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Baby Reindeer: What does psychotherapy have to say?

Everyone is talking about the most watched show on Netflix: Baby Reindeer. What would I think if either of those were my clients, what would I be seeing?

Firstly, there is a clear theme of loneliness, lack of love and connection. Martha's eyes struck as she was offered a drink, which perhaps touched some part of her that has been waiting to be seen. This part of her perhaps has been waiting for a very long time, and knowing a bit about Martha's history, at some point she was given the message that she was unloveable and not worthy of being seen. Childhood emotional neglect and trauma screams loudly here.

Martha lying about being a lawyer, should not come as a surprise. This is the part of her that has learned that lying can not only draw attention but also keep the attention. Imagine lying also as a very sad belief that "I would rather be anything else but myself, because as I am, I am not enough". The feelings of not being good enough is very obvious. A deep hole of depression stemming from loneliness and neglect is very likely. Low self-esteem resulting from emotional neglect and love are apparent for Martha, but also for Donny.

Donny, is also very lonely. This random encounter became a perfect orchestration of giving each other exactly what they needed. Donny's past traumas allowed him to not only stick around to feed off from this attention but also blur his boundaries for what was acceptable and not. His sexual trauma explains this; often those who have suffered from sexual abuse may struggle with knowing what is okay and what is not. As a result, we see a perfect orchestration of a toxic relationship; after all, it takes two to create a pattern.

All these coping mechanisms both Donny and Martha employ are protecting both from their pains, in attempt to seek relief and something they've been looking for, for a very long time: love, attention and acceptance.

A stalker and victim dynamic should never be taken at face value. There is always more to it than seeing a person as 'bad, mad, and 'sad'. This is where healing is needed, and how psychotherapy can be helpful to make us recognise and accept our pain, and start healing all the coping mechanisms we have learnt.

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