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|Case Studies - Page 6|
I'm asking Whitney, who came as a symptom-bearer, to become a helper.
"It's not as if I insist on her keeping a watch on me," she says. "I don't understand why she gets upset about small things."
"Something is wrong when they hold you prisoner and you hold them prisoner," I say. "Something strange has happened in a family where the jailors are prisoners, and the prisoners are jailers."
I frequently use this metaphor with families trapped in power struggles. It highlights their helplessness to escape a box of their own making. It conveys the message, "There are no villains, only victims."
I ask the couple, "Do you have spaces that are your own?"
"Not as much as I'd like," says Mary.
"Sometimes it's Whitney's behavior," says Richard.
"Richard, almost any adolescent who's under observation may become a liar," I say.
Whitney then says to her mother: "You've always been like this—thinking that I'll mess up. It's not a new thing."
"I'd like to let you go and be a normal teenager," replies Mary. "How many times have we let you try? Remember the weekend Richard and I went on a mini-vacation? Not one day passed before we received a call from Sally."