Here is the information about an extremely important article about how trauma drama operates in our lives. I found it on The International Transactional Analysis Association website. PLEASE click on the title of this article and read it!!! It contains the best description I have ever read of creative ways to look both at what happened to us in our home of origin and what has happened in our adult lives as well. I believe this information is important not only for severe infant-child abuse survivors, but for all of us. These patterns can operate without our conscious awareness within every human interaction that we have.
This articles contains gems of wisdom that can help us to begin to change how we view our history — our history of our past, of our present moments, and our yet-to-be-written history that lies in our future. This article clearly defines patterns that can operate outside the range of our current understanding, but we can change these patterns through one simple (!!) act: Bring the patterns into our conscious awareness.
I personally don’t believe there is a better way to begin to make these changes than to thoroughly read and contemplate what Dr. Karpman has written in this article.
I know some of the specific terminology used might not mean a thing, but as you read pay close attention to how your body feels. It will tell you when words you read are making very real sense! This is worth the read, and is the only literal description of the patterns of trauma-in-drama that actually fit the patterns of abuse that my mother did to me.
As I have mentioned before I have inherited my daughter’s much loved 2 1/2 year old PomChi (Pomeranian-Long-haired Chihuahua) dog. She had to come to live with me after she bit my one-year-old grandson. Who Who used to be just fine with children until she was hurt by a five year old girl outside the range of any adult’s vision during a dinner party my daughter held. Ever since that afternoon’s sudden screech of pain and the immediately following very serious snarl, Who Who has never been safe around children (nor will she ever be again).
So, I now have the pleasure of the companionship of Who Who. This morning as I pondered the story I am going to tell in the book my daughter and I are writing, I remembered that I once heard that an intelligent dog can learn 300 words in its lifetime.
I often see Who Who responding to words she knows with a flash of intelligence in her eyes when I say specific words to her like ‘toy’, ‘ball’, ‘eat’, ‘walk’, ‘kennel up’, ‘sit’, ‘down’, ‘come’, etc. Each immediate response of intelligence is then followed by a correspondingly appropriate action.
She learns rapidly. I have recently taught her the word ‘chicky’ in relation to caring for our one-week-old new chickens that are sequestered behind closed doors in safety. I say the word and off she bounds enthusiastically to the door of the ‘chicky room’ as she eagerly waits for me to open it for her so she can check on our brood.
As I was thinking about my book-writing process this morning I imagined how Who Who would react if I were to speak all the words that she knows in rapid succession without a pause in between them. I can see her golden brown eyes looking puzzled, her head cocked, her body poised to respond — to WHAT?
What ‘comprehensible structure’ could any dog actually create out of this pattern of words? Who Who would be overwhelmed, confused, disoriented – and ultimately ‘disorganized’ if I spoke to her without first making sure HOW I said WHAT I said to her was given in a way that she could understand. Karpman’s article can give us some tools we can use as we attempt to structure a comprehensible story of the traumas of our life.
The simplest way that I can think of to think about trauma is to remember that trauma is in its essence an OVERWHELMING experience. Those of us who suffer for our entire lifetimes with the aftermath of infant-child abuse trauma (most powerfully because the stress of trauma altered our physiological development and gave us an insecure attachment disorder) can remain caught in that same kind of moment that I imagine Who Who would be in if I overwhelmed her with too many words.
Trauma can be extremely difficult to put into words at the same time that naming and describing trauma is an important step to healing it.
In the same way my dog can become overwhelmed with words, so too can we be as we try to use words to describe ourselves in a life that has extreme trauma at is formative basis. This is why adult attachment shows up for assessment through the inability to tell a coherent story-narrative of their life.
This is why I cannot write my book without my daughter’s assistance. My disorganized-disoriented insecure attachment pattern by definition makes it impossible for me to tell my story — or to write it — in anything other than a disorganized-disoriented way.
And this is why I am recommending the article I mention at the start of this post. It offers an organized and orienting framework for looking at our trauma-drama lives. It can give us within this framework space and time to pause in between the words that come to us about our experiences so that we can begin to make a new sense of things. (The same way that creating spaces around the words I tell Who Who allows her to understand what I am saying.)
Some examples: Every single trauma-abuse experience that we endured contained combinations of the dynamics that Karpman describes. Most severe infant-child abuse occurs in what Karpman describes as the ‘closed-private’ settings. For my mother, what was better than to find a ‘private’ setting on a remote Alaskan mountain homestead to serve as her abuse setting? Her abuse of me could then be done both inside our dwelling as a ‘closed-private’ setting OR outdoors as this was only barely an ‘open-private’ setting. There were no neighbors anywhere near us — the PERFECT isolated abuse stage!
Of course she was nicey-nice in public. Even a telephone call from the ‘public’ sphere would change her from ‘private’ demon back to public nicey-nice.
Of course she confused (and contaminated) public and private, like when she sent a paddle to my school’s principle with a note telling him if I behaved badly he had her full permission to spank me. Or how she could so terrorize me at home that I carried my terror of her out the door with me like a mummy carries its shroud, afraid to do or say anything that might be wrong and travel back home to her somehow causing her yet again to ‘have to’ punish me.
In fact, every other human being was a part of her ‘public’ world, my siblings, grandmother and father included. That meant that even though these others were certainly witnesses to her abuse of me, there was a whole other world of private-private to which she made certain only she and I were admitted. (Now THAT was world was REALLY scary!!)
In my mother’s sick mind I victimized her. I had persecuted and victimized her as ‘the devil’s child’ since the time of my birthing when I tried to kill her! Yet even as she victimized and persecuted me, my ‘release’ or my ‘rescuing’ happened when SHE stopped a beating, fed me, let me use the bathroom, go to school, get out of the corner or out of bed after days/weeks of being confined there by her.
My mother made sure everyone else in the family ‘knew’ I victimized them, also. “If it weren’t for Linda and the trouble she causes…….”
And NEVER would my mother allow anyone else to ‘rescue’ me. She forbid even my siblings to speak to me most of the time. She moved from LA to Alaska to prevent my grandmother from ‘rescuing’ me, and my father sure didn’t do it!
I have included many posts on this blog about how unsafe and insecure early caregiver-infant/child attachment relationships can be assessed during adulthood through the Adult Attachment Interview process. Rather than repeat any of this information I am including the following links to some of these posts: