Through a very pleasant conversation I had today I was reminded of something so important to me that I wish every book I publish to address this concern:
Life is always a risky business. Many very difficult traumas can pop up in anyone’s life that must be lived through and processed in the best way a person can.
(I was also reminded that researchers know human-caused traumas are always harder for people to experience and get through well – compared to non-human caused ones.)
But the important point that was refreshed for me and moved yet again squarely onto the most forefront burner of my writing stove is that NOTHING is the same in life for people who came out of their infancy with serious insecure attachment disorders as it is for people who DID have safe and secure early attachments.
Most simply put, as I seem to repeat so many, many times, as Dr. Martin Teicher’s research group so succinctly describes, early trauma and abuse changes physiological development. Readers of this blog know this point well by now. (See in the Teicher links in this recent post: +TEETH. ATTACHMENT. SELF-CARE.)
As I stated in conversation today, if someone experienced serious insecure attachment in the first 33 months of life (conception to age 2) – any later severe trauma that happens to them will likely have a profoundly different and far more serious impact on the insecure attachment abuse/trauma survivor than what a person who has a safe and secure attachment-built body and brain will ever experience.
I see it in image-idea as being like this: Those of us who were abused from birth, with our evolutionarily altered physiological development in response to these insecure and unsafe attachment conditions, exist on one side of a great divide, an abyss — separated forever from those who did NOT suffer severe trauma-altered development.
Those who DID have benevolent earliest years have a different foundation in their body than we do. They are on the other side of this divide. THIS MATTERS! Fortunately we are the minority while those on the other side are the majority.
Some kind of translation between these two realities has to begin to happen. Who will translate? Who CAN translate?
Certainly serious neuroscientific developmental experts, and very knowledgeable attachment experts, have the LANGUAGE and the information that is needed for an entirely new kind of dialog to begin between these ‘two kinds of people’ – the trauma-altered development people and the non-trauma-altered development people.
We need to build bridges. But from my perspective our language needs to be CLEANED UP!
I do not consider PTSD or even depression – and in many cases not even anxiety disorders (PTSD and depression ARE anxiety disorders – so why be redundant?) – are NOT, in my universe – remotely MENTAL ILLNESSES! They are a physiological response to stress and trauma – a NATURAL and naturally INTENDED response under certain circumstances (that we have not yet matured as a species enough to understand – because we don’t yet want to).
Just because we do not know enough to understand facts like this – does not mean that ‘mental illness’ is remotely a meaningful description!
The issue is the mismatch that Teicher’s article describes between those on one side built for a malevolent world and those on the other side who were not. But readers who truly understand what I write on this blog are finding ‘their own kind named’. We are different. Humans have a long, long way to go to get the important information correct!
Just because any person has a complex, ongoing response to any trauma – at any stage of their life — for any reason — does NOT mean they are sick – least of all mean they are mentally ill. For crying out loud!
As I have probably said on this blog a thousand times: Trauma remains problematic only when it is not resolved. Trauma is only resolved when the information contained in a person’s experience of trauma has been learned.
Most (I believe) of ongoing problematic responses to trauma remain unresolved because NOBODY is willing to learn what trauma has to teach us. Most unresolved trauma is actually connected to if not deeply embedded within problems that belong to our entire species. Individuals are not ‘big enough’ to take the full job of resolving so many of the big traumas alone!
Being alive, being human, is a shared experience. As long as we remain so out-of-touch with how all actions – cultural and social MOST assuredly so — belong not to individuals but to our much larger group, and remain so disconnected (unattached) to the concerns of individuals as they ACTUALLY exist in the world of our species — many individuals that have gone through horrific traumas will remain unable to heal them IN THEIR BODY – because they cannot resolve these traumas by learning ALONE what is meant to be learned BY US ALL!!
We need to honor ourselves and one another by TALKING about traumas. We need to absolutely understand the super-high risk that especially INFANT ABUSE survivors (whose physiological development was altered due to traumas of insecure attachment) will most often experience far worse complications from all traumas. Infant abuse survivors have a DIFFERENT kind of body in profoundly significant ways.
We know this. We really do. We need to talk about these things. And we need to know who and how we are as infant abuse (early insecure and unsafe-attached) beings. We cannot let ANYONE undermine our reality by dumping (!!) their reality onto us.
Early abuse survivors do stand on one side of an abyss – alone with one another. But it also a great opportunity for non-insecurely attached people, once they have undergone severe trauma later in their lives who STILL suffer physiological problems and who cannot “resolve the trauma and get their old life back” — to be a kind of bridge of translation between the worlds of the evolutionarily altered and the not evolutionarily altered (again, as determined by nature of attachments in the first 33 months of life).
Maybe with humility, compassion and willingness we can build a common ground between these two realities. We cannot continue to pretend that infant abuse (again, which IS what not providing a safe and secure attachment environment is always about) does not exist. It does. Infant abuse. It changes who we are in ways and through means that SO FEW comprehend!
(For as profoundly important as this subject is — I am equally pitiful in describing it. Obviously, I need more practice!! )
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