My entire life I’ve had what I can only describe as a type of dissociative amnesia. I have periods of my childhood in particular that I cannot recall at all. It always bothered me and made me feel like something was desperately wrong with me. I understood logically that trauma can result in dissociation as a coping strategy enabling us to tolerate an experience during which we feel unsafe or out of control. However, it was difficult to explain to others why I don’t have any memory of their wedding, 16th birthday party or the time we performed at a special event at Disneyland when we met XYZ celebrity.
It is through the prism of this lens of my own dissociative narrative that I viewed Season 2 Episode 7 of the Hulu original “Only Murders in the Building” entitled “Flipping the Pieces.” This episode follows the traumatic childhood of character Mabel Mora, played by Selena Gomez, and her own history of repeated dissociation whenever she feels like something is too much or too difficult for her to handle. Her trauma began as a child when at the age of 7 her father passed away due to stomach cancer. Her parents chose not to tell her what was happening because they thought that would protect her.
It had the exact opposite effect by causing her to flip the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle in her mind so she couldn’t see the memory anymore. She notes that throughout her adult life she has continued this process of pushing traumatic things away and that it may have worked as a child, but it certainly hasn’t served her well as an adult.
As a jigsaw puzzle aficionado myself, I thought this description of dissociation as an upside-down jigsaw puzzle was absolutely brilliant. The image depicted by a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle takes
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