By Damon L. Jacobs
Kevin Fisher came blazing into The Young and the Restless‘ Genoa City five years ago with rage in his heart, fire in his eyes, violence in his fists, and chlamydia in his … well, you know. He spent a significant portion of his time chasing after Lily, lying, manipulating, setting fires, breaking mirrors. As his violence escalated, it became more and more clear there was a tortured young man inside who was acting out his hatred against himself more than anyone else.
We soon came to understand what drove Kevin, played by Greg Rikaart, to such extreme acts. From an early age he was physically and verbally abused by his father Tom, who consistently communicated that Kevin was no good, not worthy, nothing more than a “cockroach.” He was beaten with a belt, threatened, screamed at, and locked in a closet for long periods of time. It is a profound testament to Kevin’s resilience that he could survive these events, face them later as an adult, and then take responsibility for his own violence toward others.
For many years later, Kevin continued to struggle with insecurity and doubt. He was mesmerized initially by Daniel Romalotti’s self-confidence, commenting, “It must be nice to be sure of yourself all the time.” More recently his self esteem has been enhanced by something he never had before — a stable set of friends and family. Yes, lies, schemes, and manipulation are a constant at the Fisher family table. But these activities appear to be the primary means by which Kevin, Michael, and Gloria connect to each other and express their love and loyalty. And true, his loving girlfriend turned out to be a homicidal maniac suffering from a brain tumor. But this relationship ultimately has allowed Kevin to demonstrate unconditional love and forgiveness, two qualities he never knew in his painful childhood, and which have allowed him to continue his healing process.
When we first met Kevin, he appeared to be suffering with a chronic (ongoing) struggle with Major Depressive Disorder. You may think, “Gee he didn’t seem depressed, he seemed angry and violent.” But in most of my clinical experiences, younger men tend to demonstrate signs of anger and violence when depressed, instead of typical signs such as sadness or crying. Other common signs of Major Depression displayed by Kevin were excessive guilt and unworthiness, excessive irritability, and serious suicidal thoughts and intent. And unlike some OTHER violent soap males (I’m talkin’ to you, One Life To Live fans), Kevin demonstrates a healthy sense of regret, remorse, and responsibility for his actions.
Most of his depressive symptoms have resolved themselves since Kevin has faced his abusive past and coped with traumatic feelings. Nevertheless, we all tend to fall back on old familiar coping skills when we get angry, confused, or stressed out, even if we know these old behaviors are futile or destructive. In Kevin’s case, we saw him “relapse” into Old Kevin when he felt hurt and betrayed by Jana, and reacted in the same violent rage as he had done with others years before.
Fortunately, Michael, Daniel, and Colleen were able to reflect to him how much he had changed and grown. With that feedback, Kevin realized he could make a different choice. This was not unlike the relapses with drugs and alcohol that I see frequently in my own clinical practice.
For these reasons, I would highly recommend Kevin begin counseling, pronto. He seemed to benefit greatly from the brief period of time he saw a counselor awhile back, and the Soap Shrink always recommends continuing to do healthy activities that help. Especially now, in the absence of acute signs of depression or a major crisis, this is an ideal time for Kevin to begin building a trusting relationship with a therapist, and learn how to use rational thinking skills to better handle stress, frustration, and anger in his life. As he prepares for his upcoming nuptials, it might also be a perfect time for both him and Jana to receive premarital counseling in order to discuss their own relationship, possible resentments from their recent past, and expectations for their future. Because, you know, pulling a gun on your fiance is never a really great way to start a new marriage.
What about your ideas, Thinking Fans? Is there hope for Kevin? Is he going backwards or forwards? Can you relate to Kevin’s struggles? Tell the Soap Shrink what’s on your mind.
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. For more book news, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.