Sunday, April 19, 2015. Going for the ray-of-hope should not cause a crash-and-burn, but should this process even be a part of the equation?
As long as I am going to think in terms of mathematical metaphor I might as well speak of formulas, as well. What is the formula for a lifetime of suffering?
Of course the answer would have to be considered from a “relativity” perspective. Certainly there are horror spots on earth where the percentage of suffering people is so high that having a “good life” is so rare an occurrence that it can hardly be detected – anywhere.
What about in America where the rates of child poverty have increased by 60% in the past 6 years while the wealth of the richest of our population has increased by that same 60% figure?
All my thinking this morning is “affected infected” by my very brief reading of less than ten paragraphs in the outstanding new book by Dr. Bessel A. van der Kolk that my best friend so generously, and wisely, purchased and mailed to me last week: The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma (2014).
Those few words of this book I read yesterday lit my fire within. Anger? You betcha. Why that response? It calls comes back for me, again and again, to what is covered in this article by Dr. Martin Teicher: +Dr. Teicher’s ARTICLE ON TRAUMA ALTERED DEVELOPMENT.
Conflict stimulates anger. Anger, as that fighting response where a person reaches within for self-knowledge, such as it has been accumulated, can so easily be awakened when something just feels WRONG to us. Injustice. Anger is a healthy response to injustice.
It has taken me nearly 24 hours to calm myself down enough to gain some other perspective about my reactions to my attempt to read this book. I had high-in-the-sky-apple-pie hopes that in THIS book I was going to find the “quantum healing from trauma” that the author claims lies within its pages.
Well, back to the math of this whole thing. IF someone is in the upper crust of the top, I would say, 95% of the “troubled” population then, yes, there are incredible directions for healing trauma in the body – because, of course, that is where it resides.
IF, however, someone is like I am, a person afflicted by the worst kinds of attachment abusive trauma from the moment of my birth, a person who had no significant safe and secure attachment with any adult throughout the 18 years of my traumatic childhood, then – no – the book is missing its mark in helping me in the ways that the author intended that help to come across in his writing.
NOW this morning, having gotten my own jigger on my own line, I went fishing online and found MY version of how this whole problem – along with its “maybe” and mostly missing solution – is appearing and not appearing. I went to this site: World Wildlife Federation where I located the list of all the species on earth that are endangered and threatened with extinction at the “hands of humankind.”
Gee. What a deal. I feel better now. I have my context, my perspective, my angle covered. It is in this kind of dangerous world that people like me were formed so that we have the kind of Trauma Altered Development that Dr. Teicher’s article is beginning to describe.
I have done a lot of background studying which has prepared me to approach a book like this new one by van der Kolk with a critical mind. (I have not added to my main reference list since early 2009 when I began this blog (later research that crossed my path has been included directly in blog posts since that time), but CLICK HERE will provide a look at some of this background. It might load slowly because it is one heck of a list.)
Critical. What about those of us who were abused, neglected, hated, harmed, threatened, terrorized and terrified by even our mothers from the moment of our birth? Where do we fit into the CDC ACE study pyramid?
At the bottom. So far down at the bottom of “what went wrong” in our earliest critical months and years of development so as to NOT fit into any kind of overall discussion of how to heal trauma? Just about.
I have written many posts for this blog in past years in which I have estimated the secure vs insecure attachment breakdowns. Even at the VERY HIGH estimate that 65% of the population received “good enough” mothering, that leaves a vital breakdown of that insecurely attached 35% to be – what? Let’s say in general that of this group 15% have an “avoidant organized insecure attachment pattern,” 15% of a “preoccupied” and the bottom 5% (where I reside) have what I refer to as a “disorganized disoriented insecure attachment pattern” built body brain.
That lowest 5% is basically missing from van der Kolk’s discussion. Yesterday discovering this sent the anger ripples through me just like I experienced during so much of my earlier research. Then I discovered Dr. Allan N. Schore and from there to my “final” answers in Dr. Teicher’s work.
Before I write any more here I will mention to those readers who have The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma at their fingertips, these are the pages I read yesterday that I am referring to here today: First I turned to the section on healing and my volcano erupted at pages 204-205; they I went to the index and went back to read about attachment on pages 113 -115. That was all I could stomach, all I could tolerate. I attached my sticky notes in margins on those pages, closed the book, telephoned my dear friend who is on the “same page” I am in his life as a trauma-altered individual, and then I went within myself to examine my reactions.
In all fairness I will state that van der Kolk is right – right on down the lines of his writing – about trauma and its healing – as far as his thinking as it shows in his book is going. It does NOT go far enough, I don’t believe, for those suffering the most from terribly abusive, neglectful traumatic early life experiences.
By late last evening I had calmed myself down by honoring my own reality enough to say that given what I so reacted to at first reading (and I will include those words here below), if “restore” and “restoration” is at all possible for me I can AT LEAST consider that I COULD be restored in my physiology to the point my development was in before I was born. Most importantly I was NOT trauma altered during the first 9 months of my life in the womb.
From that realization — and I might say that it is primarily the in-built assumption in the concept of “resiliency” which suggests that attempts to heal are about going back to a pre-traumatized state AFTER A TRAUMA OCCURS – I understand that to apply these lines of thinking to myself is only possible if I go back to my womb-life as the “good” point for me.
Well…. At least I have THAT!
This morning I understand that a writer like van der Kolk is NOT going to specify every possible exception to what he is talking about regarding healing trauma. He is not going to say, “Well, for the bottom 5% my “formula” is not going to work the way I am suggesting, and not for people with Autism Spectrum Disorder, etc.”
SO? I will bold for emphasis in the passages from his book, pages 204-205, some of what I am talking about:
“However, trauma is much more than a story about something that happened long ago. The emotions and physical sensations that were imprinted during the trauma are experienced not as memories but as disruptive physical reactions in the present.”
[Right here I would say that I consider these “physical sensations” to be BODY MEMORIES…. What van der Kolk writes is true – of course – he is the expert. I recommend this book. BUT, here comes the parts, and they appeared quickly in this section, that set me on fire….]
“The fundamental issue in resolving traumatic stress is to restore the proper balance between the rational and emotional brains, so that you can feel in charge of how you respond and how you conduct your life.”
[Those of us with Trauma Altered Development – again, see Dr. Teicher’s article above – have our trauma BUILT into our body. It BUILT our body. We do NOT have the kind of “ordinary” body that van der Kolk is referring to by default.]
“Recovery from trauma involves the restoration of executive functioning and, with it, self-confidence and the capacity for playfulness and creativity.”
[Same problems!!! As Teicher describes, we do NOT have a brain (or nervous system, immune system, etc.) that was ever (unless, like in my case, we can go back to our womb development as being OK) NOT being poisoned by trauma to the extent that we are physiologically different from ordinary people who did NOT get “built in, by and for” a malevolent world. Our body and our brain are different from what van der Kolk is describing. So, what about US? What about me?]
“If we want to change posttraumatic reactions, we have to access the emotional brain and do “limbic system therapy”: repairing faulty alarm systems and restoring the emotional brain to its ordinary job of being a quiet background presence that takes care of the housekeeping of the body, ensuring that you eat, sleep, connect with intimate partners, protect your children, and defend against danger.”
In essence I do not, then, actually have POSTTRAUMATIC reactions. I don’t have a POST to trauma because (except for the first 9 months of my existence in the womb) TRAUMA HAS ALWAYS BEEN PRESENT IN MY LIFE. Even though I am fortunate to be living a life that does not include overt trauma I do not escape the “covert” impact of massive trauma because it is BUILT INTO MY BODY – permanently.
This “emotional” brain, this “limbic system” I have was permanently changed in its development by early horrific attachment-based severely abusive, psychotic-in-Mother, trauma. I have no other kind of brain to “access” unless someone up there in the “upper 95%” wants to give or lend me theirs?
It is true that restoring the emotional brain to its ordinary job of being a quiet will not work for people like me. Autistic people refer to those in that 95% as van der Kolk is addressing them as being “neurotypical people.” I am not autistic but neither am I “neurotypical.” People like me, those Dr. Teicher describes, are “something else.” We are an “endangered species.”
So – now what? I can wish all I want to that I did not “get drawn this way” so that I cannot RETURN, RESTORE, or “go back to” any state in my body-brain that is not under the influence of my Trauma Altered Development. Knowing this I am perfectly free to try to diminish my inward “give me a fighting chance to heal in spite of how I am” solar flares so that I can learn what van der Kolk is suggesting for healing.
However, the warning to those like me is that when we read a book like this one is and do NOT know the rest of our story as I am describing it, we can end up being greatly harmed because we cannot seem to accomplish these wonderful levels of healing this author is suggesting are possible for EVERYONE in the same way and to the same extent. We can feel terrible about our self and about our efforts because “we can’t get there from here.”
The “problem” is NOT in any way connected to our being inadequate students of “the master!” My emotional brain was NEVER free to “be quiet.” I was never even allowed to play. What is being described as healing in this book is entirely foreign to me as if a life is being described on a planet completely alien to me.
I need to honor that fact and then find my own way to make the best-of-the-best use of whatever information this book contains that CAN help me – in spite of the trauma that that will never be erased from my body-brain as long as I am alive in this world.
I am not being nit-picky. I am not being “resistant” or “belligerent.” I am speaking about and for the “bottom 5%.” We DO NOT give up but we DO become in-formed about the truths of our own life and then go from forward from there. Nobody will clarify our reality for us! We MUST trust our self every step of the way: We are NOT the same as ordinary people. For the most part we are unique beyond “ordinary” understanding. We are a special kind of miracle.
Here is our first book out in ebook format. Click here to view or purchase –
Story Without Words: How Did Child Abuse Break My Mother?
It lists for $2.99 and can be read by Amazon Prime customers without charge.
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adult attachment disorders, adult reactive attachment disorder, anxiety disorders,borderline mother, borderline personality disorder, brain development, child abuse,depression,derealization, disorganized disoriented insecure attachment disorder,dissociation,dissociative identity disorder, empathy, infant abuse, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD),protective factors, PTSD, resiliency, resiliency factors, risk factors, shame