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Trauma

 
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I work in a juvenile correction center.  I've noticed over the years that the juveniles here have a lot of trauma, which creates an awful environment for communication.  Kind, gentle, and empathetic people get a better result from those impacted by trauma.  

Just my 2 bits.
 
pollinator
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Location: Gulf Islands, Canada
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I'll cop to having some childhood trauma; most childhood trauma comes from (or at least with) a good amount of mistreatment at the hands of authority figures and people who are supposed to be taking care of you or looking out for you. It creates a pretty instinctive distrust of authority, which in my case has been reinforced in adulthood seeing how a lot of these authority figures act. IME most people who seek power do a poor job of accepting the responsibilities that go with it. When someone approaches me with the idea that they are going to bully me into thinking or acting the way they want, it usually goes quite poorly for everyone involved. This was true when I was a kid and it's true now. If someone needs to wave a stick at me in order to get me to do something, it makes me wonder if they have a good reason for telling me to do that thing. If they did, they could surely just "use their words" and tell me what the reason is, as I'm usually open to considering reasonable explanations for things. A lot of the time I also find that people trying to be authoritarians don't actually have as much power as they're trying to make you think that they do. They're just hoping to intimidate you into doing what they want without asking too many questions.

Anyway I say all this to say I agree with you from the other side. I've never been in a corrections facility but there was a period in my life where that could have been the road I went down.  
 
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Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
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I'd go farther and say that a lot of the adults in the criminal justice system also have incredible trauma in their lives.

Not all, but a lot.
 
pollinator
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Location: La Palma (Canary island) Zone 11
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Not a lot, all. And all of us except enlightened persons (I know only one...).

Trauma has different definitions, but if you take it as ANS (Autonomous Nervous System is so long to write!) consequences of past events, we all have some sort of trauma, and the inprint can have Little to do with the intensity of "trauma as event".

Trauma response is quite relative, and comes from all that was too strong or too early or too repeated or too soon, or most or all of this… The ANS was literally stuck and wounded, same as any other body system, like when you break a bone. But it is not considered as such and is not treated as a physiological issue though it is!


A lot of so called bad behaviors seem to be calling for a repetition of the trauma. When you know this, you can sometimes guess the type of trauma a person had had (though often you Will not get the story, just the field). this has neurological explanation: the body is stuck in an unfinished response and try to complete it, (if you read Peter Levine about it). So, we have some sort of "antenna" or instinct that tells the ANS "here you can have some hope to be in the same situation, and it Will give you the opportunity to actívate what is stuck, and be successful and this Will discharge and let go the stuck energy and then you Will be fine."


It is true but in general we fail to solve the nervous activation, and need to repeat. When we get it, in general we have a strong body reaction and if well sustained, then the extra energy that had been waiting or years to go, can discharge as if connected to an earth rod. The biggest problema we have to solve in order to do this is shame. We can hardly show the trembling after just escaping from a car accident and we are told to be strong too soon!
 
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It is very true that empathetic, kind and gentle communication makes a huge difference. Though I know for myself and some others I have spoken with about trauma, people being kind can feel uncomfortable and arouse suspicion, because for those who have been mistreated, especially from a young age, it can feel very unfamiliar, almost scary. I have had to retrain myself to realize it is okay. Part of me sometimes still fears it is a trick because sometimes it has been. Or sometimes it is just hard to accept kindness. I could imagine such feelings in teenagers creating some serious resistance to even the most caring communication. In adults too, really.

I recently started seeing a therapist trained in somatic experiencing to help address my own trauma. She reminded me that simply living in our society is traumatic and that basically everyone could benefit from some form of therapy or work to help heal that. Just seeing the way people are disconnected from the earth and how they disrespect her is traumatic, whether we realize it or not. While I intuitively knew all that, hearing it helped me feel less like there was something wrong or shameful about me for having all this trauma to work through. I can’t recommend therapy enough, especially somatic experiencing, which I am finding far more helpful than talk therapy.

Hopefully the kids at your work are receiving some kind of therapy or support for their trauma. Either way, I wonder if reminding them that whatever happened isn’t their fault and that they aren’t alone in having trauma and struggles could help them?
I know when I have worked with kids, it is easy to get frustrated by “bad behavior”, but maintaining curiosity and compassion is far more effective. Every time I’ve had a kid in my class with behavioral problems, when I was able to have a heart to heart talk with them, there was always some kind of trauma driving their behavior. Taking the time to simply hear what they were going through, let them know they weren’t alone and that someone cared helped tremendously. That and acknowledging them for having the courage to share about it. I do my best to apply that awareness and approach to my interactions with adults as well. Admittedly, I find that more difficult, but knowing the transformative power of empathy, I shall continue working on it.  
 
Xisca Nicolas
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Heather, I  did the Somatic Experiencing training starting nearly 10 years ago!

I mentionned Peter Levine and he founded SE.

I am glad it helps! For me, it is a permie  method by excellence, because of the importance of the felt-sense.
 
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My wife endured an entire childhood of major trauma,  and the day to day trauma that comes with extreme poverty and hunger. Father dead at 2 yrs old. Mother who functions at about an 8 year old level. Kidnapped twice when she was 5. Passed off to another family to work as a house slave at 6. Working at a roadside restaurant for hours before and after school from 8 to 13 yrs old. Being forced to glean leftovers for her own meals.  Forced to fight her siblings,  for the entertainment of drunken uncles, in order to obtain food whenever the children returned to the village to visit their mother. Swimming for her life when the river took the house out to sea. Bitten by a poisons snake and taken to a witch doctor who prayed in Visayan and Latin, then waited to see if she would die. Constant sexual harassment, starting at about 10. Violence, and the constant threat of violence. School authorities that did little. Church authorities that did nothing. The list goes on. All of her siblings have scars from getting caught in barbed wire, while trying to obtain food from relatives who sell surplus to buy alcohol.

I can't believe her resilience. She's almost always in a good mood and greets every morning with a smile. She's kind to everyone.

She also has deep down fears that reflect her early life. Fear of alcoholics and their erratic behavior. Fear that I will be murdered by robbers or kidnappers. And a general fear of abandonment. Social anxiety if we go somewhere where she doesn't know anybody, can make it difficult to convince her to try new places. The world used to be a very scary place, where running out of food or money meant that she would be totally at the mercy of others. So, she has learned to play it safe. So safe that relatively harmless places and activities are avoided. It's getting better. I don't get angry about it because I know that these same fears were a matter of self-preservation just one year ago.

When we're making business plans, sometimes very counterproductive fear-mongering crops up. What if we buy land and we bought it off someone that didn't own it? What if someone steals everything? What if everyone is very jealous about the amount of money we have? And it goes on. Sometimes I have to make a rule. We're going to talk about something without a whole bunch of scary what ifs. She will agree to this, but five minutes later, say yes, but what if?

I've found that it really helps if I can find someone on YouTube or elsewhere who has been successful at anything similar. It's especially good if they talk about various missteps they made and how to avoid them. Bringing out all of the possible pitfalls and discussing the probability of each, seems to help put it in perspective. I've looked up murder rates and every financial scam we can think of. It may always take a little bit of salesmanship on my part , to get her to try new things, and live without fear.

There are certain things that I want to avoid because of well founded fears, based on things that are very likely to go wrong, if not planned for properly. I don't want to buy a place where there's any possibility of a storm surge engulfing the house. That was a pretty easy sell, since her childhood home washed away with her in it. I want to have some portion of land that is the top of a watershed no matter how small. Nova has drank enough bad water, to know that that makes sense. A small portion of our house will be built like a fortress. This will protect us from a category 5 typhoon, but also from anyone who wants to force entry. It will have an escape tunnel, but it will also have a small arsenal, including homemade grenades and mustard gas or whatever the modern version of that is. Avoidance is always Nova's answer to fear. I always plan to face the problem, and seriously up the ante if necessary.

We have many common interests and values. But we are like night and day when it comes to fear.
 
pollinator
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Location: Massachusetts, 6b, urban, nearish coast, 39'x60' minus the house, mostly shady north side, + lead.
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Wow, that's a lot, Dale!  I'm glad to hear that she is willing to trust and able to have a good life today.

--

A thought occurs to me, that one of the benefits of the "drL" (consciousness amplification instrument) I've been posting about is that it creates a mini-culture in which allowing space for trauma to be processed is the norm.  You can pick up the "trophy" anytime you are triggered for any reason; the trophy is the highest-priority tool, then the bell, then the voice, so the body gets to speak and be heard as top priority.  

The instrument is used by small groups of 4-20 people.  The idea is that everyone on the planet one day can have their own cluster of 4-20 people with whom they feel safe and with whom they strengthen their sense of safety and resilience so as to be able to coexist with people outside their cluster.  (There's no bar to entry into a cluster, financial or health-wise or mental-health-wise or in terms of ability to communicate, religious or political views, etc.)

When any of the players of the instrument picks up the trophy, whoever has the "voice " (the ball of strands) at that moment stops and asks, Who would you like to be your trusted voice? and the player holding the trophy picks the person in the group they feel safest with.  This person then gets the voice (ball of strands) and asks the holder of the trophy, "What is your breathing feeling like?," 'What are you feeling?", and echoes back if needed what the person says or vents; then, "What are you sensing in your body?" and rotates through these three questions until the trophy-holder is ready to return to focus on the group as a whole.  The trophy-holder can also make a request of the group for support or for changed behavior.  

They set the trophy down when they're done, and so they show with their action that they're done, rather than only with words.  (Sometimes I've held the trophy, and I thought I was done and my hand just didn't let go.)

I think this is an important next step beyond therapies or practices like Somatic Experiencing or body-centered therapy or any kind of class learning for handling trauma.  It is helpful to be able to go to a specialist and have space and time to process a specific traumatic event and allow the body to move through it.  However, the next step is _integration_ of healing and healthy thinking into our society in general.  "When the Great Dao is abandoned. . .loyal ministers appear" speaks to this.  Ideally we shouldn't need healers at all, we should all be predominantly healthy.  And having a small group of people (4-20) that is taking responsibility for health and handling the body's communications is a great start toward this integration.  Getting to process the trauma right there and then when it comes up, and with the full support of the whole group, the whole mini-society, is a profound thing.  It carries the message to the individual moving through their trauma that they matter, that how they feel matters, no less than the agenda.
 
Dale Hodgins
master pollinator
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Michael McKay wrote:I work in a juvenile correction center.  I've noticed over the years that the juveniles here have a lot of trauma, which creates an awful environment for communication.  Kind, gentle, and empathetic people get a better result from those impacted by trauma.  

Just my 2 bits.


My young brother Jonathan, has an amazing amount of patience. He works with criminal youth who are in a sort of halfway house situation. No matter how rotten the kids are, he doesn't stoop to whatever behaviour they try. He talks about what they've done, explains that that won't be tolerated and sometimes hands out punishments, that are never threatening. Things like losing an hour of TV time. The kids don't challenge him physically, because he's huge and strong.

Most of his time with these kids is not spent in any sort of conflict, but in talking to them about their problems and helping them to make better life choices. They do some skills training as well.  Kind of like a shop class.

He has worked with other staff that are yellers. They get extremely frustrated when their young charges do dumbass things. These ones don't last very long. Jonathan has been at it for more than 15 years.

Of course some of these kids still end up involved in crime and other negative things when they are released. But he has met many of them as adults, who have made a complete turn around. We were talking about that one night, and he must have named 20 young men, who have moved on to living productive lives and who now view their time in lock up as something that was necessary and beneficial.
 
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