Definitive breaches

From: Gabbard’s Treatments of Psychiatric Disorders, by Gabbard, G. O. (Ed.). (2014):

“Psychodynamic psychotherapy requires an understanding that the past is repeating itself in the present in a way that creates difficulties for the patient. Disappointments in current relationships may resonate with early problems with parents and siblings…

Understanding how stressors impact the neurobiological characteristics of a major depressive episode is an essential element of psychodynamic psychotherapy. The therapist explores the underlying meanings that a stressor may have to the patient. For example, stressors involving loss and humiliation are more likely to induce depression than events involving loss alone (Kendler et al. 2003). Stressors involving trauma may reawaken earlier losses or trauma…”

Stuart Jeffries interviewed Jeanette Winterson for The Guardian of 22 Feb 2010:

“…Grief over the breakup of a love affair was not the main reason Winterson considered taking her own life. A grief even more heart-breaking had blindsided her. Around the same time as the break-up with Warner, Winterson found some papers about her adoption by a devout Pentecostalist couple in the Lancashire town of Accrington half a century ago. “I’d never thought about the adoption until then.”

Surely you must have, I say. After all, Winterson’s first novel, Oranges are Not the Only Fruit (1985), is about a young girl growing up alienated from two adoptive parents in a Lancashire town and draws heavily on Winterson’s own adolescence, her early lesbian experiences, her definitive breaches with both adoptive parents and their church. Admittedly that book was written half a lifetime ago, but didn’t she explore how she felt about being adopted then? “I know it looks like I should have but I didn’t. With Oranges, I had created a marvellous cover version for what my narrative was, whereby I didn’t need to go back any further and explore what my life was like before adoption.”

The papers revealed that she had been privately adopted by the Wintersons and that they knew her birth mother. That alone was shocking for Winterson, but it wasn’t the most deranging aspect of what she found out. “I learned I had been brought up for months, and even breastfed, by my mother. That was overwhelming to me.” She says she was about six months old before she was adopted…”

From: Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? (2011), by Jeanette Winterson:

“Until I was two years old, I screamed. This was evidence in plain sight that I was possessed by the Devil. Child psychology hadn’t reached Accrington, and in spite of important work by Winnicott, Bowlby and Balint on attachment, and the trauma of early separation from the love object that is the mother, a screaming baby wasn’t a broken-hearted baby – she was a Devil baby.”

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