I want to thank Vic Comello for the interesting "alternate view" of Kathy's recovery. I very much appreciate Erickson's writings on the development of identity in adolescence and I can easily see its relevance to Kathy's stunted growth. Surely, those sunshine years in High School demonstrated Kathy's "forging" for herself some central directions toward artistic, social, and political causes. Kathy is a talented and creative person. Yes, she did have an early ambition to be a writer (a journalist), but she was also a gifted artist (charcoal sketches). At an early age, Kathy had ambitions also to be an artist. These ambitions were squelched by critical teachers and relatives who tried to teach her to draw "correctly" until Kathy lost her creativity in that field. I do see the central role that writing played in Kathy's life. As you point out, my "unwavering and enthusiastic support for the legitimacy of Kathy's identity as a writer," is quite noticeable. Kathy certainly noticed it during the treatment. Even in my own writing about the treatment, my preserving as much as possible her own words, stories, and concepts to tell her story attests to my "unwavering support." And I agree with you that this attitude of mine was probably the most crucial curative factor in the treatment. But I see my support of Kathy's writing as one particular example of my supporting Kathy's blossoming in the sunshine in any area she chose. In the beginning of treatment, I saw Kathy's goal as being to regain her place in the sunshine. That place could come in any form - writing, speaking, teaching, parenting, partnering with her mate, dancing, playing tennis, ballet. Kathy actually excelled at most of these areas and grew to feel more comfortable with her success during the treatment. I think that a large part of her greater comfort with the "sunshine" occurred in the transference. Kathy expected me to be harmed by her sunshine. She expected me to try to put her down, make fun of her, or else just not be interested . Can you imagine that in High School where she won copious awards and had major recognition - that her parents NEVER KNEW ABOUT ANY OF IT?! And when they do find out about her precious first love, her father banishes her out of state for her last year?! Clearly, Kathy's expectation was that I would either not notice her achievements or that I would be threatened by them. The most consistent stance I took in this treatment was to continually provide Kathy with my "unwavering and enthusiastic support" for her creative talents that put her in the spotlight on any stage she chose.
Now let's look closely at the "identity crisis" you describe so well in your summary of Erikson's use of the word "crisis": "It is very dangerous to put your dreams into practice, to make your dreams a fundament of your life. Suppose you did so and discovered that the talent you thought you had really didn't exist?" I would put Kathy's "identity crisis" like this: It was very dangerous for Kathy to put her dreams into practice. Sometimes she did so, only to discover that the talent and dreams she thought she had: 1)robbed her mother of her husband, 2)reduced her mother to a mass of helpless inadequacy, 3)profoundly threatened her father, and 4) killed her brother. Yes, there may be a normal tendency for someone "with talent to hang back and even be reluctant to admit to the importance of that talent in her life - but what happens when you add to whatever is "normal" the compelling belief that your talent and even your dreams (wishing your brother would disappear so you can get some attention) will disastrously harm and even kill, anyone you love?!
As you can see, I both appreciate your "alternate view" and also have an alternate view of your alternate view. Thanks for appreciating Kathy's gifts as a writer. I was eager to share them here as she shared them with me. Your response shows me that you clearly "got it."