. . . and it's not their genes either. – Dr. C

Archive for June, 2013

GOTH GIRL – A tale from the Lone Arranger

Goth Girl ImageChemical Cocktail 6

I’ll call her Evie. That’s not her real name, but her real name was just as pretty.  It’s best to honor her privacy, as a professional and as a fellow human being.  After all, this is her story, not mine.

Evie was 14 when I met her. Six months earlier, she was involuntarily placed in an emergency mental health hospital (called a “5150” in California) for her “psychosis.”  She was given chemicals almost immediately and, after the legally required 72-hour hold, she was declared medically fit to go back home.

About two months later another “5150” occurred.  This time, they gave her a new batch of chemicals (see Evie’s Chemical Cocktail above) and upon release 72 hours later, she was placed, without her consent, in a residential mental health facility for teenagers.  About four months later, I was brought in by the same agency as a consultant.  I was there to train and supervise the therapeutic staff, and to train the child-care staff.  For reasons you will see, I became Evie’s therapist.  She was my only client.

Evie was “hearing voices,” according to the notes I read from her prior therapist.  As I found out later, it was one voice.  Evie had a friend who would talk to her once in awhile, especially when she was alone and when her emotions were in turmoil.  I’ll call him Vlad.  “Vlad is my friend, Dr. Cima,” she once told me.  She wasn’t frightened.  Vlad “spoke” to her at times, and she wrote to him.

Temperament:  Sphere

For those trained in Keirseyan temperament theory, Evie is a Sphere – a young Idealist.  That makes her rare (about one in twenty), and very hard to spot, especially in residential settings.  Young spheres tend to blend in and take on the characteristics of Stars (young Artisans) or Squares (young Guardians), though, for reasons I’ll talk about later, they rarely, if ever, take on the characteristics of Cubes (young Rationals).

However, when Spheres are alone with someone they trust, their vivid metaphorical imagery quickly exposes their identity to an observant adult.  We all use our imagination to some degree, now and again.  However, Spheres stand alone in their ability to express their life experiences with metaphorical language.  Little wonder why so many writers and poets are Spheres.  (A few famous adult Sphere/Idealists:  Emily Dickinson, Pearl Buck, Charles Dickens, James Joyce, Leo Tolstoy, Upton Sinclair, Oliver Stone, Paul Robeson, Joan Baez – and Plato.  You can see more famous Spheres/Idealists here.)

Goth

Evie was “Goth.”  Goth – from “gothic” – is one of those adolescent subcultures found in every generation. “Hippies,” “Hip-hops,” “Emos,” “Grunges” – and don’t forget the “beatniks” of the 1950’s” – are just a few adolescent subcultures.  The more shocking and defiant the subculture, the more it brings out the worst in adults intent on “dealing with it.”  Unwittingly, by “dealing with it” adults fortify one of the reasons kids join these subcultures – to gleefully irritate and annoy their supervisors.  Another reason?  Goth culture offers comforting refuge for some unhappy kids struggling to find their lost identity, especially true for Spheres.

Goth is often described as “somber, macabre, and glamorous.”  You can throw in a touch of romance too.  Black is the color of choice for the Goth crowd, and you could always find it in Evie’s lipstick, eye makeup, nail polish, and clothes – down to her black socks and black shoes.  Evie always wore something in her dyed black hair too, usually flowers, often a black flower.  Evie liked flowers.

She was introduced to Goth when she was twelve.  She told me she fit in almost immediately.  She started to read Gothic novels.  A combination of horror and romance, famous Gothic literature includes novels like the Headless Horseman, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, and The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad.  Modern movie renditions include Edward Scissorhands, Beetlejuice and even Batman. (You can read more about the Goth subculture here.) 

Something Else You Should Know

Evie was a “cutter.”  Cutting is a form of self-mutilation.  It occurs when a child takes sharp objects like razors, knives, or even pieces of glass and cut themselves, usually in secret.  It’s usually done on the underside of the forearm, on the tops of thighs, but anywhere on the body is possible.  When it occurs in residential settings, it can be “contagious.”  Children vying for the attention of adults notice that “cutters” get a lot of attention.  Like no other child at this 40-bed facility, Evie had the attention of everyone, and everyone was worried.  She was an “active cutter.”  (Nearly all long term “cutters,” in my experience, are Spheres.)

Also, as if there wasn’t enough turmoil in her life, for reasons unrelated to this story, her assigned therapist abruptly left the organization the Friday before I started, without a goodbye.  Evie lost her only confidant, and she was devastated.  When I arrived the following Monday morning, a number of staff members let me know Evie had an emotional, “cutting” weekend.  I decided to be her therapist.

Summing up

Evie was emotionally turbulent.  Her family had deteriorated, and so had Evie.  She drifted into the Goth subculture a few years earlier.  She was talking to a voice in her head, and she was cutting on herself almost daily.  Four months earlier, she was removed from home and placed in a facility that was, as she would say over and over – “a place for crazy kids” – and she just lost her therapist, the one person she could trust.

The worst of this?  The medical profession declared Evie “mentally ill” and gave her chemicals because she was “psychotic” and she was depressed.  Good thing I’ve seen this hundreds of times in my career or I would have been depressed too – and maybe a little “psychotic.”

NEXT TIME:  The Story

 

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Tales of the Lone Arranger

Lone Ranger JPEG

Welcome to “Tales of the Lone Arranger.”

Tales of the Lone Arranger is be about troubled and troubling children I knew and counseled over the past 35 years, from a temperament point of view.  You may recall, I use the terms Stars (Artisans), Squares (Guardians), Spheres (Idealists), and Cubes (Rationals) to describe the four Keirseyan temperaments of children.Temp graphic 2

There are two reasons I chose the name “Tales of the Lone Arranger.”

The first and most important is David West Keirsey.  I learned in my continuing talks with Dr. Keirsey that, in temperament terms, I’m an “arranger.”  He continues to fine-tune his theory, tinkering with his words every day, precision and simplicity his goal.

Thirty years ago, when I first learned about temperaments, I was an “INTJ Skeptic.” Sometime later I was dubbed an “INTJ/Mastermind.”  Dr. Keirsey has abandoned the letters and metaphors, replacing them with exact words that describe what a person does.  In his own inimitable way, he’s settled on “arranger” for my type.  Not surprisingly, the term fits like a glove.  Arranging – and rearranging – is what I’ve been doing over my lifetime.  Nothing more.

The second reason?  My favorite Saturday morning television cowboy show in the early ‘50’s – and there were lots of them – was The Lone Ranger.  He often worked in disguise, he looked out for the good guy, he never killed the bad guy, and he always left town with as little fanfare as possible.  (I also fell in love with the William Tell Overture – as a seven year old!)

This first tale – Goth Girl – is about a 14 year old Sphere (Idealist) who was heavily medicated.  Like all Spheres, it’s about their feelings – or absence of them.  The story has a good ending – at least from the last contact I had with her mother a few years ago.  And, like so many cowboy films I saw in the early fifties (when 50 cents got you admission to the theater, a box of popcorn, and a coke!), these tales will be serialized.  Goth Girl is a four part tale.

There will be more temperament tales to follow.  What we call “normal” childhood behaviors follow observable temperament patterns to trained eyes, so too are the patterns of troubled and troublesome children.  Children “act-out” their shame in ways consistent with their temperament, and therein lies clues for adults who want to intervene.

Part one of Goth Girl follows this blog.  I’ll post part two next week.

Dr. C