Case Vignette: Frozen Concentrate as Performance Art

By slowing down a “mind-movie” of her autistic son making art from frozen concentrate, this mother received a powerful metaphor.

[What follows is an edited transcript of a Dreamscaping demo where we changed the meaning of a loss event by creating a prescriptive memory.]

TOUCHING UPON THE LOSS

MSK: My 20-year old son’s behaviors can be challenging. I don’t feel like I have the mother-son relationship that I imagined. Been feeling deep sadness. I thought we’d have a deeper connection. A lighthearted, fun connection.

NOVELTY-FINDING

NG: As a mom, what did you want to happen on his visits home?
MSK:  I wanted to do some art activities; have some influence over him. But lately, he doesn’t talk very much, mostly sleeps and then wants to go back to his residence.
NG: What is your background in art?
MSK: I moved to NYC to pursue my interest in art in my 20’s and still enjoy sculpting with all different materials.

MSK: My son has artistic abilities. He’s imaginative and likes making things with his hands. But he’s no longer interested in art activities. At school they make him do arts and crafts and don’t encourage him to be creative and develop self expression through art.
NG: What things give him pleasure?
MSK: Definitely food.
NG: He’s tactile, right? Does he like to make food?
MSK: His Occupational Therapist says he enjoys cooking!  Recently he liked making orange juice from concentrate. The satisfaction of making it and quenching his thirst. (Pauses). Maybe he does feel connection when he makes the orange juice with me. I find myself concentrating on how he’s stirring.
NG: So, slow down the process for me.
MSK: It’s solid. Then defrosted so he can squeeze the juice out. Then we pour water into a container. (Pauses). I could maybe get a glass jar so he could
see the process happening.

NG: What if instead of instructing him, you just surrender to his delight?
MSK: I would like to be able to do that.

ASSEMBLAGE OF PRESCRIPTIVE MEMORY

NG: What if Dreamscaping was just making a reminder….
MSK: … of accepting where he’s at.
NG: And as a reminder to “be.”  Then next time you two do a food experiment…
MSK: …I could remind myself to enjoy being with my son, however, it is.  Instead of compensating. Trying to influence him. Holding so much in my head!
NG: Yes. Everyday life can be art. It doesn’t have to be a special course. A track. A program. All you need to do is be there and witness.
MSK: (Pauses). I actually see myself as the frozen orange juice. My son squeezing the juice out of me!
NG: Right. So we’re saying, let go and do less. Be happy with his delight instead of his insight.