Trauma is Invisible

emotions four features of trauma trauma informed dharma Oct 03, 2020

The four features of trauma are rubrics to help you frame your own personal experience. If you start thinking about them very deeply, they will also lend themselves to antidotes or remedies. If you know these four features you also know what the antidotes are, the remedies. The hallmarks of healing will be directly proportionate to these features: Trauma is invisible. Trauma is a syndrome of disconnection. Trauma is relational and trauma is embodied.

The first one is trauma is invisible. This is important because sometimes we have a very misleading notion that trauma is mostly about physical trauma like a car accident or if you get hit in the head you have what's called blunt force trauma. Our society would rush medical attention at once for the physical injury. If you were in a car accident or somebody bashed you with a cane in the back of the head you'd quickly get medical attention.

But what if it's emotional? Can you see your emotional wounds? If you're trained and you're a detective and you start to see long faces and flat affect you can assume that underneath there is the soul's attempt to protect itself by disconnection. But in general, we live in a society where emotions are underplayed, undervalued, under appreciated, and so the first thing to understand is that mostly what we're dealing with is not seen. It's not on your sleeve. It's not on your face. It's in the shadows. Not only in your life and in your psyche is it in the shadows, but culturally it's in the shadows. These are what we call the unmentionables.

What if the were part of healing was to cast light on the unmentionables? That would be a heroic thing to bring out of the darkness or to make visible the invisible, what Freud said, to make the unconscious, conscious. To bring it out of the recesses. We have to appreciate that from an evolutionary standpoint, if our evolutionary apparatus is assigned simply modus operandi is survival then dissociation and disconnection make perfect sense. If we live in a fairly hedonic culture that doesn't prize or prioritize spiritual growth, then you can see why this kind of working with difficult emotions is not the latest trend. Nobody really wants to do it. It's not that exciting. What's more exciting is shopping on Amazon or taking a luxury vacation or something like that.

There is both a cultural or societal pressure and an internal evolutionary pressure to keep things invisible, to keep things out of the light, to keep things suppressed, to keep things down. It's even present here and now, right here in this class. For me, I can feel the pressure of wanting to stop the class, change the direction, change the subject, lighten it really quickly if there's internal pressure. It's uncomfortable.

On the other hand, there is a part of us, you have to check out for yourself, that also wants to be known, that's kind of tired of hiding and and marshalling energy. It takes so much energy to keep it in the shadow. It's like North Korea. How much energy does suppression really take? To keep the truth at bay requires an enormous infrastructure and marshalling of energy; censorship, military, brainwashing, just to keep the truth out.

Excerpt from Trauma Informed Dharma