As to what trauma is I tend to leave a lot of ideas behind and look at any life form – and I believe that trauma is anything that interferes with the development of that life form.
I often use the analogy of a seed, and watching what can interfere with how the seed can express its potential is, in my view, a trauma.
I believe that basic to all life is sentience. I would like to call it consciousness, but people mix that with self consciousness. The word ‘sentient’ is defined as ‘having awareness through the senses’. But it also means or implies much more. If we have awareness we can respond to what is going on around us. Plant’s, for instance, respond to light. Their shape may radically change if the source of light is moved. Plants also react to pain or subtle changes in the atmosphere – they close the petals of their flowers for instance. Therefore we can say the plant is sentient. Generally we may feel that the ability to respond ends with plants or bacteria. But the quantum experiments, where a photon of light is one thing when observed, and something else when not observed, suggest that the fundamental particles of the material world can also respond. We can therefore think of them as being sentient. It is because of this that I suggest we float in an ocean of sentience, one part of which knows, and perhaps responds, to what is happening to another part, even at a great distance.
I also believe or see from experiments that sentience is linked with another quality – potential. I am not suggesting that it is potential with a fixed aim – but raw open door potential. I see the countless life forms on our world as an example of this – the potential could have been anything – and it has from bacteria living in super hot underwater vents, to the wonder of flying, the power and majesty of predators, to the unusual phenomena of human existence.
All this was to make plain that I see all life forms have almost unlimited potential – but there are things in the way – various forms of trauma. To explain that Lyle Watson, a scientist and biologist, in researching human potential for one of his books, was asked by a boy’s father in Italy to observe his four-year old son. In Watson’s presence the father rolled his son an ordinary tennis ball. A little while later the boy rolled it back. The ball was turned inside out without any cuts or damage to its surface. Watson then signed his name on another tennis ball and the boy repeated the change. Later Watson cut open the ball in front of witnesses, revealing his signature on the inside of the ball.
What the boy did questions all present scientific understanding – except perhaps the findings of quantum physics. But when the boy was older he was sent to school – his ability was wiped away, suggesting our present forms of education take away real potential, suggesting that education can be a form of trauma.. See Quantum Physics
The agony of birth begins a bank account of pain which grows until death. This account is limited to no one kind of currency but includes a wide range of all denominations extending from the aches, burns, and stings of the body to the humiliations, guilts, shames, terrors, and doubts of the psyche. The knowledge-indeed the scalding memory and horror of those pains-remains in the psyche demanding relief. It is hard for consciousness to recall them; ordinarily it absolutely refuses. But in sessions they can come back unbidden in full and excruciating intensity.
Deep within the subconscious, at the boundaries of identity, lies an ambiguous hinterland where the polarity of subject and object becomes flexible and miscible. There the rudimentary identity, in an effort to rid itself of pain, seeks to reverse the polarity of damage and project it out onto “other.” By a trick of symbolic manipulation, it strives to become the hurter instead of the hurt, the destroyer instead of the destroyed. The primitive identity assumes that in giving pain to another, it has given its pain away. In reality it has only shifted the destructive consciousness from the self and projected it into the mental limbo of psychic not-self within the brain. Actually, the consciousness of pain has been temporarily repressed, nothing more.
But before I go any further I would like you to read http://dreamhawk.com/interesting-people/animal-children/#Program It is the end of a feature that may be about the archetypal human trauma. If so, trauma is a part of nature’s way of putting obstacles in our way to overcome, and is there for every living thing.
To explain that in term of everyday events, I quote from The Tree -
I can’t remember it not being there –
On the cliff edge overlooking the sea.
I don’t even know how old it is.
There’s no way of knowing.
Perhaps an ancient oak tree
Yet barely to my waist.
Shaped and stunted
By harsh onshore winds,
By the salt and the rock.
It is clinging and growing
To the very shape of the wind,
Perfectly reflecting its environment,
And stunted, as you or I might be,
By circumstances of our birth,
Or events -
Yet still a magnificent oak tree.
Just as you or I, at our core,
Are magnificent human beings.
The point being made is that the tree had in it the potential to be a magnificent tall oak. It was its environment that stunted it, and environment is another cause of trauma. As is birth, education, diet, parental influence and a thousand other factors that can stand in the way of infinite potential.
Example: Repression, a function of the mind almost as pervasive as its opposite, cognition, has one purpose: to suppress knowledge of unwanted truths. Traumas involve overwhelming invasions of fact that are met with emergency measures. Here the strictest repression is applied. But there remains a large class of repressed memories, probably a majority, that cannot be called traumas because they are too niggling and insignificant. Yet when they are analyzed and tallied together they reveal patterns of nonacceptance that are significant in the total psyche. Many, of course, lead back to the excessive claims of infantile megalomania, which patients must correct if they are ever to discover the reality of themselves and their world. Turning to investigate these claims, they find that they are not the exclusive rather exotic vanities of children nor the simple urges for excessive power they had supposed, but universal human distortions.
A thought that is very real to me and I have realised that all the massive rocks and landslides that blocked the road I was travelling in my life were not ‘bad’. All were necessary for me to learn things or to develop strength to shift the road blocks. I have heard from others who have travelled the road of growth that they too say there is nothing bad in our life. I mean that also about things like having my stroke that took away my ability to speak and move my right side of my body. I honestly do not think Life plays with us.
As for reading – I suggest http://dreamhawk.com/poems/the-tree-2/ - http://dreamhawk.com/dream-encyclopedia/what-we-need-to-remember-about-us-3/#DualBeing and the continued text beyond it - http://dreamhawk.com/dream-dictionary/what-we-need-to-remember-about-us-3/#Levels - http://dreamhawk.com/approaches-to-being/lifes-little-secrets/
An reply from ‘BooBoo’ on reading the above:
Thanks very much for your thoughtful response. I like the analogy of the tree a lot. One thing I was wondering after I asked, is if my question weren’t more part of the confusion itself. More specifically, if trying to reduce trauma to one thing per se may not be the right path, since it is such a murky and complex entity. But I like the concept of trauma as more of a process than a thing… I have also been stepping back and seeing it more as a dimension, or a *lack of* something rather than some *thing* in itself. As in, trauma creates a tear in the social fabric into which we are born and which nurtures us along the way. The tricky irony (irony being where the truth often hides I’ve found, where the opposites unite) is that the tear CAN strengthen and develop the fabric towards an even more beautiful quilt, if I could finish the analogy awkwardly…