Trauma – An Entry Point

So far, I have been writing about peace, justice, and security. This blog is also about conflict, trauma and reconciliation. And frankly, it is perhaps the biggest unexplored land that I need to enter, to cross, and attempt to map. Trauma is one of the most challenging terms I have ever been dealing with.

My knowledge about trauma is growing. As I write, I also contribute with this to my own recovery from trauma. So this will be part of a healing process, quite frankly. As this is a public blog, there only will be a very limited disclosure.

I am so aware of how difficult it is, in general, to understand what trauma does to an individual, and in cases of massive trauma by conflict, to communities and societies. From what I am learning and researching, the effects of trauma on societies may be better explored than methods to address recovery from trauma on a societal level.

In my professional experience, this recovery process appears to be a crucial factor for reconciliation in a society that has experienced conflict. I will try, how many blog entries down the road, and repeatedly, to explain and to reflect on supporting methods for recovery from individual trauma. My feeling since a while is that there is much potential for finding better ways to support the process of societies that have been traumatized through conflict, on their way towards reconciliation.

Because if they don’t, the common experience in my line of work is that these societies have a higher chance to relapse into conflict. History is full of proof for this.

Thinking about how to find the best common understanding for this topic, I want to note that there are several categories of individuals who need, when reading about trauma, to understand that their own experience with it massively defines their way, and even their ability, to relate to what I am going to write.

In a simplification, three groups stand out to me:

(1) Those who are lucky that they grew up without being subjected to their own trauma;

(2) Those who are trauma victims and don’t know;

(3) Those who actively recover, using a large variety of tools for it, based on what science learns about trauma, and on recovery tools that work.

Each of these groups have a massively different ability to understand the notion of trauma, with some similarities between the first two groups. The best understanding might be within the third group, to which I belong. Thus, I also know from my own experience how challenging it may be for those who understand trauma better, to explain it, on basis of their own experience. Because this group is labeled in different ways, there often is the complete absence of understanding what suffering from trauma means. Lifelong. Reactions go across the whole spectrum, including muted silence and aversion, to ridiculing, and moral judgement.

Which leads me to my second last general comment: I would believe that as of today, many who deal with trauma and its consequences would agree to that a multidisciplinary explanatory model and recovery approach is necessary. Explaining the mechanism of traumatization, and the approaches to healing, went through a huge scientific learning process over the past few decades. It is still ongoing, but there truly is exciting progress. Thats why both the knowledge about trauma and its effects, but also what trauma means for communities and societies at large, are so incredibly relevant and, perhaps, insufficiently explored and understood. My suspicion is that, as a result, we struggle with finding more effective methods of assisting recovering societies, in my line of work.

My last general comment: Science is knowledge, is enlightenment, is allowing humanity to develop tools. The opposite is the darkness that we often associate with the medieval ages. Believe me, from my viewpoint, which is supporting science, we are not out of the woods of the medieval ages yet. Specifically when it comes to contemporary understanding of behavior, learning, nurturing, and abuse in all its various forms, I see the medieval ages in full existence. The result is an uninformed approach of morality, and it has a huge impact in societies which believe that they are educated, and believing that the darkness of not knowing is just for labeling “elsewhere”.

I will give examples.

Here is one for starters: Follow these two links below. I may continue to work myself into the issue of trauma from various viewpoints, using these examples, and others. I deliberately refrain from judging the extremely different events that are reported in these articles too much, except that they both upset me equally:

During the same 30 minutes whilst riding on a train home, I read the news about that Boko Haram, in their most recent attack, killed hundreds, if not thousands of innocent people, with utmost cruelty, and for sure with what always comes with it: torture, and rape, unspeakable horror and suffering. Then I read about a father in Florida calling the cops for witnessing his punishing his 12-year-old daughter with slaps on her buttocks.

The common denominator for my later dissection: Trauma. And whilst All here would agree that Boko Haram’s actions are coming from Hell, yet there is a common understanding that physical abuse of children is justified for “educational” purposes. Even more, the notion I grew up with, including the sentence “A little slapping is healthy for children”, this notion is more widespread than I would have hoped, after so many decades of educational progress. It is truly medieval, as one can see, it’s still the law, even in some Southern parts of the United States.

So, the challenge is education about the effects of trauma. I will attempt to contribute.

Here are the links.

Dad Calls Cops to Watch Him Spank 12-Year-Old Daughter

Deadliest-Ever Boko Haram Raid Leaves Hundreds Dead in Nigeria: Reports

I really can not say: Enjoy reading…

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