself and her world, she rarely saw a smiling face, or experienced a soft caress, or heard a tender voice, or felt her body being handled in a gentle way.
In many of the events that Jessica remembered from her infancy, her mother’s behavior made her feel that the needing, wanting part of her was “dangerous” and that for her own survival she had to stay away from it. In these longer sessions, as Jessica remembered more and more early experiences she also felt more and more like a needing, wanting person.
Today, Jessica is an articulate spokesperson for the emotional well-being of infants.
You can order Jessica: The Autobiography of an Infant here. Visit author Jeffrey Von Glahn on the web here. ◊
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