A Knife At My Throat

A Knife At My Throat.

Daisy was a gifted artist and in her early 20s. She had won various prizes and accolades at school and in the advertising industry for her creative presentations. However, her colleagues and friends noticed that her responses to her manager’s commendation for her artwork seemed rather tepid and nonchalant; anyone else would have been elated with the approval. Daisy was also very much a loner, lunching out on her own, and so focused on her job in her cubicle that a casual greeting, while walking past her desk, would very rarely elicit a reaction. It would not be unusual for her to remain in the office till eleven in the evening, before she would call it a day. Her friends began to be worried for her, but she would always brushed their concerns aside, saying that she enjoyed her work thoroughly. Her bosses said nothing as she was producing excellent advertising material. However, her manager, an acquaintance, mentioned her in a casual conversation with me one day, as she was concerned about Daisy’s constant late nights at the office.

Daisy was a reluctant client, as she felt there was no necessity for her to be counselled. I reiterated that I would only see her with her full consent and had mentioned that to her manager. So, we bantered about her devotion to her work and her achievements, and explored her reasons for turning up at my office despite her hesitancy for the session. She confessed that she did not totally enjoy her work, as the pressure to deliver put a lot of stress on her emotionally and mentally. At times, she would totally feel unproductive and be in a dream-like state while working, unable to concentrate, and that was the reason for working overtime! She discovered that she was able to focus better when no one was in the office, and in a quieter environment. “With so many nights at the office, did you not miss the social interaction with your family at home?” I enquired, expecting the normal meeting project datelines as a reply. Daisy suddenly went quiet. She lowered her head, shook her head, letting her long hair fall in front of her face.

After a few seconds, attempting not to frighten her any further, I whispered, “Daisy, are you with me?” No reply. I surmised she had passed on into a dissociated state. After another minute or so, I began to reassure her that she was in my office and there was nothing for her to be fearful; persuading her that she had willingly come to my office, and that I would never harm her. And that if she was ready for us to work together, we will be able to resolve her trauma, whatever they may be. After another minute, allowing time for my suggestions to sink in, I requested, “I would like to speak with Daisy again, please.”

About fifteen seconds later, Daisy looked up, reordered her hair, and looked at me and said, “I have a huge headache now. What happened?” After giving her time to regain her composure, I sought to clarify her recall ability on her dissociative experience. She had no memory of it! However, she said she had been zoning-out like this since she was 7 years old. “Was there a significant event that took place for you around that age?” I probed. With a straight face and devoid of any emotions, she began her story: She had arrived home after school one day and was famished. Her mother was entertaining a neighbour and did not respond to her pleas for something to eat. She kept pestering her mother, until her mother screamed at her, pushed her into the storeroom and locked her in. She could not recall how long she had been in the dark, until the store room door flung open and her mother dragged her out into the kitchen, and pointed a kitchen knife at her throat. She could feel its sharp point, as her mother warned her never to interrupt her again when she is with someone else. She blanked out and could not remember what happened for the rest of the day. All she could recalled was not being given any food till the following morning.