They say that your secrets will come to control you if you don’t let them out. Jung felt this to be the case. Secrets become operative for being shelved in the subconscious and unacknowledged, causing us to build defenses so strong and ingrained that we come to think of them as rational and natural. Keeping family secrets was the setting and the mindset of the early party of the 20th century, when my parents and Otto lived.
My generation lived during post Freudian times. Catharsis—unburdening of the truth either joyful or sad—came out of the Freudian tradition in Western Europe. The so-called “cathartic method” was a treatment for psychiatric disorders developed during 1881-1882 by Josef Breuer with his patient “Anna O.” He developed the talking cure and laid the foundation to psychoanalysis as we know it. Anna O. described the process as “chimney-sweeping”.
Writing about the emotions involved with my reunion with biological family shifted these potent feelings from an internalized to an externalized state as I share them. And in this way, it is healing. I have taken part in the talking cure.
By August of 1881, Josef Breuer, a predecessor of Freud, began use hypnosis to move the treatments along. He could access the unconscious. At one point, I really did think of hypnotizing Otto! Would that bring out the hidden truths?
Alain de Mijolla notes that catharsis remains prominent in several psychotherapeutic techniques today, such as in “Primal Scream” therapy. And, in 1907, Freud utilized a therapeutic method that asked patients to talk about whatever came spontaneously to mind, a stream of consciousness not unlike journaling.
My grandmother was born in 1900. Otto was born in 1928. It would take a long time for families to catch up to Freud and Jung in terms of releasing secrets. But the truth would start to seep out—as witnessed in Fixing the Fates—and the paradigms would start to shift.