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Author Topic: what is trauma really?  (Read 5528 times)

booboocakesjones

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what is trauma really?
« on: May 19, 2015, 06:42:47 PM »
Hello, I'm a new psychotherapist in practice in California. I am pre licensed and working with a full caseload; almost all of my clients are presenting with significant trauma, mostly complex. I have been learning a lot about trauma (as well as my self), but I have a ton of questions. I have turned to Jung in the past for answers on an archetypal level, and you (Tony) have been someone who has presented Jung's ideas in a very accessible way. I am wondering if you can talk at all about the archetypal significance of trauma. The most basic way I can approach this is to ask the question "What IS trauma," because I feel like simplifying things will help get to the truth. There are so many different view points on trauma that I feel in some ways I (and many) are missing the point. I know that there are dissociated aspects of the self (fragmented) which can form the shadow, but to me this gets confusing because the shadow is a part of the self, and trauma by definition comes from (or initiates) outside of the self. Therefore the shadow may be the result of trauma, but WHAT then is trauma, in an archetypal sense? Is it chaos? Evil? Destruction? I know that the trauma is the reaction to an outside event, but what this reaction is on a basic level eludes me. I wonder if part of it is a sort of reaction to chaos which fragments in order to promote individuation? i.e. is there an inherent purpost to trauma? Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Or if you know of books/essays that may help :)
« Last Edit: May 19, 2015, 06:46:29 PM by booboocakesjones »

Tony Crisp

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Re: what is trauma really?
« Reply #1 on: May 20, 2015, 09:40:22 AM »
BooBoo - Thanks for an unusual question - it is good to get something I have to really think about.

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 all life has sentience, and I see that as basic. 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.

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 ever 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.
(See picture of the tree by clicking on - http://dreamhawk.com/poems/the-tree/‎)

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.

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/

Also Wilhelm Reich's http://www.amazon.com/Function-Orgasm-Sex-Economic-Biological-Discovery/dp/0374502048/ref=sr_1_9?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1432110631&sr=1-9&keywords=wilhelm+reich

And another view entirely http://www.amazon.com/Escape-Freedom-Erich-Fromm/dp/0805031499/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1432110742&sr=1-1&keywords=fear+of+freedom

I admire your questioning mind - and also your chosen direction - but trying to recreate a conversation I had with my son, I said, "Obviously anyone with any sight could see that because we know nothing, because to know truth you would have to know everything in the universe, and the universe is constantly changing - so to believe or stand proudly and say they KNOW or be so intellectually clever is a laugh. In another 150 years new beliefs and 'knowledge' will spring up - and that is why I say I am a silly old sod."

Tony
« Last Edit: September 25, 2015, 09:07:01 AM by Tony Crisp »

booboocakesjones

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Re: what is trauma really?
« Reply #2 on: May 26, 2015, 08:17:06 PM »
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... Thanks and I look forward to those books. I wonder if you have heard of John Beebe?  Have consulted/been to therapy with him, he's pretty cool.
« Last Edit: May 26, 2015, 08:19:04 PM by booboocakesjones »

Tony Crisp

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Re: what is trauma really?
« Reply #3 on: May 27, 2015, 08:09:33 AM »
Thanks - you have added to my own insights by you words - "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..."

The opposites unite - so true. Quoting from wholeness - "This balance is like a razors edge in which any one-sidedness would lead to imbalance within the individual. But at the same time it is not about being perfect or a saint, but a balanced and whole human being with very wide choices. See The Mountain Path"

Tony