Affect has to do with how a person presents. If a person has emotions that are all over the place, you can see it in the affect. This is called “labile.” In the video below we are watching what is called “flat affect.” If you watch, you can see where the gaze is directed while thinking happens, and also notice how little eye contact is being made with the interviewer.
Imagine that egg again. People with this kind of “presenting” are in their minds a lot. You can tell this is a thinking type. But the words are “rambling” — and not necessarily cohesive? In other words there is a disconnect? Also my sense is that there is great sadness locked behind this individual. Even though the affect is flat, you get the sense the individual is in “pain.”
I remember Lionel telling me, “some people need melting, and some people need glue!” — this is a case of needing melting! People who need glue have their feeling states at the surface. They might present as crying, and then laughing hysterically, and then getting pensive, and so forth.
We had been talking about the “wounds” that can be inflicted in the first five years and how these shape the little child-self. I had posited a theory that there had possibly been abuse, and that is confirmed here, in this article, on the father, from the Daily Mail.
So, one of the woundings is the “FATHER.” It turns out that the father was a wife beater after all. When you read this article I’ve referenced you can see.
“…Although charming, generous and extraordinarily clever, Obama Snr was also imperious, cruel and given to boasting about his brain and his wealth,” he said.
“He was excessively fond of Scotch. He had fallen into the habit of going home drunk every night. His boasting proved his undoing and left him without a job, plunged him into prolonged poverty and dangerously wounded his ego.”
Ochieng recalls how, after sitting up all night drinking Black Label whisky at Nairobi’s famous Stanley Hotel, Obama Snr would fly into rages if Ruth asked where he had been.
Ochieng remonstrated with his friend, saying: “You bring a woman from far away and you reduce her to pulp. That is not our way.”
But it was to no avail. Ruth sued for divorce after her husband administered brutal beatings…”
This would explain what happened to the young infant. My sense is that possibly the mother was beaten and the child might have experienced this in utero, and also possibly witnessed it at a pre-verbal stage? As well.
There is a video here that gives an idea of the 1960′s and the child’s mother and grandmother. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7An5LPXjOa4
Here is a very in depth article on the mother, off the Chicago Trib. So we can get a better sense of her, because what we are looking at has to do with “gross” abandonment. There is a very wounded self inside this fragile egg.
So, now I’m going to tell you about Joey. One of my dearest clients, and a bit about domestic violence and children, and what happens…and then we’ll go back into the analysis we’ve been doing. I want to give you a sense of the “False Self” that children like this learn to put on? That mask we were talking about!
The first clients I ever saw were victims of Domestic Violence. It was during my practicum. In my second year of training while I was at school. Now here is what I want you to know, okay? These are “learned” behaviors! In other words, if a man is violent towards a woman, he grew up “seeing” that in his own family system! Perhaps his father? So, at the time, these women had all flown from situations that were very bad. How they had gotten to the Shelter was in secret? Kind of like the “underground railroad” — and also, Domestic Violence isn’t something that happens just with poor people! — you would be amazed!
One of my first Clinical Trainings was by this agency, about 75 hours! Before I saw any of the clients. I was assigned to a part of the Shelter where the women had been given apartments to live in, and they were trying to start their lives over.
So, Joey. He was this totally skinny little eight year old with these giant poindexter glasses, like “coke-bottle” glasses? I can still see his little face in my mind’s eye. We spent a year together, almost…
With children you do Play Therapy. Actually, you do this with adults too, if they are open to it. It involves drawing pictures of things! So, at first, Joey did not trust me. Why should he? I was just another grown up, and grown ups had hurt him, but, on about our 8th session he trusted me enough to start drawing.
Skeletons. What he had seen, oh… His father had used a knife on his mother, and slashed into her arm. (The mother told me this, in a few separate sessions with her as I was getting the background info — read “intake” material.)
Joey had seen bone? Her elbow bone, through the gash. When he was three.
So here is what you have to understand, when you think about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs in a case like this. The child has only these two parents! Their status is like the “gods” — that is how much power they have in a child’s universe.
Children love their parents. They are also dependent on their parents, too. For everything! The early self-object needs are few, but these are the main ones.
FOOD. LOVE. SAFETY. TOUCH.
Talk about how to put a child into what is called a “double-bind” –
In a situation like DV, one day a child sees this:
FOOD. LOVE. SAFETY. TOUCH.
And maybe that night, they see this:
NO FOOD. HATE. NO SAFETY. PUNCHING.
Imagine that they are toddler age? Maybe they are two feet tall, and they are looking at these two “giants” — their parents? And their parents are having a fight that is starting to escalate. And then, one parent hits the other parent.
This is the beginning of the “mask” of the False Self — on the child, as they stand there and watch. They would “freeze” in fear?