Summary Of Dandelion On My Pillow Butcher Knife Beneath

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Nancy Thomas’ book Dandelion on My Pillow, Butcher Knife Beneath includes a portion written by a foster daughter named Beth who suffered from RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder). Beth’s memories provide a unique perspective into the thought patterns of a child with RAD. She demonstrates that common symptoms of RAD begin as habits for coping with abuse. Children with RAD try to stay strong enough to control every situation and stay safe from abuse. Parents and teachers have to convince these children to give up their obstinacy, anger, and dishonesty in order to heal them. For children with RAD, the simplest command can become a major challenge. Their abusive past teaches them that complying would make them weak and vulnerable. In the book, …show more content…

Beth recalled the first therapy session in which the doctor forced her to confront her anger and give it up. To do this, the therapist held Beth and encouraged her to scream out as loudly as she could about all of her rage. That evening, after therapy, her family was swimming at the hotel and Beth reflected on the day. Recalling that evening she wrote, “I was glad when I felt a spark of anger after my brother splashed me. . . . I hadn’t given it all up. I sighed with relief. . . . That man didn’t know that I needed this rage to stay alive. I had to have this power to keep controlling everyone and everything and if I didn’t then I was weak and weak people die. . . . Yep, tomorrow I’d fight harder” (160). Children with RAD are angry because it feels good to feel in control. Beth later went to another session with the same therapist where she bragged that she had special powers. The therapist told her to prove it. For forty-five minutes Beth fought to exhaustion trying to escape the grip of the therapist. Beth recalls, “She (the therapist) carried me to lay in my Mom Nancy’s lap. Why was I not as powerful as them? . . . As I looked at the love emitting from her eyes, I knew. ‘Your love,’ I said softly, ‘Your love is more powerful than my hate’” (180). Parents need to make children with RAD feel safe and rewarded when they love, instead of allowing them to keep trying to feel safe through …show more content…

Thomas and the therapist both emphasized getting children to let go of their anger in a kind of therapy in which the child was encouraged to scream out all of the hatred that they felt, and all of the evil things that they planned to do. I wondered about the effectiveness of this, mostly because it feels too weak and simply allows the child to vent disrespect. However, I now see the value of it. One of the trademarks of RAD is the dishonesty both through lying and changing behavior for different audiences. The sessions that encouraged children to scream, forced the child to be totally honest instead of lying or putting on a façade. It forced them to give up control to another person even though they might be screaming hatred at that very person. The primary value of letting a child scream out hatred and rage is that it forces the child to give up control in a safe place. I need to remember that getting children to say how they really feel is important even if the way they feel is hateful and unreasonable. If a child is feeling disrespect for hatred toward me, it is more beneficial to the child to get them to surrender and say it, rather than letting it build and

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