Archive for the ‘Trauma’ Category


on having new eyes

April 17, 2009

I’ve been saying this for quite some time: If this were cancer, or leprosy, or some other disease, we would be responding. As in, massively responding.  We are massively underestimating the prevalence and effects of child sexual abuse, and we’re massively underresponding.  It is the responsibility of all adults to protect all children.

Wish I had access to this full article. Looks like there’s a library day in my future! I’m excited to begin exploring the public health model.

Having New Eyes: Viewing Child Sexual Abuse as a Public Health Problem

by James A. Mercy   [source]

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new landscapes, but in having new eyes. ~Marcel Proust

Imagine a childhood disease that affects one in five girls and one in seven boys before they reach 18 (Finkelhor & Dziuba-Leatherman, 1994): a disease that can cause dramatic mood swings, erratic behavior, and even severe conduct disorders among those exposed; a disease that breeds distrust of adults and undermines the possibility of experiencing normal sexual relationships; a disease that can have profound implications for an individual’s future health by increasing the risk of problems such as substance abuse, sexually transmitted diseases, and suicidal behavior (Crowell & Burgess, 1996); a disease that replicates itself by causing some of its victims to expose future generations to its debilitating effects.

Imagine what we, as a society, would do if such a disease existed. We would spare no expense. We would invest heavily in basic and applied research. We would devise systems to identify those affected and provide services to treat them. We would develop and broadly implement prevention campaigns to protect our children. Wouldn’t we?

Such a disease does exist–it’s called child sexual abuse. Our response, however, has been far from the full-court press reserved for traditional diseases or health concerns of equal or even lesser magnitude. Perhaps the perception of sexual abuse as a law enforcement problem or our discomfort in confronting sexual issues contributes to our complacency. Whatever the reason, we have severely underestimated the effects of this problem on our children’s health and quality of life.


meditation for trauma survivors

April 13, 2009

Brad Warner, author of  Hardcore Zen, Sit Down and Shut Up, and the latest Zen Wrapped in Karma Dipped in Chocolate, writes about meditation and trauma survivors:

The subject of Zen practice (aka zazen) for survivors of trauma has been much on my mind of late. I’ve tried several times to write something intelligent about it. But since I’m not a survivor of trauma myself — other than life’s usual traumas that we all have — I sometimes feel it’s not my place to say. I have known people who are both childhood sex abuse survivors and dedicated Zen practitioners. I hope one day one of them will write about this subject. But until then, I’ll take a shot. Much of what I want to say is based on what I’ve observed in them. But whether they involve childhood sexual abuse or not, traumas of all kinds are serious business and probably share much in common.

It’s a fact that zazen brings stuff up. No matter what kind of stuff you have locked away in your mind and body it’s going to come out during sitting. It’s also true that zazen is different from other forms of meditation (if zazen is even a form of meditation) in that it is not directed at any ideal condition. In zazen you allow whatever comes up to just come up as it will, rather than attempting to move the mind toward a specific desired state as most forms of meditation do. This means that trauma survivors may be more likely to face repressed memories and suchlike while doing zazen than while doing other forms of meditation.

I don’t think it’s truly dangerous for trauma survivors to do zazen. But they have to be careful. Of course, anyone should exercise caution while doing the practice. But survivors of trauma need to be possibly even more careful. A practice that’s very much focused on having an “Enlightenment experience” quickly is more likely to bring this stuff to the surface before you’re ready for it. This is yet another reason why crap like Big Mind® is so incredibly heinous and irresponsible. A pox upon them and their putrid ilk!

But here’s what a trauma survivor might expect to encounter in traditional Zen practice. Most of this is also applicable to anyone who practices zazen, trauma survivor or not. There’s not a single person in the world who doesn’t have some stuff they don’t acknowledge buried below the surface.

On the most superficial level zazen will bring up memories. At first these will be familiar memories. Meaning they won’t be particularly surprising, just stuff you haven’t thought of in a long time. For a trauma survivor, this can mean you start recalling things that are painful and that you have avoided thinking about, but which you are basically aware of. The reaction to this runs along the lines of the response you’d have to it even if you weren’t sitting zazen. But sitting tends to intensify emotions. You might start crying or having other similar responses. This can be a bit embarrassing in a crowded zendo. But you should know that you are not alone in having feelings like this.

Read the rest of the article here.