Wednesday, June 15, 2016

"A Thoroughly Shell-Shocked Species..."

“We are a thoroughly shell-shocked species. Though we have not all suffered abuse as children, we have all endured experiences that we perceived as terrifying, and that utterly exhausted our tender attempts to comprehend and cope. Instead of receding harmlessly into the past, the darkest, most frightening events from our childhood and adolescence gain power and authority as we grow older. The memory of such events causes us to depart from ourselves, psychologically speaking, or to separate one part of our awareness from the others. 

As a result of our histories, and of our inborn disposition to become dissociative when our minds need protection, moderately dissociative awareness is the normal mental status of all adult human beings. What we conceive of as an unbroken thread of consciousness is, instead, quite often a train of discontinuous fragments. Our awareness is divided. And much more commonly that we know, even our personalities are fragmented- disorganized team efforts trying to cope with the past- rather than the sane, unified wholes we anticipate in ourselves and in other people.

In listening to my patients tell me thousands of stories, as they try to find some peace in the present, I have learned this beyond the shadow of a doubt. Rather than behaving sanely, rather than being in touch with our present realities, we human beings- all of us, myself included- are too often simply run by losses and hardships long gone by, and by our stockpiled fears. Our collective history, our individual lives, our very minds, bear unmistakable testimony."

"Is this our unalterable destiny as human beings?”

- Martha Stout,
“The Myth of Sanity, Divided Consciousness and the Promise of Awareness”

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