Trauma, American Style: The Socialization of Indifference

Much like the 1970’s show of a similar name, this expose will consist of multiple vignettes, a new one each week. Each will give insight into the way traumatic events insidiously leave their mark, alone and then as a culminating repertoire of experience. They are REAL life events that begin to tell a story of the making of a victim of trauma.

Many of you may find these stories disturbing. The fact is that trauma is an experience that links us all. Whether it reaches diagnostic criteria becomes irrelevant when events like these have the power to color the perception of ourselves and the world around us.

Many of you have dissociated yourself from the traumatic experiences of your life… “I am like a duck,” you tell yourself and others, “I just let those things roll off my back.”

Then you begin to take notice as the emotions spill over, your body seemingly too small to contain the amount of feelings that you have pushed down into its depths…. Standing on the sidelines of the Memorial Day parade you find yourself choking up, the tears streaming down your face. On another occasion while watching a television program you find yourself welling up with anger, and begin screaming at the television.  Sitting at the dinner table you experience a growing knot that you feel in your stomach every time you watch and listen to your son chew his food.

Each one of these REACTIONS tells a story… not about what you are witnessing, but about YOUR life story. Each one of these moments consists of emotional learning that is non-verbal. These are events that have NOT been explored and so therefore remain submerged until you come face to face with similar situations. Then old feelings begin to rise in the new situations that you find yourself….

We are living vicariously in this culture. Removed from the emotional connection to our own lives, we re-experience the spillover of our lives in the feelings generated through the observation of “others”. We react to “others” by projecting our own life issues onto them… Overcome with the emotion that we buried, we use our station of privilege; of parent, or, of “professional” to judge those in a subservient position and often comment about how they SHOULD think, feel, act, and behave. Given our place of privilege we then can act as we wish, often mirroring the patterns of behavior that we victimized us in the first place, and that through denial, we failed to learn.

I don’t mean to be a problem but…..



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