«My sweet orange tree» and Schema Therapy. Part I

Drying endless tears from my cheeks on a plane Amsterdam – Bilbao to my home city Vitoria Gasteiz.

Not crying because of being home sick neither from an emotional conflict, but from being taken away into another reality. A hard, raw reality of millions of kids in the word. This time was Zezé, the 5 year old protagonist of the book «My sweet orange tree».

I love being captured completely and fiercefully from the daily reality by a story; although it barely happens. I am more usually stuck with my Critical Parent Mode: criticizing myself for not doing more and more and more, for not being more productive, for not organizing more projects, for not getting even better results at my work, for not enrolling in more courses to keep developing myself, for not dancing more, for not sporting more….

Or in my Overcontrolling Perfectionistic Mode, escaping from the present to think only in the future by checking, comparing and analyzing dozens of possibilities of courses in psychology, teacher trainings, dance/art courses; or searching apartments to buy in 3 years time, or making lists, or vacuum cleaning and enjoying the immediate reward of cleanliness…

Or of course in my Healthy Adult Mode: taking care of my self, cooking healthy, working, enjoying time with friends, family and boyfriend, or solving problems in the most mature way I can.

Sometimes, once in a month or even less often, a strong wave takes me away and brings me fully into a colorful parallel reality; where words, or sometimes images like in good movies, force me to shake my perspectives in life.

Force me to have some space to reflect and distance myself from the somewhat SENSELESS and ABSURD worries of a 30 year old western woman with a stable life.

And Zezé helped me this time.

Zezé helped me remember all I have.

Helped me realise the uselessness of my critical and overcontrolling sides.


Who is Zezé? Ayyyysss… I feel so in love with this little kid.

He is 5 years old and wants to be a poet when he grows up and wear a bow tie. He spends his days traveling with his colorful imagination, visiting the zoological park (the henhouse with three hens) and the Amazonia (his backyard)…

His best friend is a small Sweet Orange tree, with whom he talks and confesses all his secrets. He can enjoy with the most simple things and create fantasies and adventures in one of the most poor areas of a favela in Brazil.

An extremely vivid Happy Child.

However, from his precarious and unstable family he mainly receives disproportionate slapping and denigrating  words, which slowly shape the personality of Zezé. Throughout the story we see how such a sweet and lovely boy can develop very adverse self-beliefs and behaviors based on the experiences in his early years at home. A clear example of child mistreatment.

In the next post I will share some examples of maladaptive schemas creation of this beautiful story.

For now, all I can say is that since I read the book, my Critical Parent Mode has been slightly more quiet and I experience a tiny bit more serenity in my free time :)


Beautiful Zezé, and all the kids in his situation, thank you.