15 Chapters
Medium 9781855753457

CHAPTER TWO: Douglas’s life history

Cleve, Elisabeth Karnac Books ePub

During the period of time it takes for Douglas to go through all the testing, Margareta and Gunnar visit Birgitta three times. To her, they describe their son’s life before and after adoption as well as their family situation right now. Margareta and Gunnar have known each other since their youth. They married early and looked forward to having a family. However, Margareta failed to become pregnant. They took a fertility test but it was not possible to determine the cause of their childlessness. After having been childless for ten years, they decided to apply to adopt a child. They were approved as adoptive parents. After a two-year wait, they were asked if they would like to adopt a little boy who did not have any parents.

The boy’s name was Ogar and he had been born to African parents in France. To start with, Margareta and Gunnar received photographs of him and a short description of his first years of life. After they had looked at the pictures, they asked to know more about the boy’s background. By mail, they received some documents prepared during the French adoption investigation, translated into Swedish. They read everything over and over again and had many discussions about whether they would be able to be good parents for this boy, who had suffered such deprivation. Both of them knew all along, despite all the discussions for and against, that they would give a positive reply and receive him as their son. They had a deep longing for a child and had already become attached to the cute brown boy in the pictures. He was said to be three years old. A short time before the adoption they found out that, in fact, he was one year older.

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CHAPTER SIX: The third year

Cleve, Elisabeth Karnac Books ePub

Help! The patient and the therapist need care!

Douglas is nine years old and goes on coming to therapy, twice a week, as faithfully during the third year as he did earlier. Together with Douglas’s parents, I have meetings regularly with the school staff. We want to cooperate in the work with Douglas. They tell us that he shows a positive attitude towards attending the new school. They add, however, that it is necessary to have a teacher near him in order to make sure that he can focus on the task at hand. He is given short, minor tasks so that he can learn to see their beginning and their end. If he takes up a task and tries to do it entirely on his own, neither he nor the teachers know where or how it will end. They also say that he is often involved in conflicts with his classmates, who also have difficulties in relating to others. It has been ascertained that Douglas has severe reading and writing problems.

I participate in various conferences in which Douglas’s schooling and after-school activities are discussed. My experience and knowledge concerning him contributes to making the plans realistic. It is important not to put him in a situation where he is doomed to fail. The personnel who work with Douglas on his after-school activities ask for my supervision and I meet them several times. They are frightened of his rampages and want my help on how to react to him. We also discuss how his problems can be understood in the context of both neuropsychiatric and emotional causes. After-school activities must also be well structured. It is still difficult for Douglas to manage spontaneous activities.

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CHAPTER FIVE: The second year

Cleve, Elisabeth Karnac Books ePub

Crash, boom, bang!

Douglas’s eighth birthday has come and gone and he still does not always remember my name. Nothing in his behaviour indicates that he sees me as a person of any particular importance to him. He recognizes my name when he hears it but he never uses it. He still gives me the feeling that it is not especially essential if I or someone else meet him when he comes to therapy. I wonder what Douglas would do if another person stood there one day instead of me. Perhaps he would run up to the room just as willingly or unwillingly as usual, and discover only after the session was well under way that the person talking to him was not me.

His interest in me and in what I have to offer comes and goes. I doubt if he would recognize me if we were to run into each other somewhere else. If I were to say “Hello Douglas” under such circumstances, he would probably recognize me through hearing and seeing. His ability to comprehend is always best when he uses both sight and sound simultaneously.

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CHAPTER THREE: The psychological assessment

Cleve, Elisabeth Karnac Books ePub

Here we go

Douglas goes through a comprehensive psychological assessment, which I conduct. My wish is to obtain a picture of his psychological and neuropsychiatric status as well as an idea of his intellectual capacities. I use tests that measure several different aspects of his personality. It is necessary to carry out a broad psychological survey in order to illuminate both Douglas’s strong and weak sides. He is tested with so-called projective personality tests, which elucidate unconscious psychological processes. They can provide hypotheses on how mild or severe his personality disorder is. He is also given an intelligence test, which measures his general aptitude. I also test him with neuropsychological tests, which can indicate whether he has brain dysfunctions.

An important part of the assessment consists of everything Margareta and Gunnar say about Douglas’s earlier and present life, how he functions psychically, his somatic condition, and how he behaves with other people. For children who have had such a difficult start in life as Douglas, it is especially important to know as much as possible about the infancy period. In Douglas’s case, there is a considerable amount of information on how deprived he was from the very start of his life.

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CHAPTER FOUR: The first year of psychotherapy

Cleve, Elisabeth Karnac Books ePub

Ugly and repulsive

Douglas is seven years old when he starts the individual psychotherapy that is going to last for the next seven years. His therapy will take place in the same room as the assessment sessions, four floors up in the building. In one part of the therapy room the sand tray and the toy cabinet are placed. There are also drawing paper, paints, play telephones, balls, a few other toys, and games of differing levels of difficulty. In the other part of the room there are a table and two easy chairs, as well as a desk with some of my office material on it.

Six months have passed since the psychological assessment was made. It has taken time for Douglas’s parents and for me to plan his therapy, and a summer has gone by since Douglas was last in the building. When he now returns, he does not seem to recognize the interior, except for the stairs. There are many stairs, from one floor to another and they are not always in the same stairwell. To a child, it can seem like a maze of stairs. Douglas becomes fond of a creaky, narrow, spiral staircase, which winds around and around from the ground floor all the way up to the attic. It is an emergency exit and is seldom used, but Douglas likes to climb it and swing himself around on it. He is not bothered that others are worried that he might fall and hurt himself.

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