by Dr. Patti Feuereisen
[Contains spoilers, episode 1 – 11]
A psychological view through the lens of Dr. Carl Jung:
Dr. Carl Jung (1875-1961) is the founder of analytical psychology. Jung believed that we have individual internal shadows and a collective unconscious where we hold imagery, archetypes, and a whole treasure chest of emotions.
Dr. Carl Jung’s Shadow Theory:
Jung believed that we all have a dark side that we hide from ourselves, we repress what we don’t want to see, things we are ashamed of, things we don’t like about ourselves, losing our moral compasses. Jung also believed that without facing some of our dark shadows we never fully integrate and self actualize personally and interpersonally, and that the shadow carries manifestations of evil individually and collectively.
Dr. Carl Jung’s Collective Unconscious Theory:
Jung believed that the shadow is only one element in the collective unconscious and, although the unconscious can be singular, that collectively we share an unconscious, that we can emotionally travel as a community, culture, country in a collective way. The collective unconscious carries subterranean instincts, beliefs, sexuality, knowledge, imagery, spirituality and more.
Shadows Tell The Story
“One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious”Carl Jung circa 1938
This is a story of shadows, the shadows we think of, something left behind that follows us which is the shadow of the deceased Cennet carrying agency as it seeps into the consciousness of the characters in the story. And the shadow of the abuser Yilmaz, through Jung’s interpretation something evil that is deep inside of us. How do these two shadows live in the lives of the family and the community? How does Cennet’s shadow reveal the evil Jungian interpretation of the shadow living in Yilmaz?
There is a collective unconscious in the community that looks the other way, that never gets involved, that avoids eye contact; the extended family, shop owners, the doctors, police, friends, the neighbors, the town women. They all see that Yilmaz is beating his wife and children, they see her bruises constantly, they hear his screaming, they see his children cower around him, they see him stumble home night after night drunk from hanging around in the bars, and they do and say nothing.
The dizi Yürek Çıkmazı, adapted from the novel by Atike Hınçlıer based on a true story published in 2018, is a brilliantly executed paradigm of the continuum of domestic violence and how it effects family, community, and culture. At the forefront is one woman’s quest to right the brutal injustices of her life after her death.
This adaptation is compelling, provocative and puts you on the edge of your seat with each episode. Aired on TRT1, written by Ayla Hacıoğulları and Vilmar Özçınar and directed by Serdar Gözelekli, eerie and dreamy music score by Serkan & Ece Ölçer, featuring Alp Navruz and İrem Helvacıoğlu with an entire extraordinary ensemble cast. Mesut Akusta as Yilmaz is terrifying as he embodies the most vile of abusers and Ayça Bingöl as Cennet is beyond heart-wrenching as his victim. Yürek Çıkmazı translated to The Dead Heart and/or Heartbreak is also the name of the street the family in the series lives on. This street houses the home where all the abuse takes place, where neighbors look on and do nothing.
The Terror Shadow of Yilmaz – The Family
“We are constantly living on the edge of a volcano, and there is, so far as we know, no way of protecting ourselves from a possible outburst that will destroy everybody within reach.”Carl Jung circa 1938
The story begins with a fleeting glance of Cennet (meaning Heaven) as a young girl. Although her childhood dream is to be a teacher, her father tells her that girls do not go to school, and as a child she is relegated to work in the fields even though she has higher aspirations. At age 16, her father sees her uniqueness, and he brings her to live with her aunt in Istanbul, away from the small village where she was born. She finds solitude in her innate talent as she begins to weave rugs and realizes that each thread tells a story. She didn’t realize she was weaving her fate thread by thread when she is quickly matched as a teenage girl to Yilmaz for marriage. She narrates that she was ‘hopeful on her wedding night, yet she quickly learns that the man she falls in love with is actually her angel of death.’
The story quickly takes us to present day where Cennet’s oldest daughter Birsen is sitting in the home with her mother, who is now dead and her body is on the floor shrouded in a white blanket with a knife on top. The other family members are introduced through this wake and the washing of Cennet’s bruised body. We meet Feride the youngest sister and see her indelible bond with her father Yilmaz as she sits on the floor with him in his bedroom, putting her arms around him comforting him. She barely wants to be in the room with her sister and her mother’s body, she only wants to comfort her father.
We meet Seray, Birsen’s spunky teenage daughter, who reaches out to her Uncle Halil, telling him of his mother’s death. We meet him through a glimpse of his life that day when he fiercely protects his neighbor’s child who is being threatened by his father. We immediately see Halil as a tortured soul. We learn more about the family dynamics when Yilmaz does not allow Halil to attend his mother’s funeral. We begin to see the collective unconscious of the community as they stand by Yilmaz who is gesticulating in obscene ways, calling his son a dog and not allowing him to participate in carrying his mother’s casket.
Birsen – The Eldest Daughter
As we move through the story it is clear that everyone is terrified of Yilmaz. Birsen acquiesces to anything Yilmaz requests. Birsen who is a widow, lives an unfulfilled life committed to taking care of her bedridden mother in law, while her teen son Yusuf is forced to work with his grandfather’s shop, the ironic business making and selling sweets. Birsen cooks for her father, cleans his home, takes any orders he throws at her. Birsen has taken on the legacy of her mother’s life as she unsuccessfully tries to protect her children against Yilmaz. She sees her son terrified and angry about working with his grandfather, yet she feels helpless to stop this. The only one on a mission to escape is her teen daughter Seray, who speaks out about how her grandfather ruins everyone’s life. She tries to stand up to him only for Yilmaz to smash her cell phone in a very scary scene where he pushes her to the ground, forces her to put her cell phone on the ground as he holds a large rock up to her head before he lowers it and smashes her cell phone. This is an example of his overt behavior that no one confronts him on.
Feride – The Youngest Daughter
Feride has the most twisted, entangled relationship with her father. Feride carries the emotional burden of her father. We learn early on that she is the only family member Yilmaz has not abused, she is his chosen one. Feride behaves in a cult like manner doing anything her father asks of her, gives him money, constantly acquiescing and accommodating his every request. Through a Jungian interpretation Feride has integrated her father’s shadow deep inside her psyche, which informs her every thought. Feride has married a wealthy attorney and the schism in their marriage is her relationship with Yilmaz. Her husband asks her, “Can we start a family without the shadow of your father?”.
Halil – The Middle Child And The Only Son
Halil is the heart of the story, brilliantly played by Alp Navruz. He is the one character that does not join the collective unconscious of the family and community. Yet he carries the burden of anger from his father as he is explosive and heartbroken at the same time. He never looks away, he is constantly trying to bring his father’s evil into the light. As a young boy he even brought the police to his home after one beating of his mother, as an adult he almost stabs his father with a knife to protect his mother. Halil is banned from the family and the street, Halil never once backs down from his disdain of who is father is. Halil is a heartbreaking character as he struggles with his inner demons for not saving his mother.
We don’t have Yilmaz’s back story; we only see him as a narcissistic sociopathic abuser who, as all abusers, blames his prey. He holds his body stiffly in his three piece suits he wears as his armor holding in his internal angst until he is about to boil over and then you can see the veins in his neck bulging as he screams his demands. He is relentless in his entitlement throughout the community to say and do what ever he pleases to whom ever he pleases. He professes his “love” for Cennet as he breaks her arm.
Cennet’s Powerful Shadow Into Her Ascent
“Take Pains to waken the dead. Dig deep mines and throw in sacrificial gifts, so that they reach the dead. Reflect in good heart upon evil, this is the way to the ascent. Before the ascent, everything is night and Hell”Carl Jung The Red Book circa 1914-1930
One day toward the end of her life, looking through the hospital window across the alleyway Cennet sees another woman looking through her window at the same time with a sign in that window which says attorney. She calls the number. This is when Zeynep the young attorney and Cennet meet. As Zenep enters Cennet’s hospital room she experiences a woman very frail and weak, who struggles to speak, yet this same woman manages to request assigning power of attorney to Zeynep and gives her her gold earrings as payment as she hands her a letter to be read after her death. When Cennet dies soon after and Zeynep opens the letter, it says, “My husband Yilmaz killed me.”
Often survivors of abuse describe their memories as disjointed flashbacks of moments in time. This dizi is woven together through flashbacks, threads of a loose tapestry and, within each memory, threads are pulled tighter to give a fuller image. As Cennet once pulled the threads as she wove her rugs, these threads are pulled together now through the powerful narrative expressed through the memories of her children, the shadow of their mother’s life.
We begin to see flashbacks of the brutal abuse that continues throughout the family’s life. Scenes of Yimaz throwing Cennet across the room, breaking her arm, smashing her against walls, beating her until she temporarily looses her eyesight; we see the children helplessly watching on, as Birsen huddles in a corner holding her siblings covering their ears, trying to shield them from their fathers screams and blows to his wife’s body. We see Yilmaz beat and belittle all his children except for Feride. We learn that when Cennet was about to give birth, there was no time to get to a hospital and Yilmaz literally had to deliver the baby himself at home, and named her Feride, Turkish for the only one. We watch him bring treats for Ferdie while looking on at Birsen and Halil with disdain. We continue to see flashbacks of Halil as a little boy going to the police, locking doors against his father, always knowing he will be beaten after. We watch Cennet’s desperate love for her children, her helpless escape from her abuser.
In a compelling memory, we see the depth of Halil’s heart as a little boy. Yilmaz brings beautiful red patent leather shoes for Ferdie to only wear one day indoors at home so he can return them but Feride desparately wants to show off her shoes at school. Halil, age nine, carries his six year old sister on his back to school so her feet don’t touch the ground. At home, he is brutally beaten when Feride tells their father the shoes are dirty because it is Halil’s fault.
Although beaten down at every turn Halil’s heart is soft and open.
As the lawyer Zeynep tries to convict Yilmaz with little to no evidence, the only family member to help her is Halil. She struggles with the fact that she did not open the letter and perhaps could have prevented this death. There are hints that Zeynep has her own back story that makes her passionate and determined to convict this abuser – murderer, besides the fact that she has been moved deep in her soul by Cennet and is resolved to unlock the secrets to bring her justice. The collective unconscious of the family, including Yilmaz’s sister and brother in law, will not speak to her; they collectively agree to keep quiet. But slowly their avoidance begins to break, shadows are starting to be revealed, facts come out without their telling. Halil leads the confrontation and finds ways to stir his father into rages, knowing he will weaken. Halil and Zeynep become the sole team on a mission to bring justice and, as in all good dizi’s, there is a very interesting love story here.
Cennet’s life shadow terrifies Yilmaz. He knows he killed her and he is tormented that she finds her power over him in her death, as he lays down in the dirt next to her grave. Even here he tries to threaten her and say she will never get rid of him; yet he knows that it is he who will never get rid of her shadow. He becomes more and more nervous with every new thread that comes out. We watch him tremble with fear, become unleashed with fury that she dared to openly blame him for her death.
His mother’s powerful shadow liberates Halil who up to now has stayed away from the street, now rents the home directly across the street from Yilmaz. We see Halil looking through his window watching his father, Yilmaz looking back enraged. We see Halil looking at his mother’s photo on his phone, the last one taken at her deathbed. He speaks to her image saying he will find justice for her. Her shadow now leads him as he confronts his siblings, and slowly he brings his sister Birsen into the fold. Now, even the collective unconscious of the community begins to crack. As they hear about Yilmaz being accused of the murder, they begin to look at him with disdain; he is unwelcome in his community. This all is from the shadow of Cennet telling the story of her tortured life, telling everyone her husband killed her.
Cennet has unmasked the evil shadow of Yilmaz. Jung believed that looking into the evil of one’s shadow would be a shattering experience. In Yürek Çıkmazı, with example after example, Yilmaz is forced to face his shadow self and he does become shattered. The family becomes shattered. The collective unconscious of denial is now broken and no-one can look away any more. This shadow opens a Pandora’s box and informs other relationships; this shadow reveals the continuum of abuse as Birsen’s daughter tells her mother she does not want to find her dead one day, “now your son yells at me, and you allow it. When he gets married, does he yell at his wife and then his daughter? Is this the legacy my grandfather leaves us all?” Feride’s husband tells her, “You are Cennet now; your father has linked your fate to your his.” In a tortured voice Feride tells her siblings “you think your mother is dead; she is everywhere as remorse.”
The shadow of Cennet’s life is too powerful to ignore, and it has woken up the unconsciousness of the family and community. No one is able to look the other way, to cover their eyes and ears as Cennet forces everyone to see the abuse she suffered at the hands of her enemy, her husband her murderer. As Cennet’s shadow holds the memories of women we have lost to domestic violence, it also brings out the darkness of this epidemic into the light to help others not look away but to speak out against abuse collectively. And as Jung professed, until the evil is released from the shadow and brought into consciousness, there is no light.
Yürek Çıkmazı continues to astonish. There is mystery and intrigue, depth in characters, extraordinary acting with a compelling story. Stay tuned as Yilmaz says at the end of episode 11, “I am silent, Cennet will tell the rest.”
The series airs on TRT1 on Tuesdays, at 8 pm Turkish time. I hope you will tune in and uncover the truth Cennet wants for us to know.
Article copyright (c) North America TEN & Dr. Patti Feuereisen
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Dr. Patti Feuereisen is a psychologist in Brooklyn, New York. She is the author of Invisible Girls: Speaking The Truth About Sexual Abuse and founder of the non-profit, Girlthrive. She is obsessed with dizis and uses the pandemic as an excuse to keep watching them!