Jennifer Jareau struggles to show that she is still trying to make sense of what has happened in her life. The FBI Agent with the Behavioral Analysis Unit, in the show Criminal Minds, investigates many “messed up” cases. Some cases strike close to home for agents at one time or another. The characters are known for burying their emotions from the past, which is also called repression.
Sigmund Freud, most known for developing theories of psychoanalysis, often talks about repression. He says when someone forgets/ignores unresolved conflicts, unadmitted desires, or traumatic past events, whatever they’re forgetting/ignoring is forced out of conscious awareness and into an area of unconscious. Freud sees the unconscious as part of the mind that is beyond consciousness, but still have a strong influence on our actions.
In season five, the team investigates suspicious suicides among teens in the episode “Risky Business.” In the episode, every Friday for the past two weeks, two sets of high school teens died from apparent suicide due to hanging at the same time on the same night. When JJ got the call for the case, you could see the heartbreak in her face. After the phone call, she took a necklace off her desk and put it on. Throughout the episode, the team could tell she was acting different and she know the signs of suicide really well, but they weren’t sure why. JJ really pushed the team to investigate this case because she knew these victims didn’t have the “typical” suicide behaviors.
How did she know this though? The team was curious as well, but no one asked. The necklace JJ was seen putting on at the beginning of the episode was a gift from her sister, Alice, when JJ was eleven years old. On this particular rainy Sunday afternoon, Alice came into her younger sister’s room to give JJ her favorite necklace to remind JJ that no matter what happened, she always loved her. That was the last time JJ saw her sister alive; her sister committed suicide that night. With this particular case, JJ was trying to repress her past so she didn’t have to explain to the team what happened, but this didn’t stop her actions of showing this case was close to her heart. At the end of the episode, Hotch subtly lets JJ know that he knows there is something she isn’t telling, but reassures her that she doesn’t have to talk about it. She shares anyway by saying, “I think about her every day. It does get better, Hotch. Losing someone is never easy, but one day, you’ll remember and it won’t hurt.” As soon as she tells Agent Hotchner this, she grins, but you can still see the pain in her eyes.
In season nine, episode fourteen: “200”, the BAU team is searching for JJ because she was kidnapped, along with Agent Cruz.
In the episode, it shows flashbacks of why JJ was working with the State Department. Cruz worked with JJ on a top secret case for the State Department, but the BAU team didn’t know that Cruz and JJ knew each other because they aren’t supposed to reveal any details of their case. Agent Hotchner found out that Cruz and JJ had been working together in Afghanistan on a mission to find Osama Bin Laden, and the mission was called Integrity. The State Department does not want the BAU investigating the kidnappings in fear that it will destroy the mission as a whole. The BAU ignores this order by the State Department because they know that the State Department is more concerned about the mission than the missing of two agents, therefor they wouldn’t try to save JJ and Cruz. The team discovers that JJ and Cruz were most likely kidnapped by a man named Tivon Askari, who worked as a translator on JJ and Cruz’s team, but he was later discovered as a double agent.
In Afghanistan, JJ is working as the team communication liaison on a top secret case. After JJ’s arrival, she learns about a lead that the team had on Osama Bin Laden with a man named Mubari. He was unfortunately killed, but they found his wife, Nadia.
JJ is instructed to see if Nadia knows anything about Mubari’s working with Osama Bin Laden. When Tivon couldn’t get through to Nadia, JJ and agent Hastings stepped in.
They learned that Nadia has a daughter back in Pakistan, and JJ wants to tell Nadia that if she tells them everything she knows, they will save her daughter and bring her to Nadia. Hastings disagrees with her completely, saying it would be foolish to risk US soldiers lives to save a little girl. Cruz agrees with JJ, so they order a mission to save the girl. When soldiers reach the girl, their mission is disrupted by gunfire and bombs. This kills the US soldiers, and the young girl. JJ blames this on herself, and goes to tell Nadia, when she finds Nadia has been murdered. While JJ is in Afghanistan, she founds out that she is pregnant and shares her news with Cruz. JJ also shares with Cruz, Hastings, and Tivon that there is a double agent because the mission for Nadia was compromised, as well as murdering Nadia. She says the only way someone would know to do those things is if they worked on the inside. While traveling in Hummers, bombs go off. JJ passes out due to the crashes and bombs. She wakes up in a hospital tent, where Cruz tells her that she lost the baby due to the crash.
JJ knows that Tivon Askari is the one who kidnapped her and Cruz, and that he is the double agent. The State Department and the BAU knows this as well. JJ also finds out that Tivon isn’t the only double agent, but Hastings is as well. The two team up to use many torture mechanisms to find the codes that JJ and Cruz have for the Integrity mission. JJ eventually gives her code to them, but Cruz won’t budge. Eventually, the BAU team finds out where JJ and Cruz are being held captive, and they move in. Both Hastings and Askari end up dead.
A year later, in the episode “Forever People” (season ten, episode eleven), JJ’s past from episode “200” comes back to haunt her. The team goes to Nevada to investigate several frozen bodies found in bodies of water. Similar to knowing the signs of suicide in the episode “Risky Business”, JJ knew details about the first victim. One of the agents even asked her how she knew what she knew, and she simply responded, “I’ve seen it before.” This is referring back to when she was abducted and tortured. Throughout the episode, JJ is showing signs of PTSD, and Agent Reid notices. When he confronts her, she reveals that she blames herself for the death of Nadia, Nadia’s daughter, and her own baby. This is when she finally tells someone else, besides Cruz, that she had a miscarriage. She tells Reid that if she didn’t push for them to save Nadia’s daughter, her baby, Nadia, and the daughter would still be alive. She also has flashbacks of when she was tortured by Tivon and Hastings. At the end of the episode, Reid tells JJ that he found the profile file of Tivon Askari, and that it is on her desk in her office if she wants to take a look. She learns that Tivon was homeless from ages seven to nine, and he was raped for the first time at age ten. She closes the folder because she’s visibly upset by reading this. She opens it again, and learns that by age thirteen, Tivon had killed three people. He was profiled that violence was a sexual act for him. JJ then imagines Tivon sitting at the desk with her, obviously this being his ghost. She says, “You broke me.”
“Oh no, I bent you. I wanted to do so much worse,” he replies.
“You took my baby.”
“Yes. I did. And it pleased me greatly,” he says.
“Why am I not past you? For a year I’ve been fine,” JJ angrily says.
“Have you?” Tivon asks.
“What do you want from me? I have nothing left. You’ve taken everything,” JJ confesses.
“Oh, Jennifer, there is so much more I’m going to take. First, I’m going to take your sleep.
Then, your smile. I won’t let you feel safe anywhere. So I’ll take your job. And finally, I will transform you so that your husband and your son won’t recognize you anymore.”
“You can’t. I won’t let you,” JJ verbalized.
“You already are… Either I will watch you kill yourself, or you will quit, and I will watch you
wither and fade. Either way, I win.”
“NO!” JJ screams while she slams the desk. She then realizes that Tivon isn’t there anymore, so she gets up to leave. She then again says, “No,” and closes the door. In the next episode, she is portrayed to be fine again because she is repressing it all again. She repressed it all for a year, until the anniversary of her being kidnapped came around. She was reminded of it all again because the unconscious mind was brought to conscious. In psychoanalysis, this is called the Freudian Slip, where the unconscious thoughts find an outlet, which is what happened to JJ in this episode.
This all just really goes to show that no matter who you are, what profession you’re in, or how great your life may seem, everyone has something they’re repressing. A smile can hide so much, so keep that in mind because you never know what a person is really going through.