“Understanding trauma and that we each respond to it differently will help us be supportive and nonjudgmental toward each other.” ― Stephanie S. Covington, Beyond Trauma: A Healing Journey For Women The Many Shades of Trauma and Loss In my practice, I see a wide range of clients who are impacted by trauma in different forms: A mother whose baby died in childbirth; a survivor of childhood sexual abuse; a father whose teenage son committed suicide; a special needs mom who is navigating the world of special education; a survivor of 4 miscarriages and 5 failed IVF attempts; a man working in an intolerably toxic work environment; a child who witnessed domestic violence. What these individuals all have in common is the shared experience of trauma and loss. Although their stories are all different, their journeys are similar in that they have survived the unthinkable, and with that, they are working toward healing and recovery.
"The conflict between the will to deny horrible events and the will to proclaim them aloud is the central dialectic of psychological trauma.” ― Judith Lewis Herman, Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence - From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror Often, survivors of trauma seek refuge in a safe therapeutic relationship with qualified trauma-informed psychotherapist. Whether the client experienced abuse (psychological/physical/sexual), witnessed a catastrophic event (i.e. a violent accident or political uprising resulting in terror/violence), or survived a natural disaster (hurricane, etc), the individual often manifests symptoms of PTSD, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (DSM-5, 2014), or in some circumstances where trauma is long standing and chronic, Complex-PTSD (Herman, 2015). What is Trauma-Informed Psychotherapy? The notion of trauma-informed care is an umbrella term, which describes the overarching principles regarding trauma recovery. The SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) defines trauma-informed approach to helping survivors of trauma as demonstrating the following key components of client-centered, strengths-focused, and evidence-based care: 1) safety, 2) trustworthiness and transparency, 3) peer support (creating safety in community), 4) collaboration and mutuality, 5) empowerment, voice and choice, and 6) embracing understanding of cultural, historical and gender domains (SAMHSA, 2015).
“I have a tender spot in my heart for cripples and bastards and broken things.” Tyrion Lannister Survivor of Narcissistic Abuse in Family of Origin Tyrion Lannister has won the hearts of many Game of Thrones fans (G.R. Martin, 2015) with his wit, resilience, diplomacy and cunning ability to survive seemingly insurmountable odds. Tyrion is an example of fortitude and perseverance in the face of adversity. Beginning with his abusive family of origin, Tyrion hails from House Lannister. His (now deceased) father, Tywin, repetitively psychologically abused Tyrion, ridiculed him for being deformed and a dwarf, and blamed him for the death of his mother (who died while giving birth to him). This spunky, redeeming character is the classic example of the scapegoat in a narcissistic family system. ****spoilers ahead****
"I am Sansa Stark of Winterfell. This is my home. And you can't frighten me." -Sansa to Ramsey Bolton **Warning: Spoilers Ahead** Sansa Endures and Triumphs: Sansa Stark has endured the horrors of witnessing the execution of her father, being raped and abused by a psychopathic husband ( Ramsey Bolton), and tormented by a psychopathic fiance (Joffrey Baratheon). Sansa harnessed the fortitude to survive the separation of her siblings when the Stark family was blasted to the four winds in a flight of survival during the War of the Five Kings (Martin, G.R., 2015). In essence, Sansa shows all the signs of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). However, as she moves through the HBO series with stamina, perseverance, and determined grit, Sansa emerges as a character who really epitomizes Post-Traumatic Growth.
"Chaos is a ladder." Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish One of the more perplexing and complicated characters in George R. R. Martin's Game of Thrones (2015) is Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish. Littlefinger is not an overt axe-wielding, skin-flaying psychopath, such as the likes of Ramsey Bolton or Joffrey Baratheon. On the contrary, this scheming, manipulative, self-serving tactician can be found lurking in the shadows behind every major crisis that has erupted in Westeros. More specifically, in my clinical opinion, Littlefinger demonstrates precisely what a covert malignant narcissist looks like in film or literature. **Spoilers Ahead**
As mentioned in my Part 1 article describing narcissism and psychopathy in the Game of Thrones TV series, the characters in this groundbreaking show (Martin, 2015) demonstrate a broad range of issues that would warrant a trip to the psychotherapist. Although, we know that people who manifest far on the spectrum of narcissism (in the range of malignant narcissism or even psychopathy) have personality characteristics that are welded and fused, with very limited capacity for change (de Canonville, 2015). Sadly, these individuals with extreme narcissism possess a lack of empathy, accountability, integrity, reciprocity, or authenticity, in essence, a psychic void blended with volatility, aggression, elements of sadism and self-absorption (Cleckley, H.M., 1988). **spoilers ahead if you are not caught up with Game of Thrones series**
Two major landmines have hit the country in recent months and years: 1) the discussion of narcissism on a grand scale, impacting macro-micro levels of politics, work, love, and family relationships, and 2) the HBO phenomenon television series, Game of Thrones. Interestingly enough, there is broad intersection amongst these two topics. This blog article will attempt to illuminate and draw comparisons amongst characters in Game of Thrones and the spectrum of narcissism and psychopathy represented in the acting of the epic GOT series. I will attempt to assign a diagnosis and a course of treatment for characters in Game of Thrones, in an effort to shed light on the spectrum of narcissism, which in its most dangerous form, is psychopathy (or Antisocial Personality Disorder). (DSM-5, 2013). **Spoilers ahead for those who have not watched (or read) the entire series**