The firstborn of five-year old twins, Adam was not delivered into the arms of his mother at birth. When he developed respiratory distress within a few hours of birth, Adam was separated from his twin sister and mother in order to be admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit where he spent the next 48 hours.
When the twins came home, Adam was a “colicky” infant and required surgery for a hernia at age six weeks. His mother didn’t have sufficient milk supply for both Adam and his sister, so Adam was weaned at age three months onto infant formula. He promptly developed reflux. He didn’t sleep through the night until age eight months and showed early signs of aggression towards his twin. During this period, Adam’s mother described frequently being woken at night to his ‘fearsome’ screaming.
Adam’s parents did everything they could to resolve his problems, including frequent trips to the doctor to find out what was going on. After the hernia surgery, which failed to bring any change, they tried homeopathy, naturopathy and a range of other alternative interventions. Unfortunately, none of this worked.
At the time Adam’s mother came to The MindBody Doc for help, Adam’s aggression had escalated since starting school. His sister was achieving to a high standard at school, but Adam wasn’t yet ready to learn. The tension between Adam and his sister continued to grow. As a result, Adam’s school asked his parents to consult with the public health nurse for a possible referral to the local mental health team, which Adam’s parents were unwilling to do since they felt his issues were created at birth as a result of medical misadventure.
As I listened to Adam’s mother’s story, it appeared to me that Adam had endured a significant loss around his primary attachment relationship with his mother as a result of what happened at birth. Adam’s aggression toward his sister was explainable in terms of her not having had the same enforced separation from mom at birth, as well as the early weaning. Rather than work directly with Adam, I used a “surrogate” approach to explore his issue through his mother and uncovered a core belief of Adam feeling “not good enough”.
This metaphor not only appeared to describe the cause of Adam’s behavioral issues, but also the acid reflux he’d experienced on infant formula. The feelings of adequacy and sufficiency that the word “enough” denotes in this case appeared to be embodied in Adam’s stomach. This is an example of somatic metaphor, which occurs when a person’s story and her or his physical symptoms appear to be “saying” the same thing.
I commenced some energy psychology work including the use of EFT with Adam’s mother around his issues. On follow-up, Adam’s mother reported that Adam was a different child at home and his teacher was amazed with his progress at school. He was no longer aggressive towards his sister and in his teacher’s words, he was “purposeful and ready to learn.”