Hello, bloggers! I would like to introduce a very special guest today. Please welcome Jeffrey Von Glahn, author of the book Jessica: The Autobiography of an Infant.
Jessica had always been haunted by the fear that the unthinkable had happened when she had been “made-up.” For as far back as she could remember, she had no sense of a Self. Her mother thought of her as the “perfect infant” because “she never wanted anything and she never needed anything.” As a child, just thinking of saying “I need” or “I want” left her feeling like an empty shell and that her mind was about to spin out of control. Terrified of who––or what––she was, she lived in constant dread over being found guilty of impersonating a human being.
Jeffrey Von Glahn, Ph.D., an experienced therapist with an unshakable belief in the healing powers of the human spirit, and Jessica blaze a trail into this unexplored territory. As if she has, in fact, become an infant again, Jessica remembers in extraordinary detail events from the earliest days of her life––events that threatened to twist her embryonic humanness from its natural course of development. Her recollections are like listening to an infant who could talk describe every psychologically dramatic moment of its life as it was happening.
When Dr. Von Glahn met Jessica, she was 23. Everyone regarded her as a responsible, caring person – except that she never drove and she stayed at her mother’s when her husband worked nights.
For many months, Jessica’s therapy was stuck in an impasse. Dr. Von Glahn had absolutely no idea that she was so terrified over simply talking about herself. In hopes of breakthrough, she boldly asked for four hours of therapy a day, for three days a week, for six weeks. The mystery that was Jessica cracked open in dramatic fashion, and in a way that Dr. Von Glahn could never have imagined. Then she asked for four days a week – and for however long it took. In the following months, her electrifying journey into her mystifying past brought her ever closer to a final confrontation with the events that had threatened to forever strip her of her basic humanness.
This excerpt is Jessica’s request for multiple-hour sessions in hopes of achieving (which it did) the breakthrough that both of us were working so diligently at trying to create. At this point, we had been meeting for over two years.
Jessica entered my office with an unfamiliar resolve in her step. She sat down smartly, pressed her knees together, and promptly folded her hands in her lap. When I engaged her attention, she did not have (much to my immense relief), her habitual expression of waiting for me to start the session. Her voice, instead of mine, now filled the air.
She locked her eyes onto mine and confidently asked, “Can we meet for four hours a day, three days a week for six weeks?”
Her tone was more a statement of what we were going to do than a question seeking my agreement. Her hands remained folded in her lap as she continued to stare expectantly at me.
“I would like to meet at my house. It will be quieter than it is here…and more comfortable.”
Obviously, she had given this request a great deal of thought. While my brain quickly calculated that she was asking for an astronomical seventy-two hours of therapy in six weeks, more than someone would get in nearly a year-and-a-half at once a week, my head instinctively nodded in spirited agreement. Even before the words had crystallized in my mind, an enthusiastic “Of course!” quickly came from my mouth.
How could I possibly say no? How could I dismiss such fierce determination and faith in me as her therapist, when I knew full well that, if the truth were told, I had been of virtually no help to her in all the time I had been seeing her. Despite some promising leads, and the fact that neither one of us had ever missed or even been late for a session, it seemed I had only piled one frustrating, unproductive session on top of another. Plus, for most of that time, I had been displaying my incompetence at the rate of twice a week.