Alice Miller, child abuse and mistreatment

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Separation from the Soul
Tuesday December 18, 2007

Dear Alice Miller,
My original intent – to mail this to you in the old fashioned way - was simply to THANK YOU for starting me on my journey – the Big Dig! Having read this to three ‘safe’ people am encouraged now to believe that sharing it might also be helpful for others – so here it is. With deep gratitude for the work you continue to do.
Sincerely, D. M.

When Dissociation Is Not Enough -- The Sacrifice of Soul

Note: Everything that is said here relates specifically to an acute in the moment life-threatening infant child trauma in the absence of appropriate protection and timely rescue intervention.

From the beginning I have never been one to stop a process from unfolding – it is clear to me now, however, that throughout my long years of emotional recovery work, ego repair work, and spiritual practice, there have been profoundly significant moments when I did exactly that – I stopped a process in my body from becoming experiential on a cellular level. Although at those moments the experience was intended to be positive – that is, informational curative enlightening freeing joyful expansive, et al – there was always a vigilant gate-keeper child in the wings who knew what the consequences would be if the process were allowed to continue – speaking metaphorically, to disturb a sleeping baby would be fatal. And so at each defining threshold there arose an exquisite total body resistance signaling the presence of this sentinel child – come to prevent the potential unseating of a failsafe life-preserving survival modus operandi (SMO).

Graced with this greater awareness I am now confident that the internal protective mechanism embedded in this heroically stubborn child – an SMO infinitely deeper and more profound that either dissociation or psychic numbing, and possibly unnamed by the therapeutic community – is nothing less than an ‘unto death’ safeguarding of the physical body’s continued existence and the psyche’s sustained sanity – and can, therefore, be called ‘healthy’ in addition to tragic.

The dynamic recently revealed to me when what appeared to be a heavy-duty persistent head cold triggered a replay of the traumatized infant child’s experience in the moment of sensory input overload and simultaneous internal affect overwhelm in the absence of timely rescue intervention was that the psychic intensity related to what was going on – namely, abject grotesque abuse of power – plus the physical sensation of suffocation – also related to what was going on – was simply too much for an infant organism to withstand. Only losing consciousness could save the child. Only becoming comatose, that is, insensible, could do the job when what was happening in the moment was, in the cellular ‘words’ of the child, ‘not doable’. Not doable goes beyond – is deeper, more profound that ‘unbearable’ or ‘intolerable’. Not doable means just that – not doable.

Not doable means since I the child am too tiny – helpless powerless defenseless captive and unable to rescue myself – what is going on right now this minute has got to stop right now this minute or I shall surely die. And because what is happening does not stop and because the child is unable to rescue herself and because no timely intervention arrives the child has no recourse but to let the wisdom of her body preside. She must sacrifice herself to save herself and in so doing insure a legacy of agonizing and terrifying losses. The saving grace of comatose in not without its price: the heart-breaking separation from soul.

AM: Thank you so much for your letter. Yes, you are right, the price of the saving grace of being comatose is the heart-breaking separation of the soul. For that reason people, who did overcome this separation, rarely find understanding in their families. They often feel as if talking to a wall. Separation from the soul happens so frequently that it seems to be the normal state. Thus cruelty and even sadism against children can go on and on without the slightest memory of the once endured pain.

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