A few months ago I had the opportunity to read and publicly respond to an essay by Tatiana Grigorieva, Julia Solomonik, and Maria Joubert entitled, “Symbols in Restoring Moral Self-Awareness in Trauma Psychotherapy” (EMCAPP Journal available here, article begins on p. 145, my response on page 161). Those interested in using art in trauma recovery and/or observing how another culture (Russian) might engage trauma ought to check out the essay.
The essence of the essay addresses the problem of “skins” and “shifts”– unhealthy and healthy coverings used to deal with dissociation. The authors describe an art project intervention where clients symbolic “shifts” or healthy coverings. What I am most interested in hearing from readers is how they might react to the fairy tale used to illustrate the skin/shift concept. As with many fairy tales, it is a rather grim and grotesque story of Prince Lindworm, born as a serpent, rejected, and aggressively eating young women offered to him as wives. The Prince is rescued from his sorry state by one virtuous maiden. I’ll leave the details to those who wish to read the story in the above link.
My question: Do you find this story to be helpful? Potentially triggering for those who experience deep shame? Is it necessary to have such a vivid illustration in order to connect with the depth of pain trauma survivors experience? I personally like the artistic activities but wonder, as noted in my comments on p. 161, at what point in treatment should this kind of thing be undertaken?