After he had relaxed from the prior frustration. I asked how he had ended up in the program. He revealed he went to program after program, which eventually led him to Bellevue. It took some time for him to explain his maze of treatment to get to the original reason. He finally disclosed he could not stop his obsessional thoughts about women and flashing. He realized he needed help and drank a bottle of vodka and committed himself to the inpatient MICA (Mentally Ill Chemically Addicted) program at Bellevue. He eventually found treatment for his sex addiction at a MICA program at the Green House and CDOP.
He asked if it offended me and stated he did not want to. He also requested me not to tell anyone about his sex addiction. The following sessions after this one, Joe revealed information about his life more readily.
During the final session working on this painting (Image 3), we explored the roots of his OCD. He stated the first time he experienced his OCD, he was ten years old, and soaped the windows of his school. He said instead of just soaping a few, he soaped every window in the school with a friend. I asked why he felt that was obsessive? I expressed that it seemed like normal childhood hijinxes, plus he also had company so it could not have been solely his own obsession.
He then revealed his parents were older than most other parents in his town and he broke curfew to stay out with his peers. His parents asked their family doctor what to do about the problem and at the doctor’s suggestion his parents placed Joe in an institution. Joe spent the ages 11 to 16 in a hospital. At sixteen, he left and went to live with his brother.
I asked if he was angry about his parent’s decision to institutionalize him. He stated he was very angry with his mother. “It was like jail and I just wanted to be normal and hang out with my friends,” he said.
I questioned him if he thought that experience had anything to do with his OCD. He said, “Wow, it might.” We continued to discuss how hard it could be to have no control over one’s own life in relation to his institutionalization.
We concluded this painting but will continue to have future sessions. He final statement about this painting was, “I don’t want to paint for a while but it has no control and makes me feel like I have no control.”
Art therapy functions for Joe highly effectively as a tool of expression of both conscious and unconscious feelings. Joe’s relationship with art is complex. He is able to control his addiction through it and also find a healthy outlet for it. It is almost as if instead of exposing himself, he now exposes his sexualized imagery. It is uncertain if Joe realizes this aspect. The art also serves as a safe realm for Joe to discuss of his...