Comforting the Little Orphan Girl

By

Comforting the Little Orphan Girl
When you stay in adult mode, you’ll find it easier to distinguish your true responsibilities.

When life hands me a very difficult time, and I feel defeated and overwhelmed, I enter a hopeless and helpless state of mind I think of as The Little Orphan girl. This is the way I felt, as a teen, when I lost nearly my whole family, father, aunts and uncles, between the ages of 12 and 18. Needless to say, I was devastated; and I also survived and eventually, thrived. But little orphan girl doesn’t remember that I made it through – she sinks into despair. When I realize this is going on, I know I have to snap out of it, get into adult thinking mode, and comfort and reassure that sad little part of myself.

Everyone has a similar mental place they can get stuck in—sometimes, people call it “depression” although it’s not really clinical depression. It’s just a form of mental exhaustion, perhaps due to grief, frustration, disappointment or some other problem. Transactional analysis calls this sad and anxious child part of the psyche the little professor, and here’s how it works, and what to do about it.

Everyone laughs when they describe a small child as “four years old, going on forty.” Small children can often seem wise and capable beyond their years. If a child has parents who are absent, incompetent, immature or neglectful to the point that the child’s well-being is neglected, the child often takes charge and tries to keep things together. He or she uses observation, imitation, experimentation and pretending to solve problems and keep things together when the parents are not functioning well. Often this is an oldest child, who also takes responsibility for younger siblings, and becomes a substitute parent for them as well as I or herself. Eric Berne, M. D. the developer of Transactional Analysis theory, called such a child a “Little Professor.” Robert Phillips, M.D., describes how this happens in his monograph, Structural Symbiotic Systems:
“When Tom reaches twenty-four months of age, he has had sufficient healthy parenting so that he is generally willing to relate to others pleasurably and to explore his small world with enthusiasm.

“On a particular day he toddles into the kitchen where Mother is baking a cake for Father’s birthday. His senses excited by the sight of Mother’s busily relaxed body and by the combined smells of her body and bubbling chocolate, he looks up at Mother and smiles. She smiles in return and, permission granted, he scurries happily to another room to explore, experiencing more stimulation from eye-catching and tactily-differing objects. Soon he returns excitedly to the kitchen, bent perhaps on his first show-and-tell, alive with sensation and awareness.

“But—what is this! There sits Mother in the corner of the kitchen, hunched over in a tense position and crying, with sharp edges on her sobs. Tom’s world is suddenly disrupted—he whimpers and gets no response from Mother.

This article was originally published at Tina B. Tessina. Reprinted with permission.
Article contributed by
Advanced Member

Dr. Tina Tessina

Author

Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D.
http://www.tinatessina.com
tina@tinatessina.com
562-438-8077
Dr. Romance Blog: http://drromance.typepad.com/dr_romance_blog/
http://www.twitter.com/tinatessina
http://www.facebook.com/#!/DrRomanceBlog
Amazon author page http://amzn.to/rar7RC
 

Location: Long Beach, CA
Credentials: LMFT, MFT, PhD
Other Articles/News by Dr. Tina Tessina:

Asking for What you Want

By

In my counseling office, I see a lot of damage done because people don’t know how to ask for what they want, or don’t think it’s OK. Not asking for what you want means you’ll eventually resent somebody, and that leads to a lot of strife. So today, I thought I’d give some hints about how to ask for what you want. To really be ... Read more

Dear Dr. Romance: I am a Native American woman who has been abuse

By

Dear Dr. Romance: I am a native American woman who has been abused and betrayed by my husband.  He was my coresearcher and advisor for several years.  We were married according to tribal custom, which he later denied happened and disowned me in the courts where he was believed over me. After I told him that I realized his internet activities ... Read more

Dear Dr. Romance: If I am not strong, I cannot be an example for

By

Dear Dr. Romance: I am mid-thirties mom with 3 children looking to divorce. I read your article "Family Violence Q & A" and I decided to write to you for help to stand on my feet again.  I was a homemaker since I had my first child, but had lived very unfulfilled as my husband (who was my first and only boyfriend) emotionally and verbally ... Read more

See More

PARTNER POSTS
Latest Expert Videos
Ask The Experts

Have a dating or relationship question?
Visit Ask YourTango and let our experts and community answer.

Most Popular