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The Games we Play and the

Masks we Hide behind

It's About

It's about being a child and being a parent..

About being a lover.  To love and to be loved.  The joy and sorrow of life.

The devastation of denying yourself to mourn loss.  How apparently insignificant incidents can change the course of your life.  How the things your parents say and do influence your life and how it can escalate way out of proportion.


How one learns as a child to please, to play games and use masks.


The realization that what you love most doesn't belong to you, nothing belongs to you.  You are merely passing through.  The anguish every time love is lost, but to come to the understanding that it is essential in the quest to find one's soulmate.  So many highs and low to reach equilibrium to learn that men and woman are equal.  Balance brings happiness and fulfilment.


How embracing pain can relieve hurt.  How you need to be pruned to grow.  Illness and injury will shape your life.  How you choose to be in a prison as a child.  If you are unexpectedly freed, a new prison gets chosen.


How social status can deceive.  How role models and father figures which you adore, put on a pedestal, look up to for guidance turn out to have feet of clay and betray you.  How one can lift your child high, but have no foundation.


Your guardian angel who's sole self appointed purpose was to protect you, still failed to do so.  How history will repeat itself to complete the circle


How I can recall the moment she came into my life, as if I gave birth to her ... I must have loved her before.


How new life emerges from a funeral.  Why must one be buried to come alive?


The thin line between having sunlight on your face or life in shadow.  Understand the difference between too close and to far.  How physical contact deprivation can be fatal.  How failure to live up to society's expectation can cause such guilt that you need to punish yourself or even create the need for self destruction.


How rituals, religion and tradition can be a false crutch, not able to keep you standing when you need to lean on it.  The inner strife to decide to denounce indoctorate beliefs.  The conflict between Calvinistic virgin and the courtesan.


The maze to make sense of.  The masks to discard.  To forgive to be able to heal. With intimacy, vulnerability and honesty you will bare your soul, but you will be free, alive.


Daleen Matthee wrote that love is a long ladder, with many steps.... so easy to miss and fall.


She wrote to me personally that when a special child is born, with exceptional talents, she needs to learn a lot of lessons.  As she climbs the cliffs of life, the angels will push her back, just as she reaches the top, over and over again, every time to become better equipped and to learn more lessons.


Will she get up and climb all over again?


I dedicate this work to my husband


who believed in me, encouraged and supported me

along the road of healing


To my friend


who was raped as a young girl, and only

as a 40 year old could manage to tell.

In 2005, at the age of 45 she passed away

after suffering from breast cancer


To my sister


who suffered in silence just like me


My younger sister MAUREEN, my MOM and DAD

for their unconditional love


Also to my five gifted children



To those who contributed, inspired

and touched my life



My hypnotherapist, who made all this possible


The word 'photography' is derived from two Greek works, photos (light) and graphein (to draw).  The practice photography therefore literally means to draw with light.


In more technical language, photography refers to capturing, with the diffraction of light, the image of an object on a film or on a digital sensor with its millions of pixels.


The forerunner of the modern camera was die camera abscura.  It consisted of a completely enclosed, dark room with a hole in one wall through which images of objects outside the room were projected into the opposite wall.  These principles were probably already known in the time of Aristotle (350BC).  Initially, it was used for entertainment.


In the 16th century, the Italian scientist Gaimbattista della Porta added a lens to the hole of the camera obscura in order to greatly improve the sharpness of the images.  That was also used by artists to mechanically make sketches of objects.


With the developments of cameras with lenses, and films from which the images of objects could be chemically fixed on paper, photography has advanced over the past 180 years to a medium with which optic images of reality can be reproduced on light-sensitive film or memory cards.


Photography has become a method of visual communication and visual interpretation of reality.  Initially, the emphasis was on making the photograph an exact copy of the reality.  Over time, the aesthetic interpretation of the photographer, who added abstract meaning to the photograph, came to fore.


A further, deeper dimension in photography followed this aesthetic interpretation.  In this, parts of the hidden layer of the human psyche are symbolically projected in the photograph of the reality taken by the photographer.


The professional photographer, Veronica Coetzer, is deeply imbedded in this dimension with her work.


To fully appreciate her art, it is important to understand that the subconscious is not only the deepest part of the human brain and the seat of creativity, but it is also the place where traumas and emotional pain lie forgotten.  In works of art, such as her photographs, these aspects or the psyche can be symbolically projected.


For over a quarter of a century, Veronica's very painful personal traumas  from her early childhood hung like a dark shadow over her life.  During in-depth therapy, she discovered these traumas and creatively worked through them.  During this process she experienced a dynamic psychic growth.  This is reflected in the practice of her photography as an art form.  She has become an innovative, talented artist.  In her photographs she has managed to capture her pain, growth and creative Self, through the medium of light, in a breathtaking way.  Disappointments, shocks, confusion and the violation of her inner Self have made way for a woman with psychic depth.  By practicing her unique art, she enriches the lives of others.


A damaged, vulnerable flower has now blossomed into a true beauty and full maturity.


Dr Jaco Naude


21 January 2007

The hidden depth of the human psyche


The human psyche consists of three layers, namely the conscious, the preconscious and the subconscious (or the unconscious).


  • The conscious is the logical, rational part that we use to work, to communicate and to logically order our lives.

  • The preconscious is the memory where information is stored at will and recalled again to be used in everyday situations.

  • The subconscious is the big archive or hard drive of the brain where everything that has happened to us since before birth to the present is stored.


The subconscious also contains mental states that, together with the total memory of our existence, quietly influence our life.  It is not only the source of high creativity, but is also the seat of psychological problems and psychosomatic illnesses.


According to the theory of psycho-analysis, the subconscious rules up to 90% of our lives.  The subconscious is thus the deepest layer of the human psyche and covertly influences our thoughts.


During traumas that impact on us overtly and significantly.... as well as through more subtle that cause emotional suffering - the pain we feel and our perceptions about what is happening to us, are repressed from conscious to subconscious.  The emotions and the perceptions become forgotten matter and have no immediate influence over the person.


Later, a second trauma takes place that activates the repressed psychological matter,  That, in turn causes symptoms to be displayed on the conscious level..


Subsequently a series of incidents occur that strengthens in the subconscious the emotions and perceptions relating to the earlier trauma.  This results in the symptoms on the conscious level becoming more pronounced and increasingly impacting on the person's life.


The repressed emotions and perceptions create unique symptoms in different people.  The source of more than a hundred psychic illnesses can be explained through the above-mentioned three-dimensional model of the human mind.  Those include depression, anxiety disorders, psychosomatic ails, sleep disturbances, sexual dysfunction, eating disorders and a myriad of personality problems.


At the root of many such disorders is the forgotten memory of childhood sexual abuse.  To understand the magnitude of such trauma, it is necessary to look at the psyche of the perpetrator.


A paedophile can be classified as a person who develops a sexual relationship with a younger person.  The age of the victim in the relationship must, according to recognized diagnostic, be below 13 years.  The victim should also be five years younger that the perpetrator.


The accepted dynamic of a paedophile is that the person has a deep-rooted insecurity about his own sexuality.  The paedophile's subconscious contains elements that cause him to feel unsure as to whether he can sustain an adult sexual relationship.  The male paedophile feels unsure of himself on a sexual level towards an adult woman.  Similarly, the female paedophile feels sexually insecure in the presence of an adult male.


To overcome the insecurity, their sexual needs are fulfilled with a younger person.  In such a relationship, the paedophile feels in control:  he dictates and manipulates the association and satisfies his needs.  The abuse is carried out without taking into consideration the victim's needs and status and regardless of the consequences for the victim.


The abuse amounts to the selfish satisfaction of the satisfaction of the sexual needs of the paedophile.  The wrongful acts are committed without a sense of guilt and negate the rights and the subsequent destructive influence of the abuse on the life of the victim.


In most cases, paedophiles are known to the victim as well as to close family members.  The perpetrator prevents the victim from exposing the abuse by engendering fear and feelings of guilt.  Should family members become aware of the crime, they keep que3t for the fear of the scandal that would erupt amongst family and friends in the event of disclosure of the abuse.  Consequently, the abuse, and in many cases, the destruction for the victim's life, continue unabated.


In this art, the above mentioned dynamic is portrayed through sensitive photography.  The theme of mask (Photo1 : The mask of the Pretender) alludes to the disguise used by the perpetrator.  With the mask the abuser conceals his crime from the community.


The victim too wears a mask to shield her against the rejection of the community.  Meanwhile behind the mask, her suffering and the violation of her life rage forth.


The religious theme recurs throughout the work,  She is totally disillusioned with biblical tales and upbringing during which she was taught that God would protect.  Those experience are portrayed strongly in photographs.  2.4 and 12 (The Death of Innocence.  The Next Fifty Years and Disillusionment)  The absence of God in her hour of need results in mistrust in God and in figures of authority.  God was not true to his word as her parents and the church had proclaimed he would be.  That disillusionment is particularly powerful expressed in photograph 12 : Forgive Me Father, for You have Sinned.


The theme of rejection in her world where she was subjected to psychic torture is intensified by the powerlessness of her parents who, oblivious of the abuse, offer no salvation (Photo 10 : The Bound Guardian Angel).  The parent has no hands of feet with which to come to the rescue.


Like ripples in a mud pool, the consequences of the abuse reverberate through her life (Photo 21 : Ripples).  A "Kiewit" (Lapwing) will protect her chicks against an elephant but she stands unprotected in her life (Photo 5 : Circles)  She assumes the role of a clown to conceal her depression and heartache but ultimately she is just a puppet whose strings are being manipulated by the sexual abuser (Photo 11 : Puppet).


Eventually she finds balance.  Her husband appears in her life.  With his encouragement, she works through the long-hidden sources of her pain.  Initially she refuses to marry her future husband.  He experiences her rejection as though she died.  He feels as though she had clasped him by die heart and flung him into the abyss.  In those circumstances, she nevertheless finds her equilibrium.  She discovers in him a source of strength, security and love (Photo 7 : Castles and Foundations).  That equilibrium is not static nor set in stone but a living balance that, like an eco-system, creates and maintains life with its eternal motion of growth (Photo 24 : Equilibrium).


Translated from the original Afrikaans text into English by Chris Barlow.  Professional Journalist.

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