YOU CAN’T RUN AWAY FAST ENOUGH: NOT WANTING TO BE HERE
Understanding Trauma in Daily Life: The Relationship between Trauma in Body Psychotherapy and the Formation of Samskaras (triggers) in Yoga Philosophy
Trauma, traumatic experience, pain, and unpleasantness is a fact of life in the sense that we all will experience pain in life, but we all deal with it differently, sometimes not very efficiently skillfully or functionally. For some of us a terrifying experience may produce a deep seated trauma that might cause a disruption and impairment of the rest of our life (creating dysfunction or pathology). Very often severe trauma is experienced (and imprinted upon the cellular memory and neuro-physiology) at birth and early infancy. For some, trauma begins in the womb (prenatal), while there is sufficient evidence to suggest that it can be peri-natal as well. Certainly early childhood is full of traumas big and small, but a healthy child is flexible and resilient -- they stay open to fresh new experiences. How well we rebound from and integrate these early painful and often terrifying experiences can make or break our future development and creative evolutionary potential.
Here we will call trauma any painful unintegrated and unresolved past experience that has left an imprint which triggers future dissociation, inhibition, compulsion, fears, hypervigilence, paranoia, anguish, and/or other negative dysfunctional modalities either emotionally and/or in the body physiology. Such is often termed post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or syndrome (PTSS).
Although some degree of injury, pain, and trauma is unavoidable in life, considerable energy may be invested in minimizing its potential harm. Through experience we learn how to evaluate risks and avoid it. Let it be said from the outset that in many instances over-protectedness, hyper-vigilance, moral condemnation, the issuing of taboo, warnings, threat of punishment, the need to dominate others, win, be in control, and aggression in general can all be seen as the results of past unresolved "injuries" and trauma, Especially the need to intimidate others such as the terrorization and psychological or physical punishment of children "for their own good" in itself is often a result of past trauma that has been externalized (in a sense of reverse projection upon the child) and then becomes part of a vicious circle of the transgenerational continuation of trauma and terrorism, which in most cases also leave a lasting scar on its new victims (the child). In the case of punishing children for their own good, the negative effects of this so called preventive treatment becomes worse than the original malady.
The passing down of transgenerational trauma on a psychological level will be discussed later, but since we are on the subject we may briefly touch it here since it does have a physical component i.e., in the neurophysiology.
Transgenerational trauma has been proven to be passed down more subtly than in the act of simple corporeal punishment. Nor is transgenerational trauma limited to intentional acts of mental/emotional punishment or verbal cruelty, rather it occurs more subtly and mostly unconsciously through right brain modalities (of sound, facial expressions, and psychic energy) especially in pre-natal and early childhood. Here we are saying that psychological injury (and hence from there physical injury) can be triggered through tonality, gesture, facial expression, silence, or even thought. Here even neglect and as well as emotional and sensory deprivation of a young infant at an early age will harm/cause injury to them both neuro-physiologically as well as emotionally. Later we show that neuro-physiological and emotional/mental injuries go hand in hand.
In short, the very young child is very open and vulnerable and that is healthy. They bond with the mother (and to some extent with the father) before birth in the womb. Here the bonding involves both nervous systems (the child's nervous system and the mother's) which of course at that time is very intimately connected. Thus whatever the mother bonds with at that time will also affect the embryonic development. If the mother (and to an extent the father) harbors unresolved traumatic elements, it will show up neuro-physiologically in the child, i.e., the infant will recognize it in a primal right-brain way and reacts, attempting to cope/adapt to that. When growing up (conditioned by family and society) the neuro-physiology of one’s environment in terms of authority figures, peers, and especially in terms of what people to fear, obey, and/or emulate usually strongly affects the developing nervous system of the child. These conditioned mechanisms of reaction most often become automatic and unconscious and hence become difficult to unravel in the older adult through neuro-physiological reprogramming modalities.
The mildest effects are that of ordinary coping and adapting, while the strongest effects are in an adaptation that severely cripples the child’s own organic development. This type of negative transgenerational neuro-physiological programming/conditioning usually occurs without conscious awareness and although deep seated is difficult to unravel and “bring to the light of day” without a trained therapist who is looking for its pattern. Obviously more attention is needed in educating parents (especially those who have been abused while a child) in becoming aware of their past abusive patterns while welcoming the birth of their "new" child as a sacred opportunity to reconnect with their own dissociated or inhibited creative right brain process.
While simple injuries leave few lasting scars, severe and painful injuries, which do not completely heal psychologically, leave both physical and mental residues. Even if mild abuse and trauma are repeated over and over again and/or similar syndromes arise where one is repeatedly traumatized, then most certainly habitual coping and adaptive mechanisms and habits become ingrained/imprinted even when the threat of repeated trauma is over. Trauma then can tragically become "a fact of life. One becomes familiar with it and expects it – it becomes "reality" and as such self perpetuating. The victim actually finds some comfort in its predictability. This, in fact, is one way that cruel men train animals -- this is how some dysfunctional families "function" -- this is how some organizations function (such as armies, criminal justice systems, etc). Later we will show how these embedded imprints (samskaras) have a discrete energy signature that can be identified to by one who has reached a certain degree of self clarity, integration, regulation and thus one becomes able to extricate oneself from its previously unconscious clutches and/or to point out such tendencies and syndromes as dysfunctional patterning and help reprogram others.
Severe traumatic experiences for many leaves long lasting scars or residues in terms of fear, resentment, hatred, bigotry, aggressiveness, anger, defensive/aggressive syndromes, dissociation, submissiveness, withdrawal, emotional numbness, distance, rigidity, hyperactivity, etc., depending upon the individual's unique circumstances and constitution. These imprinted scars severely closes one down from their creative potential in the moment -- they create a barrier from being open to further positive experiences Further on, we will learn how to recognize these syndromes and then how to deprogram these as well. Without successful deprogramming, defusing, re-wiring, repatterning, re-alignment, or re-integration many people become ready to "blow their fuse", "walking time bombs ready to explode", "wound up tight as a spring", "ready to spring a leak", "cocked and ready to go off on a hair trigger", "hanging by a thread", and are experienced using the descriptive idioms of having a "short fuse", "walking on a thin ice", being "too high strung", "ready to blow", and a myriad others. Although there exists a common lexicon for these processes, they, being organic processes) usually exist outside of the modern day urban therapeutic contexts, although as we shall see indigenous cultures instituted (both daytime and dreamtime) integrated preventative measures as well as remedies, which were built-in to (integrated and in concert with) their everyday way of life, integrated relationship to nature, the body, neuro-physiology (albeit using different symbols than the modern laboratory) and in most valuable in terms of embodiment -- manifesting eternal spirit as sacred presence within the context of organic creation (living spirit).
We will make use of the mechanism of how the body reacts to or organizes around a physical trauma as a model for psychological trauma. A physical trauma is easy to recognize as it is coarse, physical, tangible and obvious as compared to a psychological trauma which is more subtle and hence more difficult at first to recognize. However most this is a two way street, the body/mind being a wholistic system, thus many severe physical traumas have the potential to convey severe psychological trauma if not integrated. Especially the threat of physical harm or pain can cause psychic distress, often causing as much more lasting damage to the neuro-physiology, than the actual physical event. Although the aftermath of physical trauma does not have to produce any psychological residues, in many cases it does (such as in the case of receiving a severe beating from most often leaves some emotional scars as well). Just so, most psychological traumas produce physical symptoms as well.
Albeit far more subtle, it is wise to acknowledge that for every so called psychological trauma, there exists a psycho-neuro-physiological reaction. This is being mapped out in modern day psycho-neurophysiology in great detail. Although rather technical, much of this recent development is detailed in Allan Schore's book "Affect Regulation and the Origin of the Self: the Neurobiology of Emotional Development". Thus in this wholistic mind/body situation there is never a purely psychological trauma in that it doesn't exist apart from the neuro-physiology, cellular memory, and/or often neuromuscular system in the form of neuromuscular armoring and/or muscular hypotonia. Yet what we will term as psychological trauma in the following are those which are induced/caused by pain to the psyche – i.e., emotional and psychological pain which secondarily creates a physiological reaction.
Introduction to PTSS
We will see how post traumatic syndromes in their myriad forms severely limit and filter out our future potential experience. As such we will judge them to be crippling to some degree, and further as such, they will be deemed undesirable and pathological, to the perpetuator, the victim, the community, society, nation, and ecology as a whole. PTSS is a bad deal all the way around. In the following discussion we will learn how to access and deprogram them from the standpoint of body psychotherapy, deep ecology, eco-psychology, somatics, wholistic health, and yoga while disclosing the unitive context that underlies them all.
Here we will discuss trauma as the precursor to the creation of samskaras (biopsychic imprints or scars which coexist both at the cellular level and energetic envelope). These are the triggers, buttons that are pushed, "chains" that are yanked, and so forth that activate the Post Traumatic Stress Syndromes (PTSS). The syndromes themselves manifest in the form of latent or reactive tendencies, habits, compulsions, and/or behavior (called vasana in Sanskrit which are triggered by the latent imbedded circuits called samskara).
In the following (Part One) some general terms and definitions will be demystified and then specific everyday examples will be presented. We will discuss physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual trauma and their inter-relationships.
Trauma creates energetic and psychic imprints upon the body/mind organism. In a healthy individual the imprints are removed as soon as the injury or threat of injury is over or shortly afterward, something like pushing into a resilient rubber ball, it will be only momentarily distorted. However if these imprints are not successfully discharged they will form "buttons" that can be pushed in the future, chains that can be yanked, strings that can be pulled and manipulated, red flags that can be waved, and the like activating a reactive syndrome. Samskaras (or buttons) when they are pushed can activate mechanisms of action and behavior which are called vasanas in yogic terminology or in terms of body psychotherapy, Post Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD) or Post Traumatic Stress Syndromes (PTSS). In a simpler or more moderate form the resultant behavior can be characterized simply as the manifestation of neuroses.
Here we will start with an overly simplistic example. A person who sees a new car go by that he wants to have, but can't afford, goes into a store and buys a surrogate beer to assuage -- a neurotic compensation for the pain or self censure of not possessing the object of one's desire. Is the automobile itself really the prime object of his desire? Probably not. It may be a symbol of his need for freedom, for movement, for self importance, as a symbol of success, self worth, and/or many other symbolic or neurotic representations/substitutions. In this example the beer is an accessible self gratifying substitute for a substitute, and in that sense the sublimations can become infinitely convoluted (tragic neurotic and unconscious compensatory mechanisms attempting to assuage the pain of separation from the "object of desire". Later we will delve into the ultimate object of desire or rather better put, the attainment of fulfillment, completeness, wholeness, and ultimate integration,
In the last part we will discuss the primal causes of neurotic behavior as the primal split/rend or separation, but suffice it to say that in this example, this man avoids experiencing the pain and self censor of not having the automobile by entering into an activity of consuming and being consumed with the beer.
In a healthy, resilient, and what we will call later a thriving liquid organism, traumatic events large or small do not leave scars (samskaras). Rather the organism continues onward with the wisdom of the experience allowing them to make better and wiser choices, ever expanding their horizon of life. In other people samskaras are formed daily as small bruises that may become huge and festering chronic injuries and the organism becomes over come and dysfunctional as a result. Certainly the degree or extent of the trauma is a factor in the post traumatic situation, but there exist more causative factors which play into how severely one becomes scared or crippled afterwards, how fast and complete the healing process can take effect, and - how quickly one becomes resilient and liquid. Below we will define these modalities and present everyday examples as well.
Part I. What is Trauma and How Does it Correspond to Pain, Dissociation, Filtering and Denial
Physical trauma is easily defined as a physical beating, being beat up, injured, abused, hurt, or otherwise harmed either accidentally, through foolishness, by aggression from others, or else consciously self inflicted as an act of self hatred, mortification, or punishment.
During the traumatic experience one usually feels pain, tries to protect or isolate oneself from the pain through withdrawal, tightening up, contraction in protection, attempts to armour oneself, attempts to escape, fights back, and in extreme cases writhes in pain, becomes overwhelmed, passes out, dissociates, numbs out, goes limp, or goes into shock. If the pain is "unbearable", then withdrawal is not uncommon. Normally in moderate trauma the fight or flight mechanism of the sympathetic nervous system is usually stimulated, but it is sometimes not given a satisfactory outlet of expression. Somewhat paradoxically the victim willingly submits, surrenders as a willing participate, and in some cases identifies with the perpetuator as a mechanism of transference -- as a coping or survival mechanism in order to avoid/escape the pain or transform the experience. This latter complex defense mechanism seems to occur because the victim who is now frustrated, overwhelmed, disempowered, and/or is in deep pain or shock physiologically will jump at an attempt to exchange roles from the hunted to the predator. Physiologically this gives the victim the option of a total opposite reaction and this is why often many disorganized and traumatized people jump at the chance to join their enemies after they have become defeated in war or beaten in an event.
However in the more common physical trauma situations, one simply armors, tightens up, contracts around, and closes off the injury as a protective defensive mechanism in an attempt to escape or diminish the pain. Most often we also numb out the area and dissociate from. If the pain is unbearable or prolonged one learns how work around it, compensate for it, how to numb it out, or even dissociate from it.
Afterwards in order to come back into pre-trauma homeostasis then one must eventually relax, unwind, "loosen up" ,and reactivate the feelings and reconnect the energetics in the area that has been traumatized or injured, but here is where PTSD and samskaras can get in the way. Thus in the healthy response to physical injury there is:
1) the experience of the injury
2) the experience of the pain
3) the healing of the injury
4) the disappearance of the pain
Here trauma is neither the original injury nor the pain. Only when the healing process becomes interfered with -- the pain is prolonged, the injury repeated, and/or the scars of the injury become a lasting injury do we need to find healing from the effects of a lingering trauma.
PTSD occurs when we still have not been able to relax, unwind, regain feeling or function in an area or when situations, events, people, or things remind us of the trauma, harm, or abuse reactivate the painful experience, the contraction, the armor, the violence, the fear or threat of being harmed, the numbing out, the dissociation, the desire to escape from the body, from feeling, and so forth. Anything that chronically activates this mechanism of contraction, rigidity, withdrawal, armoring, fear, dissociation, numbness etc, can be called a samskara or psychic which is stored in the cellular memory and activates not only a physical, but also a corresponding mental and emotional related syndrome (such as fear, anger, grief, aversion, resentment, dumbness, fainting, etc.) In this way we can depict the residues of the physical trauma as emotional scars (samskaras) which attach to the energetic psychic aura and armoring of the organism allowing dormant circuits of dysfunction to become activated.
Here we note that the most efficient response to a potential trauma is being able to avoid or minimize it through expedient action, for example to avoid or escape a beating or threat through fight or flight mechanisms. If the physical trauma is altogether avoided then there is no PTSD left over, except perhaps if there was great fear or emotional stress created. Shortly we will also deal with psychological trauma and its impact upon and accessibility through the physical body and breath.
Not everybody who suffers a beating, physical abuse, or other physical trauma will have such psychic scars (PTSD). It has been found that those who have successfully beat off their attackers or who have successfully swam to safety after a shark bite, who somehow participated in reducing the degree of trauma through efficient adaptive response, who participated in their own salvation or destiny, who were not complete victims of an attack or injury, but who were empowered somewhat in altering the situation suffer far less from PTSD.
It is important to note (we will go back to this later) that there are also strong empirical correlations between those who do not fear future trauma, beatings, threats to their physical well being, and the like with the absence of physical armoring, physical contractedness, loss of sensation, dissociation from the body, etc. Thus effective coping with a past physical trauma as well as from past acts of physical aggression, and its successful recovery is correlated with the removal of the psychic scar from the cellular memories stored in the patterned mechanisms in the physical organism. Successful body psychotherapy and yoga both access such scars and dislodge them.
Those who have the most resistance toward recovery, are those who have withdrawn the most, who suffered severe shock, dissociation, withdrawal, inhibition, nihilism, numbness, despair, and hopelessness. Although inhibition is one possible common PTS syndrome, also what may appear to be the opposite syndrome of paranoia, aggressiveness, hatred, xenophobia, bigotry, anger, hatred, and violence toward others is another syndrome of not dealing functionally with a past traumatic event. It is here that we must work through the additional apparently protective armorings of inhibition, denial, pain, dissociation, and even guilt feelings that have become associated with the traumatic event
In the general population we use the terms terrorized, frozen in terror, petrified, too scared to move, totally shocked, horrified, amazed, knocked out, unbelievable, incomprehensible, sent for a loop, way too much, overwhelmed, fainted, went numb, could not believe it, totally unbelievable, etc. for experiences that we are not "able" to "come to grips with" or unable integrate with our belief system. Here the psychological pain is so great that one can not cope with nor face it; it is unbearable to a point that the trauma victim can’t believe it, but rather dissociates from it. This rend or dissociation will haunt them later (as shadow world ghosts or demons) until/if these strong experiences are finally integrated/resolved in one's actual living organic biopsychic web.
In psychological trauma, escape, denial, erecting walls of insulation, blocking out the message completely, or substituting (read hallucinating) a completely different message is a psychological mechanism that says: "the pain is too great right now for me to bear this -- this is overwhelming to my sense of self or my belief system, so I am going to take a vacation, filter this, attenuate it, or numb out my mind/perceptional abilities, just as the body floods the system with endorphins or goes into shock after being inflicted with a severe physical trauma which overwhelms the nervous system. In this situation, the reality -- the truth of the situation, news, or message, being too painful, is then denied as being real -- one thus attempts to escape the pain of the reality of the situation into a comfortable lie or otherwise into self deception, dissociation, or even projected identification with the perpetuator as psychological in transference. This mechanism causes a deep psychological rend which displays a button to the world (or a chain to be pulled) ready to reactivate this reactive/protective defensive circuitry through the course of future events should they "remind" us or signify the original event. One thus becomes one's own subconscious victim and slave to the casting of this mechanism until it is deactivated. It is these chains that bind repeatedly us to unhealthy and dysfunctional relationships and make us subject also to emotional manipulation by others (as well as fodder for demagogues). In our search to avoid pain, we seek the seemingly "pleasure" of unknowing" and dissociation in a lie, but this lie (delusion) winds up crippling us as we trip over it time and and time again until we become free of its self perpetuating illusory power. Such occurs when we are able to see the truth as-it-is -- withstanding its apparent truth of suffering and then we are also able to become free of it, thus creating even more pleasure. Clarity about what-is, thus always leads to liberation and bliss .... eventually. Thus investigating and then becoming free from these past negative biofeedback loops, syndromes and imprints leads essentially to our liberation and creative empowerment.
Just as physiological trauma can produce the psychological effects of fear, mistrust, resentment, grief, despair, guilt, hopelessness, intimidation, lack of self worth, etc, likewise mental and emotional trauma most often create physiological symptoms of contraction, fight or flight, rigidity, tightness, armoring, numbness, withdrawal, dissociation, shock, and sometimes even fainting all of which can work negatively with the endocrine and visceral systems. As such psychological trauma not only can cause physical disease, but conversely true psychological trauma can be accessed and remediated through somatic healing modalities in a sort of reverse engineering where one accesses the trauma as it is embedded deeply in the tissues and nervous system and thus the underlying emotional/mental components are then recognized, brought into consciousness, titrated, or remediated.
Psychological trauma is very similar to physical trauma, but being more subtle and less tangible, it is often much more insidious. If one is harmed, beaten down, traumatized, intimidated, put down, scolded, chastised, yelled at, ridiculed, teased, tricked, lied to, or other wise abused or exploited, then there can be many reactions which may include a psychological as well as physical contraction, rigidity, armoring, closing down, intimidation, depression, inhibition, withdrawal, dissociation, denial, escape, defensiveness, resentment, anger, aggressive reaction, and in extreme cases even catatonia. Fight or flight mechanisms may be activated or repressed. The memories of the event may be suppressed, avoided, or even fancified on one hand or may repeatedly come up as an reenactment in an attempt to integrate. Again like purely physical trauma, if one is successful in counteracting it, minimizing it, or avoiding it in the first place, then the corresponding PTSS residues are much less than one who finds themselves having been totally immersed in the victimization process and/or the victim of recurrent psychological trauma.
Likewise like physical trauma successful return to a healthy homeostasis involves the ability to let go, release the contraction and pain, unwind, relax, re-sensitize, open up, and be vulnerable again (i.e., to trust life as being good and friendly versus a scary reality that constantly or too often poses a threat or is believed to be harmful and adversarial).
Thus PTSD from psychologically induced trauma manifests in general as a demeanor of fear -- a fear of being, a fear of feeling, a closing off toward being at the least part vulnerable and present, available and open -- or rather a stance of being closed off, shut down, unreachable, well protected, aloof, armored, resentment, grief, depression, withdrawal, dissociated, shock, defensive/aggressive behavior, paranoia, and in extreme cases catatonia. Psychological armor like physiological armor appears as protection from further trauma, hence the habitual contraction or withdrawal from further life experiences become deeply implanted as an automatic defense/survival mechanism. Such psychic imprints or buttons stored in the cellular tissues may be dormant and capable of activating these mechanisms when pushed, or they may be chronic steady states.
Psychological trauma, like physical trauma can be the result of an accident, aggressive activity by others, or self inflicted, but ultimately we will see it is the result of interpretation by the mind, regardless of how it is intended or directed through outside agencies. Here taking responsibility is the key in freeing oneself from PTSD due to psychological trauma.
Like, physiological trauma the most resistant types of PTSS are those which involved resignation to the situation, submission, hopelessness, withdrawal, transference, denial, or guilt. Likewise therapy involves accessing the physical symptoms and letting them go alongside with opening up and releasing the stored contractive emotions, memories, pain, and beliefs surrounding the psychic scar. Even though here we are dealing with psychological trauma, the yoga therapist or body psychotherapist knows how to accesses and release the trauma in the cellular tissue.
Anything that reminds one of the traumatic situation then appears as a potential threat or source of pain -- appears as a re-traumatization and thus triggers the act of armoring, withdrawal, rigidity, contraction, defensiveness, aggressiveness, resentment, grief, and so forth. Further armoring can manifest as habitual anger, increased aggressive behavior, and even violence in the organism's attempt to discharge/release the stored residues of the original trauma.
Effective Therapy versus Symptomatic Treatment
In order for effective therapy to occur, we must realize the nature of trauma first. As such it must be more recognized that people who have been traumatized, beaten, brutalized, subjected to abuse, and so forth according to various degrees of severity) must be given an effective way "out" -- i.e., an effective way to release the pain associated with the trauma and then to access both the associated psychic and physiological space which have been closed off or dissociated.
Here we are not advocating escape, but the opposite, i.e., release without denial, withdrawal, dissociation, blockage, or escape. The effective way out is through the opposite of withdrawal, isolation, repression, suppression, and/or dissociation from feeling, because the pain is no longer really present (rather it exists only in the mind as the past). The pain is now only a figment of the imagination residing as a cellular memory.
As such the solution/remediation is really very simple, but the victim must be willing to own their own feelings and embrace “self”. It is based on bringing the victim back to the present, to the body, to feeling in embracing the reality of what is happening now in the present in the body/mind and breath and thus the re-integration of the body and mind parts that are connected through the residual psychic and physiological scar tissue and samskara is re-membered and made whole again. As such kinesthetically based hatha yoga, Chi Gong, somatic work such as Heller work, Rolfing, Postural Integration, neo-Reichian massage, Feldenkrais, Alexander Work, Watsu, Hakomi, Bioenergetics, Biosynthesis, Core Energetics, body psychotherapy, Holographic Repatterning, Body Mind Centering (BMC), and the like are eminently valuable.
On a psychological/spiritual level this therapeutic process is accomplished through self understanding and being present with "self" -- realizing what is happening in the moment and being present with it without escape, withdrawal, dissociation, contraction, armoring, and so forth. Therapy occurs when one is open to it, vulnerable -- when fear, tension, and anxiety lose their dominant hold. Thus simply creating a non-cynical safe place, and trust goes a long way. Then a way of coming back into wholeness, into one’s core energy and well springs of creativity become nourished. Healthfully creating conditions to integrate past experiences can be engineered and such an environment includes the physical surroundings, the mental atmosphere, as well as the physical body which houses the brain and sense organs. Here even diet therapy and exercise can be integrated with meditation, breathing, somatics, eco-psychology or green psychology to form a wholistic safe place to re-enter the sacred present. Here the residual pain, grief, resentment, aversion, anger, and all the rest is accessed, breathed into, and let go of gratefully one learns how to allow new energy to flow through the newly reintegrated and healed body/mind – the heart healed from the a traumatic rend.
From a safe place of strength and lucidity, being in our core energy, we can deal with “anything”, thus body-psychotherapy helps establish this ground. From here we no longer have to hide or run away from it, but rather we can put the trauma in its place, in the past where it belongs.
The Most Difficult Traumas to Heal: Guilt and Denial Gets in the Way
In many cases of trauma, there exists guilt. Here the "victim" of trauma in order to avoid dissociation and disorganization comes into an acceptance of their situation by viewing it as just punishment for past sins -- that they somehow deserved the punishment, or brought the event on upon themselves. In order to gain control or order out of the situation some people will repeatedly punish or victimize themselves or else act in a masochistic fashion in order to stabilize and get a sense of security.
Similarly some victims of physical torture or abuse will identify with the perpetuator in a similar attempt at dissociating the pain of being the victim, in what is called reverse transference. The mind often devises methods of escape, avoidance, denial, or dissociation when the situation is deemed too painful, unpleasant or unbearable. These mechanisms are devious on purpose (because they are at their roots mechanisms of avoidance) as they involve a certain amount of role playing and even self deceit which of course produces dissociation. As such they become difficult to disclose to the victim. Conversely as we will see later, the identification of being a victim can have negative consequences, such as chronically identifying and defining and thus limiting "self" in terms of one's past pains, sufferings, unpleasant experiences, traumas, suffering, and diseases. This is another kind of chronic PTSS where the victim is afraid to open up (become vulnerable) to new experience because it may be painful.
These insidious mechanisms of denial and guilt frequently occur when an event is judged to be a “severe” tragedy, grievous event, holocaust or significant catastrophe such as in the form of great personal loss, a lost loved one, relative, friend, pet, object, job, etc. Here one almost always experiences guilt as in how could I have prevented this? How could I have done something better? One asks consciously or not, how have I failed this person, group, or organization, nation, religion, family, or similar. One's self confidence or ability to protect the family, neighborhood, nation, pet, rain forest, or friend -- some one or thing that one is deeply attached to -- becomes severely shaken and with that one’s own self worth, pride, self esteem, and identity. The greater the loss coupled with guilt, the greater the pain. Thus family tragedies have two victims. First the “real” victim such as a wife run over by a drunk driver, a daughter kidnapped and raped by a sex offender, a father lost in a war, a sister dying in a bombing, etc. The second victim is those who are left behind who suffer the pain, guilt, and trauma of the first trauma, i.e., trauma begets trauma again.
Discharging the Anger, Guilt, and Grief of Trauma: Mind Manipulation Using Trauma
In the healthy individual the psychological pain can be integrated, i.e., the situation in the cause and effect world can be accepted, acknowledged, and felt. One does not feel the need to escape, deny, or dissociate from it. Thus in the healthy person there is a period of reconciliation, grieving, or integration and then one goes on with life without added burdens. Depending on the depth of the emotional trauma, a certain proportionate amount of soul searching is undergone, and often an unintegrated sense of personal failure occurs. It is in this situation where those who are not adroit at getting in touch with their inner feelings become ripe for ersatz symbolic externalization of their feelings in the form of discharging the pain externally.
In this situation, undergoing such pain, grief, unpleasantness, and self disorganization one desires to free oneself from it and the easy way out is to externalize the blame and discharge it upon an external object, ersatz effigy, straw man, or scapegoat figure. Demagogues manipulate this escapist tendency of victims for their own ends in such instances of national trauma where the group psyche is extremely disorganized. demagogues provide both a structure to the disorganization, but also the predator mentality which physiologically is more palatable than the victim physiology. Similarly on a more subtle level marketing experts, Madison avenue, propagandists, and mind manipulators are adroit in finding what buttons (old cellular imprints) to push in order to create a market for their product, to sell an idea, and to manipulate and/or goad people like sheep. Certainly some people do motivate people positively and thus have positive social skills, but on the other hand knowing where people’s buttons are, and then being to skillfully use them (and reuse them) when “needed” is the mark of a skilled social manipulator. Most of the latter are on personal power trips, although they would be the last to admit it. Such people are often driven to amassing comparative advantage, greed, competition, privilege, politics, attaining positions of power over others, and random acts of jealousy.
For example in externalizing anger into blame and revenge, such externalization (although quick and unthinking) is not an effective modality to heal the effects of a past trauma simply by blaming someone. Although this will release (discharge) the pain and guilt; it does so only temporarily. One suffers from PTSS again every time they are reminded of the situation, and then every time one must discharge the pain again in outwardly directed anger. Eventually in order to become healed one must come back home and get in touch with the present actual reality of our situation, i.e., the unintegrated painful event in the cellular memory. Such people are walking around with blood on their buttons, that manipulators are attracted to like vampires after hot blood.
Another example, one loses a family member at the WTC on 9/11. One family member anguished and in pain unable to integrate the loss, takes the easy way out in anger and outrage toward the perpetuators seeking an external object to blame. The trauma actually triggers the syndrome of lusting for the blood of others. Further reminding them of the trauma, further creates the victims aggressiveness. Also there becomes a blurriness between the victim (loved one) who suffered the original trauma, violence, or tragedy and the survivor who is a new trauma victim of the first trauma. One may thus tend to act in revenge (hatred based on punishment and a sense of anguished and distorted justice on behalf of the lost or victimized loved one, rather than owning up that this discharge of the internalized pain upon an external object of dislike is to satisfy one's own discomfort or guilt. Such a person is easy fodder for a demagogue who wishes to shift blame, hatred, and war unto an external enemy for the demagogue's own gain (usually control, power, fame, and/or greed).
War, like prison, tell many more examples of trauma on a daily basis than domestic life. That is another reason why both should be avoided – both should be seen as last resorts when all other approaches of prevention have been intelligently and sincerely attempted. I remember when I was a young child of 6, I frequently noticed this man who would walk around the neighborhood and when ever an airplane could be heard he would look up anxiously. He would often start holding his head with his arms, duck, and dart his head around anxiously and in hypervigilence. I was confused simultaneously alarmed and feeling sympathy for his obvious pain. Of course my experience was different so I could not understand what he was going through as a veteran of WW II, but I wanted to find out. No one wanted to explain (maybe they couldn't), but I persisted and found at least the name of his "disease" -- that he was suffering from "shell shock".
Of course I still could not understand it, but at least I could give it a name. So I would try to engage him from my little experience, with little success. I would ask him what he was looking at. that there was nothing there, etc. He rarely paid me any attention. He was the first ostensible victim of PTSS that I remember.
A Vietnam veteran friend is a more recent situation. He is a real "character". He learned to hate in order to kill the fear. Later he learned to teach himself that he liked to kill – that it was fun in order to adapt to everyday life. This friend was a lieutenant in the air infantry and spent much time in the jungle. In that kind of modality it is easy to commit many cruelties and brutalities, which he did going far beyond being a sadist as a leader of young and frightened kids most of them fresh out of high school. Although still suffering from daily nightmares and flashbacks, alcoholism, and other dysfunction, at least he is lucid about his history. He has a sense of humor about it, except when he sees another homeless vet in the streets when a remorse and anger over takes him.
He, as were many Vietnam vets, came back "altered" because of their adaptation to daily life as death, brutality, and organized murder; yet the army had no debriefing mechanism for them and simply (and stupidly)let them out on the streets as soon as they got back. The results were both predictable and tragic.
The vets that had the least difficulty in readjusting to civilian life were those who could admit to themselves that the war was useless, stupid, dysfunctional, and a mistake. They had to admit that they were simply being used or victimized in a meaningless war (for them) by the war machine. Then after they were able to say: “hey I was young and made a mistake – I was used “then”, but not anymore”. Then, having placed the trauma behind them, they become able to put that experience behind them and pick up their lives again. It's not easy.
But those who had the most difficulty in readapting to “civilian life” were those who refused to see that they made any mistake at all, that the unpopular war was wrong at all, that killing for peace was wrong, or anything at all that they did was not glorious and perfect. These latter vets could not face the pain of “reality’ and spent the rest of their lives defending their actions in denial, rather than admitting that they made a mistake or were used. Tragically, for them, the pain of their actions was too great to accept and thus remained unintegrated recurring in dreams and hallucinations.
Two "general" avenues seemed to present themselves to these latter returnees. One was to spend the rest of their lives justifying and externalizing their actions while demeaning their detractors in an attempt to exorcise the subconscious recurring conflict or cognitive dissonance; or simply escape the mess entirely through alcohol, drugs, homelessness, and suicide. Obviously the veteran’s administration was of little help either way.
When one has suffered deep trauma in war and is in deep denial, then often their defensive mechanism is hyper-active. Instead of giving up, such men become super patriots capable of becoming mercenary soldiers, policemen, FBI/CIA agents (foreign agents), military career men, para military fanatics, or patriotic politicians that identify with an exaggerated nationalistic pride, glorification of war, and the justification for aggression. An example would be Oliver North, of Watergate fame (unfortunately still a hero to many). As in many cases of mass trauma, the victims often will identify variously as the perpetuator and/or the victim, i.e., past victims parade around as persecutors while past persecutors masquerade as victims. The complex games the mind plays in order to avoid the pain is intended to be inscrutable if not an enigmatic (playing the game of self deceit, "it never happened, really").
There are other examples many of whom unfortunately make headlines daily, but in general it is proven that those who have experienced and have become acclimatized to the negative effects of great trauma (be it through accident, war, or acts of man’s brutality to man) in dissociation, denial, defensive mechanisms of guilt, inhibition of feelings, repression, institutionalized fear, distrust, hypervigilence, and paranoia have a high capacity to wage even more cruelty, brutality, racial, ethnic, nationalistic, religious, or class hatred and murder unto others. This is the dysfunctional cycle that behooves a healthy society to deprogram and disarm.
Therapeutic Modalities for the Remediation of Trauma
To sum up so far, as the physical trauma often leaves a psychological scar, so does a psychological/emotional trauma leave a psycho-neuro-physiological imprint and often tissue, gland, and organ imprints as well as neuromuscular imprints in the form of neuromuscular armoring and/or muscular hypotonia. All this is a component of the cellular memory, but even deeper is its energy signature -- a distortion of the body/mind energy field is created.
Body psychotherapy as well as yoga attempts to re-align, re-harmonize, and re-integrate this skewed energy field. In energy oriented yoga we move into physical positions with conscious awareness of the breath and energy seeking out clues and signatures in the energy body in order to effect change. Obviously this is a modality of energy awareness through movement, not normal physical gross exercise. It is discussed in detail at our yoga portal www.Rainbowbody/HeartMind and in more detail at http://www.rainbowbody.com/asana/teachering.htm. In this way we seek out the old psychic imprints of trauma (as samskaras) and work them out (remediate them as pratiprasava). In yoga samskaras being the psychoneurological imprints of trauma are the cause of dissociation and more generally disorganization. This disorganization is the cause of compensatory objectification and desire/sublimation in the organisms neurotic attempt to find a substitute object of gratification (meaningful relationship). This overall cause of disorganization is called avidya (ignorance), thus the process of rooting out the samskaras also removes ignorance and creates a reorganization of the organism around the realization of Self as-it-is -- the Great Integrity -- ALL OUR RELATIONS.
There are many more effective ways to work through trauma. Please see the Trauma Link Pages and many other articles below. Such healing is essentially a spiritual process and in many cases occurs over many life times.
From Buddha to Freud many have long searched for the primal cause of psychological illness, discomfort, and unhappiness. Pleasure principles, fear of death, fear of life, desire and attachment, and other causes have been pin pointed at one time or another as causal factors. Ultimately, but very generally, we can put the causes of all human malaise together in the general category of dissatisfaction, pain, or suffering, and ask what is its cause whose general answer is always self ignorance, i.e., we don’t know what we are doing.
Always at the end of the analysis of the milieu of suffering, there exists a separation, rend, rift, chasm, disconnection, estrangement, alienation, and similar and at that point some sort of ersatz attachment or neurosis – the establishment of an ersatz object of desire as an adaptation or coping measure for more primal rift. When that ersatz object is reached then there is temporary gratification, pleasure, fulfillment, the end of desire, satisfaction, joy, bliss, contentment while the fear of losing the object may cause more suffering and anguish then actually not possessing it. This is simple object orientation developmental psychology on one hand, but it begs the question. Many, such as Janov, have proposed that this is a compensation for the birth trauma – the terror of being born and/or the primary rend/separation from the womb; but deep ecology, green psychology, and eco-psychology go further in proposing that this signifies the basis of neuroses and suffering itself i.e., in attempting to compensate for being cut off from the mother of all, the mother of the mother, mother nature, and Source.
In other words if during the birth experience one does not enter into a life as a continuation of the infinite – of an extension of the spirit world; if one does not find the innate unborn continuity and eternal never –ending characteristics which support one’s sense of continuity and integration as a continuous spiritual identity, then a rend or trauma is created. There one is forced to accept and adapt to the world of the parents, society, peers, and authority figures which is most often fragmented, neurotic, fear based, and further terrifying. It is the "how" we adapt that colors our traumas, our neurophysiology, and our world view of self and “other”. So here there exist the two opposing ways of life. One which affirms, nurtures, supports, and integrates a spiritual presence, sacred presence, of a living intrinsic spirit which we will call indigenous spirituality and the other way which denies or alienates spirit or relegates it elsewhere than in the present thus magnifying the rend and insecurity. The latter we will call alien spirituality.
In the past the ultimate philosophical, spiritual, and psychological question then has been in the past what is the ultimate "object" of possession that provides ultimate fulfillment without the baggage of anguish, fear, or attachment – without suffering? This question usually was posited incorrectly, thus the answer was difficult to obtain. Rather there is nothing outside – nothing that is not inherent, that requires attaining – nothing to possess or grasp. In other words we have been defining "self" and asking the question in limited, alien, and counterproductive terms.
What we posit is that this spiritual separation or estrangement is a dissociation and disorganization which is itself artificially induced, it’s cause being ignorant conditioning. This ignorant and dualistic conditioning process based on institutionalized separation, disempowerment, and dysfunctional transgenerational traditional belief systems forms the thick glue of that reinforces and upholds the primal trauma. Here all “other” needs, desires, attachments, and fears are wayward distractions -- they are ersatz neurotic substitutes or surrogates for this more primary spiritual connection which when affirmed or established eliminates any need or desire for the "other". Since spirit is posited as being omnipresent and unlimited (infinite), once recognized there is no fear in losing it, but rather they are gladly surrendered by the wise.
As such all neurotic syndromes can be seen as PTS syndromes from the greater traumatic rend or separation from a living spiritual presence and continuity in embodied existence -- in ALL OUR RELATIONS. Where THAT is absent, neuroses and suffering, fear and desire are present which are assuaged but never fully satisfied through neurotic substitutions.
In early twentieth century psychological models the source of neuroses was attributed to sexual separation (repression) or birth separation/trauma and hence therapy was aimed at repairing this rend creating re-union. Of course the idea of union is not new to religion either, the goal being to be one with God. Tantric yoga combines the sexual and religious symbols of union as does Hatha yoga in its symbolic caduceus healing symbol of the central column (the sushumna) where all energetic polarities and opposites are unified. We thus can see that deep ecology, eco-psychology, green psychology nicely interfaces with yoga, Taoism, tantra, psycho-neurophysiology, body psychotherapy, and trauma therapy on these issues having posited that the rend from nature, from embodied existence, which includes a world view of man's rightful natural place in nature (as being part of the natural world) has created a more primal traumatic split not only in his psyche but also negatively affecting his soma, psyche, and persona. This is where all truly wholistic therapies dwell as well. Most so called eco-psychologists, green psychologists, and body psychotherapists will expand upon this in a way coincident with yoga and tantra using nature and creation as an avenue back to Source (creator) as we can se the work of creator (Spirit) in all of creation). In this sense this model attempts to heal the rend of separation from spirit through the unity of creator/creation or in yoga terms shiva/shakti.
Not incidentally this balance and harmonization between spirit and nature, mind and body, heaven and earth, etc is also at the basis of Chinese medicine, Ayurveda, as well as many other surviving indigenous wholistic medical systems. In other words they are all based on a coherent system of medicine and healing that is in harmony with a creation story. Food, agriculture, medicine, the plant world, the elements, the human body, life in general, the entire cosmos is assumed to be part of an integrated and continuous wholistic system (as it should be). That modern man has strayed from such a model speaks to his widespread common malaise or what I would call trauma imposed upon him by alien belief systems in such a way that his biopsychic abilities and facilities have become colonized -- he has become alienated from utilizing them functionally. He has become a stranger to himself and from life through institutionalization and negative programming. Thus effective therapy helps bring people back into their biopsychic functioning through biopsychic awareness therapeutics.
Only now are the ancient indigenous medical systems, yoga, chi gong, shamanism, merging not only with the emerging wholistic health field, eco-psychology, Green psychology, and body psychotherapy, but also with the burgeoning field of somatics, movement, and body/mind energy healing.
Preventing Trauma: A Lesson in Object Relations
It has been repeatedly observed that many people adapt to a past trauma by limiting their future experiences; i.e., by withdrawing. The extreme of this fear of experiencing any further pain or trauma in a defensive protective withdrawal, denial, and escape is catatonia.
In a futile attempt to create a safe, secure, and protected external environment in the sociopolitical and environmental realms one may attempt safety, security, and protection in seeking to control the external environment. A high security state or even a police state is one such reaction i.e., the more police and the larger the army, the more secure an insecure and terrorized person may feel. More immediate reactions may be the acquiring of high tech security devices, large dogs, personal weapons, body guards, and related mechanisms of hypervigilence and even paranoia. However this symptomatic treatment never eliminates the fear, but rather allows one to cope/adapt around it. This type of coping is usually thus counterproductive in eliminating trauma and in many cases it makes it worse, wherein the authoritarian state or church becomes a self serving victimizer rather than the emancipator.
If one feels that earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, tornadoes, rabid animals, germs, "dirt", and the like (the wilderness which by definition is not under control but rather wild) such people might be expected to support sociopolitical, agricultural, and environmental policies that portend to protect them in ways that "control" the external environment. In short such propensities for attaining a sense of security/safety through the manipulation of external conditions around the dualistic illusion of a separate "self" in its extreme often wind up as police states, a plethora of laws, an unusually high rate of imprisonment, huge armies, many wars, suppression/oppression of natural expression and forces, inhibition, and ultimately a top down, sterile, regressive, hierarchical totalitarian strict order or revolution --or both.
Underneath this self perpetuating trauma is the fear of dying (the reality of the impermanence of the physical "self"), and hence a fear of living, whence a huge sense of insecurity is assumed, albeit unconsciously. Most modern people are not in dialogue with the true non-dual source of their sustenance and nurture. In general, trauma creates a basic disorganization and disruption of the great non-dual continuum, where the orgasm identifies and fixates upon the pain, the isolation, separate self, survival of the separate self, fear of individual death be it either psychological or physical death, and in the extreme cases of trauma where one has become conditioned to terrorism complete dissociation, isolation, and false identification as in extreme cases of schizophrenia, psychosis, or catatonia.
Deep ecologist, William Kotke, from the Final Empire Chapter Three
"Soil is the gut of the earth, the principal digestive organ of planetary life. Soil is partially composed of rock chips, clay, sand, minerals and organic detritus, but it is also an interdependent living community of micro-organisms, insects, worms, small animals, reptiles and other organisms (even some birds) which live in, contribute to and feed on components of the soil. Like the bacterial community in the human gut that predigests the human food, the soil is a living community of organisms which produces the necessary conditions for the plant communities to exist. The excrement of the gut community feeds the human, and the excrement of the soil community feeds the vegetative community, which lives on the soil. Plants do not absorb earth. Plants absorb nutrients that are in solution in the soil moisture. These nutrient solutions are the result of many energy transformations as they pass through a number of organisms."
Within the assumption of the fearful milieu of spiritual self estrangement -- assuming the reality of a fundamental lack -- not realizing that it stems from the absence of the sacred, of a profoundly deeper, more enriching, nourishing, secure, and self empowering "RELATIONSHIP, the insecure person may as a compensation strive for power over one's environment and over others as well (be it that they are potential threats). Instead of feeling at home, present, and without fear in embodied existence, on the planet, with nature, with the body, they will be at war with natural organic law and ill at ease in the true wilderness. In this respect they will mistakenly equate self in terms of ego survival and thus also as an escape from physical death by denying life and nature, rather than embracing it. fear of death stems from ego -- fight/flight as such is not a natural instinct, rather it is a learned/conditioned reaction based on accumulated trauma (negative experiences). In the trauma of spiritual alienation from creator/creation from Source one common escape route is the incessant craving for privilege, status, comparative advantage, and acceptance by the powers that be -- the authoritative/traditional status quo power system unless of course one feels that they can gain greater security in aligning themselves with an alternative power system, a rebellion, revolution, or opposing power group.
In either case such insecure fear driven people become addicted to power; capable of being manipulated by promises of power, they become addicted to it as long as they remain insecure i.e., essentially feeling powerless. Indeed those who strive after power over others are often the most disempowered people on the planet, their need is great, but their direction in satisfying is dysfunctional. This traumatized group has been the cannon fodder of tyrants and warlords for millennia. They have been stocked by those eager and willing to serve and kill for the king or the priesthood in order to get their reward in this life or the next. Certain societies are built around creating transgenerational trauma; but research has shown that much traumatization of our children is avoidable, while its reduction would serve as a method in reducing future transgenerational induced trauma.
Thus imbedded events of unresolved past trauma often manifest itself in the need for protection, security, and safety in an external manner. But until recently in the west the qualities in the mental environment that bring about security, and a sense of safety -- that relieve tensions, stress, anxiety, and angst have gone unarticulated. In other words there exists the politics of fear and the politics of love. Ultimately true happiness must embrace the spiritual in the present -- it must embrace the heart of hearts and be embraced by THAT. Then action and behavior based on this fundamental unity has the greater potential for creating external healing conditions that lessen and prevent transgenerational trauma while nourishing our highest creative/evolutionary potential. Without the non-dual spiritual vision and context however working toward external change is like the tail wagging the dog. For more on this subject see The Power of Love Against Fear and Hatred -- Healing Against Harm
The remediation of this desire to find security or order in the external environment or society is the same for the remediation of the healthy, nurturing, safe, and self empowering mental environment. Simply it has to do with understanding "self'" in primal terms -- with an organic creation story that is rooted in everyday life -- a direct relationship with creator/creation -- with ALL OUR RELATIONS -- which then intimately and experientially answers all the basic questions of who we are, how we got here, how we survive, and so forth.
The first step is to understand the nature or mechanism of mental pain itself. One must ask, why is it that one event will cause mental/emotional pain, grief, angst, anger, or suffering on one hand, or on the other hand happiness, joy, pleasure, or elation? Is it the event itself that triggers the emotional response, or is it not rather the meaning that we ascribe to the event; i.e., that we judge to either good or bad (desirable or not desirable)?
For example, team "a" scores a goal against team "b". The fans of team "a" are happy or elated, while the fans of team "b" may be dejected or sad. If in a war between "a" and "b", if "a" appears to be winning, then the people in "b" land are anxious, disturbed, worried, and fearful. Conversely in "a" land the people are expectant, celebratory, and optimistic. Thus it is not the event itself, but rather our judgment of good or bad that we project into it; i.e., "a" is good, "b" is bad. If "a" happens I am happy. If "b" happens I am not. I fear "b" to happen, I hope and pray for "a" to happen, etc. Even though I may root for team "a" from the bottom of my feet -- even though my heart throbs with each move of the team and my whole neuro-endocrine system is involved, all that stems from a mental decision that desires team "a" to win.
Likewise, if I am attached to my husband and he is killed, then I am grieved -- it is painful. However if I hated the bastard, then I am happy. Again this pain or pleasure mechanism is determined by preference/judgment relationship to an object, not the object itself. The appearance of an event, phenomena or such object may act as a stimuli that registers with an imbedded psychic imprint, pre-existing energy blueprint, or what is called in Yoga, a samskara, which is embedded in the cellular memory, neuro-physiology, and/or the neuromuscular system. This object, event, or "situation is thus not good or bad, painful or pleasurable, stressful or horrible, in itself, but rather as a stimuli to the samskara, the samskara may trigger or activate a reactive mechanism such an automatic habit (vasana in Sanskrit), a klesha (desire, aversion, jealousy, fear, etc) or simply pain (dukha in Sanskrit). A large problem arises (especially under the influence of mass media international communications) is that many of us have created a mind filter that is so tight, that "reality" is no longer entertained.
In short psychological or emotional pain is the result of the mind -- more specifically it is the result of our attachment to an object that is favored versus an object that is not -- a value judgment or preference that we make that "a" is good, desirable, or right while "b" is bad, undesirable, evil or condemned. Thus no matter how quickly we become happy or depressed, at the root of psychological pain, stress, and fear is a judgment/decision i.e., that one thing is good and the other is bad -- that I desire/like "this" and I fear, dislike, or hate "that". Hate and fear being but the two similar aversions which exist always in conjunction with attraction and desire. In other words hate and fear are merely negative statements of desire, based on desiring, preferring, or liking an opposite result.
The Role of Man's Systems of Ethics and Esthetics in Contributing to Trauma
Only if we accept a universal good, right, or correctness would we be able to define a universal joyfulness or universal pain. Such an attempt assumes universal agreement to universal values, the problem being that all humans will not agree, thus universal agreement is futile, while it would be a basic abrogation of natural law to impose one person's values over another, even if we thought "our" values were best or superior. The bottom line in ethics and esthetics is to realize that it is unnecessary and even counter-productive to move into the area reserved to ethics or esthetics in the first place where we may desire to ascribe universal values to (although the destruction and torture of life and the imposition of deceit and confusion upon our fellows may approximate a physiological revulsion in many that may approximate one to hypothesize a natural law). As long as they are defined by man, they are most certainly condemned to fall far short of the universal.
The examples are numerous. For instance, among countries where there exists a large Judeo-Christian majority there is a general agreement of the ten commandments, the foremost being "Thou shall not kill", but there are notable examples of the institution of the death penalty in such countries as war a long history of society sanctioned organized murder in the form of wars. So there exists something amiss in this picture -- something which has gone mostly undetected for millennia. For example, Jesus taught as the highest virtue, that man should love his neighbor with all his heart and all his soul, but then in Christ's name the crusades were launched. Indeed we will show how all holy crusades, all transcendental idealist holier than thou missions, as well as all attitudes of moral superiority have been responsible for man's greatest atrocities and crimes. Brief examples throughout history are numerous. They include the Mogul invasion of India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan and the genocide of the Buddhists, the holy crusades to Jerusalem with its modern legacy, the Russian/Catholic pogroms, religious wars being fought today in the Middle East, in Ireland, Bosnia, Sri Lanka, Kashmir, Afghanistan, Indonesia, tribal warfare in Africa, the genocide of Native Americana, and indigenous people in general.
When greed was more of a factor than religious superiority, then the religious superiority served as a justification and sanction, where both (greed and religious pride) are the result of trauma. Similar atrocities, genocides, and "cleansings" disguised as a crusade against an externalized "evil" can be ethnic, political, cultural or even economic -- they are all based on the root of chauvinism which is individual bias and prejudice -- a fundamental spiritual rend or isolation of "self" from ALL OUR RELATIONS. Such crusades are the result of the inner war against "Self".
Examples of the worse atrocities and abuse can be gleaned from "high minded" intolerance of "others" such as the Nazi's cleanse of the Jews, their war to end all wars through worldwide Aryan domination, the war to impose American style democracy and capitalistic systems on countries who do not want it, the countless wars against war in general (promising external security), Stalinism, the ethnic cleansings in Bosnia, the war to rid the world of "evil", the war against drugs, prohibition, the war against sex and pleasure in general, the eradication of one's enemies and detractors in general, the utopian ultimate elimination of external threats or stressors where the means justifies the ends, censorship of others in general, the control and manipulation of other peoples, groups, or nations in general, all the reactive impulses for "self" preservation, safety, security, and survival in fragmented/dualistic terms that uphold the trauma, split, and dualistic matrix of illusion.
Condemnation of others is always associated with the need to elevate oneself (pride) due to lack of self worth - a defensive/aggressive need for justification and a mechanism of guilt. The examples are numerous in daily events, in mental patterns, and in social, tribal, political, and historical movements. In short, the need to elevate self over others -- to find security in controlling, condemning, demeaning, marginalizing, inhibiting, or demonizing others is motivated by fear reinforced by trauma.
Similarly, "even" our most cherished "ideals" can be the most fruitful objects of self criticism, if we dare challenge their authority. Indeed self criticism is the key to self study, which is the key to self understanding and self realization, which is the key to liberation from trauma not through its transcendence, but rather through reintegration. Thus our most treasured ideals is the most worthy to be questioned -- it is the most self revelatory because they often may hide a deep element of intolerance, violence, denial, and delusion. Here the necessary ingredient is to value truth higher than our delusion and preference. Truth must be put on a pedestal, rather than be demeaned. For this to occur the modern cynic and nihilist has to first believe that it is possible, i.e., that it is possible to figure things out for oneself -- to know the truth -- to know reality.
Perhaps closest to a universal positive motive force (not based on trauma or fear, but rather one based on interconnection and pure love) one could propose, like the deep ecologists do, that beauty is the revelation of creation of who we are in terms of a grand and profound process of co-evolution as-it-is -- in terms of beginningless time or source as the union of creator/creation at any one given point in time and space. Thus acting in alignment, in balance, and harmony with the force of creator/creation, the creative life force, with that which engenders life, healing, and love can (if one accepts this system of thought) be termed as "good"; while that which works to the opposite end or else is in conflict and disharmony with nature is not good, undesirable, or "bad". For many this or something similar may strike one as a basic esthetic or moral principle in which to evolve a near universal esthetic or ethical system, but again not all people would agree and as such any system of "good' or "bad" is merely relative to that specific culture, nation, religion, tribe, cult, or at best planet. In other words, the terms of "good" or "bad" unless universally accepted merely reflect one's own bias as the statement of I like this (good) and dislike that (bad). "This" is beautiful, while "that" is horrible, terrible, disgusting, ugly, or abominable.
In short religion, xenophobia, nationalistic pride, moralism, and chauvinism in general are all systems based on separateness, trauma, or in short ego (in many cases group egos). Such have contributed more toward intolerance, arrogance, prejudice, hate, mass murder and "heinous crimes" in the name of "good", than any other systems of thought because such feel that they have been sanctioned to kill or that their cause is righteous so that they can do no wrong. Very disorganized people who are victims of deep trauma that are still unintegrated are of course very ripe for authoritarian ideology. Such authoritarian with tight structure create order for trauma victims. These systems thrive by disempowerment, dissociation, dysfunction, and disorganization of others. They stand in opposition to systems that attempt to empower the individual, which aid them in achieving critical/creative clarity. Authoritarian and totalitarian systems stand in opposition to indigenous systems that recognize, acknowledge, and honor the sanctity in the diversity in all things and beings -- in creation's rich magnificence where there is nothing unacceptable, ugly, or evil.
So by clinging to judgments of good and bad -- beautiful or horrible, preferred result (like) versus dislike, desire versus aversion, and so forth one is simply stating their individual preferences based on their limited belief systems, bias, and prejudice -- based on one's craving. In turn the craving itself is based on trauma, the more severe the trauma, dissociation, and inner terror, the greater the neurotic craving. That confused process of using the terms "good or evil" within any ethical framework lends little toward using words as an effective means of communication especially amongst diverse people and across cultures let alone universally. The reverse is true it is the major factor in religious, ideological, tribal, and nationalistic wars and man's brutality in general.
Certainly we can go beyond the limitations of words as well as the limitations of bias, prejudice, and programmed belief systems once we have noticed how our minds and bodies filter information. In that situation there is nothing capable of shocking us, of being too horrible to believe, of being evil, repugnant, revolting, of being too ugly or painful to accept, of coloring our perception of "reality" as-it-is so that we turn away in horror and ignore it (in ignorance). However it is really much easier than imposing such filters and systems, if people could learn how simply to see things as they are, without a need to run away from them.
Herein lies the crux of the dysfunction of psychological preferences -- where all value systems, ethical, aesthetic, religious, nationalistic, ethnic, ideological, or rather in general biased and chauvinistic systems break down and become dysfunctional. In such dysfunctional systems, people see through the filter of what they are seeing -- through a symbolic representation or artificially imposed objectification/separation. It is thus interpreted by the filter and then one's reaction is based upon that judgment or predilection -- upon the bias/flavor of the filter. Thus the disservice of all ideological systems be they theological/religious or philosophical/academic is that they tend to isolate/insulate the individual from the actual experience and as such they become disengaged from their organic and primary authentic ground of being. But in a functional or healthy person, events are not filtered artificially, but rather are seen as they are without conditioned bias/prejudice that reflects the culture, religion, nation, time period, tribe, or region. The conditions (time/place setting) may be acknowledged, but here by acknowledging them their relative positioning or bias is compensated for within the greater wholistic transcultural and natural context.
In other words a healthy person sees, hears, smells, tastes, and feels phenomena the way they are -- undistorted (devoid of fear and preference). It is placed within an integrated transensual context by acknowledging the context of the senses within the overall context of the greater continuum of all life. Then one responds functionally and expediently. Some one else however who is still suffering from the past residues of trauma (samskaras) will color their experience of "reality" and see, feel, hear, through an artificial filter -- through the distortion caused by the residue of the past wound/trauma. Thus reality" becomes distorted, biased, and perverted according to the pain and fear associated with the event or phenomena and hence one's reaction becomes inefficient and dysfunctional.
All we have to do is to know the nature of our own mind and then we can cease from causing ourselves pain and suffering. It is that simple, i.e., pain is self inflicted. The process of filtering out the pain and letting in the pleasure is the very artificial contrivation that holds together the veil of illusion and matrix of conditioned ignorance. When all bias and prejudice is removed, then true clarity is realized and with that mental suffering is over -- true and lasting happiness is attained. For example this is the theme of the non-theistic trans-moral and transconceptual system expounded in Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, especially in the last part of the last Chapter, four, Kaivalyam. One may call this simply natural unoccluded direct perception, but unfortunately the past programming of the "normal" individual precludes it. Hence trauma therapy is designed to deprogram -- to bring us back into the unconditioned natural state where the disorganization, dissociation, retraction, inhibition, fear, and pain associated with the traumatic event can become re-organized around our natural intrinsic and innate self organization that was disrupted.
TRAUMA REMEDIATION (THERAPY)
We will define trauma therapy as any technique, process, or system which removes the residue of trauma and thus allows the organism to reestablish its equilibrium, natural reorganization abilities, and integration -- what is often called in body psychotherapy self regulation. In this context therapy or recovery is grounded in establishing the ground of integration or wholiness while trauma is relegated to the realm of a primary separation, estrangement, non-integration, or simply a fragmented state of separation which we will call ego identification. It is valuable then to see genuine therapy and recovery not as a transcendence or escape from something (which would just fail being simply another fear based aversion or separation), but rather the therapeutic and recovery process should always be couched in the context of being a further integration -- a primary and creative impulse stemming from the Source of the evolutionary process to join together in the profound dance of ALL OUR RELATIONS.
Thus we could break down the process of trauma and its remediation into two fundamentally differing assumptions, i.e., one is that of the closed down, contracted. terrified, and traumatized heart -- the opposite is that assumption made by the open heart. The first assumption is the normal one of a traumatized person, i.e., the world appears as painful, as threatening, as terrifying -- death and/or danger to "self" is always around the corner and at best one can only temporarily escape the pain and carving with neurotic methods of self gratification. In the extreme this is the assumption of the paranoid -- some one who is at war with the world and cultivates has either allies or enemies. In a Buddhist context this is the realm of Samsara -- the realm of spiritual self estrangement, old age sickness and death. In the yogic sense this is the realm of false identification -- the error of ego (asmita) which in turn is supported by ignorance which in turn upholds more dukha (suffering). In both systems the remedy that is proposed is the same, i.e., not escape or transcendence, but rather integration through realization -- through re-membering -- all of the created/uncreated world lives in a grand mother/father continuum -- a profound great Integrity -- ALL OUR RELATIONS. All authentic teachings agree -- no matter in what era or on what continent -- no matter in what star system or dimension.
Socially we can see that police states, dictatorships, demagoguery, tyrants, and totalitarian systems thrive on disempowered, paranoid, terrified, and fear motivated people -- those motivated by a system of scarcity and lack -- of fight or flight -- of threat, harm, and intimidation. In the world of the paranoid, the "reality" of the trauma/samskara is locked in -- it is held unto, clung to, and supported as "reality". Everyday life becomes clothed (or rather veiled) with the familiar landmarks of danger, fear, strife, adversity, and scarcity and as such it becomes a self perpetuating cycle (a wheel of cyclic existence until broken). The opposite social manifestation based on an open heart, on love -- the empowerment of pure wisdom is in synch with spontaneous healing, abundance, creative expression, and nurture. The very fact that craving exists, means that a split, fragmentation, or trauma also pre-exists because any yearning even for that called transcendence tends to take us away from the present -- tends to reinforce the process of ignoring sacred presence or Infinite Mind.
In this sense what often is valued as transcendence is really a dysfunctional and neurotic escapism from the present motivated by the traumatic impulse, rather than the healthy impulse to merge with the present -- to be aware and present -- being the opposite of denial, self delusion/deceit, fear, or ignorance. Thus trauma may be said to be pathological in that it is the unsuccessful attempt to negotiate a perceived fear or terror in the present where one creates an ultimately dysfunctional mechanism to avoid, deny, cope,. escape, or become insulated/separated from it (through yearning or aversion). Similarly then, ultimate liberation occurs when we are able to face the terror of the trauma no longer needing to run away from it. When we confront our own demons and no longer harbor them. Rather we become our own doctors/teachers, embrace our own innate but prior abandoned higher self. By penetrating deeply into the true nature of self, all delusion and mechanisms of self deceit and false identification with separateness are rooted out -- the demons dissolve into the river of nothingness from which they arose.
HERE all fear can be remediated/integrated as we enter into the fearless sacred present of a profound suchness -- all disruptions and disorganization has come to an end. Through this gate of pure awareness a further revelation occurs naturally and spontaneously revealing a direct experience of the immeasurable imperishable smile of vast awakening. Here external maps are no longer needed, for one has taken the path and now knows how to find it experientially.
It is not the purport here to delineate the manifold techniques that are so designed to bring one back into wholeness/wholesomeness/holographic synchronicity -- into a profound and indigenous sacred presence -- into HERE; but rather what perhaps is more relevant at first is to point out that the process of acknowledging and coming to terms with one's own dysfunctional/disruptive processes and mechanisms of trauma. This awareness by itself is the most powerful healing ingredient that we will ever need. Simply put, the pain and fear-charged cyclic existence is broken by the medicine of self awareness -- by the process of waking up -- wherein one starts to understand the cause of one's suffering, dysfunction, and disruption, and then is able to remediate it through processes which help one identify with the cause of happiness. In this context we are all waking up together as co-participants in the process of how the evolution of consciousness manifests and becomes embodied. Here the ground of one's existence changes from that of trauma, scarcity, isolation, fragmentation, fear, and adversity to one of non-dual wholeness and love -- to integrity -- of ALL OUR RELATIONS.
Simply one investigates oneself, understands oneself, wakes up to a non-dual transpersonal sensibility and identification (call it true "Self") simultaneously discarding the old occlusions, energy blocks, psycho-neurophysiological lesions, disrupted cellular memory, neuromuscular armoring, fears, tensions, misapprehensions, compulsions, dysfunctional associations, and false identifications making way for the free flowing dynamics of a more natural, integrated, and self empowering reorganization/self regulation. One is healthy because one experiences the present as-it-is in its profound rich fullness and responds functionally in accordance with one's openness to access one's naturally occurring and innate creative potential pathways for the heart to unfold - in the sacred context of ALL OUR RELATIONS.
The rooting out of the samskaras, kleshas, old compulsive dysfunctional patterns, bad habits and negative karma is only part of the therapeutic process, albeit essential. Once we realize the power of the mind of unlimited and immeasurable pure awareness, we start to make this life more fulfilling and creative as the sacred dance into a thriving and energetically liquid organism -- we start to become more truly grateful and thankful as co-creators with ALL OUR RELATIONS and thus the circle is made whole again. Through non-dual holographic awareness, we can now see how going inside to accomplish change is not different from accomplishing external change. We rest inside the Source of an incredible creative power. When we wake up, increasingly our horizons are broadened.
Emaho! It is sacred!
Please see the trauma remediation link page as well as the HeartMind Yoga pages on this website for more on some of the modern body psychotherapy somatic approaches along these lines.
Daily Examples of Trauma
This is a section which is under development. Here I intend to include more examples of how trauma manifests in daily life.
For example, one's daughter gets kidnapped. One person may react by blaming the perpetuator, by demanding justice in the form of vengeance, punishment, or pain to be inflicted upon the perpetuator. Instead of seeking the causes of such crimes and their eventual removal -- trying to prevent further such acts and suffering, one simply vents one's pain toward punishment putting their energy into a self gratifying and dysfunctional reflex which is not effective in protecting the family, preventing recurrences in general, nor healing the internal causes of one's trauma.
One’s only son is killed in the Vietnam war.
One's wife is killed by a drunk driver …
The traumatic results upon of a rape victim’s family
Social, group, or national traumas such as El Salvador, NYC (911), the bombing of Iraq, the Great depression, Earthquake survivors, the Jewish holocaust, the Khmer Rouge Cambodian holocaust, the Chinese Cultural Revolution, and many more.
See the article: Chronic Armoring around Pain, Trauma, Denial and Dysfunction
Ongwhehonwhe's Trauma Link Page
Original Trauma link Page with its accompanying and somewhat redundant link at Armoring, Contractedness, Withdrawal, Dysfunction, Defensiveness, Aggressiveness -- all Neuroses and Dysfunction -- Can be Attributed to Trauma
Doubletalk, Hypocrisy, Trauma, and Denial in American Politics
Institutionalized Paranoia, Guilt, Denial, Dysfunction, and Co-dependence upon External Authority
Institutionalized Racism, Hatred, and Guilt as an Escape from Self
Rainbowbody.Net Home Page
HeartMind Yoga Portal: Yoga as a Sacred Path of Inter-Connectedness and Wholeness Disclosing the Natural Self as our True Uncontrived Spontaneous Nature