The Lost Boy – Dave Pelzer

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5/5

I read A Child Called It, I think, while either in college or high school and this next book in the trilogy has been on my shelf for a while. I am not quite sure what exactly made me reach for it, during this Winter break from classes of my doctorate program, but I do think it’s timely as I am pursuing a doctorate related to counseling. It was a quick read, maybe 3 days for me. I wouldn’t say “easy,” though, given the subject matter.

The first book, I recall, made me feel ill, but this one has me appreciate the circumstances in new ways as I have personally now worked with abused children as a mental health professional. You can truly be the one person who notices and saves their life. I felt such a tremendous sense of relief that was almost euphoric (I’m an empath) when I read the court scene in The Lost Boy where he chose to not live with his mother. So powerful.

So much in this book had me raging, but Aunt Mary leaving David alone with his Mother, that in particular sent me through the roof. What person with half a brain stem would leave a child alone with their abuser?

When people are abused, but especially children, they search to make meaning out of nonesense and chaos, and that usually involves making the incidents causation about themselves: They deserve what happened because they did something wrong. They try to make sense of the nonsensical because they don’t have access to the abuser’s mindset, which is often chaotic, unintegrated, and unsightful. That can be worked through, but it takes a while to stop searching for answers when there likely are no clearcut ones.

I have no reason to believe that David’s encounter with the first psychatrist is inaccurate, and it screams heavily of psychoanalysis, but it made me so angry to feel the “tone” of the session as so cold with an abused child. Oh that makes me so angry. I understand the whole, blank slate thing, really I do, and that the therapist is not supposed to really put anything into the mind of the client, but damn… ridiculous. Obviously I don’t subscribe much to the traditionally strict process of psychoanalysis, even though I do think it’s important to look at relationships and the interactive processes that happened in one’s family of origin.

When David and Larry rode past David’s old house … I think I kind of understand why he did it. Sometimes, you want to revisit places where awful things happened to you when you’re currently in a better situation to see if you feel something. Anything. Maybe as an act of defiance? Maybe to get some form of closure? I’ve done similar things. Sometimes people do things and they don’t know why. I understand why Lilian would be angry … but at the same time I thought she would have been a bit more understanding if she knew anything about psychology or human behavior.

One really important point that Dave makes is that he connected with the psychiatrist that “treated me like a person.” This is so important for any helping professional or doctor … do not look at someone as a label, but view them in their context and meet them where they are. I was so enraged at his first experience with a psychiatrist, but I can’t say that I am surprised, unfortunately.

I really appreciated Pelzer’s fearless honesty about the emotions that he went through and his thought processes … especially involving wanting answers to unaswerable questions. I have often struggled with wanting answers when people have treated me badly when there really aren’t clear or satisfying answers to be had. Moving on from that can be incredibly painful but liberating.

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2 thoughts on “The Lost Boy – Dave Pelzer

  1. This is a really insightful review, and you clearly have a lot of heart for the people you work with. It’s true that many psychiatrists and medical professionals can be cold – I guess because there’s only so much empathy people can have before it gets too much – but that is very damaging for the patient. I’m glad you still manage to feel for the children you work with.

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