On storytelling

Like others before, I have reached a point where I give up hesitating to add my voice on dangers inflicted on all of us by the current incumbent of the Office of the President of the United States of America. As a former public servant I feel like many former holders of office in the U.S., staying out of a polarised antagonizing debate. But like others, I see that I can not uphold this reservation any longer. However, I am not doing this because I want to join the polarised army of do-gooders. I am doing this because I want to make a point by saying that, potentially, an important piece in the puzzle explaining what is happening may still be missing. A piece which might help in better predicting of what will happen in the weeks and months ahead.

October 5, 2020: Over my last tea before falling asleep I watched news about the President of the United States returning to the White House from Walter Reed Hospital despite a still ongoing medical treatment of a Covid-19-infection which had led to a hospitalisation just a few days earlier. I could see the story he was about to tell already in his preceeding tweets in which he spoke so ominously about what he had learned, that he really got it, and how good he feels. He was prepping his followership for the pathetic show ahead.

The evening news carried the story of him returning to the White House. From everything medical experts can tell, it is near certain that he continued to be contagious when he, in a premeditated way walking up an illuminated stairway to the second level of the White House, took off his face-mask with a pompous fake gesture of dignity, saluting Marine One as the helicopter flew off. Like to millions of other people it looked ridiculously childish and immature to me, but it was a calculated gesture aiming for a core audience within his base of followers: The believers and superspreaders of conspiracy theories that elevate him to the protector of the American people against all evil, including the monsters from Avengers’ Endgame lurking at the fences of the White House premises. Equal “monsters” with “Dems” and “Fake Press”, then you have the story he tells, and further develops.

I consumed the outrage and frenzy of the press about it, including about his callous calling on the American people not to take the virus too seriously, through some Twitter messages earlier that evening, before he left Walter Reed Hospital.

Then I woke up the following morning and I watched the news about his re-playing the helicopter salutation after Marine One had left. The aim was to shoot “proper” footage that could be used for a pompous and manipulative display of his godly return to the office for his followers. The news read: “Infected Trump re-shoots entrance into White House with camera crew https://www.cnn.com/videos/politics/2020/10/05/trump-no-mask-white-house-camera-crew-balcony-collins-lklv-ebof-vpx.cnn“. The polarized press acted on it either with messages of appreciation, or, like the above, with ever louder outrage. I watched anchormen and commenters in utter exasperation, displaying helplessness, and fury, literally with tears in their eyes, in light of more than 200.000 Covid-19-deaths in the U.S. alone, at that time, and still counting.

Many of those who read my blog have watched that by themselves, so what is my point? What is the additional thing that makes this blog entry standing apart from just being another outcry of anger and hurt? In order to see where Trump is going, one needs to understand the inner workings of his mind first. Much has been said there, some has not. I am venturing into the part which has not been said, as far as I can tell.

Throughout October 6 it quickly transpired that the pompous setup of the night before was to support establishing the storytelling narrative of a heroic selfless leader who went through all this at the virtual frontline of an alleged pandemic for his people. Or so he told through his Twitterphone. My point is that this, at best, may be only half of the truth. At worse, it may be a by-product of something much more serious: A high-risk gambling pattern that can be identified in Trump’s life on uncounted occasions, and including as recent as during the last elections. It is not only that Donald Trump re-invents himself in a situation of financial or political bancruptcy. I suspect that he may, consciously or not, create the situations from which he then seemingly escapes, demonstrating his “unique capacity” to re-define himself against all odds. I suspect that he may have no choice but doing just that, because he may need that kick.

We know from psychological experts that he appears to be on the extreme end of a narcissistic scale, and that he is absolutely incapable to empathise, which is also an indication for a severe sociopathic disorder. However, stories like the above make me believe that he, in addition, may carry the hallmarks of a severe addiction disorder.

Trump has a track record of being at his best in manipulating a situation when everyone believes that he already has lost the battle, by appearing to foolishly placing the noose around his own neck. Think, for example, the second debate at the eve of the 2016 elections: Remember the Locker Room Talks? I believe that he may actively get himself into these seemingly foolish situations because he needs the kick from a high-risk gamble which, at the end, needs to demonstrate his superiority. The more often he is winning this game, the more often he needs it, and the deeper his own delusional belief in his superiority. If I look at the super-spreader event one week earlier in the Rose Garden when he announced his candidate for the vacancy at the U.S. Supreme Court, I can not help but ask: How much of this carelessness is based on delusional thinking, how much is based on cold-blooded knowledge, and how much is based on the mindblowingly selfish and destructive, reality-denying mind of an addict who has no means to stop doing whatever is needed for getting the kick? We know from troves of scientific research, as well as from all practical experience represented by recovering addicts that the strongest kicks come from behavioral addictive patterns, not from substance abuse. You can be an addict of the worst kind, destroying yourself and others, without drinking, smoking, or doing drugs.

In this version of attempting to explain what happened, Trump literally would have no choice: He would have to get the virus, to run the risks involved because there was no other way to get the next kick. Like the heroin addict knowing there is a risk of OD’ing, and a part of that person’s mind even hoping that this is happening.

This is like to create the rabbit hole yourself that you then slide down. Success reinforces his belief in his superiority, and at the very same time, the ever deepening craving to feel more of the kick, again. In this vicious cycle, nothing is good enough for repetition, the kick requires more of the same, in ever increasing doses, and in ever shorter cycles.

We may witness the moment of history giving birth to an autocrat of the most dangerous kind: A person suffering from the combined delusional effects stemming from narcissism, sociopathic disorder, and behavioral addiction to power and extreme forms of gambling: The narcissist persona requires the constant need of being validated as superior and invincible. The sociopath persona provides the cold-blooded analytical capability of knowing how to manipulate other people for reckless application of own selfish needs only. Remember: Sociopaths are masters in identifying the weak and blind spots of empaths. They have a PhD in manipulation sciences. But the addict persona adds the need for the kick through high-risk gambling, as we have seen in the 2016 elections, and everything before, and after, until today.

The Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, was clearly exasperated when she, on October 7, spoke about the potential impact of steroids on the President’s thinking and decisionmaking as he was telling his negotiators to walk away from talks on a stimulus package relieving American people from economic effects of the Covid-19-pandemic. If my contribution to explaining Donald Trump’s behavior is correct, this may be true, but only be a part of the story: The other part is the elated feeling coming from a mind-altering drug which is produced by the body itself: Dopamine. I highly reccommend the book “The Deepest Well” by Nadine Burke Harris. Read what she has to say on the effects of Adverse Childhood Experiences on, in this case, the Ventral Tegmental Area of the human brain.

Assuming the above scenario is true, what would be different compared to what we already know? In this scenario

(1) Trump’s unwillingness to concede any defeat has to be understood as an absolute inability to concede defeat;

(2) The delusional storytelling creates a personal world in which leaving the White House is impossible to even think about. It is a mental no-go-area, the option of walking out with dignity does not exist. Myriads of options exist how to make it happen to stay, and to get kicks all along the way;

(3) Meaning that, if that would be true, any assessment characterizing his mental state as “panicking” would need correction. Because, how fatigued must a 74-year-old be after a life with so many panicking moments? No, it is not fatiguing, it is creating a kick;

(4) Meaning that, if that would be true, we see the progressive part. The need for a kick comes in shorter intervals, and the dose needs to be much higher in order to achieve any effect. That then constitutes the real danger for the American people, and the World;

(5) How could the above be proven? In theory, that is easy: Take away his Twitterphone and you will see the effects of withdrawal. In practice, it is impossible: Try to take away the Twittertoy from the President of the United States, and you will be in trouble.

The reckless insane behavior of this incumbent of the great Office of the President of the United States puts not only my values, but my life, and the life of my children at grave risk. I am not morally judging Donald Trump. Many of my blog entries are being motivated by the desire to understand the devastating impact of a brain disease called “addiction“. I feel great pity and compassion for Donald Trump. The problem: This person has a “red button” at close range, carried around by an aide whereever the President goes.

On Trauma, Children, and Societies

I introduced three categories of conditions in my previous blog entry (Trauma; addictive/compulsive behaviour; certain personality disorders), and three general categories of individuals who draw their appreciation of these conditions from their specific ability or inability to relate to them. Members of these categories either have never experienced one of these conditions personally, or they suffer from one or several of them, or they are in a state that I have named recovery.

It is possible that such a systematisation only fits a cultural context of Western societies. The perception of reality by a self-aware mind happens within a cultural context, though it may be influenced by some genetic predispositions. For sure the main influence is happening throughout childhood and adolescence, in every specific society. Literally all aspects of what an individual learns about where he or she belongs, what defines the identity within a group, a society, a culture, a belief system, a system of faith, it begins with education by parents and caregivers.

In my attempt to describe the context of trauma and my line of work, I have to appreciate that. I have to acknowledge that my approach; my way relating to it; my way of empathising with, for example, victims of trauma; my ideas about which impact the consequences of trauma have; my ideas how to assist in healing trauma; that all this happens within the framework of the societies of the type I grew up in. My appreciation is formed through education, through science, through value systems and belief systems to which I have been exposed, which form the Western world in which I live.

Let me explain this with a little example:

I came across an interesting statement (look here for one of several references) on the fundamental cultural context of healing, and assistance to it. In this piece, a Rwandan genocide survivor makes reference to healthcare professionals from Western countries, attempting to apply a Western approach to healing:

“You know, we had a lot of trouble with Western mental health workers who came here immediately after the genocide, and we had to ask some of them to leave…They came and their practice did not involve being outside in the sun like what you’re describing – which is, after all, where you begin to feel better. There was no music or drumming to get your blood flowing again when you’re depressed and you’re low and you need to have your blood flowing. There was no sense that everyone had taken the day off so that the entire community could come together to try to lift you up and bring you back to joy. There was no acknowledgement of the depression as something invasive and external that could actually be cast out of you again. Instead, they would take people one at a time into these dingy little rooms and have them sit around for an hour or so and talk about bad things that had happened to them. We had to get them to leave the country.”

Trauma experienced by adults is a well explored issue which has made it into public awareness. Scientific research has made tremendous progress in understanding how trauma impacts on the brain. The long form of the acronym PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, is known by many. People share at least a little conceptual understanding. You and I have experiences within our families and networks of friends about the impact of trauma. My grand uncle never spoke about his experiences as a soldier during the most brutal World War I. My former father in law never ever opened up on his experiences during the Nazi Regime. Both of them were visibly and deeply affected.

I want to focus on what trauma does to young children: The impact of trauma on a child in its early or later stages of development is tremendous, in any society. What I say is that the way how societies deal with trauma may be specific to the societal and cultural context, but the fact that trauma happens to children, and has a deep effect, is common to all individuals in all societies who face violence and abuse of children, and their caregivers. Therefore, every society affected by conflict needs to address these effects of trauma in order to move on, and this way is specific to every society in question. There may be an universal framework for healing, but I suspect it is limited.

My personal experience would indicate that we empathise with the impact of violence and trauma on children, but we stop short from real acknowledgement of its lifelong consequences: It appears to me that we often deny, or disregard, its impact. This impact on life when somebody is exposed to early trauma is much more fundamental, and to some considerable extent unalterable. It may be that, in a mainstream discussion, we feel empathy, and pity, but we may wrongly expect that the child has to move on, on its way into adulthood, and as an adult.

As a matter of fact, no single child can do that.

Trauma requires support for healing. Any seriously traumatised individual is unlikely to undo the impact of trauma without support, and this is especially true for children. A child literally has no single tool which would enable it to support his or her own healing. A child completely depends on the support of caregivers. If these caregivers then are affected by massive trauma as well, they are becoming dysfunctional in many ways that affect their nurturing and educating children. Consequently, the child will almost certainly grow up becoming a dysfunctional adult. It’s a double whammy: Suffering from own trauma, being raised by traumatised caregivers. In societies that are affected by massive violence, including acts of genocide, including systematic use of rape and violence against women, children, and other vulnerable groups, as an instrument of conflict and war, this has catastrophic consequences: These societies form, from individual wounds, common wounds. These common wounds persist, their results are visible in generations of that society to come. They, in my experience, form the foundation for future relapse into violence.

No matter which society, no matter which culture, children are born with a clean slate. Certainly, genetic predisposition impacts on how children develop, but newborn always are, as Pia Mellody⁠1 describes it, valuable, vulnerable, imperfect, dependent, and immature. This is just one attempt to frame the initial condition a child is in, but it appears to be useful to me.

If you look at these categories, nurturing and raising of children means to assist them in moving from this highly dependent initial condition into interdependent adulthood. “Interdependent” means that an individual is able to function within a societal context, and doing so in a more or less healthy way. “Living healthy” always relates to quite some extent to what a peer group would generally consider to be appropriate.

Like all mammals, we learn what we need to know, how to be, how to act as an adult from caregivers. Instincts and genetically coded behaviour exist, but every mammal learns how to interact, how to hunt, how to relate to a peer group, through nurturing, play, and education. In our human case, it requires, give or take, twenty years. I believe that even in societies in which children take on roles that we, in Western societies, would consider appropriate only much later, this profoundly biological, psychological, and social, process simply requires that much time. No matter whether a society marries a girl early on to an adult, no matter from when on a child begins to take family responsibilities, or has to begin to work: Forming the adult self, able to function in any society in an appropriate interdependent manner, in our human case it takes time.

In a Western context, there is established clinical and therapeutic evidence for a group of symptoms that follow protracted and/or severe forms of abuse in childhood (which impact on a child as trauma). Citing one of many authors on this, Pia Mellody⁠2, I am not motivated by the topic of her specific book, a phenomenon called “codependence”, but by it’s healthy opposite, what I referred to above as “interdependence”. In her vast work, Pia Mellody identifies the following conditions as a consequence of the inability or impairment of an individual to act in an interdependent (healthy) way: (1) Negative control; (2) Resentment; (3) Distorted, or nonexistent spirituality; (4) Avoiding reality; (5) Impaired ability to sustain intimacy. Her work represents important experience in understanding a fundamental connection between childhood trauma, through physical or emotional abuse, and, what she calls “less than nurturing” education.

With more easy, but blunt words: Dysfunctional parents, unwillingly and often unknowingly, create dysfunctional children, who grow up becoming dysfunctional adults. So, how does a surviving parent, traumatised by the loss of loved ones, and traumatised as a victim of violence and abuse, educate a child in a way that this child becomes an interdependent healthy member of the society? How more complicated is this, if also that child itself has been subjected to unimaginable violence? I will write about sexual and gender based violence, or about slavery, and forming children into child soldiers, in later articles. But how does a child with such trauma wounds grow up, being taken care of by caregivers who struggle with recovery from trauma themselves?

Clinical experience in our Western societies establishes in almost all cases of childhood trauma a direct link into dysfunctional patterns including compulsive/addictive abuse of substances and/or behaviour, or developing physical or mental forms of illness. Cases of widespread abuse of alcohol or substances through the loss of cultural context, identification, collective low self-esteem, in subjugated minority communities come to my mind. I remember my knowledge about Australian aborigines, for example, but also the dysfunctional behaviour in ghetto communities that we all deal with as police officers. We allow, create, or accept, unhealthy conditions in minorities, and/or ghettos, and then we blame the members of those groups for the dysfunctional behaviour which is an inevitable consequence.

But aside that common experience, which has very concrete consequences for the community-oriented policing work in all our countries, in my line of work I see the huge numbers of victims of horrible violence, children and caregivers, after conflict, and genocide.

Which sets the stage for case studies, but before that, within a next instalment, for further quantification and qualification of the violence that is part of contemporary conflicts. I have case studies including my own experiences, like in Bosnia & Herzegovina on my mind, or, for example, Rwanda. But also case studies of ghetto situations, in countries of the Western world.

Now, finishing with a book recommendation. Read the memoirs of a child soldier. It is heartening, but it will go under your skin: “A Long Way Gone⁠3: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, by Ishmael Beah”.

From Amazon’s book page: “This is how wars are fought now: by children, hopped-up on drugs and wielding AK-47s. Children have become soldiers of choice. In the more than fifty conflicts going on worldwide, it is estimated that there are some 300,000 child soldiers. Ishmael Beah used to be one of them.

What is war like through the eyes of a child soldier? How does one become a killer? How does one stop? Child soldiers have been profiled by journalists, and novelists have struggled to imagine their lives. But until now, there has not been a first-person account from someone who came through this hell and survived.

In A Long Way Gone, Beah, now twenty-five years old, tells a riveting story: how at the age of twelve, he fled attacking rebels and wandered a land rendered unrecognizable by violence. By thirteen, he’d been picked up by the government army, and Beah, at heart a gentle boy, found that he was capable of truly terrible acts. This is a rare and mesmerizing account, told with real literary force and heartbreaking honesty.

“My new friends have begun to suspect I haven’t told them the full story of my life.

‘Why did you leave Sierra Leone?’

‘Because there is a war.’

‘You mean, you saw people running around with guns and shooting each other?’

‘Yes, all the time.’

‘Cool.’

I smile a little.

‘You should tell us about it sometime.’

‘Yes, sometime.'”

1 Pia Mellody, With Andrea Wells Miller and J. Keith Miller; “Facing Codependence”, HarperCollins, 1989 and 2003, New York, ISBN 978-0-06-250589-7, page 63

2 Ibid, page 45

3 Beah, Ishmael (2006). A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier. New York: Sarah Crichton Books

On Trauma and Societies

This entry amends and deepens my earlier article “Trauma – An Entry Point”. So some is a repetition, but put into a larger context.

There is a group of conditions with damaging impact which’s members, at first sight, may seem disparate. These conditions fundamentally affect development, personality, and behavior, and impact on forming relationships. Scientific understanding of these conditions, and what they do to individuals, has made significant progress over the past decades.

However, in my experience they also impact on communities, and societies, especially when some of them occur on a large scale, to a huge number of members of a society, as a consequence of violent conflict.

To my knowledge, this area is less charted, in psychology, and in sociology.

The three conditions are:

(1) Trauma;

(2) Compulsive behavior and addiction and their interrelationship; and

(3) Certain personality disorders which, at least, seem to occur as a consequence of trauma especially when exposed to it at an early stage of life.

These conditions can be examined using a multidisciplinary approach including genetic, neuronal, biochemical and environmental/behavioral  sciences. This is especially useful when it comes to the various degrees of their influencing each other and working together.

These conditions, in principle, can be seen in any living organism, at least of some complexity, and to varying degrees, again depending on the complexity of the organism in question.

We all know the story of the dog where it’s owner knows or suspects that the animal has been abused, say, the dog was rescued from being chained and beaten frequently, for example. We immediately see the impact, some animals are extremely anxious, others may be aggressive and can not be held around children. I have not seen anyone who does not understand the causal consequence between the abuse and the behavior of an animal. The dog may even have been adopted for reasons including pity. Animal adoption online markets are full of narratives about abuse.

My experience with human beings who have experienced trauma, especially early trauma, is different. The layers of human development from child to adult, and within an adult’s life, seem to make the causal context less visible. I may hear on a party sentences like “Our new dog was clearly abused as a puppy”. I can neither remember or imagine a similar easygoing discussion about a human being. These conversations are very different.

It appears to me that we can readily appreciate the impact of violence on an animal, but my personal experience with the set of reactions when confronted with somebody who has been subjected to violence, to trauma, to injustice on an extraordinary scale, is different. The scale of reactions includes indifference, disinterested attitude, or inability to appropriately interact with such an individual. Reactions can include gossip to third people like “He or she should get over it”, they can, not only in extreme cases, even outright victimize and traumatize this individual again.

Why? I struggle to come up with a comprehensive answer, but to me it stands out that the topic of abuse appears to be a societal taboo: Victims, if they can remember that they were abused, regularly don’t talk. The reasons include shame, and alienation by others. Every police officer knows (or should…) the term “secondary victimization”. It happens, for example, to rape victims, through the sometimes helpless, sometimes outright malicious, and always inappropriate reactions of family, friends, law enforcement, and justice.

Moreover, in my experience the reactions to human abuse appear to include other elements which make the consequences so difficult to see, and to deal with. They include uneducation, sometimes almost medieval belief, and disinterest. As an example, I take a sentence many of us have heard all too often: “A slap does not harm a child, it’s good for the child”.

Despite well-documented negative impact on the development of children, this belief is very common. To my disbelief, I had even to learn that some State legislation in the U.S. still allows physical punishment of children. Just read this one.

I do believe that massive experience of violence, and especially sexual and gender based violence on a mass scale which occurs in conflict, not seldom deliberately used as a weapon of war, of individual and societal destruction, leads to the occurrence of all three conditions on a scale that affects that societies’ ability to move on, and to reconcile, or not. I have made practical experience of that everywhere where I have worked.

Our ability to appreciate these phenomena and to relate to the behavioral consequences of their existence in an individual is radically different, in my view, within the three following groups, which I introduced in my first article:

(A) Those who don’t have one or several of these conditions;

(B) Those who have, and often don’t know; and

(C) Those who recover from one or several of these conditions, and/or integrate the knowledge of their partly unalterable consequences consciously into their lifes.

These three constituencies mix and may communicate about these issues on basis of a vastly different understanding:

The person who is not affected (A) has limitations to relate, and thus, to understand. Relapse into addictive behavior, compulsive disorders, anxieties, anorexic behavior, just to name very few, appear to be alien to these persons. They have genuine difficulties grappling with relating to why this is happening, beyond an intellectual level. Read “Confessions of a Sociopath: A Life Spent in Plain Sight” by M.E. Thomas. Try to relate to her narrative, assuming you, the reader, are not a sociopath. It’s really demonstrating the case.

The person who is affected (B), does not, at least fully, know and/or is in a condition excluding understanding, through complex denial mechanisms. This person is genuinely unhappy and may even be ready to admit that, but understanding does not suffice and denial adds. The denial can be visible to (A), but that person has often no idea what this denial really means, and how it works. Often, a person (A) concludes that a person (B) is weak. An addict has character deficiencies, full stop. A traumatized abuse victim is weak, he or she should get over it. Full stop. A personality disorder, like, let me just say, frequent panic attacks and inability to be with other people, may establish pity at best. But that person is weak, full stop.

In order to appreciate my entry point into this discussion, read, for example, the definition of the American Society for Addiction Medicine ASAM. According to this definition, based on what we now know through sophisticated science, addiction is a brain disease. I will come to addiction much later, the point here is “brain disease”. The very same way, trauma is a wound inflicted on the brain.

Whilst we may talk about brain injuries and diseases on a neuronal level in educated academic discussions, my impression is that much of society approaches these conditions including from a perspective treating them as character deficiencies.

The person who recovers (C), increasingly understands, as his or her recovery progresses. Recovery is hard work. Thus, the recovering person develops an intimate understanding of what happened, and why.

It is from this perspective that I see and want to examine the impact on societies where large groups of individuals are victimized. Understanding the impact helps finding better ways to help addressing it, increasing the ability of a society to reconcile.

Because if there is no reconciliation, there is high likelihood of relapse into new conflict.

For further reading, here is just one personal account. I will use some more in future entries.

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

http://gawker.com/dad-calls-cops-to-watch-him-spank-12-year-old-daughter-1677493594

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

http://gawker.com/deadliest-ever-boko-haram-raid-leaves-hundreds-dead-in-1678538005

I really can not say: Enjoy reading…