Treating Abuse Today (Tat), 3(4), pp. 26-33Freyd: I see what you're saying but people in psychology don't have a uniform agreement on this issue of the depth of -- I guess the term that was used at the conference was -- robust repression.TAT: Well, Pamela, there's a whole lot of evidence that people dissociate traumatic things. What's interesting to me is how the concept of dissociation is side-stepped in favor of repression. I don't think it's as much about repression as it is about traumatic amnesia and dissociation. That has been documented in a variety of trauma survivors. Army psychiatrists in the Second World War, for instance, documented that following battles, many soldiers had amnesia for the battles. Often, the memories wouldn't break through until much later when they were in psychotherapy.Freyd: But I think I mentioned Dr. Loren Pankratz. He is a psychologist who was studying veterans for post-traumatic stress in a Veterans Administration Hospital in Portland. They found some people who were admitted to Veteran's hospitals for postrraumatic stress in Vietnam who didn't serve in Vietnam. They found at least one patient who was being treated who wasn't even a veteran. Without external validation, we just can't know --TAT: -- Well, we have external validation in some of our cases.Freyd: In this field you're going to find people who have all levels of belief, understanding, experience with the area of repression. As I said before it's not an area in which there's any kind of uniform agreement in the field. The full notion of repression has a meaning within a psychoanalytic framework and it's got a meaning to people in everyday use and everyday language. What there is evidence for is that any kind of memory is reconstructed and reinterpreted. It has not been shown to be anything else. Memories are reconstructed and reinterpreted from fragments. Some memories are true and some memories are confabulated and some are downright false.TAT: It is certainly possible for in offender to dissociate a memory. It's possible that some of the people who call you could have done or witnessed some of the things they've been accused of -- maybe in an alcoholic black-out or in a dissociative state -- and truly not remember. I think that's very possible.Freyd: I would say that virtually anything is possible. But when the stories include murdering babies and breeding babies and some of the rather bizarre things that come up, it's mighty puzzling.TAT: I've treated adults with dissociative disorders who were both victimized and victimizers. I've seen previously repressed memories of my clients' earlier sexual offenses coming back to them in therapy. You guys seem to be saying, be skeptical if the person claims to have forgotten previously, especially if it is about something horrible. Should we be equally skeptical if someone says I am remembering that I perpetrated and I didn't remember before. It's been repressed for years and now it's surfacing because of therapy. I ask you, should we have the same degree of skepticism for this type of delayed-memory that you have for the other kind?Freyd: Does that happen?TAT: Oh, yes. A lot.
David L. Calof
When we get hurt, our bodies immediately start trying to heal that hurt. This works for emotions as well. If we were scarred socially, by an incident of rejection or bullying, we immediately start trying to heal. Like pus comes out of wounds, emotions flow from psychological wounds.And what do we really need at that moment? When we are out of that dangerous situation that scarred us and we become triggered by some little thing - what do we need? Do we need someone to look at us and say, Wow, you're really sensitive, aren't you? or Hey, man, I didn't mean it like that.? Do we need someone to justify their actions or tell us to take it easy, because the situation didn't really require such a reaction?And, from ourselves, do we really need four pounds of judgment with liberal helpings of shame? Do we need to run away, to suppress, to hate our over-sensitivity to situations that seem innocuous to others?No. We do not need all of these versions of rejection of a natural healing process. You would not feel shame over a wound doing what it must do to heal, nor would you shame another. So why do we do this to our heart wounds? Why do we do it to ourselves? To others?Next time some harmless situation triggers you or someone around you into an intense emotion - realize it's an attempt at emotional healing. Realize the danger is no longer there, but don't suppress the healing of old dangers and old pains. Allow the pain. Don't react, but don't repress. Embrace the pain. Embrace the pain of others.Like this, we have some chance at healing the endless cycles of generational repression and suppression that are rolling around in our society.Fall open. Break open. Sit with others' openness. Let love be your medicine.
Vironika Tugaleva
The cases described in this section (The Fear of Being) may seem extreme, but I have become convinced that they are not as uncommon as one would think. Beneath the seemingly rational exterior of our lives is a fear of insanity. We dare not question the values by which we live or rebel against the roles we play for fear of putting our sanity into doubt. We are like the inmates of a mental institution who must accept its inhumanity and insensitivity as caring and knowledgeableness if they hope to be regarded as sane enough to leave. The question who is sane and who is crazy was the theme of the novel One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest. The question, what is sanity? was clearly asked in the play Equus.The idea that much of what we do is insane and that if we want to be sane, we must let ourselves go crazy has been strongly advanced by R.D. Laing. In the preface to the Pelican edition of his book The Divided Self, Laing writes: In the context of our present pervasive madness that we call normality, sanity, freedom, all of our frames of reference are ambiguous and equivocal. And in the same preface: Thus I would wish to emphasize that our 'normal' 'adjusted' state is too often the abdication of ecstasy, the betrayal of our true potentialities; that many of us are only too successful in acquiring a false self to adapt to false realities.Wilhelm Reich had a somewhat similar view of present-day human behavior. Thus Reich says, Homo normalis blocks off entirely the perception of basic orgonotic functioning by means of rigid armoring; in the schizophrenic, on the other hand, the armoring practically breaks down and thus the biosystem is flooded with deep experiences from the biophysical core with which it cannot cope. The deep experiences to which Reich refers are the pleasurable streaming sensations associated with intense excitation that is mainly sexual in nature. The schizophrenic cannot cope with these sensations because his body is too contracted to tolerate the charge. Unable to block the excitation or reduce it as a neurotic can and unable to stand the charge, the schizophrenic is literally driven crazy.But the neurotic does not escape so easily either. He avoids insanity by blocking the excitation, that is, by reducing it to a point where there is no danger of explosion, or bursting. In effect the neurotic undergoes a psychological castration. However, the potential for explosive release is still present in his body, although it is rigidly guarded as if it were a bomb. The neurotic is on guard against himself, terrified to let go of his defenses and allow his feelings free expression. Having become, as Reich calls him, homo normalis, having bartered his freedom and ecstasy for the security of being well adjusted, he sees the alternative as crazy. And in a sense he is right. Without going crazy, without becoming mad, so mad that he could kill, it is impossible to give up the defenses that protect him in the same way that a mental institution protects its inmates from self-destruction and the destruction of others.
Alexander Lowen
Once the government can demand of a publisher the names of the purchasers of his publications, the free press as we know it disappears. Then the spectre of a government agent will look over the shoulder of everyone who reads. The purchase of a book or pamphlet today may result in a subpoena tomorrow. Fear of criticism goes with every person into the bookstall. The subtle, imponderable pressures of the orthodox lay hold. Some will fear to read what is unpopular, what the powers-that-be dislike. When the light of publicity may reach any student, any teacher, inquiry will be discouraged. The books and pamphlets that are critical of the administration, that preach an unpopular policy in domestic or foreign affairs, that are in disrepute in the orthodox school of thought will be suspect and subject to investigation. The press and its readers will pay a heavy price in harassment. But that will be minor in comparison with the menace of the shadow which government will cast over literature that does not follow the dominant party line. If the lady from Toledo can be required to disclose what she read yesterday and what she will read tomorrow, fear will take the place of freedom in the libraries, book stores and homes of the land. Through the harassment of hearings, investigations, reports and subpoenas government will hold a club over speech and over the press.[United States v. Rumely, 345 U.S. 41 (1953)]
William O. Douglas