“Where a man has a certain fantasy, another man may lose his life, or, breach his spirit.”
I begin with this quote from Carl Jung to demonstrate that Trauma is endemic in human society. The sense of the word “breach” as Jung uses it here is “rupture.” The aspect of trauma that I’m discussing in this essay is where there is an identified victim or victims and a perpetrator (or perpetrators). Trauma can come from natural disasters, man-made disasters and many natural or everyday occurrences – a child swallowing a bee (natural), or being hit by an automobile (man-made). This is not our subject today.
What Jung was referring to is the fact that the thoughts of one man, or men, can and frequently do result ultimately in harm to others. In the larger lecture from which this quote was extracted, Jung was trying to illustrate the “reality” of fantasy. This is relevant in the prevention of crimes against fellowmen (and re-habilitation of perpetrators) but my topic today, and this website, has to do with healing for victims.
Trauma is a huge topic. As I did with Forgiveness, I’ll need to break it down into a series of essays. The important point I wish to make in each essay is that identification of trauma, whatever the source, and appropriate treatment, is essential to live a satisfying and fulfilled life.
We come into an imperfect world, utterly dependent and helpless. The most fortunate of us have adequate caregivers to protect us. In cases of the less fortunate, trauma can begin with our caregivers. In many cases, even well-intentioned caregivers become perpetrators of trauma that can create a lifetime of “baggage” to unpack. An example of this I came across recently was a woman whose father was a genius. His questionable gift to her (ultimately crippling her creativity and her life) was that if you could not produce a work of genius you should not produce at all. This clearly illustrates the subtlety of childhood trauma. In another case, a man’s dying wish was to know which of the women in the polygamous household in which he grew up, was actually his mother. His father’s refusal to give him this information haunted him his entire life.
Caregivers who are impaired or ill-intentioned inflict horrific trauma on children everywhere, everyday. Whether physical, emotional, psychological, sexual, or all of the above, unhealed trauma is crippling children and adults, and therefore crippling society. Our homes, workplaces, streets, prisons, mental health clinics, and hospitals are petrie dishes of dysfunction where unhealed trauma is the common element. You may legitimately pose the question – where to begin?
The answer is always with oneself.
Self-assesment for the trauma survivor, which is pretty nearly everyone, must be done daily in some form. The bottom line question is “Am I living life to the fullest and, if not, what’s getting in my way and why?”
I hear what you’re saying. “You’ve got to be kidding me!” (with maybe a choice expletive or two inserted) No, I’m absolutely serious. On the full spectrum of your human existence – body, mind, spirit, and emotions, to ask daily “how am I doing?” is a healthy approach to life and an open road to fulfillment. I emphatically do NOT mean “how am I doing?” as measured against other people. Our own psyche must be the subject of our attention, not anyone else’s (unless it’s your calling to do so). Even if our calling entails attention to others, our charge is always to “clean our own house” first.
Now that I’ve set the stage, you can reflect on What I need to be doing (in your place in Nature). The How to do it is the subject of my next Blog. Stay tuned!