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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Character Clinic: Charlotte Vale

Today, Brianna's character is on the couch. Charlotte is a 29-year-old in a fictional memoir. She's about the move to New York City to be a travel writer for a magazine, her first job after being unemployed for nearly 3 years. (She had moved back home after college and wishes she hadn't, because she had more job opportunities in her college town.) She's looking forward to the fresh start and traveling.

Since Brianna didn't give me any questions to really focus my attention on, I'll draw from something Charlotte herself said. Charlotte said Brianna is hoping to get some helping "fleshing out Charlotte's character traits and flaws."

If Charlotte were sitting in my office, I'd want to talk to her about motivation, plain and simple. What motivated her to leave her college town with her good job and head back home to a life of unemployment and few opportunities? That would have to be some serious motivation behind her not to head back to her college town after, say, 6 months. But three years?

This might be a good place to start for a "flaw," or possibly calling it her Achilles' heel might sit better with you. In the intake, Charlotte wrote that she missed the closeness of her family and the multiple vacations they took a year. Sometimes it's difficult reading between the lines, of course, but could this be the germinating influence of possible family enmeshment? Is that why Charlotte returned home? And then stayed for so long, even though jobless? An unhealthy dependence on a family member might be powerful enough to drive that kind of action. Or it could be her need to be needed, coupled with her inability to say no. (The truth is, people say "yes" because to say "no" would be a worse feeling for them. It's still about Charlotte...why can't she say no?)

The picture I got of her is of a 29-year-old who's more like a 22-year-old, fresh out of college and ready to start a new life. So developmentally (and probably emotionally) she's a bit stunted. Probably would qualify for a diagnosis of "Identity Problem" or "Phase of Life Problem." (These aren't even diagnoses in the true sense of the word, btw.) Her greatest fear of not being a wife and mother might could be tweaked for more originality. Maybe she wants to be a mother before her own mother dies because she wants to feel needed or important in the life of someone.

When all else fails, go back to the family of origin. *sigh* I spend most of my professional time there with clients for a reason. Best of luck to you! Hopefully you got some food for thought anyway. :)