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Jane Shure


Lessons Learned from Michael Jackson

Posted: 06/26/09 05:10 PM ET

Less than 24 hours since the news broke announcing the death of 50 year old Michael Jackson, and many of my clients are expressing all kinds of emotions connected to him. Michael embodied trauma and his actions reflected an inner structure based on compartmentalization and dissociation. The abuse he experienced as a youngster, left him crippled, unable to speak his truth directly and instead live a life committed to constantly changing his appearance. His external image spoke volumes of a person who needed to mask his true self and construct a fake one.

Why does a person grow up compelled to disguise themselves with plastic textures of a false persona? The shame and abuse incurred in his early life were met with a deep drive to not be who he truly was. Instead he needed to reinvent a new self over and over again. A fake self, one that he hoped would bring about love and admiration.

No matter how loved he was by his fans or how successful he was financially, the wounds of his past never disappeared. Of course not, they don't disappear. When we run from them and cover them up with furs or jewels, standing ovations or Grammy awards, they just get more deeply buried; that much more hidden, never seeing the light of day to actually heal.

Last night one client talked about finding connection in Michael Jackson's music, identifying with his lyrics that brilliantly express living within a terrified soul, imprinted with the mark of others evilness. Today, another, the child of a Holocaust survivor, talked of how she couldn't stop thinking about the parallels of Jackson's trauma to her own father's trauma. How like him, her father never could acknowledge or accept the realities of the horrors in his own life and deal with his sense of being horrible (in his case, for having survived when others died).

Over the weekend when I hear Jackson's familiar music played, I will not only think about where I was when I first heard a particular song or who I danced with when moving to his rhythms, but I will also be thinking about a young boy who never felt safe enough to be real, who never felt secure enough to not run, and who never felt courageous enough to speak his truth. I will think about the number of lives harmed because of his need to reenact his own childhood exploitations. And I will think about how we can learn from his example -- of what not to do -- of how to have more courage to be real and expose the atrocities done to us in order to free ourselves from ongoing oppression.

Below I have included some of the lyrics from two of my favorite Michael Jackson songs -- "Thriller" and "Beat It." I see lots of pain and trauma deep within his lines. See what you think...


It's close to midnight and something evil's lurking in the dark
Under the moonlight, you see a sight that almost stops your heart
You try to scream but terror takes the sound before you make it
You start to freeze as horror looks you right between the eyes
You're paralyzed

'Cause this is thriller, thriller night
And no one's gonna save you from the beast about strike
You know it's thriller, thriller night
You're fighting for your life inside a killer, thriller tonight

You hear the door slam and realize there's nowhere left to run
You feel the cold hand and wonder if you'll ever see the sun
You close your eyes and hope that this is just imagination, girl!
But all the while you hear the creature creeping up behind
You're out of time

'Cause this is thriller, thriller night
There ain't no second chance against the thing with forty eyes, girl
Thriller, thriller night
You're fighting for your life inside a killer, thriller tonight

Night creatures calling, the dead start to walk in their masquerade
There's no escaping the jaws of the alien this time
(They're open wide)
This is the end of your life

They're out to get you, there's demons closing in on every side
They will possess you unless you change that number on your dial
Now is the time for you and I to cuddle close together, yeah
All through the night I'll save you from the terror on the screen
I'll make you see

That this is thriller, thriller night
'Cause I can thrill you more than any ghost would ever dare try
Thriller, thriller night
So let me hold you tight and share a
Killer, diller, chiller, thriller here tonight

'Cause this is thriller, thriller night
Girl, I can thrill you more than any ghost would ever dare try
Thriller, thriller night
So let me hold you tight and share a killer, thriller, ow!

(I'm gonna thrill ya tonight)
Darkness falls across the land
The midnight hour is close at hand
Creatures crawl in search of blood
To terrorize y'alls neighborhood

I'm gonna thrill ya tonight, ooh baby
I'm gonna thrill ya tonight, oh darlin'
Thriller night, baby, ooh!

The foulest stench is in the air
The funk of forty thousand years
And grizzly ghouls from every tomb
Are closing in to seal your doom

And though you fight to stay alive
Your body starts to shiver
For no mere mortal can resist
The evil of the thriller

Beat It:

They're Out To Get You, Better Leave While You Can
Don't Wanna Be A Boy, You Wanna Be A Man
You Wanna Stay Alive, Better Do What You Can
So Beat It, Just Beat It

You Have To Show Them That You're Really Not Scared
You're Playin' With Your Life, This Ain't No Truth Or Dare
They'll Kick You, Then They Beat You,
Then They'll Tell You It's Fair
So Beat It, But You Wanna Be Bad


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