Case #62- Medusa

Tracy had a dream. She had killed a man, and put him in a cupboard. She was trying to ensure that none of the people around found out. She had it in the back of her mind to blame it on her mother.

She walked down a corridor and met a man, a psychologist, who was also a detective. Their hands brushed. She was trying to work out how to hide it from him as well. Crime music themes played.

We worked with the dream in a Gestalt manner.

I asked her to retell it as if it was happening in the present - stream of consciousness style. As she did so, I would pause and ask her what she felt or for details, for instance, of the man she had killed.

I then asked her to ‘be the man’, and speak as if she were him.

He said that Tracy was cold, calculating and tough.

When she went back to being herself, she laughed, squirmed, and was uncomfortable with those descriptions.

Next was the walk with the psychologist. She was working hard to hide the facts from him. Then she played the psychologist. He felt that Tracy was powerful, and he wasn't going to be able to get any thing out of her.

Back to her - I kept repeating the descriptions of her - powerful, cold, calculating, tough. She added that she felt sadistic. So I put all those words together.

I asked two women from the group to come out and walk around, embodying those qualities.

Then I invited Tracy to do the same. She found it difficult, and kept laughing and smiling, but I encouraged her to stay with the process, and feel herself as that powerful woman. I asked someone to play the dead body, and someone else to play the part of her that wanted to claim innocence, as if she would never hurt anyone.

I directed her to look at some of the men in the group ‘as if looks could kill’. She felt her power, but alternated with laughing. However, she said that she felt a bit evil as she laughed. Laughing is often a form of deflection, a way of disowning experience. I asked her to breathe into her stomach - I could see she was breathing up high.

When she did so, she reported feeling a stone in her stomach. Then a blockage at her heart. I encouraged the breathing, feeling the stone, as well as her power.

She said this was about, firstly, the rejection she experienced from her parents, and then, secondly, the suppression of her sexuality. She felt like she had a dagger in her hand, and wanted to keep fiddling with it. She felt a bit like Medusa...who could turn men to stone by looking at them. She said she had some pleasurable sexual feelings in her body.

She looked very different now - much more serious, no longer laughing or ‘playing innocent’.

This was the point of owing, rather than disowning, her power. She could experience all of her - her killer, her sexuality, her power as a woman.

In Gestalt, it is the disowning of parts of ourselves that is seen as dangerous. When people allow forbidden parts of themselves into their awareness, then they can make full choices, and in that sense, ‘take responsibility’. This is the existential orientation of Gestalt - not to provide any solutions or moral direction of what one should do, but to restore people’s sense of being fully with themselves, and, therefore, able to make authentic choices. In this session I followed the energetic movements, and kept focusing her towards the disowned self - her aggression, power etc. She found it very hard to stay with this and own it. She was able to let go of things she swallowed that are basically undigested shoulds.

Posted by Steve Vinay Gunther