Category: Violence

“Toys of War”

In this touching and brief documentary by Andrew Berends, children in South Sudan use clay, pieces of fabric, and flowers to narrate the raid on their village that led to murder of family members and their current state of homelessness. Art is known to help heal the psychological rupture that trauma causes. For these Sudanese children, their creative ‘play’ gives expression …

Is it possible to recover from rape and sexual abuse? Yes and No

When she was twenty-two years old, philosopher Karyn L. Freedman was viciously raped at knifepoint. She narrowly escaped being murdered and her body disposed, perhaps never to be found. In her memoir, One Hour in Paris, Freedman recounted her efforts to heal from this horrifying ordeal. Nearly 25 years have passed since she was raped, …

Dreaming of a Safe America

The United States, perhaps like all nations and all people, is caught in unconscious, conflicting drives and denied vulnerabilities. In Dreaming Up America, historical novelist Russell Banks identified three dreams at the heart of America’s unconscious conflicts, dreams that originally drew people to America: “There was El Dorado, the City of Gold that Cortez and …

A meditation on violence against women and nature

“He says that woman speaks with nature. That she hears voices from under the earth. That wind blows in her ears and trees whisper to her. That the dead sing through her mouth and the cries of infants are clear to her. But for him this dialogue is over. He says he is not part …

What I learned about the importance of ‘tend and befriend’ while surrounded by a SWAT team

The pretty South African woman sitting next to me said our flight from Johannesburg to Port Elizabeth was taking longer than expected, although I hadn’t noticed. I arrived in South Africa only a few hours before. Jet lagged, I was wrestling with the cellophane wrapper guarding the plastic cutlery that came with my in-flight meal. …

Dismantling altars

A couple of years ago, I took a writing workshop with Dennis Slattery, PhD at Pacifica Graduate Institute. Among the writing “meditations” he had us do, one was called Dismantling the Altar. As Dr. Slattery wisely noted, we have a tendency to create altars, and other “as if” edifices. Although we create altars to support or even inspire …

Need help loving humanity? How to evolve beyond “us” versus “them” thinking

Painting of the word "Love".

One of the greatest threats to humankind is our tendency to create what sociologists call in-groups and out-groups. While such distinctions contribute to group solidarity, increased safety, and a personal sense of belonging, they can also lead to the us versus them thinking that underlies humans’ greatest acts of cruelty. Each of the following precipitate from us versus them …

Capitalism exploits the body’s response to traumatic stress

Shelves of Ceramic Models of Brains

The Great Recession, like financial disasters before it, took its toll on bodies and psyches as much as it did on bank accounts and lifestyles. Suicides, family violence, stress-related diseases, and mental disorders increased during the crisis. For many, these hardships continue. Yet even during the best of times capitalism’s dependency on social hierarchies — …

A sensorimotor approach to becoming indigenous (and healing trauma)

Trickster plays with me. Last week I wrote about Indigenous wisdom as a “gentle” trickster for violent, destructive times. This week, while hiking among the hoodoos in Bryce Canyon National Park, I learned the Paiutes Indians called these rock pillars the “Legend People,” who coyote trickster turned to stone because of their evil ways. Looking …

“The Why Factor”: Cultural memory and PTSD

Screen Shot of BBCs "The Why Factor."

BBC’s The Why Factor posted two short podcasts (18 minutes each) on trauma — one on cultural memories of traumatic events and the other on Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). “Cultural Memory” explores how societies respond collectively to traumatic memories, such as war and extreme human rights violations, which often involves silencing memories of the past as …

A world without “narcissists”

Photo of Zeng Fanzhi's "Mask Series No. 9" (1994).

The Committee responsible for revising the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders has gone back and forth in their deliberations over Narcissistic Personality Disorder, but it looks like the diagnosis will remain. Never mind their concerns. I doubt omitting narcissism from psychiatry’s Bible would curb the common practice of hurling the label at foes …