By Therapist Nicki
In this episode, Sam and Dean follow the coordinates left in their father’s journal and land in the middle of the woods where they investigate the disappearance of several campers. The two brothers soon learn they are dealing with a Wendigo, a creature made famous in Native American legends. A Wendigo is a former human whose cannibalism has transformed him into a creature with superhuman strength and speed that feasts on human flesh. If you watch closely you will see several mental health elements at play especially grief processing.
To start off with there is Sam’s nightmare where is he visiting Jessica’s grave and a hand comes out of the ground to grab him. Nightmares are common in traumatic experiences and so is guilt. Sam is displacing his guilt for Jessica’s death. This can be seen in survivor’s guilt where they take the blame onto themselves instead of placing it where it belongs. Sam has chosen to blame himself for Jessica’s death and his reasoning is he brought her unknowingly into the hunting life. The guilt and anger of her death fuels Sam’s actions in this episode. Dean is also noticing something is going on with his little brother and he wants to rescue him from those feelings. He offers to let Sam drive Baby, which he has never done before. This offer distracted Sam for a moment, and like most distractions they only last for a short while.
Next there is John’s journal which serves as a surrogate parent still guiding the brothers on their quest. The journal is also one of their “helpers” on their hero’s journey. While being an aide it is also a comfort transitional object for Sam and Dean. Individual’s going through grief and/or change in their life use a transitional object to go through one chapter of their lives to another. This is a common coping skill when working through trauma or even we someone is scared, nervous, or sad. Transitional objects are also referred to as comfort objects or security blankets. We will see more of the journal and other helpers as the show progresses.
The basis of the plot is a wendigo has taken Tommy Collins and his family, sister Haley and brother Ben, want to find him. Haley has no clue what has happened to Tommy and she wants to find him so badly she hires Roy, a rigid tracker, to help her find him. She is choosing to do what is in her control to save her brother because if she didn’t she would probably be catastrophizing. This is common when individuals feel powerless or hopeless they fantasize about the worst things that could possibly happen. At times when individuals keep fighting, keep doing the next right things, they are possibly getting closer to the truth. Doing what is in their power to not allowing the monsters to win.
One of the biggest themes to point out in this episode is the hope the brothers try to given Haley and Ben. Dean states to Haley , “he (Tommy) could still be alive.” Hope is a powerful force it allows us to keep fighting. Dr. Janinia Scarlett states in her podcast, “hope is an essential monster hunting skill.” I completely agree with this statement. There is a saying “it is always darkest before the dawn,” meaning things look really bad or dark before they get better.
Draw, describe, and/or write about a transitional object you have had in your life? Identify the comfort it gave you during down times.
Check out Dr. Janina Scarlet’s Book, “Supernatural Therapy: Hunting your internal monsters “