Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Childhood sexual trauma revisited in two dreams

A young girl brought the  following two short dreams in succession.

1st dream: I meet a football player. He is very handsome. But awkward and nerdy. He keeps telling me how beautiful I am. He is overly interested in me. Tells me how cute and attractive I look. I tell him that I cannot have a relationship with him because I am committed to someone.

The patient immediately added that even in the dream I knew he was exaggerating his praise of me, and then proceeded to tell the second dream which at that moment had suddenly popped up in her head.

I am with my younger sister. She is asking me to do methamphetamine with her. I am refusing it. I  tell her it is stupid. Then I hear children laughing. There are 5 of them. But two do not have faces to them.

I asked her if the children were laughing at her. This was based upon my assumption that the dream had to do with some childhood memory involving her sister and herself of which she was ashamed of and the shame was finding expression by showing children mocking and laughing at her. I knew that she had been sexually abused as a child which when growing up was like a shameful secret that had to be hidden from other children. Therefore hearing children laughing could have been connected with her childhood fear of others finding out this secret and laughing at her.

But the patient categorically rejected that construction. "No the kids were not laughing at me. It was the laughter of children that makes a house home. It made one aware as to how fun it is to have kids laughing and playing in the house."

"Who were the kids?"

"They are my nieces and nephews. One was my older sister's and the remaining four were my younger sister's, the one who appears in the dream and tempts me with methamphetamine."

"Why do two of those children not have faces?"

"My sister is negligent towards her children. She lost custody of two of them. In fact I never saw those two. So I know of their existence but can't put a face to their names. So the dream made them faceless. My sister has no right to have those kids. All she cares for is drugs and being with men who feed her habit. She is 21 but living with a man in his fifties. She is so promiscuous. She has 4 kids already and all four with different men. Though she might as well  have not had them for she has no time for anything but sex and drugs."

Now I know this patient somewhat, and I knew that her sister and her both had been sexually abused by the boyfriend of an aunt. Since they both had been sexually stimulated at a very early age they have tremendously strong sex drive though pregenital in nature. It flows towards older men, it causes both of them more pain and suffering than pleasure, and has made them highly obsessive-compulsive as a strategy to control their tremendous temptation to act out the childhood trauma - the inexorable repetition-compulsion. The younger sister as mentioned lives with a man old enough to be her grandfather and patient while just 23 lives with someone who is in his thirties.

Based upon some of her previous dreams which show that she nightly visits the trauma of her childhood  I made the following construction:

"Is your sister's asking you to do methamphetamine is actually her asking you to do the sexual activities that you were subjected to as a child? Since both of you were abused by the same man, she and you know what exactly the experience was like, and so it is replaced by the euphemism of doing methamphetamine.

"I never thought of that, but now that you say that I do remember when he was abusing me he did make me do drugs. Yes we did cocaine and methamphetamine. I must have guessed my sister was being offered the same drugs by him. So her asking me to do methamph may be her tempting me to start behaving like her, become promiscuous and do drugs, which I do not want to."

"Why does the football player come in the first dream?"

"It is once again temptation to get sexually active. The man who abused us would praise us to make us not dislike what he was doing to us."

"Are the children's joyous laughter there to show your envy of your sister having children?"

"Yes. My sister who is so promiscuous and who does not care for children has four of them while I cannot even get pregnant. My aunt told me if I get pregnant I would look so beautiful but I guess that is never to be. For I have never been able to get pregnant. Not even once."

"Why do you tell your sister she is stupid?"

"Because methamphetamine can cause all kinds of problems with your skin. I looked up in the book its side effects. It can really destroy you. So I was warning her that it is stupid to do it."

This warning and trying to save the sister was interpreted as reaction against the impulse to cause her harm out of jealousy. The presence of the laughing children in the dream was also a form of punishment - wishing her side effects from doing methamphetamine/indulging in promiscuity. Its logic went something like this: it serves you right not having children like your sister because you have evil thoughts towards her and wish her to come down with some illness due to promiscuity.


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