Wednesday, February 26, 2014. I once read an art history book that attributed a sentiment to Henri Matisse regarding the amount of time very nearly all people are willing to spend in the presence of a great work of art. My paraphrase: How sad it is that so few people are willing to spend even as much time looking at a great painting as it takes to peel and eat an orange.
This thought comes to mind as I continue to investigate the thinking of Dr. Daniel Siegel about attachment especially in regard to the new lingo that seems to be appearing about this essential characteristic of life.
We NEED new lingo about attachment. We are passing the stage of our evolution that allowed us to leave scientific research-based thinking out of our relationships. Yet the neuroscientific lingo is too foreign to most people to make sense out of. In listening to Siegel talk on videos I detect that at least his efforts, and perhaps efforts of MANY expert attachment specialists the globe over are doing what I call OPERATIONALIZING attachment.
We are increasingly being given language to talk about the essential processes of how we are human!! I am not going to begin to understand what this new language is and what it is describing if I only devote the “orange peeling and eating” span of time to its study.
So with my pledge to myself to learn as much as I can about what happened to me through early trauma as it matters most alive and well in my mental pocket – I continue forward in finding, contemplating and digesting what I can discover of Siegel’s mind as he shares it with our mind.
This morning I am over on the PsychAlive – Psychology for Everyday Life website where I found an illuminating article by Dr. Siegel.
This topic is of HIGHEST importance and significance to severe early trauma survivors:
This link takes you to
Creating a Cohesive Life Story: An Excerpt from Dr. Daniel Siegel’s New Book Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation.
(There is a list of other very important links on the sidebar of this page.)
It is not hard for me to think as I listen to the wisdom of Siegel that those of us with severe early trauma history have FAR TOO MUCH INFORMATION within us to make sense of or to integrate. INTEGRATE seems to be one of the new operationalizing lingo words on attachment that is of highest importance. The fact that Siegel as perhaps THE most informed attachment expert on earth now says “You can reinterpret the entire field of attachment through this lens of integration and you make deep sense of the neural implications of attachment as well as the relational implications.” (This quote can be found around 1:23 on the slider bar by clicking HERE.)
I have said two related things repeatedly on this blog over the years:
(1) Trauma remains unresolved because nobody has yet LEARNED THE LESSON contained in the trauma experience that would pave the way for such a trauma to never happen again. The more horrendous the traumatic experience and the younger the age at which it was experience the more likely it will be that trauma overwhelms the individual because it contains TOO MUCH INFORMATION.
We are a COLLECTIVE species. Who helps us process, learn from and integrate the horrors of our traumas? I did not cause the trauma that happened to me during the first 18 years of my life. It had NOTHING whatsoever to do with me! That trauma came from my parents’ history and inner workings and from within those outside our family who did absolutely NOTHING to recognize the trauma going on in our family.
(2) I have also repeatedly said that as we heal from trauma we are healing our life story. It is then correspondingly true that as we heal our life story – the narrative of our self in our life – we are also healing ourselves – and in a larger way, I believe, our entire family line (those alive, those yet to be born AND very possibly healing those living in the next world, as well) and our species.
As I stated on the blurb about this blog the day I started it years ago, it is the HEALING of traumas NOW that will prevent them from being passed to the next generations. Healing our self by healing our trauma story, healing our story as we heal our self – is at the center of this work. But I DO NOT believe we ever do this work alone.
As Dr. Carl Jung pointed out, humans share a collective mind. Siegel reiterates this fact in the latest attachment lingo. None of us are in this lifetime on this planet alone. Our stories are part of the largest story that can be told. What does that MEAN?
Here’s the first part of the chapter-article I mention above by Dr. Daniel J. Siegel:
“Why do we parent as we do? When researchers asked this question, they hypothesized— as many of us would— that it is the childhood experience of parents that predicts how they behave with their own children. This sounds plausible, but it turns out not to be quite right.
“When I first heard about what the researchers actually found, it changed my life and my understanding of the life of the mind. The best predictor of a child’s security of attachment is not what happened to his parents as children, but rather how his parents made sense of those childhood experiences. And it turns out that by simply asking certain kinds of autobiographical questions, we can discover how people have made sense of their past— how their minds have shaped their memories of the past to explain who they are in the present. The way we feel about the past, our understanding of why people behaved as they did, the impact of those events on our development into adulthood— these are all the stuff of our life stories. The answers people give to these fundamental questions also reveal how this internal narrative— the story they tell themselves— may be limiting them in the present and may also be causing them to pass down to their children the same painful legacy that marred their own early days. If, for example, your parent had a rough childhood and was unable to make sense of what happened, he or she would be likely to pass on that harshness to you— and you, in turn, would be at risk for passing it along to your children. Yet parents who had a tough time in childhood but did make sense of those experiences were found to have children who were securely attached to them. They had stopped handing down the family legacy of nonsecure attachment.
“I was excited by these ideas, but I also had questions: What does “making sense” really mean? How can we accomplish it, and how does it occur in the brain?” — CLICK HERE TO READ MORE
As I continue to read this article I soon reach a point where things start to feel very intense inside of me. I HEAT UP! I know something deep inside of me that I doubt ANYONE else knows about what Siegel said here:
“They could give a coherent account of their past and how they came to be who they are as adults. In contrast, people who had challenging childhood experiences often had a life narrative that was incoherent in the various ways I’ll describe in the following pages. The exceptions were people like Rebecca. Based on the facts of their early childhood, they would be expected to have an avoidant, ambivalent, or disorganized attachment as children and an incoherent life narrative as adults. But if they had a relationship with a person who was genuinely attuned to them— a relative, a neighbor, a teacher, a counselor— something about that connection helped them build an inner experience of wholeness or gave them the space to reflect on their lives in ways that helped them make sense of their journey. They had what the researchers called an “earned secure” life narrative. Such a secure narrative has a certain profile; we can describe its features. Even more important, like Rebecca we can change our lives by developing a “coherent” narrative even if we did not start out with one.”
(I very much wish Siegel had place a live link at the point where he says there is “a certain profile” of “earned secure” attachment. But that would make it too easy to untangle and therefore realize what Siegel KNOWS (and describes in the current, advancing operationalizing vernacular of the field of attachment studies) about this line of thinking so I could compare it to what I know about what I call “borrowed secure” attachment. I have some work to do to dig out the material I need for the workings of my own mind, so more about this later….)
I had NOBODY to help me. Coupled with the truly PSYCHOTIC mental obsessions that spawned Mother’s terrible abuse of me was the part of her psychosis that forced her to keep me in isolation and solitary confinement at all times when she could throughout all 18 years of my childhood from birth.
I did not EVER exist as a person in Mother’s psychotic mind and she did everything in her impressive power to make sure I existed in nobody else’s mind as my own person, either. I was to be EVERYONE’S BAD CHILD – everyone’s. That is how her severe mental illness with her psychosis operated. (Long story begins here.)
I am, I know, a version of a cross between a closet and a wild child. My story is complex (I did go to school – Mother interfered with my relationships there. I did have siblings. She interfered with those relationships. She moved us to Alaska from Los Angeles when I was five to separate me from Grandmother, etc.)
I had NO ONE on my side, but I did have the Alaskan wilderness. I do not believe I fit the profile of “earned secure” attachment. I believe I operated as I raised my three children from a “profile” of BORROWED SECURE attachment. I have written elsewhere on the blog about this – but mention it here because as I pursue a broader understanding of Siegel’s thoughts and concepts I am looking for his statements regarding the shared MIND in relationship between humans and “the planet.”
I may know more about that connection than anyone could imagine. But I am looking for the attachment lingo that might let me communicate with others about what I know.
I see that I have reached a point in my thinking where I am running into the “having too much information” segment of my trauma-based personal information. I am tempted to begin the writing of another blog post that would run concurrently to this one rather than sequentially so I will now END this post and begin another entirely separate post that will link to this one.
I posted this note in 2006 from Siegel’s The Developing Mind book:
Here is our first book out in ebook format. A very kind professional graphic artist is going to revise our cover pro bono (we are still waiting to hear that he has accomplished this job) – what a gift and thank you Ben!o Click here to view or purchase:
It lists for $2.99 and can be read free for Amazon Prime customers. Reviews for the book on the Amazon.com site are WELCOME and appreciated!
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