NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Sunday, May 19, 2013

A Therapist's Thoughts About "John," a Book By Cynthia Lennon

Having recently read "John," a book about John Lennon by his first wife, Cynthia Lennon, I was quite moved.  I would recommend this book highly to people who are curious about John Lennon and would like to know more about the personal history of this creative genius based on Cynthia's account.

A Therapist's Thoughts About "John"

John Lennon the Man vs John Lennon the Icon
As most people know, John Lennon and the Beatles were idolized by millions.  They achieved unimaginable success as a group. 

When we idealize people to such a degree, we place them on high pedestals from which they can only fall when their personal lives are scrutinized with such detail from childhood to death.  

As a young girl growing up during Beatlemania, I was one of the millions who idolized the Fab Four and loved their music, and I still love their music.  

So, as an adult, I hesitated, at first, to read "John" because I wondered if I would be disillusioned by Cynthia's account of John the Man, a husband and a father, as opposed to the revered public persona of John Lennon the Icon.

But, as soon as I began reading Cynthia Lennon's book, I realized that she gives quite an empathic account of John's life and her marriage to John.  

Given the circumstances of their life together and the aftermath of their relationship, based on her account, I don't think many people could have blamed her if she did otherwise.  But, to her credit, she seems to present a balanced picture of a man with early trauma, who is thrust into the spotlight at such a young age, seemingly unprepared for what fame would bring.  

I already "knew" certain aspects of his life that had received a lot of publicity before and after his death--or, at least, as much as anyone can "know" things about such a famous person that you've never met.  

I knew that he lost his mother as a teenager.  I also knew that his father was not around much when he was a young boy and then, presumably, disappeared from his life later on until after John became famous.  I'd heard stories that his Aunt Mimi, who raised him, was not a nurturing figure in his life.  

I had also already read stories and heard accounts that when he left Cynthia to be with Yoko Ono, he had little contact with his first son, Julian Lennon.  For me, this was one of the hardest aspects of his life to reconcile with the public persona of John Lennon, who advocated for peace and love.  

Of course, everyone has conflicting aspects to his or her personality.  So, this isn't so much a criticism of John as it is an observation that he was human, after all and, like all of us, had human flaws.

Transgenerational Trauma
But, as a psychotherapist reading about how John left his first son, Julian, based on Cynthia's account, I couldn't help looking at the transgenerational trauma that occurred when his father left him and when he left Julian.  

For a son, losing a father as a young boy is a major loss and an emotional trauma.  I often see psychotherapy clients who have lost one or both parents at a young age who vow that they will never abandon their children because they love them and they don't want to see them hurt in the same way.  But, so often, many of these same parents end up abandoning their children due to whatever unresolved trauma and unconscious internal turmoil that is going on within them.  

This happens in so many ways, big and small.  Many young adults will say, "I never want to be like my father" or "I never want to be like my mother" and they mean this sincerely.  

But then, as older adults, they often find themselves doing the exact thing their mother or father did that hurt them and that they said they would never do.  Usually, this occurs because of their own unconscious internal conflicts.  And this is how transgenerational trauma is perpetuated, usually on an unconscious level, from one generation to the next.

John Lennon - Genius and Complex Person
Having never met John Lennon, I'm not going to presume to say what might or might not have gone on in his mind.  In Cynthia's book, "John," he is presented as a complex person with many conflicting, and seemingly unintegrated, parts to his personality.  

My impression is that Cynthia never thought John would leave her in the way that he did or abandon their child.  

As a psychotherapist, I have worked with many clients who are often stunned by similar behavior by a spouse or lover.  This can be one of the most devastating and traumatic experiences of a person's life--when you think you know your spouse or partner so well and then he does something so hurtful that you can hardly believe he's the same person you thought you knew.

It's not easy putting your life back together again after such a crushing blow, which makes Cynthia Lennon's resilience and resourcefulness all the more impressive.

I've included a link below for Part 1 of "John" which is narrated by Cynthia Lennon.  I hope you will enjoy it.

About Me
As a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist, I work with individual adults and couples.  

One of my specialities is working with trauma, and I have helped many clients to overcome trauma so they can lead more fulfilling lives.

To find out more about me, visit my website:  Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.

Also, see my blog article:  Psychotherapy and Transgenerational Trauma