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Prologue

A Moon Story
The Beginning of My Personal Journey
Steve, the eldest of my three sons, was the child who first
asked, and then demanded, answers to The Questions. Whenever
I saw him furrowing his brow in a particular way, a Big Question
was sure to follow. I was anticipating one about where babies come
from and had read some material in order to be fully prepared.
On this particular day Steve, now seven years old, came into
the kitchen with a Big Question all over his face. I waited, smug
in the knowledge that I was capable of dealing with such weighty
matters as to how the sperm gets in, what body parts are in-
volved, how the baby gets out and what happens in-between. He
paused a moment and then said, “ My teacher wasn’t in school to-
day. Her husband died. What does it mean when someone dies?”
I felt trapped. What do you say to a child to explain death?
“Death is like going to sleep,” my mother had said in answer
to my childish inquiry. I remembered my own fear when my eyes
would start to close at night and did not want to pass that fear on
to my child. So I evaded Steve’s question by diverting his atten-
tion. Of course I knew that he would ask me again.
And two weeks later he did. “Well,” I said, “life and death are
like the moon. The moon has a light side, which we can see, and
a dark side that is always hidden but that we know to be there.
These two parts, the one we can see and the other that we can’t,
are really part of a whole. One side of the moon can’t exist with-
out the other. If you think of it that way, life and death are also
part of a whole. We can’t have one without the other. And after a
long, full life, death is like the dark side of the moon.” My answer
seemed to satisfy his curiosity.
Years later, in February of 1973, I answered a call from the
sheriff’s department in Santa Cruz, California. They informed

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Hide and Seek: Reclaiming Childhood’s Lost Potential

me that my second son, David, then 18 years old, who had been
camping with friends in the local mountains, was a victim of a
mass killing. “I’m sorry to tell you ma’m,” the officer had said,
“those four boys in the tent hadn’t a chance against a loaded rifle.”
In all thirteen people were shot by a young man recently re-
leased from a psychiatric hospital. There are no adequate words to
describe my feelings. I was drowning in sorrow and grief; David
was dead and I too was dying.
One night, several months after that devastating phone call
and unable again to sleep, I prowled around my house looking
for something, anything, to ease my agitation. Through the
window, my eye was caught by the brilliance of a full moon. I
stood there staring at the moon and began to feel a stirring of
an elusive memory. Of course! I remembered Steve’s question
about what it means to die. What was it I answered, so long
ago? That life and death were like the light and dark sides of
the moon. I knew then that I was on the dark side of the moon.
The death of my son was also the death of a part of me. My first
response to remembering was one of anger and disgust. How
could I have given such a superficial, meaningless answer as an
explanation for life’s greatest trauma. But as I stood looking
at the moon, the meaning of that story took on a new, healing
urgency. If death and life are part of a whole and I am now on
the dark side of the moon, then somewhere there must exist a
light side – a life side.
I spoke to the moon, as if it were my lost son. “I will always
mourn your death, David, but to celebrate your life, I must not
waste my life. There has been far too much waste already.”
I stood at that window through the night watching the moon
make its way across the sky and took the first tentative steps in
my long journey back to its light side. I knew that night that
somehow I would find my way and survive.
My journey took me to and through places I would never have
imagined, including enrollment in a doctoral program in psychol-
ogy. I believe my move towards psychology offered a necessary
and hoped-for healing change in my life. The world of theater in
which I had existed for many years was no longer real enough for
me. Having been on the dark side of the moon I now needed to
live in a different kind of reality; by becoming someone in a posi-
tion to help others, I was allowing myself an opportunity to deal
with the horrible sense of waste that had permeated my world.
The lessons learned, the insights gained and my personal under-

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PROLOGUE: A MOON STORY

standing of human behavior, are all part of that life-affirming


journey. In struggling for my own survival I developed an invalu-
able appreciation for the survival struggle of others.
My purpose in writing Hide and Seek: Reclaiming Childhood’s
Lost Potential is to share what I have learned about why what we
want and have the potential to have, is denied us. This book is
about recovering the inherent joy and power of life. The stories it
tells, real and symbolic, may offer some guidance to your finding
the light side of your moon.

— Ditta M. Oliker, Ph.D.

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Hide and Seek:
Reclaiming Childhood’s Lost Potential

Prologue: A Moon Story ix


The Beginning of My Personal Journey ix

PART ONE:
The Opponent Within and How It Came To Be You

Chapter One—Unhappily Ever After 1


An Introduction 1
Three Versions of a Fairy Tale 4
Snow White: The Original 4
Snow White: A Tale of Reaction 6
Snow White: A Tale of Survival 7

Chapter Two—Happily Ever After 11


The Need to be Ugly: Beth 11

Chapter Three—Understanding Your “Need To” 19


The Evolution of Your Survival System 19
Explicit/Implicit Knowing and Mirror Neurons 22
The Power of Attachment 23
“Whose Need Got Met” 24
How Children Understand Their World 25
Developing A New Approach 27

Chapter Four—Beginning to Change the Opponent 29


Points to Make: Actions to Take 29

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and Seek:
and Seek:
Reclaiming
Reclaiming
Childhood’s
Childhood’s
Lost Lost
Potential
Potential

Chapter
Chapter
Sixteen—A
Sixteen—APoorness-of-Fit
Poorness-of-Fit 127 127
The The
NeedNeed
to Not
to Not
Feel:Feel:
PeterPeter 127 127

Chapter
Chapter
Seventeen—The
Seventeen—The
Interaction
Interaction 135 135

Chapter
Chapter
Eighteen—Fixing
Eighteen—Fixingthe Fit
the Fit 139 139
Points
Points
to Make:
to Make:
Actions
Actions
to Take
to Take 139 139

xvi xvi
CONTENTS
CONTENTS

PARTPART
THREE:
THREE:
Breaking
Breaking
Free Free
fromfrom
a Survival
a Survival
System
System

Chapter
Chapter
Nineteen—The
Nineteen—The Life Life
YouYouSaveSave
MayMayBe Your
Be Your
OwnOwn 145 145
NineNine
StepsSteps
to theto Light
the Light
Side Side
of theof Moon
the Moon 145 145
Change
Change
StartsStarts
HereHere
– Change
– Change
StartsStarts
NowNow 167 167

Bibliography
Bibliography 171 171

About
About
the Author
the Author 173 173

Index
Index 175 175

xvii xvii
PART ONE:
The Opponent Within
And How It Came to Be You
CHAPTER ONE

Unhappily Ever After


An Introduction

Y ou know what you want but you can’t seem to get it.
Could it be you have a hidden need to not get what you
want?
Some people seek ways of changing chronic self-defeating
behaviors that limit their success and their quality of life. But
even as they express their sincere desire to change – repeatedly
attempt to change – real change remains hidden and unattain-
able as they continue to sabotage any of their attempts to change.
“I want to get that promotion,” he says – but he is consistently
late to important meetings. “I want to get married and have chil-
dren,” she says – but she consistently picks unavailable men. “I
want to express my ideas,” he says – but given the chance, he has
nothing to say.
Hide and Seek: Reclaiming Childhood’s Lost Potential makes
sense of these seemingly irrational and resistant behaviors
and proposes that they represent survival adaptations to the
early environment of childhood, originally serving as le-
gitimate responses to threats and potential dangers in the
physical and psychological environment of that childhood.
Established in childhood and rooted in a child’s belief of
how to survive, these adaptive responses continue to oper-
ate silently and unseen, becoming the persistent, defeating
behaviors of adulthood – the hidden opponents within that
block inherent potential. I call these adaptive responses
Survival Systems because they are patterns of behaviors,

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and Seek:
and Seek:
Reclaiming
Reclaiming
Childhood’s
Childhood’s
Lost Lost
Potential
Potential

attitudes
attitudesand and beliefs
beliefs
thatthatoriginally
originally functioned
functioned to maintain
to maintain
a sense
a sense
of safety.
of safety.
A crucial
A crucial idea idea
in thisin this
bookbook is thatis thatan individual
an individual exists,exists,
a a
“you”“you”
who who is separate
is separate
and unlike
and unlike any other.
any other. A “you”A “you”bornborn withwitha a
uniqueunique
set ofsetcharacteristics,
of characteristics, physicalphysical attributes,
attributes,talents,
talents,
abili-abili-
ties ties
and andinherent
inherent
potential
potential– with – witha promise
a promise of fulfilling
of fulfilling this this
potential.
potential.What What
do youdo youdo whendo when this thisinherent
inherent
“you”“you” is farisbe-
far be-
low your
low yourpotential
potential
and andnot getting
not getting whatwhat you want?
you want? LikeLike manymany
peoplepeople
caught caught
in this
in this
dilemma,dilemma, you start
you start searching
searchingfor answers
for answers
that that
will will
tell you
tell how
you how to change
to change that that
which which
you seem
you seem to betoun- be un-
able able
to change.
to change. You You
sign signup for up classes
for classes that that
offeroffer
information
information
on howon how
to achieve
to achieve
ones’ones’
goalsgoals
– but– you but stayyou stay
stuckstuck in inactivity.
in inactivity.
You You
readreadone self-help
one self-helpbookbook afterafter
another another– but– your
but your “new“new you”you”
disappears
disappears afterafter
awhile.
awhile.
You You try psychotherapy
try psychotherapy – but– find but find that that
the core
the corereasonsreasons
for your
for yourself-defeating
self-defeating behaviors
behaviorseludeelude bothboth
you youand andthe thetherapist.
therapist.Eventually
Eventually you you may may comecome to believe
to believe
that that
youryourchronicchronic
inability
inabilityto change
to change mustmust meanmean that that therethere
is is
something
something intrinsically
intrinsicallywrong wrong
withwith you.you. You Youare, atare,thisat this
point, point,
not unlike
not unlike manymany of the of individuals
the individuals withwith whom whomI have I have
worked worked
as a aspsychotherapist.
a psychotherapist. It is Itatisthisat this
pointpoint that that
it is ittime
is timefor youfor you
to start
to start
asking: asking:
“Is it“Is
possible
it possible
that that
I amIcaughtam caughtin a insurvival
a survival systemsystem
and that,
and that,as a aschild,
a child,
I hadI to haddevelop
to developa hiddena hidden
need need
to nottoget notwhat
get what
I want?”
I want?”
At firstAt firstthe question
the question seems seems
simplistic,
simplistic, but raising
but raising the possi-
the possi-
bilitybility
of a powerful
of a powerful unknown unknown needneed to betounable
be unableto change
to change modi- modi-
fies the
fies perspective
the perspective on behavior
on behavior and opens
and opens new new doorsdoorsto possible
to possible
explanations.
explanations. The Theparadoxparadoxis that is that
onceonce you youacknowledge
acknowledge that that
you can’t
you can’tchange,change,
you are
youfree,are free,
perhaps perhapsfor the for first
the first
time,time, to start
to start
changing.
changing.
The Theconcept concept
of a ofsurvival
a survivalsystem systemis based
is basedon aonloose a loose
inter-inter-
pretation
pretation
of Darwinian
of Darwinian ideas.ideas.
According
According to his to theory,
his theory, a species
a species
adaptsadapts
and accommodates
and accommodates to itstoenvironment
its environment in order
in order
to survive.
to survive.
ThisThis
bookbookproposes
proposes
that that
– what – what
is true is true
for a forspecies
a species
in the inphysical
the physical
worldworld
is alsois also
true true
for afor given
a given
individual
individual in hisin orhisheror psychologi-
her psychologi-
cal world.
cal world.Thus,Thus,
understanding
understanding the difference
the difference betweenbetween “want “want
to” to”
and “need
and “needto” isto”crucial
is crucial
in yourin your
changing
changing youryoursurvival
survival
system. system.
A A
“want“want
to” isto”a goal-oriented
is a goal-oriented change change
in a behavior,
in a behavior, beliefbelief
or attitude
or attitude
that that
represents
representswhatwhatyou, you,
as anasadult,
an adult,believe believe
you areyou capable
are capable of of
achieving.
achieving.As usedAs used
in thisin this
bookbook “need“need to” refers
to” refers
to the to behavior,
the behavior,

2 2
UNHAPPILY
UNHAPPILY
EVEREVER
AFTER
AFTER

beliefbelief
or attitude
or attitude
that that
represents
represents
whatwhat you, you,
as a child,
as a child,
believed
believedyou you
needed
needed to betoorbe door– do – orbe
or not notorbedoor– doin –order
in order to continue
to continue to safely
to safely
existexist
in the in environment
the environment of yourof your
childhood.
childhood. “Need “Needto” becomes
to” becomes
synonymous
synonymous withwith survival.
survival.
HideHide and and Seek:Seek: Reclaiming
Reclaiming Childhood’s
Childhood’s Lost Lost uses uses
Potential
Potential case case
histories,
histories, theoretical
theoretical approaches
approaches and and the findings
the findings of various
of various re- re-
search
search inquiries
inquiries to offer
to offer the reader
the reader a broada broad understanding
understanding of the of the
meaning
meaning and power
and power of a survival
of a survival system. system.
Breaking
Breaking free from
free from a survival
a survival system system
means means breaking
breaking free of free of
fear based
fear based on behavior
on behavior that that no longer
no longer has relevance
has relevance to yourto your
life. Itlife. It
begins
begins whenwhen you loosen
you loosen the grip
the grip of the of past,
the past,
a past a past
that that
has kepthas kept
you ayou a prisoner
prisoner of your of your childhood.
childhood. A starting
A starting pointpoint
is theis recogni-
the recogni-
tion tion
that thattherethere is a crucial
is a crucial difference
difference betweenbetween a pattern
a pattern of behavior
of behavior
that that is a direct
is a direct resultresult of experiencing
of experiencing a trauma
a trauma and oneand that
one thatis theis the
resultresult of trying
of trying to avoid
to avoid a trauma.
a trauma. In simplistic
In simplistic terms, terms, it isdif-
it is the the dif-
ference
ference between between taking taking a direct
a direct hit by hita by a flying
flying object object or ducking
or ducking
to avoid
to avoid that thatobject.object.
The Thedirect direct
hit ishit is a trauma
a trauma to the to body,
the body,caus-caus-
ing pain
ing pain and an andobservable
an observable injury.
injury. The The act ofactducking
of ducking avoids avoids
the the
trauma
trauma and, and,whenwhen usedused appropriately,
appropriately, can be cana be a positive
positive move. move.
But But
theofactducking,
the act of ducking, whenwhen it becomes
it becomes a generalized
a generalized reaction
reaction to the to the
possibility
possibility – or –imagined
or imagined possibility
possibility – of –beingof being hit, also
hit, can can also
havehave
serious
serious consequences.
consequences. Consistent
Consistent physical,
physical, psychological
psychological and emo-
and emo-
tionaltional “ducking”
“ducking” in childhood
in childhood can lead
can lead to a to a pattern
pattern of behaviors
of behaviors
that that
eventually
eventually causecausepainpain
and anda hidden
a hidden diminution
diminution of inherent
of inherent
potential.
potential.
Working Working withwith patients
patients
unable unable
to change,
to change,I discovered
I discovereda waya to way to
help help
themthem understand
understand the difference
the difference betweenbetweenthe effects
the effectsof “tak-of “tak-
ing aingdirect hit” and
a direct hit” the
andhidden
the hiddenlong-term
long-term damage damageof “ducking.”
of “ducking.”
BecauseBecause fairyfairy
talestales
are universally
are universally known, known,I useIthemuse themas meta-as meta-
phorsphors
to convey
to convey the meaning
the meaning of survival
of survivalsystemssystemsand andhow how they they
represent
represent safetysafety
to a child. A most
to a child. compelling
A most compelling tale for
talethis
for purpose
this purpose
is “Snow
is “Snow White and the
White and Seven
the SevenDwarfs” collected
Dwarfs” by the
collected by Brothers
the Brothers
Grimm,
Grimm, because the story
because revolves
the story around
revolves a young
around girl’sgirl’s
a young strugglestruggle
to survive
to survive a dangerous
a dangerous childhood.
childhood. I tellI mytell patients
my patients two twoversionsversions
in order to highlight
in order to highlight how howchildren can either
children can either or adapt
react react to their
or adapt to their
environment.
environment.

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Three
Three
Versions
Versions
of aofFairy
a Fairy
TaleTale

The Thefirst first


version,
version,
“Snow “Snow
White:White:
A Tale of Reaction,”
A Tale of Reaction,”
relates
relates
whatwhat
would would
happenhappen
to a to
young
a young
childchild
who who
experienced
experienced
a series
a series
of of
traumas.
traumas.
The The
second,second,
“Snow “Snow
White: White:
A Tale of Survival,”
A Tale of Survival,”
repre-repre-
sentssents
whatwhatmanymanyof us,ofasus,children,
as children,
believed
believed
we needed
we needed
to dotoordo or
be inbeorder
in order
to avoid
to avoid
experiencing
experiencing a trauma.
a trauma.
We We thenthen
unknow-
unknow-
inglyingly
take take
thesethese
beliefs,
beliefs,
in thein form
the form
of survival
of survival
systems,
systems,
into into
adulthood.
adulthood.An internalized
An internalized needneed
to survive
to survive
the dangers
the dangers
of child-
of child-
hoodhood
is stronger
is stronger
thanthan
the desire
the desire
to thrive
to thrive
as anasadult.
an adult.
If weIfhad
we had
believed
believed
that that
beingbeing
prettypretty
wouldwould
kill us,
killwe
us,will
we will
be ugly.
be ugly.
If weIf we
had thought
had thought therethere
was danger
was dangerin speaking
in speakingout, out,
we will
we will
be silent.
be silent.
If weIf had
we had
sensedsensed
successsuccess
would would
deprive
deprive
us ofusparental
of parental
involve-
involve-
ment,ment,
we will
we will
fail. fail.
I likeI like
to review
to review
the original
the original
fairyfairy
tale, tale,
because
because
manymany
people,
people,
exposed
exposed
to theto more
the more
romanticized
romanticized version
version
by Disney
by Disney
and and
others,
others,
may may
not benotfamiliar
be familiar
withwithall ofallthe
of dangers
the dangersthe young
the young
heroine
heroine
experienced.
experienced.

Snow
Snow
White:
White:
TheThe
Original
Original
Fairy
Fairy
TaleTale
In theInoriginal
the original
fable,fable,
a queen
a queen
wishes
wishes
for afor
beautiful
a beautiful
child,child,
and and
her wish
her wish
is answered
is answered
withwith
the birth
the birth
of Snow
of Snow
White.
White.
The The
Queen Queen
dies dies
whenwhenthe child
the child
is born,
is born,
and and
within
within
a year,
a year,
the King
the King
remar-remar-
ries. ries.
His beautiful
His beautiful
new newwife wife
is vain
is vain
and cannot
and cannot
bear bear
that that
anyoneanyone
be lovelier
be lovelier
thanthan
she. The
she. The
new new
QueenQueen
has ahas
magic
a magic
mirror
mirror
and each
and each
timetime
she asks:
she asks:

“Mirror,
“Mirror,
mirrormirror
on the
on wall,
the wall,
WhoWho
is fairest
is fairest
of usofall?”
us all?”

The The
mirror
mirror
answers:
answers:

“Queen,
“Queen,
thouthou
art the
art fairest
the fairest
of usofall.”
us all.”

The The
QueenQueen
is pleased,
is pleased,
for she
forknows
she knows
the mirror
the mirror
doesdoes
not lie.
not lie.
As the
As years
the years
pass,pass,
SnowSnow
WhiteWhite
grows
grows
moremorebeautiful
beautiful
and and
whenwhen
she isshe
only
is only
sevenseven
yearsyears
old, the
old,Queen
the Queen
is surprised
is surprised
whenwhen
the the
mirror,
mirror,
responds
responds
with:with:

“Queen,
“Queen,
thouthou
art the
art fairest
the fairest
in this
in this
hall hall
But Snow
But Snow
White’s
White’s
fairerfairer
thanthan
us all.”
us all.”
4 4
UNHAPPILY
UNHAPPILY
EVEREVER
AFTER
AFTER

Horrified,
Horrified, the Queen
the Queen grows grows
greengreen
withwith
envy.envy.
FromFrom
that that
mo- mo-
mentment
she issheconsumed
is consumed withwithrage rage
and and hatred.
hatred. Finally
Finally she calls
she calls a a
huntsman
huntsman and orders
and orders him him to take
to take the child
the child out into
out into the forest.
the forest. “I “I
don’tdon’t
wantwant
to laytoeyes
lay eyes
on heron again”
her again” she tells
she tells him.him.
“Kill“Kill her and
her and
bringbring
me hermeheart
her heart
for afor a token.”
token.”
The The
hunterhunter
takestakes
pity pity on Snow
on Snow White,White, but also
but also assumes
assumes that that
the wild
the wild beasts beasts
of theofforest
the forest
will will eat He
eat her. her.lets
He her
letsgo
herand
go brings
and brings
backback an animal’s
an animal’s heartheart to placate
to placate the Queen.
the Queen. SnowSnow
White White
wan-wan-
ders ders for hours.
for hours. At last
At last she finds
she finds a little
a little househouse
ownedowned by seven
by seven
dwarfs
dwarfs and and
they they
inviteinvite
SnowSnowWhite White to stay
to stay withwith
them.them.
She, She,
in in
turn,turn,
offersoffers to cook
to cook and and
cleanclean for them
for them whilewhile
they they gotooffthe
go off to the
mountain
mountain eacheach
day to daydig
to for
diggold.
for gold.

TrueTrueto her to narcissistic


her narcissisticnature,nature, the wicked
the wicked Queen Queensoonsoon
con- con-
sultssults her magic
her magic mirrormirror
and and discovers
discovers that that
SnowSnow White White is still
is still
alive.alive.
ThisThistime,time, the Queen
the Queen determines
determines to killto the
kill child
the child herself.
herself.
Disguised
Disguised as a peddler,
as a peddler, she sells
she sells SnowSnow White White
somesome colorful
colorful laceslaces
and and
offersoffers
to laceto lace
SnowSnow White’sWhite’s
bodice.bodice.
But But she the
she ties ties strings
the strings
so tightly
so tightly that that the young
the young girl loses
girl loses her breath.
her breath. The Thedwarfs dwarfs
return return
that that evening,
evening, discover
discover SnowSnow White Whiteon theon ground
the ground and andcut thecut the
tighttight
laces.laces.
SnowSnow White White
begins begins to breathe
to breathe again. again.
In her Insecond
her second attempt
attempt the Queen,
the Queen, disguised
disguised again, again,
givesgives
SnowSnow
WhiteWhite a poisoned
a poisoned comb. comb.
As soonAs soon
as the ascomb
the combis in isher
inhair,
her hair,
SnowSnow
WhiteWhitefalls falls senseless
senseless to the toground.
the ground. The The
dwarfs dwarfs
removeremove the comb
the comb
and once
and once moremore save save
her. her.
MoreMore determined
determined thanthanever,ever, the Queen
the Queen returnsreturns
for thefor third
the third
time,time,
now now disguised
disguised as a asfeeble,
a feeble, old woman.
old woman. She She
offersoffers
SnowSnow
WhiteWhite an apple,
an apple, half half of which
of which has been
has been dippeddipped in poison.
in poison. The The
Queen Queen
cuts cuts the apple
the apple in half,
in half, eats eats the side
the safe safe side and convinces
and convinces the the
now nowwarywary girl girl to take
to take a bitea bite
of the of poisoned
the poisoned half.half.
The The momentmoment
SnowSnow White Whitedoes,does, she slumps
she slumps to the to ground.
the ground.
Again Again the dwarfs
the dwarfs return return
to find to find
SnowSnow White White seemingly
seemingly life- life-
less, less, but this
but this timetimethey they
cannot cannot
revive revive
her. her. She looks
She looks so beautiful
so beautiful
that that
they they
decide decide to encase
to encase her in hera in a glass
glass coffin,coffin, in which
in which she con-
she con-
tinuestinues
to sleepto sleep for many
for many years.years.
One One day, day, a prince
a prince happens
happens to stopto stop
by the by dwarfs’
the dwarfs’
house, house,
sees sees
the glass
the glass coffincoffin and falls
and falls in lovein love
withwithSnowSnowWhite. White. He begs
He begs the the
dwarfsdwarfs
to lettohimlet him
take take
her to herhisto castle
his castle
and andtheytheyagree. agree.
While While
carrying
carrying the glass
the glass coffin, coffin, the prince’s
the prince’s servants
servants slip slip
and anddropdrop it. it.
WithWith the shock
the shock of theoffall,
the fall, the poisoned
the poisoned piecepiece of apple
of apple that that
SnowSnow
WhiteWhite had had bittenbitten off comes
off comes out outof herof throat
her throat and and she awak-
she awak-
ens. ens.
The The overjoyed
overjoyed prince prince
asks asks
SnowSnow White White to marry
to marry him himand and

5 5
HideHide
and Seek:
and Seek:
Reclaiming
Reclaiming
Childhood’s
Childhood’s
Lost Lost
Potential
Potential

invites
invites
the entire
the entire
kingdom
kingdom
– including
– including
the wicked
the wicked
QueenQueen
– to – to
theirtheir
wedding.
wedding.
Consumed
Consumed withwith
envyenvy
of Snow
of Snow
White’s
White’s
beauty,
beauty,
the Queen
the Queen
dances
dances
herself
herself
to death.
to death.
SnowSnow
White
White
and and
her prince
her prince
live happily
live happily
ever ever
after.after.

Snow
Snow
White:
White:
A Tale
A Tale
of Reaction
of Reaction
I callI mycall first
my first
adaptation
adaptationof theof Snow
the Snow White Whitestorystory
“A Tale“A Tale
of of
Reaction”
Reaction” to illustrate
to illustrate
whatwhathappens
happens to the to young
the young heroineheroine
whenwhen
her story
her storyis transposed
is transposed to a to world
a worldof psychological
of psychological reality.
reality.
The The
comments,
comments, in italics,
in italics,
are what
are whata childa child
taking taking
a directa direct
hit would
hit would
experience
experience in reaction
in reaction
to each
to each
event.event.
A Queen A Queen wishes wishes
for afor
beautiful
a beautifulchildchild
– dies – dies
whenwhen the child
the child
is is
bornborn
– and– the and King
the Kingremarries.
remarries.
[The [Theloss ofloss
a mother
of a motherand aand father’s
a father’s
remarriage
remarriageare major
are major
traumas.
traumas.
The king
The kingis nowhere
is nowhereto be tofound
be found
in thein the
story story
and hisandabsence
his absence
wouldwould
contribute
contribute
to thetochild’s
the child’s
feelingsfeelings
of abandon-
of abandon-
The The
ment.]ment.] new new Queen Queen
needsneeds
to beto“thebe “the
fairestfairest
of all” of and
all” confirms
and confirms
that that
withwith her questioning
her questioning of theof magic
the magic mirror.mirror.
As the As the yearsyearspass,pass,
SnowSnow White White grows growsmoremore beautiful.
beautiful.
When When she is sheseven
is seven
yearsyears
old [still
old [still
very very
muchmuch a child] the mir-
a child] the mir-
ror surprises
ror surprises the Queen
the Queen by replying
by replying that that
“Snow “SnowWhite’sWhite’sfairerfairer
thanthanus all.”
us all.”
Horrified,
Horrified, the Queen
the Queen grows grows
greengreenwithwith envy.envy.[Envy[Envyconveysconveys
a a
destructive
destructive
impulse.impulse.
It is It
notisonly
not that
only that
someone someone
wantswantswhatwhat you have.
you have.
It It
also implies
also implies
that that
you will
you be
willdestroyed
be destroyed
for having it.] The
for having it.] The
Queen, Queen,
con- con-
sumed sumedwithwith rage,rage,
orders orders
a huntsman
a huntsman to killto the
kill child.
the child.
The The hunter, hunter,
feelingfeeling
pity,pity,
lets Snow
lets Snow White Whitego. [The
go. [The
huntsman’s
huntsman’s
failure
failure
to protect
to protect
the child
the child
and hisandneed
his need
to placate
to placate
the Queen
the Queenat Snowat Snow
White’s
White’s
expense expense
leadsleads
to even
to even
deeperdeeper
feelingsfeelings
of distrust
of distrustand andabandon-
abandon-
ment.]ment.]
SnowSnow White White
findsfindsthe dwarf’s
the dwarf’s
househouse and is andinvited
is invited
to stay.
to stay.
She She
offersoffers
to cookto cookand clean
and clean
for them.
for them.
[Only[Onlysevenseven
yearsyears
old, sheold,assumes
she assumes
adultadult
responsibilities.
responsibilities.
A child
A child
forcedforced
into pseudo-adulthood
into pseudo-adulthood can experience
can experience
undueundue
pressurepressure
and increased
and increasedanxiety.]
anxiety.]
The Thewicked wickedQueen,Queen,
discovering
discovering the child
the child
still still
alive,alive,
disguises
disguises
herself
herself
as a as peddler,
a peddler,sells sells
SnowSnow White Whitesomesome laceslacesand andties them
ties them
too tightly.
too tightly. [This[This
murderous
murderous
attempt
attempt
makesmakes SnowSnow WhiteWhite fearfulfearful
of ped-of ped-
dlers,dlers,
laces laces
and and asphyxiation,
asphyxiation,
and andreinforces
reinforces
her difficulty
her difficulty in trusting
in trusting
others.]
others.]
NextNext the Queen
the Queen givesgives
SnowSnow White Whitea poisoned
a poisoned comb. comb.
As soonAs soon
as it as
is in
it isherinhair
her hair
SnowSnow White White
falls falls
senseless
senseless
to the toground.
the ground. [Now[Now
SnowSnow
WhiteWhite will fear
will the
fearreceipt
the receipt
of gifts,
of gifts,
the loss
theofloss
consciousness
of consciousness and the
and the
arrival
arrival
of strangers.] The The
of strangers.] dwarfs dwarfs
remove removethe comb
the comb and and onceoncemoremore

6 6
UNHAPPILY
UNHAPPILY
EVEREVER
AFTER
AFTER

save save
her. [The
her. [Thedwarfs have have
dwarfs now twice savedsaved
now twice her, but
her,dobutnotdooffer to pro-
not offer to pro-
tect her.
tect Aher.child wouldwould
A child feel terribly alonealone
feel terribly and vulnerable.]
and vulnerable.]
The TheQueen Queenreturns for the
returns for third
the thirdtime.time.
NowNow disguised
disguisedas anas an
old woman,
old woman, she offers
she offersSnowSnow White Whitean apple
an apple
and and convinces
convincesthe the
now nowwarywary girl girl
to taketo take
a bitea bite
of theof poisoned
the poisoned half.half.
The The moment moment
SnowSnow White White
does,does,she slumps
she slumps to theto ground.
the ground. [This[Thislast trickery
last trickery
destroys
destroys
SnowSnow White’sWhite’s
abilityability
to trust
to trust
her ownher judgment.]
own judgment.]
Again Again
the dwarfs
the dwarfs return,
return,
but this
but time
this time
cannot
cannot
revive revive
her. They
her. They
encaseencase
her in hera glass
in a glass
coffincoffin
in which
in whichshe sleeps
she sleeps
for many
for many years.years.
One One day, day,
a Princea Prince
stopsstops
by and by falls
and falls
in love
in love
withwith SnowSnow White.White.
The The
coffincoffin drops, drops, the poisoned
the poisoned appleapple
comes comes
out ofoutherof throat
her throatand and
she awakens.
she awakens. [Awakening
[Awakening in a incoffina coffin
wouldwould
be a betraumatic
a traumatic experi-
experi-
ence for
enceanyone.]
for anyone.]Overjoyed,
Overjoyed, the prince
the princeasks asks
SnowSnowWhite Whiteto marry
to marry
him.him.
Unfortunately,
Unfortunately, SnowSnow White Whitecannot cannot
take take
advantage
advantage of herof her
goodgoodfortune.
fortune.Although
Although the Prince
the Princelovesloves
her and
her andgivesgives
her what-
her what-
ever ever
she desires,
she desires,she has shebeen severely
has been damaged
severely by her
damaged byexperiences.
her experiences.
Her Her
debilitating
debilitating anxiety disorder
anxiety is exhibited
disorder by phobic
is exhibited by phobic reactions
reactions
to laces, combs,
to laces, apples,
combs, coffins,
apples, and and
coffins, old ladies. She suffers
old ladies. She suffers fromfrom
insomnia
insomniaand and sleepsleep deprivation
deprivation becausebecauseshe is
sheafraid of losing
is afraid of losing
consciousness,
consciousness, and andher increasing
her increasing panicpanicat theat sight
the sightof strangers
of strangers
means she must
means she must limitlimither world
her world to her to room in the
her room in castle.
the castle.She She
was recently
was recently diagnosed
diagnosed as suffering
as sufferinga severe post-traumatic
a severe post-traumatic stressstress
disorder. The The
disorder. Prince has been
Prince patient,
has been but isbut
patient, getting
is gettingdiscouraged
discouraged
withwith
SnowSnow White’sWhite’sfearsfears
that that
he will abandon
he will abandonher andher andher over-
her over-
whelming
whelming distrust of one
distrust of and
one all.
andThe goodgood
all. The Prince is losing
Prince faithfaith
is losing
that that
he and he hisandbride can live
his bride can happily
live happilyever ever
after.after.

Snow
Snow
White:
White:
A Tale
A Tale
of Survival
of Survival
My second
My secondversion,
version,
calledcalled
“A Tale
“A Tale
of Survival,”
of Survival,”
illustrates
illustrates
how how
a child
a child
might might
adaptadapt
in order
in order
to avoid
to avoid
the potential
the potential
traumas
traumas
in herin her
life. life.
ThisThisstorystory
captures
captures
the essence
the essence
of a survival
of a survival
system.
system.
The The storystory
beginsbegins
the same,
the same,but but
sometime
sometime before
before
her sev-
her sev-
enthenthbirthday,
birthday,
this this
SnowSnowWhite White
sensessenses
a threat.
a threat.
HavingHavingsuf- suf-
feredfered
severalseveral
major major
traumas,
traumas,
including
including
the death
the death
of her
of mother,
her mother,
abandonment
abandonment by herbyfather
her father
and the
andgrowing
the growingnegative
negative
vibrations
vibrations
of of
her stepmother,
her stepmother, she has
she become
has become acutely
acutely
sensitive
sensitive
to the
to dangers
the dangers
aroundaround
her. her.
As a Aschild,
a child,
SnowSnowWhite White
cannotcannot
intellectually
intellectually
graspgrasp
the idea
the that
idea that
the adults
the adults
in herinworld
her world
are dysfunctional
are dysfunctionaland dangerous.
and dangerous.
But she
Buthasshe has
witnessed
witnessed
the Queen’s
the Queen’sreactions
reactions
to a particularly
to a particularly
ornateornate
mirrormirror
and, and,
in powerful
in powerfulintuitive
intuitive
waysways
sensessenses
that that
she isshe
notis safe
not and
safe can
and trust
can trust

7 7
HideHide
and Seek:
and Seek:
Reclaiming
Reclaiming
Childhood’s
Childhood’s
Lost Lost
Potential
Potential

no one.
no one.
She recognizes
She recognizes that that
she will
she will
havehaveto saveto save
herselfherself
and knows,
and knows,
without
without
conscious
conscious
awareness, that that
awareness, therethere
is danger
is danger
in that in that
mirror.mirror.
“How “How
do I do
stayI stay
out ofoutthat
of that
mirror?”
mirror?”
Her Hernonconscious
nonconscious survivalsurvival
self asks.
self asks.
Thinking
Thinking in a inconcrete
a concreteand and
literalliteral
way, way,as children
as children do, do,
she answers
she answers her own
her ownquestion
questionwith:with:
“If I “If
amIugly,
am ugly,the mirror
the mirror will will
not say
notIsay amIthe
amfairest
the fairest
of them
of them
all.” all.”
AndAnd to maketo make sure sure
she avoids
she avoids
the stepmother’s
the stepmother’s envy,envy,
SnowSnow White White
will will
believe believe
that that
the Queen
the Queen is is
indeed
indeed
the fairest
the fairest
of them
of them
all. all.
SnowSnow White Whitedevelops
developsa “being
a “being ugly”ugly”survivalsurvival
system systemthat that
takestakes
precedence
precedence
over over
everything
everything else. else.
She consumes
She consumes largelarge
quanti-quanti-
ties of
tiesfood,
of food,
addingadding
manymanypounds poundsto hertoonce
her once
normal normal
size. size.
As she As she
matures,
matures,she maintains
she maintains her extra
her extra
weight weight
regardless
regardlessof howof how
manymany
dietsdiets
she attempts.
she attempts. She wears
She wearsclothesclothes
that that
are unflattering,
are unflattering, inap-inap-
propriate
propriate
and either
and either
too big
tooor bigtooorsmall.
too small.
Her Herface bears
face bears
the brunt
the brunt
of herofpicking
her picking
and scratching,
and scratching, her skin
her skin
is theisvictim
the victim of neglect
of neglect
and and
her stringy
her stringyhair hair
defiesdefiesall attempts
all attempts at styling.
at styling.
To sum To sumit up,it she
up, she
lookslooks
unattractive
unattractiveunkempt
unkempt and unhappy.
and unhappy.
Her Herfriends
friends
say, “Snow
say, “Snow White,White,you youcouldcouldbe sobepretty.
so pretty.You You
havehave
suchsuch
lovelylovely
features.
features.
If you If would
you would just lose
just some
lose someweightweight
and and
dressdress
differently
differently
and....”
and....”
SnowSnow White,White,who whodoesn’t doesn’t
consciously
consciouslywantwant to beto ugly,
be ugly,re- re-
sponds
spondseagerly
eagerly
to allto suggestions.
all suggestions. She Shegoesgoes fromfrom one onediet dietto to
another,
another,
fromfromone beauty
one beauty parlorparlor
to another,
to another, fromfrom one stylist
one stylistto to
another,
another,
but nothing
but nothing works.works.
Outsiders
Outsiderssee hersee as herundisciplined,
as undisciplined,
and and
her friends
her friends
growgrow tiredtired
of her of promises
her promises and and complaints.
complaints. Self-Self-
consciousness
consciousness aboutabout
her appearance
her appearance affects
affects
SnowSnow White’sWhite’s
sensesense
of of
self-esteem
self-esteemand, and,
as the as years
the years
go by,gosheby,becomes
she becomes moremore withdrawn
withdrawn
and unhappy.
and unhappy.
The TheQueen Queen
takestakes
pity pity
on Snowon Snow White White
and treats
and treats
her asherif assheif she
werewere
her ownher own
daughter.
daughter.
Although
Althoughthe young
the youngwoman womanfeels feels
safe with
safe with
her stepmother,
her stepmother, the emptiness
the emptiness in herinlife
herand
life her
andinability
her inabilityto attract
to attract
a partner
a partner
convinces
convinces
her that
her that
she will
she will
live unhappily
live unhappily ever ever
after.after.

In “AInTale
“A Tale
of Reaction”
of Reaction”
the heroine
the heroine
has taken
has taken
a direct
a direct
hit from
hit from
the stepmother’s
the stepmother’snarcissism
narcissism
and envy.
and envy.
The Theadultadult
SnowSnow
White’s
White’s
suf- suf-
feringfering
is severe
is severe
but understandable,
but understandable,givengiven
all she
allhas
sheexperienced.
has experienced.
If If
help help
werewere
available,
available,
she would
she would
be given
be given
medication
medication
and psychiatric
and psychiatric
support
support
and, and,
hopefully,
hopefully,
be able
be able
to function
to function
somewhat
somewhatnormally.
normally.
The The
SnowSnowWhiteWhite
in “AinTale
“A Tale
of Survival”
of Survival”
ducked
ducked
and developed
and developed
a survival
a survival
systemsystem
that that
guaranteed
guaranteed
she would
she wouldnot become
not becomebeauti-
beauti-
ful, thus
ful, thus
keeping
keeping
her potential
her potential
belowbelow
the radar
the radar
of theofstepmother’s
the stepmother’s
envy.envy.
ThoseThose
adaptive
adaptive
patterns
patterns
continued
continuedinto into
her adulthood
her adulthood
eveneven

8 8
UNHAPPILY
UNHAPPILY
EVEREVER
AFTER
AFTER

thoughthough
the stepmother
the stepmother was was no longer
no longer
suchsucha serious
a serious
threat.threat.
ThisThis
SnowSnowWhite White
is lessis obviously
less obviously damageddamagedand andso she so isshetreated
is treated
less less
sympathetically.
sympathetically. No one No knows
one knows aboutabout
the magic
the magic mirrormirror
or theorstep-
the step-
mother’s
mother’s hidden hidden
envy.envy.Don’tDon’tforget,forget, as long
as long as Snowas Snow White Whitestaysstays
“ugly”
“ugly” she does
she does not activate
not activate the stepmother’s
the stepmother’s – or anyone
– or anyone – envy
else’s else’s – envy
and rage.
and rage. No one,No one, including
including this adult
this adult SnowSnowWhite, White, recognizes
recognizes the the
awesome
awesome power power
of herofinternalized
her internalized systemsystem of survival
of survival that that
may mayhavehave
kept kept her alive
her alive but isbutnow is now
keeping keeping her from
her from change change and growth.
and growth.
My firstMy first
version,
version,
SnowSnow White:White:A TaleA Tale
of Reaction,
of Reaction, dealsdeals
withwith
whatwhathappenshappens
to Snowto Snow
White White
afterafter
she appears
she appears in the inmirror.
the mirror.
But But
whenwhen possible,
possible,
children
childrenadaptadaptso theyso they
can avoid
can avoidgetting getting
caught caught
in a in
mirror.
a mirror.
“Magic “Magic
mirrors”
mirrors”are dangerous
are dangerous and frightening,
and frightening, and and
onceonce
caught caught
in them,
in them,the child
the child
may mayhavehave
to depend
to dependon others.
on others.
But But
in a in
world
a world
of difficult
of difficultor uncaring
or uncaring adults,
adults,
that that
can be canasbedanger-
as danger-
ous asousa as
magica magic
mirror.
mirror.
The The childchild
can’tcan’t
afford afford
the risk
the risk
and so andthe so the
survival
survival
system system
of the of child
the childis indelibly
is indelibly
stampedstampedin the in avoidant
the avoidant
mechanisms
mechanisms of theof adult.
the adult.
It is this
It is understanding
this understanding of theofhidden
the hidden
needneedto adapt
to adapt
that that
under- under-
lies the
liesbasis
the basis
for Hide
for Hide
and Seek:
and Seek:
Reclaiming
Reclaiming
Childhood’s
Childhood’sLost Potential.
Lost Potential.
In theInnext
the next
storystory
of Beth,
of Beth,
and in andallinthe
allstories
the stories
that that
follow, follow,
you will
you will
find find
illustrations
illustrations
of how of how
the demands
the demands of anofarchaic
an archaic
survivalsurvival
system system
determined
determined whatwhat
the child
the child to betoorbedo,orrather
neededneeded do, rather
thanthan whatwhatthe the
child’s
child’s
potential
potential
would would
havehave allowedallowed
him himor herortoherbetoorbedo.or do.
The The process
process
of change
of change is notis easy.
not easy.
It begins
It beginswithwith an under-
an under-
standing
standingof why of why
you youhavehave beenbeenunableunable
to change
to change– of –why of why
you you
may may
havehaveneeded needed
not to notchange.
to change.
It requires
It requires
recognizing
recognizing whatwhatyou –you –
as a as
child
a child
– believed
– believedyou needed
you needed to doto–do or –notor do
not–do in –order
in order
to to
survive.
survive.
ThisThis recognition
recognition mustmust be followed
be followed by yourby your takingtaking
the the
necessary
necessarystepssteps
to alter
to alter
youryour behavior,
behavior,
as anasadult,
an adult, in ways
in waysthat that
free you
free from
you fromthe tyranny
the tyranny of anofarchaic
an archaic
survival
survival
system system
no longer
no longer
necessary
necessary
or appropriate.
or appropriate.
Join Join
me now me nowin a injourney
a journeyto discover
to discover
the hidden
the hidden reasons
reasons
why why
you you
havehavebeenbeen unableunable
to become
to become who who
it is ityouis you
wantwant to betoand be and
achieve
achieve
whatwhat it is it
youis want
you want to gain.
to gain.

9 9
About the Author
Ditta M. Oliker, Ph.D. started her career in theater at the University of
California, Los Angeles. UCLA had recently formed a partnership with
members of the film industry to establish a professional theater on
campus known as The Theater Group.
The organization evolved into the Mark Taper Forum at the Los
Angeles Music Center, with Oliker as a member of the core producing
staff. After a personal tragedy, she went back to school and graduated
with a Ph.D. in clinical psychology. Dr. Oliker has been in private
practice in Los Angeles for over 30 years.
She began to develop her ideas about psychological survival while
in graduate school and realized the effectiveness of the survival system
concept soon after beginning her practice. She has lectured on the
subject at various universities and mental health facilities, including
UCLA and Alliant University, among others.
Most recently, she taught an innovative program on Staying in the
Moment using improvisational theater techniques.
“Why do people get caught in persistent
negative patterns that sabotage their
- po
tential? The compelling stories of real
people show us how to discern old- un
wanted patterns and start anew. We can

about, in them. It is a transforming and


uplifting book, well worth your time.”
— ,
President and CEO of the Mental Health
Association of Rockland County, NY

of the drama embedded in the demands


of our childhood environments that -con
strict potential. The delight in reading
this book is that it presents these constric
-

The true promise tions as early adaptations, not pathologi


-
cal stigmas, thus freeing us to become the
director of our own lives.”
of this book is
Clinical Psychologist, Adjunct Professor,

of being able
Baylor College of Medicine

“In Hide and SeekDr. Oliker presents a

to change that novel way to understand human behavior.


She uses a simple Darwinian system to
clarify complex psychological phenom
-
which has been ena, bringing these events to life through
stories of real people and the metaphor of

unchangeable.
fairytales.” It is a valuable contribution to
the literature of psychology.”

President, Executive Board, UCLA


Psychiatric Clinical Faculty Association