The Silent Sufferer

The Silent Sufferer.

Through a mutual friend, Thomas, news of Audrey reached me three months before I actually met her. Several of her classmates and close friends had fed back to Thomas their contradictory experiences of Audrey. They had sought to direct her towards getting counselling help, but she resisted, insisting that nothing was wrong with her.

Audrey’s friends maintained that she would make appointments and promises, and renege on them later. When confronted, she would say that she never made those appointments or promises, and if she did, she would certainly keep them. She would say something and contradicted herself later. At first, these apparent miscommunications were forgiven and overlooked, but with the passage of time, they became too regular to ignore. On occasions, friends would pass her by at college, and she seemed to look right through them, even after they had greeted her, as though she did not recognise them. Again, when challenged, she asserted she never saw them. At the lecture halls, Audrey would zone out from time-to-time and not know what had transpired, and had to borrow her colleagues’ notes to fill in those gaps in her note-taking. This dream-like state was also witnessed by several of her friends when they were on school outings with Audrey. These episodes would regularly surface particularly during tests or exam periods. With recurring misunderstandings, tensions with her friends soon drove Audrey to see me. Thomas accompanied her for her first appointment.

With the information I already had about Audrey, and with her concurrence, I induced her into a trance state. Immediately, with her eyes still closed, she lowered her head and swept her long hair forward, covering completely her face. When I requested to speak to Audrey, she shot back, “Don’t call me that. I am not Audrey.” I apologized, and asked how I ought to address her.

“I am Babie,” she said.

“Does Audrey know about you?” I enquired.

“No. She does not know about me, but I know everything about her.”

“Oh, I see. How old are you Babie?” I chipped in.

“I am 5 years old.”

“Can you tell me what happened when you were 5 years old?” I pressed in immediately.

There was a minute of silence. “If it is difficult for you to describe to me, don’t worry, we can talk about it another day,” I interjected to alleviate any stress for her to narrate straight away.

“My mother took my hand and forced it on to the hot cooker top.” All this time Audrey did not look up.

“How horrible. It must have been very painful?”

“Yes. I cried all week and stayed at home for over a week after I was brought to see the doctor by my father. I don’t want to talk about it further.”

“Alright. When you are ready the next time, I will be here to talk again. And I would like to assure you that everything you had said will remain confidential. Is that OK with you?” I attempted to let Babie know that I was available and safe to talk to.

“Yes. I like that.”

“Thank you for talking to me, Babie. Now, can I have Audrey come out now, please,” concluding the short interview with Babie.

“OK, I will call her,” she said.

When Audrey re-surfaced, she swept her hair back behind her ears, looked up at us, and said she felt very dizzy. This was not unusual for someone who had come out of a dissociated state. She took a minute or two to stabilise. Audrey had no recollection of what had transpired between Babie and me, and did not know about the 5 year-old; she was not co-conscious with that painful (emotional) memory that was kept by Babie. However, she did fill me in with more information on that traumatic incident with her mother, with no accompanying emotional expression. This was one of many abuses inflicted on her by her schizophrenic mother, who had been delinquent on her medication.