Psychoanalysis is a set of psychological and psychotherapeutic theories and techniques. According to Sigmund Freud, conflicts between conscious and unconscious, or repressed, material can materialize in the form of mental or emotional disturbances. Liberation from the effects of the unconscious material is thus achieved through bringing this material into the conscious mind by skilled guidance.*
A classmate and I submitted the following narrative as part of the completion of a course on psychoanalysis in literature, the inspiration of which was to come from within campus where possible. It basically shades light on the role that psychoanalysis plays in comprehending our world views.
‘Rebecca’ is based on a true story. However, some facts have been altered for discretion.
(As told by R. Salim & Nawiri)
Young Rebecca grew up to be a strong gifted girl leading the life of privilege. She worked hard in her studies which earned her enrollment into one of the most prestigious universities in Kenya, just as she had hoped. Her goal in life was to get a higher education so that she too can make a difference, just like those she looked up to. The future seemed bright and endless with opportunities. She was eager to forge her destiny.
Rebecca soon began her university studies. It was a wondrous world with a huge cosmopolitan community of students; an environment that was hustling and bustling with class work and after school activities with an array of clubs, student offices and societies to join. She loved it! She could picture herself carving her intellectual gifts into a niche that will launch her into prosperity. She quickly dived into her programs of interest in the university and thrived. Her first year score card was marked with straight A’s to the pride of her parents. All her life she had been a hardworking, enthusiastic and responsible child and it seemed her efforts were paying off beautifully.
But that was life before her woes begun. Back then, she was sure that her dad would always protect her and her mum would always nurse her pains. She had been sure that they would always be there. Unfortunately, a time came when she had to painfully witness her life take a turn for the worst. Her parents sat her down and articulated the unbelievable news that they were ending their marriage and that she had to make do with living with her dad alone.
Rebecca’s mother left and soon remarried, taking all hopes of a salvaged family with her. She was barely in her twenties and although she had heard words like ‘strong’ and ‘determined’ lavished at her throughout her life, Rebecca could not help but fall apart in depression and fear. Her world grew dim. The rock that was her parents’ unity, and on which she had depended for so long, was no more. Her dad was always working and never at home, leaving her with no one to turn to. She withered slowly into a bottomless dark hole. She started battling with panic attacks and depression, to a point where she could not hold her previous composure anymore. She felt she had to turn to something for some relief.
Her struggles became evident in her demeanor. She became haggard, agitated and unkempt. So one day, her classmate offered her a pill designed to make her feel better. Rebecca was desperate. She went home with it and in the privacy of her room, she talked herself into experimenting with it. With one gulp of the tablet, an ease washed over her mind and relief gushed through her veins. The relentless fears and voices that haunted her soul faded away in seconds. She leaned back on her bed and let the drug take full effect. She slept like a baby. From then on, there was no turning back. She continued to indulge in this drug from time to time.
But after a while, the pill took over Rebecca’s life. She formed a dependency and its effects ricocheted on her school performance, maiming her self-worth and identity even more, and leaving her emptier and even more desperate. She therefore had to look for something better – a better cure; a stronger remedy. She started abusing all manner of drugs and alcohol. Somehow she could not shake the feeling of inadequacy. Pretty soon she got herself in a distractive relationship with a boy which resulted in several abortions. All this happened amidst warnings and advice from lecturers and responsible friends. She could barely make it through each day. Somehow Rebecca made it to her third year. But accusations of her misconduct were brought to the school disciplinary committee which suspended her for two semesters in an effort to appeal to her good senses.
At home, Rebecca still could not seem to stop her destructive ways. She continued with her reckless behavior, over-indulging at parties in alcohol and other substance abuse. Her father was crushed, it was as if his little girl was no more. Nothing he did for her seemed to work. In a last bid to save her he took her to rehab which, surprisingly to him, she obliged. She fit right into the clinic. Slowly, she made so much progress that she was released after six months.
Cautiously her father readmitted her back to school with the prayer and hope that she will not fall back into peer pressure. On returning back to school, Rebecca made her turn for the better and her school performance sky-rocketed back to where it had been in the beginning. She exceled in all her school work and remained obedient to the school rules. All seemed well and predictable at last, until Rebecca felt a different kind of dissatisfaction.
Rebecca recalled how alone she felt in her struggles through life and how she was able to recover and conquer them. She decided to give back to her community. She chose to play a role in helping others in the same way she had craved to be helped. She enlisted herself in volunteer programs that would help her peers out of the same addictions that had entrapped her. A sense affirmation engulfed her. She had found her calling.
In days that followed, Rebecca immersed herself in volunteer programs that help the youth get over substance addiction and other personal life challenges. She became a peer mentor and gave her time to serve in the school chapel, getting herself more involved and connected with matters of her faith. She grew in character and inspired everyone who heard her story.
Rebecca went on to graduate with two degrees in a double major. She won awards of best inspiration in campus. To this date, Rebecca serves the youth by counseling and motivational talk. She currently works at a gender violence recovery center and continues to fulfill her life’s purpose.