Thinking Fans Comment Update: CeCe says Dorian should leave Llanview … cher wonders if Dorian is ready for therapy … Dale tries to imagine a “good” Dorian. See Comments below.
Part 2 of a 2-part OLTL 40th anniversary appointment!
By Damon L. Jacobs
When we left off on Friday, we discussed Dorian’s symptoms which are consistent with Paranoid Personality Disorder. As a Thoughtful Fan pointed out on this page last Friday, Marlena herself wrote a wonderful column back in 1998 about how the Dorian facing-her-past storyline of ‘97-’98 accurately illuminated the tenants of traditional Freudian psychoanalytic therapy. She faced her painful history, gained insight, and literally killed the mother that had been perceived as a source of so much dysfunction. But I submit, did this insight make Dorian happier? Did it help her gain peace? Did it improve her relationships? Change her behavior? I’d say no, especially based on her behavior in the last six weeks, which is arguably worse than it’s been for a very long time.
In order for Dorian (played by the cherished Robin Strasser) to truly heal, I would recommend she work with a therapist on cognitive restructuring. She would need to be willing to challenge long held thoughts and belief systems which have led her to sabotage her personal and professional goals, and try different ways of acting in the world. Her therapist would need to follow what I call “The three R’s” of good therapy: Relationship, Rationality, Responsibility.
1. Relationship — In order to get anywhere with Dorian, she would have to build a solid trusting relationship with her therapist. Dorian does not make herself open or emotionally vulnerable very easily. Getting her to begin to question her thoughts and behaviors could only take place if she felt honored, appreciated, and respected. The last relationship in which Dorian experienced unconditional regard was with Mel. It was through that bond that she was able to face her past trauma, and challenge some of the ways she had treated others. A strong bond with a therapist now can assist her to do the same. In her case this will most likely take a lot patience.
2. Rationality — Once a relationship has been formed, Dorian would be encouraged to challenge some of the irrational thoughts that lead her to suffer. More specifically, she would be need to look at the “shoulds” she maintains which lead her to stay angry, annoyed, and stressed.
For example, she may say, “I HAVE to interfere in my girls’ lives. They should never have to suffer.” I would want to hold this statement up to a rational light and explore the following questions with Dorian: How did you learn this “should” about suffering? Is it true that no one should ever suffer? Does suffering ever lead to insight or growth? What are the benefits of being the protector and caretaker of others? How do you feel when you think this should? What would one day be like without this should? Who would you be if you didn’t believe that others should never suffer?
Or course I would not want to bombard the poor woman with all these questions at once. But over the course of treatment, these would be some of the long held beliefs and thought patterns that would get challenged. I would want to follow the same process of exploration for other statements that may arise such as, “People should respect me like they do Viki,” or “I should be thanked for all I do in this community,”or ”David Vickers shouldn’t pee in the bed, (the dog AND the man).”
3. Responsibility — After Dorian has learned to challenge and alter some of her destructive thought patterns, it would then be essential for her to assume responsibility for ALL aspect of her life. Her loneliness, her limited connections with family members, her lack of happiness in her life, all would improve if she acknowledged the role she played. For someone who was consistently traumatized and abused as a child, this can be essentially difficult. There is, of course, no responsibility a child bears in being harmed. But as an adult she has continued to blame others for her unhappiness, maintain her status as a victim, and this has only led to more of the same unhappiness and frustration.
Dorian would also be encouraged to take responsibility for her strengths as well. Her intelligence, resourcefulness, resilience, and her wicked sense of humor all can be utilized to help her examine her distorted belief patterns, replace destructive “shoulds,” and try new ways of interacting with the people in her family and community.
What do YOU think? Could Dorian participate in treatment this way? Is there any hope? As OLTL celebrates 40 years on the air, can you think of other characters that could benefit from this type of therapy? Your thoughts are encouraged below.
Damon L. Jacobs is a family and relationship therapist practicing in New York City, and the author of Absolutely Should-less: The Secret to Living the Stress-Free Life You Deserve, to be published in September by Morgan James Publishing. Check out his new website, www.shouldless.com.