HomeLoss & GriefKeys to Transforming Trauma (1)


Keys to Transforming Trauma (1) — 1 Comment

  1. This is very good stuff. The video was really interesting. There’s so much to say about trauma, and awe, that it is hard to compress all of it into this comment space. I just note (and I have never seen this confirmed anywhere so I may be wrong) that our word “trauma” is an exact copy of the Greek word, which means “wound.” It comes to us in English through the German, which is also the same word. But the German word for dream is “Traum”, which to me is highly suggestive. Perhaps my view is colored by my work as a psychotherapist, but I think it is an observation in all places at all times, that our lives are structured by traumas — that without a wound, or a series of wounds, which all parents must necessarily give their children even without wanting or intending it, a sense of a separate self does not really form very well. But those wounds, and our separate selfness, are perhaps a dream (and I think here of Chuang-Tzu’s famous saying: I slept and dreamt I was a butterfly. When I awoke, I wondered: am I a man who dreamed he was a butterfly, or a butterfly dreaming he is a man?) Maybe our traumas are bad dreams, like nightmares, trying to accomplish or process something that we can’t get over, since we tend to be re-traumatized in exactly the same way as the original trauma. We can’t deny the dream-like quality of the world, in which everything is continually changing. And in direct trauma work, which I do by means of EMDR, the work itself is closely related to dreaming: we dream in REM (rapid eye-movement) sleep, and EMDR uses that process to deliberately finish the work most dreaming cannot. Our traumas seem like the most real things to us, but they adapt us into a world that is set up to be traumatizing, and to make us sensitive to trauma and wounding. It seems the experience of awe, however it comes, is like a tremendously beautiful or overwhelming dream. It lasts a short time, and we may remember it as we remember a significant dream. To live in the world in awe, if we can sustain it, would be a way of transcending the wounding/suffering nature of life — if we’re looking for the awesome, we can’t simultaneously be looking for the threat of a re-wounding. So you may be on to something here.