A new series has recently aired on NBC called Awake. It features a detective who was in a tragic car accident with his wife and son. He lives in two worlds. In one world his wife lives, but his son has passed on. When he goes to sleep at night in that world he wakes up to find that his wife has died, but his son is alive. He has two therapists, one for each of his realitiess, and each tries to convince him that the world in which they live is the real one despite his bizarre coping mechanism. He does have crossover between the realities which often helps him solve the cases hinting that his self-conscious holds the clues that he is not aware of and manifests itself in his dreams or alternate reality. He also mentions that he has buried both his son and his wife each in an alternate reality, and would gladly do anything to keep them both alive with him-even in different worlds and at the high price of his sanity. He has no intention, at least up to this point in the series, of distinguishing truth from falsehood or dreams from reality because it means losing either his wife or his son. Only his wife and his therapists know about his strange world. Check out the full trailer below.
We have been talking in class about the nature of truth, and have decided that all truth is God's truth. Most would agree that truth is generally preferable to falsehood. However, what if knowing the truth caused more pain that being in blissful ignorance. This really calls into question both the right of the client to autonomy and the nature of healing. Can healing really be good if it leaves you in a more painful place than you are currently in, just with a better grasp on reality? What if the healing really left the client in a worse place than his ailment. But what if the ignorance was actually a tool that helped on the job and kept those closest to you alive, as least as far as you are aware.
If the therapists helped him come to find which world was the real one would they be helping him heal, or would they be harming him? The consequences of staying the way he is include seeing both his wife
and his son grieve for the loss of each other and work toward moving on when
he has no intention of letting either go. Even though he would be still see both of them, they would each be moving further from him because as they see it, he is stuck in the past and not moving forward. Lets say then that his wife wants to move on, clean out their son's room, and get on with her life. He is still in the world where he sees his son every day and has no intention of moving on or letting him go. From her perspective, he is stuck in the past and not willing to even try to move on causing her great pain. What if she leaves him because he is so stuck, and then he realizes that is the real world. He has now lost both his son and his wife has left him. It seems that if he was able to determine which world was real and which one was a dream then he would be in more psychological distress, at least at first. Let's assume then that after determining which world was the real one, with the help of the therapist, he went through the grieving process and came to terms with his loss. At this point he continues on with his life with either his wife or with his son and has grieved the loss of the other. Would he really be better off than when he started where they were both alive just not together? Does the therapist's opinion even matter if the client is unwilling to change? Is there such a thing as healthy psychosis? These are just a few of the questions brought up by this series. Counselors have the opportunity to question the nature of healing and their views of client autonomy by critically analyzing the questions raised by Awake.