Saturday, May 30, 2015. How long does humanity have to put the right pieces together, to gather the right information, to make the right decisions, to take the right kind of action before we create planetary conditions that are beyond our ability to cope with them?
I was raised on a wilderness mountain homestead upon this land – in the news now for – something that grips my fears and welds them together in ways I would never have thought possible in my lifetime of nearly 64 years. Alaska. The land my heart has never left.
“Climate change’s new normal is causing record-breaking heat and wildfire risk.”
We can only make use of what we know to move forward at any given time through the changes that life puts us in the middle of. I want to know, “How do we prepare our children for the world we have borne them into?”
I have an undetermined – at present – set of moments to think and write before one of my grandsons comes to visit me sometime today. I cannot think clearly enough or quickly enough through the kinds of thoughts that crowd upon me swarming like billowing clouds of unwelcomed gnats.
Gnawing themselves into my conscious thinking space are tangles of thought threads demanding my attention that simply begin to present themselves in the pages that appear in my online search of these terms: “imaginative play empathy”
What I remember from my prior studies does nothing but alert me that there are things I need to know that I do not know yet. I remember from Dr. Allan N. Schore’s writings about the pivotal early brain building processes through attachment interactions with primary infant caregivers that when these relationships fail in their purpose to build a healthy body-brain-self not only do insecure attachment disorder patterns come to rule a person’s life but so also do empathy disorders.
On the blade of that double-edged sword, we DO have one with the other – and we DO NOT have one without the other.
Yes safe and secure attachment = yes healthy empathy abilities.
No safe and secure attachment = no healthy empathy abilities.
There is a known link that exists between Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and early detection in children that is connected not ONLY to empathy disabilities but also to a lack of the ability to engage in imaginative “pretend” play. Autism presents varieties of serious attachment interferences related to inabilities to interact with other members of our social species emotionally – and socially.
I want to think my way through these connections. Is there some kind of a fork in the road of development, a kind of “Y” presented in situations where safe and secure attachment is denied to a human being that fundamentally alters the direction that development can take?
What is it about humanity AS A WHOLE right now in our evolution that has prevented us from being able to experience healthy empathy with OUR ENVIRONMENT? What kind of DENIAL supplants truth when humans cannot or will not (refuse to) IMAGINE what the consequences are of their actions?
Someone on the spectrum (ASD) lacks the ability to comprehend how their way of being in the world is different from what is now termed “neurotypical” people.
Severe early trauma as it exists in unsafe and insecure attachment conditions often creates Trauma Altered Development in survivors who then are not “neurotypical” people, either.
What links of the ladder, what spokes of the wheel, exist that connect in a kind of overlay of realities between these three (in general) kinds of people, ways of being in this world?
Evidently what is termed “Climate Change” has not captured the IMAGINATION of our species to the point where we can, on the whole, comprehend what is happening and is going to happen not only to life on this planet but to – dare I say of our ego-infected species – ALL OF US.
I just did a search of my own blog here, typing the word “denial” in the box at the top of this page. MANY posts appeared! I am certainly not going to stop to read them at this point. I did not see any of those posts with a title about my thoughts “back then” connecting the operation of denial in human thought and action with a form of “pretend play.”
If we PRETEND something is not happening or did not happen – then – it did not happen and it is not happening now.
I did not, for example, have ANY idea that I had been abused until I sought out professional help when I was 29. I did not have any CONCEPT for what had happened to me. That was not due to DENIAL – was it?
The truth of what happened to me and how that impacted everything about how I am in the world continues to unfold within me. That is a process of life. Of MY life.
And yet the stage of imaginative, pretend play that toddlers enter and that lasts for ensuing “ages” of childhood is VITAL to the “neurotypical” development of members of our species. When that stage does not appear in early development – most simply put – there IS something wrong.
But how do we use our human powers of imagination throughout our lifespan? If I had time I would find a great deal of information I need to solidify my own thoughts if I studied the connection between “imagination and empathy” for a while. As it is I now have a very strong sense that this connection is profoundly important to understand – full circle.
I will simply live with my questioning for the time being as I carefully watch my nearly-age-3 youngest grandson as he now exists in this (mentioned) stage of his development.
There is a kind of interesting “inter-think” possible with today’s marvelous internet world. If you do an online search for these terms – “grand forks nd air force shooting” – you will find information that in my mind is related to my undercurrent thinking presented in this post.
This young Air Force man, as you will soon see on the pages that appear with this search, walked into a Walmart store and opened fire on others and then shot himself.
Gee, not surprisingly, reactions center upon “Nobody saw this coming.”
Now – when I look at this picture of this young man I no doubt SEE something most others do not see. Look at, focus on, stare into his eyes. Eliminate every other thought and listen to your heart. ESPECIALLY if you are a survivor of severe early trauma I think you will sense and then see what I do.
Imagine the connection between the tragedy of that young man’s shooting – and the very likely possibility of his having had some SERIOUS trauma in the early years of his life that NOBODY “let” him talk about.
Did nobody notice the inner reality of this young shooter? Did nobody care?
These thoughts lead me to questions. What is the connection between ignorance (not knowing) and denial? How does ignorance interact with imagination along a continuum of “pretend play” and denial?
How does what we do not know we know hurt us? How does not knowing what we DO know – but deny – hurt us?
In my mother’s boxes of papers that came into my hands when she died in 2003 I found a small 2” by 3” black and white picture of myself in kindergarten before our family moved from Los Angeles to Alaska. I cannot find that I have any digital copy of this photograph. I have it placed along the narrow propped shelf I created to hold my music books above my keyboard. When I sit down to play I look at this picture of my young self – and I play for HER-ME.
When I look into the eyes of that young shooter I see those same eyes in my just-turned-5-year-old self. The same eyes.
It has taken me a long time, decades, of learning about my history of early abuse to be able to now empathize with myself. My eyes in that picture seem to exist BEHIND the body of the young girl in the photograph. That girl me existed within – and had always from my first breath existed within – such a world of horror, terror, pain and abuse that there is NOTHING showing through of ME – the actual real ME – in that picture.
Sure there is a small face, a small body. I can see the crookedly chopped bangs of my hair, the wide starched white collar on a cotton plaid dress. But in my EYES? In my so-rare, so light sky blue eyes?
Oh so lost, so sad beyond words. So overwhelmed by the world I was forced to live in, by what I had suffered. The question in those eyes? “IS THERE ANYONE OUT THERE?” I was ALL ALONE inside myself. Inside that world. All. Alone. In a terrifying, terrible world.
I made it through.
But I was NOT OK.
Those are the eyes I see when I look at that young man’s picture. We need to begin to let ourselves KNOW one another! Really KNOW one another! There is a price paid for remaining ignorant of suffering. There is a price for creating worlds as is so often the case in mainstream American culture where people MUST pretend that all is fairytale perfect.
When it comes to the pain being inflicted by humans upon this earth and within the environment that is an extension of each of us, this earth is beginning to SCREAM back at us. That is what, I am imagining, this young man finally did. HE SCREAMED – and his screaming came far, far too late.
Unbidden my thoughts this morning include my vision I experienced on the mountain when I was 15. Consciousness of the spirit of life that exists inseparably throughout the entirety of creation in this material world. Everything and everyone is connected. Empathy allows us to accept accountability for our part in sustaining life.
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NOTE: I am still stuck with this new version of the blog’s posting page that I do not like and cannot get out of. It has refused to post or include my chosen tags:
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