“Childhood is violent,” writes psychologist and author Samuel Dock in his book The Child Therapist (1). At the time of the child king, where we highlight the importance and the need for the protection and care of children, there are still so many abused children and it is still so difficult to protect them. in the face of their executioners that this aphorism sends shivers down the spine. Either that the legal arsenal is not sufficient to preserve childhood, or that society itself allows or encourages its destruction through laws that hypocritically favor adults – such as shared custody –, or even that children are victims of domestic violence by their relatives, and sometimes these relatives are their parents.
Recent, the story of Samuel Dock is true, even if it may seem incredible. Through a gripping testimony, he concludes with the reader a real autobiographical pact that makes it as literary as it is documentary, on a strange ridge line where the story hovers, as if in weightlessness. Like a play, everything takes place in two acts. The first is that in which the adult – the author and narrator – gets lost in the twists and turns of his erratic life, in search of meaning and the help he could bring to those closest and not so close, those who are desperate. Psychologist, he treats sick people and in particular children, adolescents. Every Christmas, he finds it difficult to return to that part of the East where he grew up, with his frightening childhood memories, his pain in the face of his sister who suffers from psychiatric problems, “monstrous and broken little sister”, his divorced father with whom he maintains more than distant relations, and his mother: isolated, desolate, devastated, lost.
What strength, what resource, to get out of all these mistreated childhoods? His own, that of his sister and that of his mother, whose story he discovers after she has done work with a psychiatrist to overcome her state of mental and economic precariousness. Because act 2 of this book is that of this woman, youngest of a family of 14 children, entrusted to the Ddass at the age of 5, because she suffered the blows of a psychotic sister – at the image of her own mother beaten by her husband. What to do with this heavy past when, as the author says, “human relations are not magic slates that can be erased when anger has passed”. Suffer, stop suffering, write, because “it’s the only way to live lives other than mine”: it is the answer of his life.
His life is like a book indeed: a puzzle with two parts that fit together, respond to each other and resonate with each other. The first with this straight, raw writing, a play on words with nothingness, characters who shout, fidget, hurt each other, collide, filled with violence, resentment, hatred, a bit like those of the playwright Jean-Luc Lagarce, taken in a crazy anxiety which becomes paroxysmal at Christmas time when families are recomposed. And suddenly the veil is torn, the mother is revealed. The second part, written by a female voice which is told in a writing that evolves, simple at first because it is a 5-year-old girl, then more and more elaborate and conscious as she grows up and comes out of this dreadful childhood. The light for her was that of redemption in the religious sense, since she was welcomed, cared for and protected by sisters who healed her wounds literally and figuratively, dressed her, loved her, and magnet taught him love.
This confession, as there is ultimately rarely in literature, without concession, in the wake of Rousseau, is of great violence, and dazzling humanity when Samuel finds a way out of this abyss: by the calming light of his companion, by words, by writing, by narration at the limit of the bearable, by the kindness of these maternal figures who save, by psychoanalysis, and the fact of giving meaning to his life: for Samuel, through his mission, which is his passion, to repair the childhood of others if he fails to repair his mother’s, which is irreparable. The word that comes up most often in this book is “past”. The child we make to heal ourselves is a child therapist – but the title also offers another meaning. This child will become a therapist, and the therapist seeks, through the child he is treating, to heal the abused childhood. The child therapist has become a child therapist. The therapist has become a writer who brings the past to life through his therapist books.
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