Dreams of A Life – the Story of Joyce Carol Vincent

Do you remember this story? Broke in 2006 about a woman found dead in her London flat. She had been dead 3 years. I always thought it was an old lonely spinsterish woman at least that is how the media made it sound. Now I learn the woman  was 38, beautiful and accomplished.

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I just watched the documentary Dreams of a Life by Carol Morley about this tragic young woman the media said so little  about even the people that knew her did not recognize her from their reports.  It doesn’t tell the story with any less a stereotypical angle though.

It seems to suggest that she succumbed to depression over growing older and still being unmarried. There is a strong innuendo that this happened because she made wrong relationship choices, or didn’t recognize the men that loved her or something, a morality tale that seems to say this could happen to you if you don’t marry and settle down.

My experience working with victims of domestic and sexual violence says this woman was a victim of some form of abuse as a child. I wonder why the film maker didn’t focus attention on that? Why focus on her failed relationships and not the reason why she was unable to succeed at relationships?

Joyce showed classic behavior of a having been a child victim of abuse if you ask me, her emotional instability, her superficial relationship, pretending her father was dead, avoiding her family, their refusal to speak to the film maker, her lack of drive, her obvious co-dependence in relationships, her lack of personal friendships, a subsequent violent relationship. As easy as a google

The film maker kept on saying her motive was to give a story to the name but I think she may have deliberately ignored or else carelessly missed an opportunity to show how childhood abuse and dysfunctional parenting can impact adults later in life and lead to a tragic and pointless end.

It is a sad commentary on our society that a person can die and no one knows  for 3 years but I also agree with Alistair; Joyce was also responsible for what happened to her. While no one called her she actively sought to avoid her former acquaintances and was obviously not very good at asking for help.

She seemed more interested in pretending things were well or hiding if they weren’t.  She did not like confrontation, according to Martin, if things got difficult she moved, left he scene, took flight. Reminds me of someone, yeah me, that’s what I did for a long time.

I can identify with this young woman. I can imagine most of the people I call friends not worrying if I didn’t get in touch for a year or two. Except for my sons I have no more than the most superficial ties to the rest of my extended family. If they do not hear from me for a year or two they would not worry.

I just don’t stay in touch,  it could be because my father was a bastard that made my life so miserable as a child that its impossible for me to develop more than superficial relationships with people as an adult, or it could be because I just don’t trust people enough to let them that close. Who knows?

Does it matter? This film lacks any real depth and the interviews with Joyce’s friends raised more questions than answers as to what happened to Joyce and what led to her pathetic lonely end. We found out more about them than we did about Joyce really. They all seemed self absorbed.

So what is the morale of the story? If you push everyone away, don’t ever trust anyone and don’t try to overcome your dysfunctional past you could die and rot right on your sofa and no one will look for you but some award winning goody toe shoes might make a misguided documentary about you.

I’m so glad I have children and that we have a relatively good relationship!

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7 Responses to “Dreams of A Life – the Story of Joyce Carol Vincent”

  1. Feminism, Exclusion & The Silencing of African Women | MzAgams Says:

    […] you and ask after your welfare when you are old if you don’t have children?’. Stories of old (and young) people dying alone and undiscovered in the west baffle us.  In Nigeria middle and upper class […]

  2. Anton Says:

    Your perspective is just that. I do not think the film stereotyped Joyce at all; it gave a multifaceted and complex picture of Joyce as she appeared to those around her. The observations made highlighted many common aspects to her story. Abused children can’t change what happened to them and the adults we turn into is the result of our lives. Joyce made choices as she only knew how. It was NOT her own fault that she became the adult she was – it was just life. Perhaps those who watch the movie with an open mind will see that the happy and successful person at the office they know little about is not the person they think they are. I learned a lot about myself and hope to fix it as best I can.

  3. urmil gohil Says:

    i just watched the youtube clip and got real interested in find more details, so i ended up watching the documentary really made me cry (((. my theory might be abit different as she was born 15 oct, a Libra . with lots of energy but if Libras do not get the recognition or care they tend to become lazy and narrow-minded , speaking after years of personal research on this topic,

    maybe she rest in peace, today i have learnt something new !

  4. andy Says:

    You make some interesting points but I think you are being a little bit harsh.As far as I could tell she didn’t want to go into a deep psychological analysis of why she made the choices she did.She does refer to her background,her mother dying young,and her bad relationship with her father etc,but it seems she wanted to leave it up to the viewer to make up their own mind why she might have chosen to isolate herself.There could be many reasons and to be honest they are a bit speculative.We can make reasonable assumptions but no one really knows.

  5. Em Says:

    If she was wrapping Christmas gifts at time of death it suggests she still had someone in her life. Has it ever been established who those gifts were for?

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