She grinned at him and leaned back in her chair. “You’ve stopped fighting them, Jonah. That’s the first step, to acknowledge their existence. The next step is to learn to reason with them, to find a place for them in your life. That’s the only way that they’ll make room for you. Think of them like annoying relatives; they’ll never really go away, but you can learn to deal with them so that they don’t disrupt your life.”
“You don’t understand, Doctor,” he retorted. “They hate me. How can I reason with that?”
“The same way you just did. If you tell me what they say to you, I can help you with a response.”
He drew back from her and shook his head. “No, I can’t do that. I can’t tell you what they say”. There was a thin note of rising panic in his voice. “I’m not allowed.”
“Ask them for permission then.”
“Explain yourself to them. They might actually understand.”
He rolled his eyes. “You’ve got to be kidding me.”
“Why not?” The first time worked, didn’t it? So why don’t you give it a shot? Come on, Jonah. Indulge me.”
He signed again and rubbed his knuckles over his eyes. There was a moment of silence, then his figure tensed again, and his hands shifted to cover his ear. “God, shut up!” he shouted suddenly. Dr Vardi cleared her throat, and he looked up at her with a shamefaced expression, like an older brother who’d just yelled at his little sibling. “I’m sorry.” I wasn’t sure who he was apologizing to, the doctor or his voices. “I didn’t mean to yell,” he continued wearily. “But I’m going to tell the doctor what you’re saying if you keep talking to me like that.”
“Don’t threaten, Jonah,” chided the psychiatrist. “Just explain yourself. Patiently.”
A mischievous smile flickered over his face. “You’re right, guys. She’s completely nuts.” He grinned. “But you know, I kinda like her.” There was a brief pause. Well, I do. And I’m going to tell her about you. Because I don’t think you can actually do anything about it. No matter what you say.”
Abstract taken from ‘Your Voice is All I Hear’ by Leah Scheier
I heard about bibliotherapy from a friend (check out this link for a brief introduction of the use of literature for therapeutic purposes – http://www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/types/bibliotherapy), and wanted to do some form of a book review for the many YA fictions portraying emotional struggles and/or mental health issues. Even though I’d admittedly gobbled them up during my down periods without so much as a second thought, the idea of giving an opinion in public on these works of writing still scares me. This is especially so because every book would touch a different heartstring of the individual, depending on his or her experiences and thinking/feeling process.
I’ve been very inspired to look at the therapeutic uses of fiction (be it through books, movies, plays – do check out other reviews done by writers of this blog!) for those grappling with such difficult yet often stigmatised topics. Here is a very relevant section of a chapter in the textbook Counselling Children, Adolescents and Family by John Sharry (2004) that I felt perfectly put into words (albeit much more technically) some of the potentialities for incorporating fiction into the emotional processing work that children and adolescents may have to undertake in life.
As a sort of compromise and curious experiment, I’ve decided to just zoom in on poignant abstracts that struck me whilst I was journeying through stories. To share some of my feelings and thoughts about it, as well as to hopefully hear from those who have lived through such experiences themselves. Hopefully, it can be a tool that brings sufferers and/or their family/friends/caregivers together so we learn and grow together instead of becoming overly focused on critiquing how a certain personal experience is portrayed in a work of fiction.
On a precautionary note, ownership rights belong fully to the respective authors and publishers. All books will be properly referenced, and confined to the practise for fair use of Section 107 in the Copyright Act, U.S. Constitution. Works of fiction remain copyrighted as per original publications in print. Since no formal permission has been sought for the reproduction of printed material, due discretion should be practiced in full respect of all original work.
Because this post has become extremely long (and I need some time to collect my thoughts!) tune into my next post in our ‘Book Club’ Series on this blog, for a simple sharing and (hopefully) discussion of the above extract from Leah Scheier’s book. The above extract depicts a conversation between Jonah, a teenager diagnosed with and being treated for Schizophrenia, and his psychiatrist on managing Jonah’s symptomatic ‘voices’ (which are auditory hallucinations common to psychosis).
See you soon!
P.S. For more recommendations, sharings and exploration of poignant works of fiction, check out the amazing work done by Lucy on Tolstoy Therapy (http://www.tolstoytherapy.com/2013/09/my-definition-of-bibliotherapy.html) and LitTherapy (https://www.littherapy.com/about-us/). However, do be aware of possibly triggering content given the intense nature of certain book topics. DO take good care of yourselves if/when reading!
- Bibliotherapy. Goodtherapy.org. Retrieved 20 April 2017, from http://www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/types/bibliotherapy
- Harvard Office of the General Counsel. (2016). Copyright and Fair Use: A Guide for the Havard Community. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard. Retrieved from http://ogc.harvard.edu/files/ogc/files/ogc_copyright_and_fair_use_guide_5-31-16.pdf
- Scheier, Leah. (2015). Chapter 40. In Your Voice is All I Hear (pp. 290-291). Naperville, Illinois: Sourcebooks, Inc.
- Sharry, J. (2004). Counselling Children, Adolescents and Families: A strengths-based approach(1st ed., pp. 64 Chapter 4: Becoming child and adolescent centered). California: Sage Publications.
- U.S. Copyright Office. (2017). Subject Matter and Scope of Copyright (p. 19). Washington D.C.: U.S. Copyright Office. Retrieved from https://www.copyright.gov/title17/chapter1.pdf