Wednesday, July 06, 2011

How Is It Possible To Know A Secret and Not Know That You Know It?

This is a true story of a patient we'll call Roberto. Every year on or around February 14, Roberto would develop a red rash on his neck for 10 days and then it would disappear. It first appeared when he was 8 years old. There's no medical explanation for the outbreak.

When Roberto was 18, his father died. Shortly before he died, he told Roberto a shocking secret: his mother and his maternal grandmother had both committed suicide. His grandmother slit her own throat while his mother hanged herself. His grandmother's death took place on February 14. His mother died on February 16 when she was 26 years old. Roberto's mother knew about her mother's suicide and killed herself just 2 days after an anniversary of her mother's death.

Can you see a link between Roberto's mysterious annual red rash on February 14 and the family's dark secret? Somehow, Roberto already "knew" about the secret even without being told and it was acted in! The "re-enactment" in the form of the red rash in Roberto's case is a symbolic attempt to bring the dark secret out of hiding.

Dark secrets, more than any other factor, keep the dyfunction in individuals going. They hold the key to multigenerational transmission of family patterns. Dark secrets are meant to be talked about and processed to heal. Or, there is no way for them to be resolved.

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