A psychomotoric session with Jonas

This is Jonas 5th psychomotoric session. In the last four sessions he chose to play with play dough. He did not want to knead the play dough himself, but told me what to make: a snake, a boy and a father as he is watching me. Watching people is his reality and what he does in kindergarten. He is four and a half years old, a tall but delicate boy with blond hair and lively eyes. Most of the time he is observing, hiding under the table if demands are made and he cries a lot. He is shy, has no contact with other children, with a pronounced stutter in group situations and he is inhibited in his movement. In the last session we had agreed that we would act out the story of the snake, the boy and the father. Yet the session begins like the previous ones: I have to knead his fantasies to put them into action. After a while he accepts my suggestion to change roles; he is now moulding the play dough and I am watching. In the role of the other he is suddenly very competent, he shows me how to mould the play dough, how he is doing it better than me, how to do it correctly. I experience instructions and rebukes in my observing role. After a short while I remind him of our deal to play the story of the snake, the boy and the father. He agrees. He wants to be the snake and I have to be »the boy or the father« .It is, and will not be quite clear throughout the game, if the boy or the father should be destroyed. My assigned role changes continuously. Jonas, hissing loudly in his role as a snake, starts to chase me. There is a wild chase through the room: up the slide, down the climbing wall, over the foam cubes arranged as steps, through the room, up and down… Already in the first twenty minutes of the session Jonas' inhibition of movement has vanished. His inhibition only occurs during certain behaviour: only when Jonas could catch his prey, when he could catch me, and he would have to do something with his caught prey, he tells me to run away again. As I am slowly getting exhausted, Jonas is getting more energetic. As the symbolism of a snake is not a snugly animal, but a poisonous animal that throttles and devours his prey, I gather that Jonas is dealing with aggression. I start to provoke him physically and show resistance when he tries to catch me. He starts biting me. This physical interaction is opening his emotional gates: he burns me in a fire and I am reduced to silence: »You can't speak anymore! You are dead now!« I pretend to be dead, announcing this to him, and after a while he decides how to proceed: »If you scream I'll put you into a children's home!« »Oh, that would scare me !« he says: »peep, you have screamed! You have to go into a children's home! Come!« His voice is changing drastically: it's not high and »squeaky« and stuttering anymore, but loud, clear and demanding. I answer: »I have never heard you talking like this before!« »He shouts at me and hits me with small pieces of foam cubes: »You! Don't talk!« He scolds me: »There is this stupid, little baby, this stupid, naked baby, that will be hit soon!« He is pointing his fingers at me. During the first part of the session I had the feeling that I was enacting the father who had to be destroyed, whereas in the second half it was the role of the little, humiliated child, that was not allowed to say »peep« and who was laughed at and not taken seriously. I experienced many more insults and verbal abuse in my role, until I tell Jonas that we will continue playing the game next week, but that now we can do some drawing and moulding. He finishes the game by throwing all the material we had used around the room. Then he decides to draw a picture. Jonas draws a boy in a children's home and once he finished he scribbled over it. I summarise: »Oh, if one is crying, if one makes a sound, if one is not yet able to do certain things, one has to go into a children's home. That's not nice!« That is the end of the fifth session. In the following sessions many more scathing comments, remarks, insults and threats are disclosed by Jonas which reduce him to silence and make him unable to act spontaneously. These sessions run according to a pattern which involve killing the aggressor before the child can be himself, and develop his attitude, expression and his identity.