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Before the concentration camp, Qiana had been cared for by a German nanny whom she loved very much. Qiana was six when she and her mother were taken away, to a concentration camp in Germany, leaving the nanny behind.
As an adult, before we met, Qiana had resolved many serious issues, such as suicidality and chronic depression. Now she wanted to do something effective about the tremendous sorrow that would persistently arise when she encountered reminders of people being trapped in violence, war, concentration camps. This sorrow, she felt, was contributing to her having lung problems; she feared it might even dispose her to lung cancer.  Furthermore, she would like to contribute to education and understanding by going to schools, to talk about her experiences; but she was concerned that she would be emotionally overwhelmed and unable to do it effectively.
She reported having been reluctant to finish releasing herself from the emotionality, because she felt it gave her a natural, easy empathy with people. But she realized the burden she was carrying was too much for her well-being.
The first Stuck Part we worked with was a heavy weight in her chest, accompanied by a remembrance of reflux and difficulty swallowing. The Imprint was a sense of the people who were killed. The first Retrieve brought a sense of relief, and “less of a sense of being choked”. We took the sense of being choked as the second Stuck Part; the Retrieve brought “another layer of relief, still a sense of burden—it’s going down. Still a tiny bit of choking at my throat—the burden has gone down to the level of my stomach”.
We took the “tiny bit of choking” at the throat as the third Stuck Part. She chose to say the Retrieve sentence twice. After the second repetition, she said, “It feels as if a little ball dropped. The upper area is much freer. I can take more air into my lungs”.
We returned to the “sense of burden” as the fourth Stuck Part. The effect was, she said,  “ver y physical. I feel as if a good bit of it has dissipated. Some kind of layer is traveling through my body. It’s in the middle of my gut now. It’s very ready to leave.”
We took the “remaining layer of burden in the gut” as the fifth Stuck Part. With the Retrieve, she reported, “I felt it went through my legs and feet, into the ground.”
Now we went to the Imprint, which Qiana now labeled “this sense of the people trapped in war”. She wept as she said the Retrieve sentence, then told me of a woman she had met who had visited old age homes. At one, in Toronto, most of the residents were survivors of concentration camps, and many had dementia. They were “stuck in concentration camps and couldn’t get out”.
Our sixth Stuck Part, then, was “this sorrow for all the people who’ve been trapped by war, concentration camps, and all sorts of violence”. After the Retrieve, she said, “My spatial sense went from a sense of being trapped to being very aware of the vista outside your windows. I sense I can let go of that. I can feel space, rather than that sorrow being trapped inside me. I no longer feel I have to carry that. I have a sense of expansiveness. I feel I can take in all the air that’s around.”
Qiana said she wanted to come again to see me, to work with what she labeled as a “minor issue by comparison”. It turned out not so minor.
At her second visit, she reported she had experienced a “little test” of what we had worked on, and was satisfied that the results held. She’d been listening to a report on some of the terrible things that had happened in Africa. Her heart went out, telling her she hadn’t lost the capacity to identify; but she was not overwhelmed . And, additionally, she had heard a program about a priest who has made it his mission to uncover the massacre of Jews in Ukraine, talking to older people who had been there during WW II. They were telling horrific stories. “Normally,” she said, “that would have done me in for the day. It didn’t. That gave me a great sense of hope. I can see that now I could talk about this without falling apart. This is huge in my life.”
The issue for this visit: binge eating.
“In the concentration camp, we starved for two years. Hunger and food were constant issues. When we were released, I had difficulty eating. I didn’t become a binge eater until I was a teenager. After that, for most of my life, I’ve been a binge eater. In my teens and twenties I came to understand ‘moderation’ and ‘enough’. There was a crisis, I was very sick. I followed the Barry Sears method for a time. It worked for quite a while.” But, she reported, recently she had been binge eating again.
This was impacting her health, with severe reflux, damaging the enamel on her teeth, causing gum infections, leading to multiple further health complications.
I challenged her when she tried again to define this issue as “minor” or “trivial”, seeing this as putting herself down, what in Transactional Analysis would be seen as a Parent ego state discounting a Child. She became sad, and when I asked about the sadness, she said, “This gives me permission to get in touch with the fact that my mother used to say the other parents in the concentration camp were envious that I never cried when I was hungry—other children cried”.
She thinks, to begin with, she had been a happy, gregarious child. Before the concentration camp, on a train, she had blithely chatted to a Russian officer, telling him something about her father—then saw that her mother was terrified. Although the officer said “Don’t worry, I have a daughter her age,” Qiana had learned at that moment not to talk about her feelings. It became a source of pride to her to be tough, to keep it all in. She would become angry at herself if she failed. She had never been in touch with the pain related to food.
To release this pattern, we used self-reParenting for a Redecision. Using two chairs, in one she continued as the grownup person she is; in the other she was the “binger” (the one who binges). As therapist, I coached her into the dialogue.
Adult: What is your good intention around food?
Binger: To eat good food, healthy food, in a way that will make me feel good.
Adult: What’s your good intention behind binging?
Binger: (weeping) Not to be hungry. Never to be hungry again. Never to starve again.
Adult: I am the grownup who grew out of you. I have learned a great deal. I am competent. We now live where there is enough food, every day. I will see to it that you never starve again.
Binger: I think I can reward you for this with the creativity that has been held down for so many years.
Adult: I don’t understand. I simply want you to know you’ll never have to try to store up food again.
Ex-binger: I feel good. You may be the parent who won’t let me down.
After bringing the ex-binger back into herself, Qiana explained about the creativity: in the concentration camp, she and her mother were among a group who were treated somewhat better than others because they might be used for a prisoner exchange. They were not tattooed, and they were allowed to keep a few things. These few things included a copy of “The Arabian Nights”. Inspired by this, each night Qiana created an underworld of which she was queen. She was powerful. She would tell herself stories, rescuing people, being extremely helpful. “When we survived,” she said, “I swore to myself, ‘I’ll never forget this’, meaning I will never leave this magic land. That will keep going.” But, she felt she had been suppressing that creative energy.
Now Qiana contacted her grief at having lost her German nanny, who in effect had been her mother for most of the years before Qiana was taken to the concentration camp. After a Retrieve sentence for this grief, Qiana said, “She grieved, too.” After the Remove sentence, she said, “Maybe I’ve set her free, just as much. I feel gratitude toward her. The sanity I have is due to her. She was firm, loving, and tall. Also, the headmistress in a school I attended, whom I worshipped, was very tall.”
(Those who have met me will concur that the tall-ness was undoubtedly a help in having strong rapport from the beginning of our work.)
We have since spoken by phone. Qiana is doing fine, and was willing for me to write up this work for the Logosynthesis community.