Case Vignette: The Cat Bodyguard

Hearing the reflection that her cat knew when she was safe and when she was not meant Jack the cat had become her guard dog.

[In this condensed transcript of a virtual Dreamscaping session, we change the meaning of a loss event by creating a prescriptive experience that satisfies a client’s unmet need.]

TOUCHING UPON THE LOSS & NOVELTY-FINDING

NG: Tell us a little about Jack. Once he was diagnosed, how long did he live?
AD: He died a couple of months later. I miss feeling anchored by his presence. He was my constant companion. He didn’t like going outside, but at my graduation, he’d peek out my robes. I dressed him for Pride, wrapped in a Pride flag and he’d look up at me with this expression: “Are we really doing this?” He was such a good sport…

 

SEEKING POSITIVE EXCITATION & NOVELTY-FINDING

NG: What do you think you need a dose of now?
AD: I dunno. (Pause). I was coming out of a relationship, trying to meet new people, and was getting weird vibes from this new person I invited over for dinner. Jack batted him away.
NG: So, Jack provided not just companionship but also protection?
AD: Yeah.
MFT: That makes sense. Jack seems to have a lot of power for a cat. He’s was the one who reminded you to be careful. He knew when you were safe and when you were not.
AD: (Pause) It reminds me of security work, passing people through a metal detector.
NG: Are you thinking that we build some kind of thing, which your dates pass under, decorated with stuff from your life with Jack?
AD: Yeah! Security! But, also a way to keep sharing with Jack, as life keeps happening.

ASSEMBLAGE OF THE PRESCRIPTIVE MEMORY

AD: When something else is going on … like a friendship not being conducive for me anymore, it’s a reminder Jack isn’t physically here to comfort me with those “Jack hugs.”
NG: Without Jack, it takes longer to figure out what to do?
AD: (Laughs) A year! I don’t trust my gut instincts even though they turn out to be pretty accurate. But if my cat didn’t like you, well …
NG: There’s something else about shrines, like yours for Jack. They have us looking downwards (like on a grave)…
AD: That’s why I like the idea of creating this ‘scape that would have me looking upward. Because I can be prone to melancholy. Sometimes I think I’m even too casual about my dysthymia. It’s like “ok, be chill, that’s fine.”
NG: So, you’re ready for a change?
AD: Yes. But I also know part of my feeling down has to do with who I surround myself with.
NG: When you first got Jack, did you know what to expect?
AD: Funny, because Jack was an abandoned cat used to being outside. Then he grew accustomed to this Indoors Life, and he became “Jack.” (Pause) I have this one spot where I do all my journaling, and naturally get clarity on things. The ‘scape could be a mobile, above the TV.
NG: We’d need some shots of Jack looking downwards.
AD: I have lots of selfies with Jack on my back peering downwards. He was very expressive. (Pause). He could be the balancer. When I’m freaking out, catastrophizing— his serenity and encouragement could be helpful.