Friday, May 20, 2011

The Torture Chamber for Babies

This was the title of my first work of fiction. I kid you not. I drew a comic entitled "The Torture Chamber for Babies" somewhere between the ages of 3 and 6. The storyline is simple, but telling: a baby who's crying and annoying her parents gets sent to an institution entitled The Torture Chamber for Babies, where she is subjected to severe spankings, constant shots, and the like, all in the hope that this will "reform" her and make her "behave". All it does, of course, is make the baby cry even harder, and annoy the parents even more upon her return. That's the moral of the story.

Now it looks like a representation of memories and possibly a cry for help. My mother took this comic to her office and showed it to her psychologist friends once when I went along with her to work. I knew even back then that there was something particularly unsavory about a child drawing something like this and with both shame and anticipation waited to see what their reactions would be. I don't remember that there were any.

Was she really just showing them this because I'd drawn "so well"? Really? I didn't believe it then. I believed she was disturbed by the contents and wanted opinions on why I'd draw such things. I wanted opinions on that too, because, as I said, I didn't really remember any form of physical abuse, I just had very vague and general apprehensions.

I remember being angry while I was drawing this, but my anger was directed at "those other bad parents who spank their kids". Not my own perfect parents.

I remember thinking the comic proved nothing, but kind of hoping someone, some colleague of my mother's, would ask me something, or act concerned. No one did.

There were many other comics with very similar subject matter that followed in the years to come.

If my child were now to become obsessed with depicting scenes of horrid abuse, instead of the houses and little girls and flowers and butterflies that she's drawing every day, you bet I'd get concerned! And try my best to get to the bottom of that!

I feel I'm slowly getting into dangerous, disturbing, horrifying territory here. A mixture of nausea, anger, and terror is welling up in my stomach. This is a good thing. In the words of James Joyce, "I'm almosting it."


  1. Yikes! If my daughter were to draw something like that, I would be horrified, too. And very worried about what was going on that I didn't know about!

  2. Thank you! I THOUGHT it was strange. I had a dream last night in which I asked my mother "Did you love me? Why didn't you protect me?" And she cried.

    Imagine the power of persuasion and manipulation and "respectability" that my father wielded when NONE of these psychologists said ANYTHING! Not just my mother, who was under his thumb.

    But it's still difficult to wrap my mind around it.

  3. She said she took the comics so others could admire your drawing skills? Wow. Fascinating stuff, probably also really creepy right now. Keep uncovering those memories! I am sure it will do you good in the long run!

  4. Yes, I remember her saying that but sounding fake and nervous even to a small child.

  5. "Did you love me? Why didn't you protect me?" And she cried.

    Your mother was a weak, cowardly woman. Even if this dream didn't happen in reality, it is a representation of what happened and it shows that she didn't protect you and you didn't feel loved.
    And instead of doing what she needed to do, being your mother, and being the strong one...she cried.

    So very, very telling.

  6. haha the torture chamber for babies huh? omg. intense. and at such a young age! you knew what was going on.
    i feel sometimes the things with 'disturbing' drawings is that bad parents are 'horrified' and recoil and act like there's something wrong with you for drawing sad or dark pictures. they just chalk it up to 'you being defective and bad and wrong.' that kind of attitude disgusts me. i remember my mom giving me this bullshit speech about how most of the faces i drew were all sad. man what a stupid asshole.
    i think that could be a part of my old shame about negative and dark feelings/things. prob part of the stigma around 'mental health'. i dunno, it's a blurry line.
    i remember when i was kid i was really into drawing violent pictures for a while. like dragons fighting, dogs fighting, a pack of wolves attacking a panther....i enjoyed it. a small vague part of me was wondering 'why' and felt self conscious..but my mom never said anything about it. she just liked that i had talent and that it looked good. *gag*
    my mom was just stupid and absent. butting in every once in a while to give her shitty out-there disapproval based on some kind of warped arbitrary bullshit. looks good, looks bad. don't bother me. whatever, she's so random.

  7. Lisa, I was into violent pictures too, wars, fighting, lots of blood everywhere, a little later. My father was proud of my talent.

    Very negative and dark interests and clothes and drawings and poems and songs in my teens, felt that was just the way I was; my teachers thought I must be a member of a sect.

    I'm only now realizing these things are not random, merely arbitrary interests. If someone's into angst and despair and darkness and violence,there's usually something behind it, and it includes wonderful authors like Kafka or Orwell.

  8. Jonsi, yes, I'm accepting that now, slowly. No, nothing similar happened or could have ever happened in reality. It never even occurred to me to question my parents' amazing love for me while my mother was still alive to be questioned like that.


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