Loving Our Own Way Home
Helping One Another
I just was called by a woman I have recently met – who took into her home the Siamese cat that I found, and met with her for a couple of hours.
Turns out she has PTSD with acute complications, alternatively diagnosed with narcissism, borderline and/or bipolar.
I shared with her my forming theory of the alternate personality. I think it fits. I had goose bumps, more than once during the process – usually a clear indication to me that spirit is working with soul – Animus with Anima – the fire building in the circle of life – the burning circle of fire.
She is one of the ones with the unbearable pain blocking access to her truth. I realize how fortunate I am that I was never fundamentally betrayed, because I do believe I can access my truth. I believe I formed in an alternative way and it frees me in some ways from being locked within a never-ending circle of “craziness.” Like our traffic circle, going around and around and never finding the way out, only with random patterns of chaos thrown in.
Our souls are not bound by pain, even though it may seem that way. I have been drawing the soul at the center of my circles, but actually, it is free to travel around in relation to us in our lives. It is not bound. That is important.
The overwhelming pain that she feels, and that I have identified in my mother’s case, does seem to prevent access to the individual truth that was bound up with the soul in the body as it began to grow into the world at the beginning of these people’s lives before the betrayal occurred. It seems to me that everything just froze in time.
There has to be an alternative way in, and an alternative way out. I do not believe that we are left hopeless. Incurable, maybe by Western medical thought and definition. If cured means that we become ordinary, or like the ordinaries who do not suffer from early forming PTSD and its often acute and chronic complications, that will never happen. We are the truly extraordinary people. We are different. But I do believe that there is a chance that we can learn to live with and to work with our own differences to get to a place where the unbearable pain does not rule and control our lives, and we do not manipulate our entire existence to avoid touching or experiencing it because we perceive that it will kill us. I do not believe that it will.
True, our brains were not formed to regulate the intensity or duration of these emotions, and our brains probably formed to even experience them as entirely different emotions than what normal people feel. Our nervous systems are different. Our perception of stimuli and our reactions to them are different. But we can learn to work with this, learn to strengthen our cortex, learn to utilize it more, learn to lengthen time when our emergency brain is triggered, learn to identify and work with transitions, learn to identify our states of mind.
This is a lot for me to say that I believe, but now that I am understanding our personal soul’s connection to all that we experience in life, it has not nor will it abandon us. We may be ignorant of its existence, or deny its existence, or have forgotten how to access it, but we are in this world, this soul of the world, and we can find ways that WE can participate with it. And it can and will heal us, not as a noun, but as a verb called living in this lifetime.
We can call upon this soul of the world for comfort, care and assistance. For nurturance, guidance and support. For encouragement, direction and teaching. And we can find and understand and educate each other.
For all the drugs in the world will not cure us because they are not “taking care of” our soul. Only we can do this.
And I suspect that when this kind of abuse and betrayal happen to the sensitive, creative, artistic people, the suffering is worse but the gifts are special.
There used to be times a long time ago, maybe 30 years ago, when I heard my name being called as if from a long distance away from someone calling to me, calling for me, perhaps looking for me, calling in a two-note musical voice, “Lin-da Lin-da Lin-da.” Now I think that was a call between my self, such as I had made one after age 18, and my soul. The same soul voice that told me it wasn’t humanly possible to be as bad as my mother said I was, and the soul voice that told me when I was 21, “You are a wraith” when I looked down at my palms that clear winter night.
Perhaps that soul part of us, the one that Hillman says “calls” us can in fact literally do just that.
If our soul can move away from the center of how we first formed, we can be re-born, re-formed, form another version of our self, as Ramona said last night, consciously – form a conscious self.
And as we do that we will all become true healers, not reliant so much upon information from those who do not truly know what our condition is like, though we can take what fits and incorporate it into our “healing policies,” but reliant on our own soul and the soul of the world, which will include new understandings.
We can “cure” ourselves by caring for our souls and doing so with our soul’s instruction.
Even primates that have had their brains tampered with under scientific research conditions, who live in a large enclosure, will group themselves according to the type of injury they suffered. The “ordinaries” have nothing to do with them. This is, to me, not unlike the groups that are forming in our own culture along the lines of the PTSD peritrauma of infant and child abuse that has changed people’s brains. They group themselves in gangs, in prisons, in mental health centers, on the streets among the homeless, among the welfare recipients and social security disability groups. They form themselves silently and singly, though their behaviors and quality of life would be inclusive not exclusive of others with the same conditions, as inadequate and abusive or absent parents, as abusive spouses, as molesters and criminals still swarming our streets and country sides.
These people have suffered from the dark side of the Great American Dream, the side that supported slavery and the way the Indian wars were fought. This dark side is not reconciled, as my brother John suggested today, with the bright side of the Great American Dream.
I wonder if eventually there could be a way for this healing to occur through a “coaching” process in the life and in the home – as needed and desired – for people to help one another take better “care of their souls?” A participatory joint combined effort of continued support.
But then what we have to realize is that these people are incredibly selfish. It might be that when the daimon splits, the part that can be helped and the part that truly can care about another and help them are split off so that they ride in the same boat, floating away somewhere off into the distance away from an integrated person and an integrated life.
Having spent time with that woman yesterday, I can feel that what they say about borderlines, that they suck you dry. She has a negative response to everything because she operates on both sides of the highway of life and gives no one else the right away on either side of the painted line. Passing lane, turning lane, main line of traffic on either side, she claims the whole road because within her brain there are no containing boundaries. There is no capacity to truly care about another person, and no true way to be “fed” by the care of another, either.
These people are always starving to death, no matter what or how much they eat or where they get it from. They have that black hole inside of themselves. They are a destroyed personality that might be able to be trained like a monkey to do as little harm as possible, but they will never truly become a member of the human species.
This is the far end of what “an inability to feel empathy” is all about. It’s a real condition, and we must realize that it comes from attachment disorders in infancy during the growth developmental stages of the brain – no matter what that person may say about how wonderful their mother was and how idyllic their childhood was. Their needs were not met appropriately, their brain changed, and nothing this late in the game is going to change the score in anybody’s favor. It was a game that was lost in the beginning.
So these people are essentially, fundamentally, and irrevocably selfish. The ability to care about, and therefore FOR a person, including oneself, is built into the brain in infancy by interactions with early primary caregivers that truly have the capacity and DO care for and about the infant itself. If these brain patterns are not established in the right limbic brain during these early rapid brain growth developmental stages, they will never be there. After all my research, this is my conclusion. If there is an insecure attachment with a resulting empathy pathology, this is what is being affected.
The fundamental construct within the brain becomes based on a different relationship to and with the truth – of the individual and of their relationship with the “home of the world” or the “soul of the world” including everything alive within it including people. They suffer from “essential pain,” that is, the essence of pain so near to the essence of who they were formed to be IN THE BODY that their ability and capacity to process and negotiate with the tender of the truth is absent. This is a harsh statement and a harsh reality.
They can be TRAINED to not harm others, but this will NOT be connected to the essence of who their SELF is in the body in this world. The ally becomes their soul, who/which has remained unscathed by anything that the physical body of the person has endured or experienced. What is limited, however, in these conditions is the soul’s capacity to operate effectively through the BODY of the person because their CNS/brain has been damaged and altered in a way that allows them only to function in a competitive world that does not allow for true cooperation on any level with anybody. The capacity to operate in a cooperative world does not exist.
Their system has designed itself, in these early infant caregiver-environment situations, to perceive only a chronic state of want and need, and even those are not truly differentiated any more than their emotions are. The emotions remain relatively stable at their core level as fear, anger and sadness. They development of their specific emotions have been physiologically affected, forming alterations as extensions of these primry states rather than alterations that are extended into differentiations of specificity related to a much more sophisticated system of detecting relevant stimuli and reacting to it appropriately in a flexible and adaptable way.
The prognosis is not good, but if there is any hope of providing remedy as best as is possible, it has to come from everyone recognizing the truth within the body and therefore the brain and mind and self of these persons. We have to listen to them with a new ear and see with a new eye what is truly at the center of the storm so that we can find ways to help these persons live the best life possible under the conditions that they are forced and doomed to experience in the form of early onset PTSD the rest of their lives.
These people, as I said earlier, will find one another. People with secure attachments, the other 50% of the population, do not remain in long term and serious relationships with insecurely attached people. They do not have tolerance for enmeshment of traumatic emotional memory enactments and reenactments, for flashbacks and flashforwards. This creates a gap, chasm, gulf, separation between the haves and the have-nots. There is no attunement and rapport, alignment or harmony.
A major symptom is the lack of mentalizing ability. Like Freud’s theory suggested about a child’s first bowel movemets, where the excrement is not perceived as separate from the self that made it, in empathy disorders there is an inability and inefficiency to understand fundamentally that words and their corresponding feelings, believes, attitudes, needs, perceptions are SEPARATE from the person who “made them.” If this developmental level was not reached, within the brain itself, then there is no ability to empathize and no ability to “throw words” into the center of the ring to be considered mutually.
The creative act of negotiation and compromise on a human species social level was destroyed before it was ever born. Major abortion. Major problem.
One cannot give what one has no capacity to let go of, because they do not understand the concept of SEPARATION appropriately. And if this developmental stage of separation and return, of rupture and repair was not transacted between the infant and the caregivers in its environment, one can not truly receive, either. The RETURN part of the transaction cannot be negotiated and completed, either. Hence, the starving to death.
The trained monkeys can perhaps learn to ACT AS IF, to act as if – and I mean that literally, they have the brain patterns to negotiate social interactions as if that part of their brain was operating “normally,” but even monkeys know when parts of their brain and others’ have been altered. They group together accordingly and they stay there. There is no forced hope and no denial of reality among monkeys. What you get is what you get.
So separation and return, rupture and repair, give and take are all a “one thing” within the brain because they must utilize the same brain regions, pathways, circuitry and neurons. The end result is a person who cannot empathize or mentalize and cannot be anything else than fundamentally selfish and self-centered.
If there is truly any hope of changing this we need to explore the possibilities as they may exist in the actual brain regions involved in the process of transacting cooperations between people – which appears to be the limbic sphere of the brain as it interacts with a healthy cortex, and with the hemispheres of the brain as they interact fluidly and flexibly, competently and adequately with one another. All the areas of the brain are altered by infantile peritrauma, neglect, abuse, stress and maltreatment. So far, neuroscientists give no hope that these altered brains are reversible.
It then becomes a “buyer beware” situation. These brains lack the capacity to openly explore anything. They have closed, rather than open minds. Their brains were made that way as they formed in dangerous environments. Walls without windows or doors. These are not the brains that gave our ancestors the evolutionary advantage over the other hominid species that were our competitors. We beat them out because we had not only the open window open door policy within our brains, but the neurological, physiological equipment to allow this policy to be implemented.
These closed-door brains will spend an entire lifetime rigidly defending against any chance of penetration which is perceived physiologically and perceptually as threat of extinction.
These brains are obedient only to one supreme directive that was given to them as they formed: “You have to survive at any cost, no matter what, and don’t EVER be fooled into thinking otherwise. There is nobody to help you. You are entirely alone. This world is extremely dangerous. That is all there is, extreme danger (formed under conditions of peritrauma). Take care of your own survival needs first, foremost, always and only. There is no alternative. Case closed.”
We can work with an existing brain once it has been formed. We can expand capabilities and enhance its functioning. But we cannot go back and fundamentally revise its architecture or its fundamental patterns of operation. This is not a reversible deal. Once formed, always formed.
It’s like when your house is built and finished. You move in and you live there. Otherwise, what’s the point? Nature is an effective and efficient mistress, but she is only forgiving to a point. And once critical growth periods of infant development have passed, there is no going back to fix the fundamental mistakes. Again, buyer beware and you get what you get. The time to worry about how to change these brains is before they get damaged in the first place.
As “outsiders,” we have to clarify our intentions regarding these people. Any conception that they can be “cured” or “healed” or “fixed” is an illusion. To not understand the fundamental reality of these brains is to maintain our ignorance of biological fact. These people will never be “normal” or “ordinary.” They are and will remain until their death, different from what we perceive as ordinary in our supposedly “benevolent” or at best “benign” world. They were not designed or built to operate in anything other than threat of immediate extinction conditions. We have to understand these brains and then realistically assess what the real options are, because there are very real consequences to our continuing to let these brains develop themselves – which will continue to happen primarily because these brains, in interaction with the forming brains of their offspring – essentially “download” the exact same operating systems to their children. And down the generations it goes.
Our brains do not develop in a vacuum. They develop – evolve – in interaction with their environment so that they are adapted to it. No different than pouring liquid jello into a mold. At the end you get what you get, and we best quit blaming, denying, crying and whining about it. We do not have to be Mr. Forest Gump, “Stupid is as stupid does.”
So, we learn to do an inventory. What are the limitations of these brains and what are their assets? We don’t have to have all the answers in the beginning to at least begin to head in the right direction. Go ahead, even with your eyes closed, take your hands and your minds and begin to feel around the elephant. At some point you will “get the picture” and you will know exactly what you are dealing with. After all, this is not a purely magical world. We can define tangibles once we get our brains and minds wrapped adequately around the “object” of our investigation – using both our minds – the left and the right one.
We get the image, the complexity, the “interactionalities,” and the context of life with our right brains, and our ability to focus and delineate, order and reorder from our left. The left brain can only be logical if it has enough of the relevant information given to it by the right.
These different brains lack the capacity to process any information that is different than the information that was given to it in the beginning as they formed. We can stand and knock and pound and plead, even huff and puff and blow, but those doors are NOT going to open. It is not physiologically possible. Our only hope, I believe, is to find other alternative possibilities for entrance and exit – though I don’t know where or what they might be. We have to join together on both sides of the wall through the exercise of will to discover our solutions.
That we all continue to live in this world together is enough motivation for us all to attempt to find a solution other than ostracizing, condemning and running in fear. What we must take into consideration is that it is nearly an even split within our populations between the have empathy and the have not empathy persons. Between the securely attached and the insecurely attached.
Health and wellness is not a finite state. It is, I believe, a life process that is available for pursuit by those who live on either side of these “walls-within-the-brain.” We are entering new and uncharted territory. I do not believe that at any time in the entire at least 4 million years of human evolutionary history have we reached the point, until now, that we can address this fundamental problem within our species. This is because the scientific advancements related to neurochemistry and neurophysiology, with its increasingly sophisticated and advanced imaging abilities, can SHOW us information that is crucial as to what is going on inside our skulls. What we have to realize, however, is that the brain is not separate from our nervous systems, or our bodies. The brain is as much a part of our central nervous system as our elbow is part of our arm, our knee is part of our foot, our eye socket is part of our skull, our chin is part of our face. In this intimate connection is a wholeness of operation that includes everything the body experiences.
I therefore agree with Albert Ellis and William Glasser that what we choose to think and how we choose to act and behave has cascading effects on our body – how we think, how we feel, how we perceive, and how our physiology and brain chemistry operates.
At the same time we have to accept and quit denying that while everyone might be born more or less equal, we are not created equal from conception forward because of the variations in exposure to environmental influences that affect HOW our genes manifest and how our brains develop. Therefore, there are limitations that have to be identified and recognized as affecting a person, and the fist place we will see the permanent changes is in the arena of possibilities regarding so-called “selfishness.”
And why should we be surprised that this is so? After all, if you strip that word of its “ishness” part, and get down to what really matters, the substance of the word, you are left with the core, the “self.” That is where the damage was done, in the formation of this self. A self cannot be a self without a brain. Everybody knows that.
The sense of the sound, “ish” in English does not prompt us to resonate with positive feelings. “Oh, ish!” You might say when an infant takes of its diaper and smears itself with feces. “Oh, ish!” you might say when the toe of your boot pokes at a dead bloated body of a porcupine lying on the ground and its belly bursts open and the maggots fall out.
“Oh, ish!” we can say in reaction to another human being who is behaving in a way that we do not understand. “Oh, self-ish!” Perhaps we can argue that everyone is essentially self-ish. The difference is that with a secure brain a person has a different process of making choices, and alternatives are possible that are not possible for someone whose brain formed insecurely. Secures operate with a capacity to choose to be selfish or not to be selfish from the core of their being. Insecures, on the other hand, cannot make this choice from the core of their being because it was made for them as their brains were formed.
“Oh, ish! Oh, icky-poo!” What we are really saying is “Oh, shame on you! How could you? You disgust me! What is wrong with you? I want nothing further to do with you unless you change.” Well, an infant will no doubt stop smearing itself with feces at some point, but a dead porcupine belongs with its maggots. We have to understand that nature is a force of her own whether we like to admit our deferred status to her or not. Nature evolved us, not the other way around. It is our childish insistence on believing ourselves to be the center of the world as a species, at least within Western culture, that forces the continuation of resulting collisions with nature’s course among us. We can “pretend mode think” however we want, not grow up, and remain at risk for unnecessary malaise. The choice IS ours to make. But denying reality does not change it.
Mother provides a wonderful example in her 1953 diary of John’s ability to imaginate as he swept the cobwebs out of the sky.
Essential survival is an essentially selfish act. As I said earlier, these different brains know that they are all alone and that extinction is imminent.
There is no way to look at this without first understanding that this is about insecure attachment. Once someone reaches a certain age, we force them, as a culture, to become self-sufficient, but we cannot confuse this with autonomy. The state of true autonomy is a gift and a blessing that results from a secure attachment infancy and early childhood. So far as we know at this point, this is the only way to acquire this state. Is there another way to get it? Is there another means to the same end?
We don’t know because we haven’t looked. Replaying the little children’s rhyme, “Three Blind Mice,” merely turns them into the “See no evil, Hear no evil, Do no evil,” monkeys. Boy, that’s progress for you! I sure want in on that game! I think it has some real potential!
Fallacy is as fallacy does. “The proof is in the pudding.” Eat crow, put the blackbirds in the pie, watch dancing silverware and send the cow right over the moon. Stand by and watch London bridge come falling down. Beware of the Pied Piper, put your wife in a pumpkin, send your kids to live with the old woman in the shoe and then sail around the world in it. Whatever you do, just stay a Babe in Toyland. Who cares if the house of our world and the house of our culture is a disintegrating mess? We can go right along believing that the essential fault lies with somebody else. Therefore, the solution is not ours to worry about, either. “Let somebody else pick up the toys, I didn’t put them there myself. And I sure the hell didn’t break them. So leave me alone. Can’t you see I’m busy playing?”
What about the saying, “Good things come to those that wait?” Well, let me assure you there are a goodly number of people still out there waiting, and if you are NOT one of them, then you might think about counting your blessings, because that is exactly what they are. America is a culture caught in their Great American Dream, and maybe it’s time we woke up!
What gave us the right to look straight down our noses at anybody with disdain, judging them to be inferior in any way from ourselves? Who put us up, as my mother used to say, “on our high horse?” Who gave us this position of supposed superiority? Who installed us on the pedestal, or better yet on the throne? Who imbedded the “inferiors” within our psyche so that we can continue to dream that all we have to do is EARN the good life, and if someone else is wanting, it is their own damn fault? “After all, look at me,” we can say. “I pulled myself up with my boot straps, and if you want to, and if you weren’t so lazy, you could do it, too. I therefore owe you nothing but my disdain. There are haves and have nots because God has ordained it from on high. You get just what you deserve.”
I will not waste time or space by going into details about how this myth is supported, encouraged, propagated and endorsed within the American culture. In a society of immigrants, which actually includes every one of us that had ancestors that ever evolved far enough to journey away from the north of Africa, we will do anything it takes to justify our claim that we are our own destiny in denial of the fact that we are essentially homeless wanderers ourselves.
After all, who wants to be a homeless wayfarer unless you are a pirate, a mercenary, a nanny, or a member of the Merchant Marines?
I believe that it is our collective denied perception of ourselves as “homeless immigrants” that is the pivotal error in the foundation of our American psyche, or combined Mind. Just as an infant is born into a family that possesses a combined mind, even if that mind belongs to a solitary caregiver, and whose brain development is therefore contingent upon the experiences the infant has with that caregiver’s brain-mind, we as a society contribute to the national brain-mind that influences the development of the brain-mind that its citizens possess. The physical environment affects our development, and brain-minds are part of that physical environment.
What is being passed down the generations on the most fundamental level is the perception of security – that is, the nature and quality of responsiveness of the human caregivers regarding attachment security – safety and secure base for exploration. If an individual does not have a foundation of safety in the world, and does not have a safe base, its entire life scheme will be affected. This individual will not form a brain that is based upon belonging to its species. It will form an alternative brain based on the perception it has gained through interactions with a threatening unsafe environment, that it is alone and must “take care of itself at all costs.”
The Great American Dream is a manifestation of an insecure attachment history. The nature of insecure attachment is that it does not provide the brain capacity for exercising empathy. We are, therefore as a culture, no different than a reactive attachment disordered child.
Immigrants immigrate because they cannot meet one or more of their basic human needs where they came from originally.
Insecure attachments originate in competitive environments where there is a scarcity of resources. This is in contrast to a secure environment where resources are adequate if not plentiful, and the operating system of the individuals within it is based on cooperation rather than competition.
If we could look back on the origins of our species, the Homo sapien sapiens, The Wise Ones, we would find that we were hatched in the nest of an environment that contained enough resources that we eventually grew our pin feathers, then our full flight feathers, and then took off across the planet. We CAME from a secure base. We evolved within a secure attachment system of cooperation, and this security built itself into our evolving social brain. It is the way we are meant to be.
We had the ability to cooperatively surmount challenges presented to us by the environment. We were able to drive off or slay great dragons, the last of them no doubt being members of other hominid species that were our competitors. Once they were gone, and the earth became tamer, we evolved to the point where our only true enemies, other than viruses, are each other.
So now we turn our “divide and conquer, divide and conquer, divide and conquer” obsessions not only upon one another, but upon the planet. We evidently want to pursue our course until all the land and all the resources are gone. And as the world grows smaller and more intimate, we are creating within our species a division based on formed brain structure and function that could, I believe, conceivably divide our species in half. It already has though we do not see it yet among us. There are those with secure attachment and therefore with the capacity for empathy, which accounts for 50% of our population, and then there is the other half who have insecure attachment-formed brains that truly lack the physiological ability to experience empathy.
If all of us combined our efforts, our unbiased and objective efforts, right this moment we could sort out who is who among us and this division would become perfectly clear. It is terrifying. I don’t blame us for not wanting to know this truth. The empathy pathologies of half of our population enforce selfishness. The other half simply chooses it.
This unfortunately puts us in the position of needing to depend on the securely attached half of the population that at least has the capacity to choose NOT to be selfish to care enough about the whole situation to reduce their selfishness enough to put forth the effort to not only identify how this dis-ease is affecting our culture (and the world), but we also need them to take the response-able path toward finding and implementing a solution. The rest of us with insecure attachments can make the choice to ACT AS IF we can be something other than selfish, and to assist our secure half in their endeavors.
The OTHER complicating factor that we all must be aware of is that our American culture is ITSELF an insecurely attached mindset. In order for any of us to make progress toward creating a more secure base for any individual or for our culture as a whole, we will have to address this level of our collective mind as well.
We will have to accept the fact that all of us who ended up American and who had ancestors who traveled here from elsewhere because they had great needs that were not being met “back home” (and that does include all of us that are not of indigenous ancestry), have insecurity issues that create selfishness within us, the sense that we must “go it alone” and survive by our own “Yankee ingenuity.” We cannot do this without considering the effects of intergenerational transmission of unresolved trauma that causes insecure attachments in the first place, no matter what geographical location a person and their ancestors came from.
This means, whether we like it or not, that we have to find our true truth about victimization, because once the wholeness of the archetype of victim-hero is split, one half or the other takes on a separate life of its own that will become – and already has become – dark and threatening. We have to explore and reunite the aspects of victim and perpetrator, hero and savior, helpless, hopeless, powerless and powerful. Control and lack of control. Being the manipulated versus being the manipulator.
We split archetypes and we split atoms. There may come a time when this beautiful planet that is our home is not large enough to encompass either process. We do not want to wait until we all become homeless immigrants with no place left to go.
Our focus has to return to the essential requisites for a whole and balanced life: safety and security. I mean that on every conceivable, ever expanding concentric circle of any possible conception of these words.
We would rather remain an arrogant lot! “The bigger they are the harder they fall.” We can even maneuver ourselves into justification if we happen to get caught being the middle wo/man, no matter how hard we have worked or tried! We can be little fish in big ponds or big fish in little ponds, but we hardly want to recognize that without the pond we would hardly be fish at all.
Is it, then, the size of the fish that matters most, or the qualities of the pond it lives in? Because the moment we consider ourselves separate from the environment that surrounds us – including the environment that is contained within our minds – is the day we are in serious danger whether we know it or not. Fish cannot control the quality of their water, but unless our IQ is seriously impaired, we are all – the selfish by choice and the selfish without choice –responsible for the quality of our attitudes. I believe this because I believe our deepest attitudes are connected to our true core, and that is the core of our soul. And nobody came into this life without a soul. We are not that lucky. Everyone, therefore, is a live along a continuum of accountability and responsibility.
A fish has only the responsibility to keep itself alive, and it possess the response-abilities that allow it to do so. If, however, its environment is seriously deficient, the fish cannot overcome these circumstances beyond its control. Without provision of adequate resources necessary for survival, nothing a fish can do will keep it alive. The ultimate accountability, therefore, is in the realm of life, sickness, or death. A fish is not concerned with happiness, and is only biologically capable of interacting with its environment on a primary biological level. If there are deficiencies in its environment, it did not cause them and cannot fix them.
We are not fish, even though we might act like them. Our sphere of influence encompasses, on one level or another, the entire planet – and that includes influence upon one another. We acquired our particular rung on the evolutionary ladder by being members of a social species. Our brains are therefore designed to be social brains. Any alterations in the development of our brain structure and functioning will first and foremost affect us on this social level.
The pursuit of the Great American Dream may result in the appearance of great things. But to whom and at what cost?
We might say, or like to believe, that not everyone whose brain has been formed through an insecure attachment ends up manifesting a psychopathology. But what happens if we look closer with the eye of truth rather than the eye of deception or misconception? An empathy pathology always results in a distortion in the possession of and operation of conscience.
We are then capable of acting in ways that are morally and ethically wrong and reprehensible. We can justify behaviors in part because we are in fundamental denial of our connection to one another and to the world. As long as we continue to see our selves as separated from, not a part of, not responsible for, and not accountable, we can continue to justify within our own minds that our ends are justified themselves by our justifiable means.
We need to understand the nature of the human brain’s functioning. It operates through a process of sophisticated feedback loops that connect systems with one another and manifest themselves in action – either invisible to the naked eye in that they are operating solely within the body “container” of the person, or more visibly as they are “coordinatingly” enacted in the external world. These external manifestation of feedback loop systems as they operate impact and connect with the myriad other feedback loops that are connected to myriad other feedback loop systems in the entire world around us that we call, blithely, our environment.
Not to offend anyone, but simply, we are shitting in our own bed. We are choosing to look only so far a field as we feel motivated to consider as we fulfill our own selfish aims to get what we want, all the time justifying ourselves by proclaiming as loudly as we can that it is ‘Ours by divine proclamation, by divine intent.” Where did we come off personifying divinity as an external justifying agency for anything, no matter how right or how wrong, that we might choose to do, any action we might choose to take, no matter what the costs or consequences to or for anybody else, including our planet?
Believe me, I did not intend when I began the process of writing this book to end up making a scathing indictment of the Great American Dream and those who support, enforce, and maintain it. But seeing that both of my parents were American, and gave birth to American children, I have the “divine right” to assert my observations about what living in this nation did to me.
My parents did not grow up in a vacuum, either. They were influenced by the culture they grew up in, each from their individual coordinates of the geography of the planet and the beliefs propagated within their minds and psyches. It matters not whether we twist the words to say “I was just manifesting divine destiny” or if we say “manifest destiny was just manifested itself through me.”
The end result is that we are asserting the claim that what we do in our life is just perfectly OK because I say it is – even if it is morally wrong – or because someone with the power and authority to tell me it was right told me – I heard – and I acted accordingly.
I am not shouting through my hat, hole or rabbit in it or not. My parents seemed to have been motivated to chomp off a huge bite – considering the resources available to them – of the Great American Dream. And off into the sunset or the sunrise they galloped on their so-fine steeds. Fortunately they were not directly descended from the great and powerful Wizard of Oz, and their range of influence was quite small indeed. Small enough to only truly contain 6 innocent children.
And even though I was the child singled out to be the manifest-destiny recipient of the crown of the kingdom of Evildom, as if it were an un-coveted Golden Globe award, all 5 of my siblings experienced and suffered from the bizarre and convoluted effects of the distortions contained within my mother’s altered brain.
On the topmost level you may be called upon to admire my parents. Perhaps called to criticize them. On another level you may sympathize with them, or empathize with them. There are far more voices left out of this story than are included in it, but as you read you will be adding your own. Perhaps loudly, perhaps subtly, but do not be lulled into believing that they are not there.
And once you pick up the sound of your own voice as it is marching or sliding alongside the words in this book, you might be able to identify that even within your voice there are others. There may be your parents’, or your grandparents’ or those ancestors beyond them. There may be your childrens’, your neighbors’, or anyone’s voice you may have heard along the journey of your life. But most importantly, there may be at least two voices within your own brain, that of your left hemisphere which identifies logic, sequence, reason or the lack of it; and your right brain hemisphere that can hear echoes and complexities, metaphors and poetries, multiple meanings of words and images connected to them. Listen for the opened floodgates of your own soul-heart-calling. And if they aren’t there, you can even read this book sitting beside the dam.
These voices may sing, holler, chant or curse. They may argue, condone or condemn. But rest assured that behind the words that I give you in this book that belonged to my mother, there are billions she did not write, would not write, about what raged at me behind closed doors, raged at me through the silence of a mountain landscape so far from people that nobody ever heard them but me – and my siblings.
That part of the story lies hidden as part of the dark side of the Great American Dream. People like to say that we are always doing the very best that we can do at any given point in our lives. My suggestion to you is, that is often just not good enough. A “good enough” caregiver during infancy and early childhood will give to their offspring a good enough secure attachment that they, in turn, will pass onto their children. What my parents received and what they had to pass onto us was not good enough. But fortunately, in the case of myself and I believe for my siblings, there was a “something else.”
And that, dear readers, is what this story is all about.
Just wrote in the Nosebleed file about this, in relation to Cindy’s comment yesterday wondering about PTSD and the comfort feelings I experience with Ernie.
I realized that those are flashback memories from anything that felt comforting, safe and secure. They are emotional flashback memories! They were not integrated either into me or into my life as a child. The remained separate with a life of their own.
These are like “false comfort and security” circuits in my brain. They are the only ones I have. It is like storing a file in the wrong folder on a computer, but that is where you have to go find it and open it if you are going to feel that good comfort feeling in the present.
So is there a way to move the file, rename the file, separate it out from all the nastiness where the experience of “comfort” was filed in the first place?
To alter the ATTACHMENT pattern of what triggers and stimulates this feeling according to the OLD triggers, and find a way, or learn to change the whole entire process and circuit? A big job!
But what I was thinking here is that it is tied to what would happen in therapy between the client and the therapist. As long as the PTSD patterns of operation are not talked about right off the bat, then any comfort the client experiences with the therapist is being placed in the OLD PTSD emotional memory trigger file in the PTSD folder, rather than in an “ordinary”, “integrate-able” good memory of secure attachment file in the present.
So what is happening is that any time our “attachment system” is being activated, those old unintegrated PTSD attachment files are OVERRIDING the reality of what is happening in the present.
The present comfort feelings are being stored in a file under PTSD that is named “not able to integrate.”
That is NOT what we want to foster or facilitate. We need to find a way to disconnect present comfort emotional experiences from the PTSD comfort memory emotional flashbacks.
It would probably be like opening an entirely new file, or circuit within the brain that can absolutely avoid contamination with the information in the old files.
The problem being that if the brain formed under conditions of infant abuse peritrauma, and if those circuits are etched in stone and cannot be changed, then we are looking at a very complicated, difficult, if not impossible task.
What one would have to count on is the brain’s amazing ability to utilize resilience factors. We ARE talking about memory, its process of being accessed, stored, integrated or not integrated – and how these processes are connected to feedback loops that are utilized by the brain in future interactions as well as in the immediate present.
There would also be difficulties with transition. If emotional experiences as children were stored properly so that they are integrated, the process itself would have meant that those memories are CARRIED FORWARD as a part of the WHOLE PERSON IN THE PRESENT.
Because they were not integrated, they remain separated from the individual, and did not go through a normal process of being altered, changed, rearranged through the usual flexible and adaptable way that memory usually serves people as they grow, learn, develop, evolve and change.
PTSD memories are not integrated, therefore they have remained UNALTERABLE! The natural brain process without PTSD allows memories to be altered. It is the fact that these memories are OUTSIDE of the alterable that they are instead a part of the PTSD PACKET.
This has to be tied to the idea that we must find a way to create a whole new conscious self – to from ourselves in the present through a conscious process that is somehow completely different than our PTSD process that overrides and overrules everything we experience – that is not only the filter of our life, but its entire operational system as well.
This is especially fundamental because those of us whose brains formed this way suffered attachment trauma. This may be an aspect of what they call the “disorganized/disoriented” attachment style.
Under this model I have assumed that I lack the capacity to attach in an ordinary way because I do not have the required mental representations of secure attachment, and assumed that my brain has formed in such a way – without the correct models – that I will lack them forever.
What I am now wondering is how this PTSD unintegrated emotional trauma memories and their reenactments fits in. If the circuit for closeness and attachment brings up the automatic override of “false security in a threatening world,” then how do I form a “file” that has only “true security in a safe world” comfort memories – which contain both emotion and fact hooked together and integrated into my present self and my present reality and my present life?
It would be like starting over again with a new computer with a blank harddrive that can be filled in the correct manner – and yet we do not have the option of getting a brand new brain.
Can we upgrade? Can we install a new operating system? Can we form new circuits that completely bypass the old ones?
A further scary implication is that any situation or activity that I associate in the present with good feelings is tied to something from my childhood that I associated those feelings with. But because of the severity of the early early onset PTSD, nothing within my brain has probably been integrated or processed into my SELF correctly.
There is, therefore, a continued danger that all good things, (as well as bad) are being placed in PTSD rather than ordinary, whole and “integrate-able” folders and files.
PTSD is considered chronic and life changing. It changes a person – they say forever. But if we can specifically detect how, what, where our PTSD systems are operating, can we DO SOMETHING DIFFERENTLY NOW?
Can we form a new road that bypasses the old one completely? Wow, what a metaphor is contained in those writings of mother’s about our ROAD!
It is NOT just the destination – be it the goal of arriving at the place of the homestead – OR the goal of arriving at things that are good for us and give us true comfort and satisfaction. It is very possibly the ROAD that we have to travel to get there that is more permanent within us than is the “captured goal of arrival” either at a PLACE or at a STATE OF MIND and a STATE OF BEING.
Our entire early years of homesteading, if not all of them, were intimately connected to the troubles we had with the ROAD we had to travel to get there – or the mountain itself which came alive and took over the road completely. The nature of the weather, the structure of the mountain, our needs and our interactions with it, such as cutting through the tree roots that held the mountain marsh in place naturally – our alterations as we tried to get what we wanted – are all part of the process of TRYING TO LIVE up on that mountain.
Mother’s letters are there for a tangible eye witness record of a process of struggle to get to a place called home.
If that HOME is actually a metaphor for our SELF, a happy self in a secure place of belonging and beauty, an externalized concretized physical literal HOME OF SELF IN THE WORLD, our particular PLACE,
Her-story, herstory, and our story as we were there as little children enacting the epic along with our parents every step of the way, is about the incredible challenge and struggle it takes to GET THERE, and the continual longing, yearning within to BE there and NOT HAVE TO LEAVE, to remain there always and forever in that safe, secure beautiful place that was OURS.
Other people who do not homestead are able to accomplish this task without pain of struggle, not even with the challenge of overcoming obstacles – to a place that is their SELF in the world that they carry with them, that is not tied to anything external in the world whatsoever.
So what I am recording is an externalized literal love affair with our projected happy self. Reading and recording mother’s words is a process NOT of reliving her story, but of finding the archetypal STORY, the epic, which is in some way intimately connected with the Great American Dream – of being lost and looking for home, “trying to find my way home” as the song says.
We went to Alaska and then found the Home-stead. Found the place – that’s a start – as did all the immigrants that came to this country and found a spot to walk, sit and lie down on here – somewhere.
People immigrate to find themselves in a new place – to find a new self.
Ordinary life and brain processes are meant to allow us to recreate a new self within us in interaction with our experiences every single instant of our life as our past self moves through our present self into a future self that is CONSTANTLY flexibly and adaptively becoming a NEW and expanded version of who we once were, becoming who we are NOW, becoming who we will be in the future, but IS a fundamental process of becoming.
PTSD removes the ability to go through that process from us.
The epic journey of trying to find ourselves in a place called home. No wonder we were always MOVING. We entirely had the whole process of BEING and BECOMING – externalized into the world instead of internalized into our family and our individual selves.
The more mother dominated me – and the older I got the more effort and energy she had to put into that domination because there was “more of me” to dominate, the more she sucked the life right out of me, sucked my life out of me – and the bigger the emptiness within me became. I was like a zombie – I just got to be a bigger zombie – with a vacuum and a void within me that was the space of mine that mother occupied.
I had no self to integrate anything WITH or INTO because she occupied “all of my land.” She homesteaded ME!
In some ways, then, I was the shadow of the homestead to her. The homestead was outside of her but physical and perfect.
I was outside of her, physical and completely imperfect.
I was the anti-thesis of what she had projected onto the homestead. The homestead was something she loved and wanted.
I was something she hated and did not want.
What I need to understand is that it was all a projection from her own unintegrated PTSD experiences from her life.
Hillman would no doubt add that a Bad Seed came into this world attached to her. In this case, she would have needed extra care, attention and assistance as a child to have been able to possibly find a way to avoid that Bad Seed’s manifestation in her life and through her.
I don’t understand all of that yet. I guess it is something I do not want to believe or accept. But then, as Hillman notes, it is the American Way to deny that the Bad Seed exists. It was with Hitler, and it became Hitler.
Turning a blind eye does not make something vanish.
Why would a Bad Seed even be allowed into this place called Earth? Is that asking too big a question that I am not in any way prepared to answer? Is it something humans are just supposed to KNOW and accept? That Evil exists, and “that the boogey man will get you if you don’t watch out.” (Ramona’s favorite childhood story.)
So a person’s history, their personal story like mine, is connected on a mythic level because it contains within it certain patterns that are representational of the larger picture of a way in the world.
It then is no longer my personal story, which is true for all of us to the extent we understand this.
My story through my mother and father is about that looking for the home of the self in the home of the world, and having a damn hard time getting there once it is found.
Now this is about not being a Phoenix and rising from the ashes assuming anything like the form of the old self. This is literally about being re-born into a different self, as much as is possible. The more we understand about what this process is, how it operates, how to do it, what is required of us, the better off we will be.
It is like building a “new world order” which includes our new self operating in a new world that we are re-training ourselves to perceive, interact with, and remember differently then we did before.
For example, this probably means that any feelings of comfort I receive from smoking cigarettes is tied to an emotional flashback reenactment of whatever feelings of comfort I have that are unintegrated from the peritrauma of my childhood.
Forming new memories is, for us, an entirely new and different process.
We could not integrate the homestead into the whole of our lives.
I have not been allowed to integrate Ernie into the whole of my life.
This leads immediately to the thought, “What are we really doing with the art when we do art therapy?”
It has to be about integration in the present.
I have not been able to integrate my training as an art therapist into my life.
We have to know what it is we want, what is REAL NOW and how and what we want to be different. We have to NAME and identify the reality of now and then AIM to be whatever we truly desire.
Because safety, comfort, a sense of security is essential and foremost, it is probably there that we first have to look and work. There that we tend the garden.
I would need to identify the emotions and feelings that I associate with comfort and safety and security. Then I would have to realize that when I feel those feelings in the present they are still “trauma reenactments” in that they are part of the emotional memory flashbacks of my PTSD system!
And then work from there. These emotions, as flashback enactments, are still planted in the old garden of a dangerous world.
It would be like starting a whole new garden. The old one being completely toxic. Perhaps as in art therapy we DO need to externalize, literalize, and concretize these emotional flashbacks so that we can NOW take them back inside of us in a new way and put them in a new safe place.
In that way the image of homesteading fits, too, possibly. Having to find the spot, get there, clear the land and plant the crop. Only we never harvested anything. Eventually nature took over, but for a long time, the time of my childhood, the fields with their beautiful, lush tall Timothy grass stayed right where they were, along with the slowly decaying and disintegrating windrows.
That was the work of my father, making those fields. It was as much a requirement for proving up and gaining title as was the living there and making a dwelling that was habitable, as mother writes.
It may be important for me to think about the fact that the Alaska did not come into my life until my 6th birthday, and the homestead until my 7th. I was therefore given an image, a myth, an epic, a metaphor to USE and enact in my life and in my psyche far after the truly brain formative years before I reached these ages.
That may indicate that a new mythology can fit, or find us, or we can find it, any time in our lives. It might be that I had a vacant spot within me just waiting for this myth to appear and take its place.
The same way that an immigrant finds that “go hither” myth later in life and then attaches their self to it, like a ship ties itself to a tug boat to make it into shore or through a channel into and out of open water.
The story, the myth, then becomes our teacher, our leader. We look to IT as an organizing force in our life, in our self. It represents to us HOW to be in the world in RELATION to it, in relation with it – it teaches and guides us in RELATING.
The homestead was our family’s organizing factor, our organizing force.
The other strong force was money!! Perhaps the financial aspects truly represented, on many levels – as it does for all of us – the contrast between our internal world and the external one.
This is all connected to the process of healing trauma by giving it words, names, recognizing its images and taking “control” of them – taking what the right brain knows and passing it to the left, so that things can integrate through the process from then on of passing them back and forth in the whole package of the self, not just as splintered off and separated pieces.
It is, therefore, about
Loving Our Own Way Home
This is about doing for ourselves what nobody can do for us. We have to take what happens to us in our lives and find our own places to put them within the home of our self. Nobody can do this for us, though they can assist us in any way possible. I hate to repeat the old adage, but it is “an internal job.”
It is about how we take the external and make it internal – make it our own and make it our self.
Who would want to live in a house where the bathroom was a thousand miles away from the kitchen?
Cindy talked yesterday about having that line of protection that beyond that nobody can pass, that they cannot cross and remain in our lives. She also called in a circle of protection around us.
I don’t have one. I need one. I have to create one.
But that has to be in this new conscious self and can have nothing to do with the old self because the old self does not have one in the first place – obviously – or I would not be going through this “in the first place.”
There are certain words and concepts that can act as catalysts, bridges across what is know and what is not known about PTSD. Cindy’s observation about “reverse PTSD” and comfort yesterday provided one of those LINKS that opened a door, a channel, a connection for me.
These comfort emotional memory flashbacks are like the hoped for and desperately needed antidotes to the other emotional memories, so they are a way of attempting to instate or reinstate homeostatic equilibrium point of balance. But they belong to the past, not the present, and this cannot work.
There can be no integration. There is a faulty feedback loop in operation.
I am also thinking that I was given the “wound” at the moment I was born, actually during mother’s labor with me.
That gives me more accurately PTSD that it peritraumatic stress disorder. I never formed any personality separate from the chronic experience of trauma. Therefore there cannot be a “post” reaction that implies something that was “pre” was altered and changed.
I would suspect that all other aspects of the normally recognized PTSD apply, but with one vital distinction in this regard.
If a person has begun the process of integrating themselves into life and integrating life into themselves, and has begun the personality formation process PRIOR to the onset of the trauma, THEIR PROCESS IS DIFFERENT.
At the point that the trauma occurred a breach was created, a wound occurred and altered the formation of their personality so that the PTSD influence changed who they would have become if it had not happened FROM THAT POINT ONWARD.
There is for these people, then, a partially formed personality that does not match the changed personality that formed FROM the point of the trauma. This wound allows for the occurrence of what I will call and “infection” either from within or from without.
It is an infection they had no immunity against.
They were on their own road of building a self and were “rudely interrupted.”
They were taken from one “dream” and thrown into another one and there is no bridge between them through, around, over, or underneath the pain.
In my case, however, I never had the opportunity to form any aspect of a personhood or personality PRIOR TO THE TRAUMA because I was born into it.
Trauma is therefore incorporated entirely into who I am. The ability to survive, endure and adapt to the trauma came WITH the trauma itself, and was NOT something that happened to me down the line, later on.
I was formed entirely in, through and by the trauma. It is not only built into me, but my coping mechanisms and adaptations are built into me as well.
I had no prior dream to be waken up from and thrown into another one.
There is and was only one dream, and it remains the only dream I continue to live with and by and in.
My PTSD is, I believe, different from that I would describe as early onset but not from birth.
Mine would be more like immediate onset, chronic, no reprieve.
Theirs would be later early onset, chronic or periodic trauma with some reprieve.
This would be like “with prior or without prior.”
I have no prior personality to “fall back on.” But I suspect that having a “prior personality partial formation” causes more trouble than not having one at all. My wound is entirely incorporated into who I am, and has been from birth because the peritrauma completely formed my brain.
Theirs, however, created a chasm within them, where the wound itself and the infections that were able to enter into them through that wound, have never been integrated.
It is the nature of PTSD to prevent integration.
I had nothing to integrate and no capacity or ability to do so. I had no “formed self” outside of the trauma whatsoever. I am a “disorganized/disoriented” attachment person (or worse) whose entire organization occurred during trauma. Therefore my pattern of non-integration is “normal” to me. I had no wholeness to be splintered “later.”
So the question becomes, what provides any cohesiveness to ME at all? How can a lifetime of experience remain completely unintegrated?
My first thought is that the parts of my brain that could observe FACTS operates. It is a separate part of the brain with its own memory storage and retrieval system.
These facts are not integrated through an emotional connection process that I would suspect would be normal; hence my chronic sense of being disconnected, depersonalized, separated, isolated and derealized.
Like two opposing ends of a spectrum with no blending in the middle, I can “sense” things that I cannot explain or logically connect (I just KNOW), and I can perceive the external world, including people – without empathy –without emotional connection.
Like the scraps for my rugs, they are bits and pieces of “one thing” that I have to take through some kind of “extra-ordinary” process in order to comprehend or deal with them.
This is an arduous and inaccurate process because I never have the same facts that other’s do. Because I cannot empathize, I cannot gain any information about what others KNOW – a sort of signaling, communicative short-cut process ordinary people (I suspect) utilize all of the time.
I am always having to reinvent the wheel except in situations where I have come to believe certain “facts” can be “safely” associated and connected “logically” with one another.
I am therefore not only a camera lens but a reporter of the facts, always to the best of my ability to understand them. But there is no true integration or combination – therefore no ability to creatively, flexibly, and adaptively reconstruct from one set of “fact-accumulations” to another set. I cannot combine my “intuitive” or emotional understanding with semantic facts.
My differently-formed cortex and the altered pathways to and from it mean that my cortex is always in either high gear or neutral. I cannot adjust to the appropriate level of “energy required” for any given mental task. My gear ratio is different. I am probably in hyper-drive when others are working in low gear, and I am in low gear when they are in hyper-drive. I can literally HEAR how this sounds: the squealing high pitch of high gears that hurts the ears and the low growling sounds of lower gears that vibrate the body.
I am therefore always out of synch with the world around me in the same way that others are, and certainly not with them (again, no empathy ability) – not syncopated. (And yet this reminds me of my vision and how the world felt to me during it.)
This is also an attachment complication where I cannot combine the facts about even my relationship with my children with a connected emotional memory that lets me EXPERIENCE what it is as a WHOLE THING. This is very isolating!
- I have a different brain even though I have to survive in their world, one that I cannot ever truly adapt to.
Because I perceive, process and understand the world in a different way, I can never communicate “it” to anyone else, nor can I comprehend what they might be trying to communicate to me. We do not live on the same planet and we do not speak the same language. We truly are two alien though related species. We are the “throw-backs.”
I share no true “combined memory” with anyone.
I guess that makes the main “shared arena” of communication the “stage of life” where my unintegrated trauma emotional memories are continually being flashed backwards and forwards as enactments, reenactments, pantomimes, charades, hand and body shadow play and puppetry.
But unlike those with later, even early-later forming PTSD, my life, my drama IS my life. There is not OTHER me. I suspect, therefore, that this is intimately tied in with my pervasive sense of the necessity of living my life with TRUTH and INTEGRITY.
I try to live from my center, which is an interesting concept when I’m not sure I even have one. Unless it’s like the center of the swirl when the water’s going down the drain, or center of the dust devil or center of a tornado – that the act of being alive, of our energies swirling around connected to us even being here creates that center.
That means that my personality structure is PTSD-formed. PTSD IS the structure of my personality – except for genetic and “soul” characteristics – but HOW I operate is based on PTSD fundamentally.
While it may not be WHO I am in the world, it is HOW I am in the world.
This makes me again wonder about dissociation. If I had no OTHER self, then I could not dissociate – unless it was about connection to my soul.
Everything BEING divided means that everything is also happening NOW as a one thing.
As I explore how I am in the world, and think about having a CNS brain-body that evolved under peritrauma, I think about being “alien” and about being an “evolutionary throw-back.”
If the world were truly NOW as traumatic chronically as was the world I evolved in, I would be quite adequately formed and prepared to function in it, as would be those who are anything LIKE me in terms of how we formed. We would recognize one another (and still do even in this “ordinary” world), and we would probably survive better than those others not so prepared. We would breed, and we would propagate, and we would, I believe, have a better chance of making sure our species survived and endured.
I used to think that perhaps it was the genes for “mental illness” itself that have been preserved within our species as some sort of “emergency back up plan” for being able to survive the unsurvivable.
Now I am wondering if those genes are primarily activated in those cases of early-later forming PTSD, as adaptations to surviving when what USED TO BE a relatively safe world turns into one that is NOT safe at all.
In my case, if there is a genetic adaptation connection, the “mental illness” genes would have had to kick in immediately, along WITH the PTSD – possibly as a coinciding-with-the-ability-to-survive-the-unsurvivable adaptation mechanism. I would see this as a parallel process in some way, all of it being activated simultaneously from the beginning.
I would also add that prenatal conditions of ALL kinds enter the picture in addition to the simultaneous peritrauma with birth “syndrome.”
I think it would be more helpful and perhaps more accurate to consider a predisposition to survive the unsurvivable rather than as a predisposition toward mental illness. If what we perceive as mental illness is indeed a survival adaptation that allowed a person to survive – because these adjustments were required for survival – then what we might call mental health in those situations would be, in fact, NOT helpful and then THAT “healthy” adaptation would have been detrimental to the individual’s chances of survival
I think we need to appreciate and value any adaptation available within the human species that facilitates survival, especially under circumstances of threat of immediate extinction.
I also used to think that there was a healing advantage to “working through the pain.” I no longer believe this. I believe it is absolutely vital that we GET TO IT so that we know it is there. But never farther than perhaps sticking the very end of one toe in it, and then backing off. We need to know, like in my case, that is lies very near or at the center of who I formed to be in this world.
In cases of early-later forming PTSD, I suspect that this pain forms an impenetrable “wall” or “moat” around the self that had begun to form, and that having it there – and with the FACT that it IS unbearable pain, more than any human can bear in other words, presents us with a core cause of all the difficulties these people manifest and experience in their lives.
The call is ALWAYS for us to be connected to our self, and when a person is cut off and prevented from access to their self, and when every conceivable need to survive necessitates an avoidance of ever going near “the pain that kills,” THAT person is in the “unsolvable paradox.”
We have to know that pain is there, and we have to understand and accept that in some cases it is a pain that kills. But the difficulties that originate from AVOIDANCE of that pain can be changed into something else. A person can learn exactly what the pain is, where it is, and hopefully be able to create an “alternative” self that will probably have to be connected deeply to some conceptualization of SOUL.
The soul is not bound up within that pain. The pain is a physical reality, a collection of emotional memory that LeDoux states will be there for the lifetime of the person who carries it. But it is the survival reactions to the pain that mess up people and their lives, not the pain itself. We can obviously LIVE WITH IT WITHIN US! We are still here.
But it is powerful powerful stuff! We have to know that it IS there, where it is, what triggers it, what happens when its triggered, and how to keep ourselves safe in relationship to it. That pain is like a black hole and it can suck our own and others’ life force into it. It has a sort of “fatal attraction” to it because it IS other worldly, and it is so much bigger than we are. It belongs to the archetype of the world, and to the archetype of the human species.