Tuesday

Soul Murder is not a diagnosis; it is a crime.



Psych Central
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Leonard Shengold (1989) defines soul murder as "neither a diagnosis nor a condition. It is a dramatic term for circumstances that eventuate in crime--the deliberate attempt to eradicate or compromise the separate identity of another person" (2). Children, Shengold tells us, are the usual victims of soul murder because their complete physical and emotional dependence on adults renders possible the tyranny of child abuse. Since adults constitute the total environment for children, sexual abusers are able to absorb, and thus destroy, the life of the child.






As Shengold convincingly argues, soul-murder involves massive defenses on the part of the victim, an intensity of compulsion to be punished, and a guilt-ridden fantasy life based on memory (293). These are the characteristics identified again and again in the literature of child abuse reviewed above. The confusion in perception that results from sexual abuse is captured, as Shengold recognizes, in George Orwell's term doublethink. Brainwashing by the molester destroys rational thought, Shengold holds; thus, the hold of the torturer is maintained. Referring to Lionel Trilling's (1950) concept that we live by metaphor and our minds are a poetry-making organ, Shengold stresses the point that we must have a meaningful narrative in our lives from which we construct our identities. "What goes on within and without our minds may be ultimately unknowable; yet sanity and survival depend on comparatively accurate registration of the outer and inner worlds" (32). When this registration is destroyed by sexual abuse--when adult patients ask "did it really happen?"--they express the essence of soul murder: the metaphor, and thus the narrative, is destroyed. The adult, once trapped as a child in a closed system, can no longer synthesize experience through perspective; brainwashing has stopped that forever. Nothing is left but self-doubt. Tragically, for many victims of child abuse, to know what really happened means that they must re-live the events that brought on their psychic death. "It is a price that many victims of soul murder cannot afford to pay, or do not choose to risk paying" (300). http://www-ec.njit.edu/~newrev/v2s3/...se_assault.htm
http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpag...52C1A96F948260
http://www.nytimes.com/books/first/s/shengold-soul.html
Abuse is more than a tragedy. The innocent and helpless too often endure a life of distress simply because of being born to those who abuse them. There are rescue organizations for discarded pets. Who will rescue the children?

Complex Trauma

The term complex trauma describes the dual problem of children’s exposure to traumatic events and the impact of this exposure on immediate and long-term outcomes. Complex traumatic exposure refers to children’s experiences of multiple traumatic events that occur within the caregiving system – the social environment that is supposed to be the source of safety and stability in a child’s life. Typically, complex trauma exposure refers to the simultaneous or sequential occurrences of child maltreatment—including emotional abuse and neglect, sexual abuse, physical abuse, and witnessing domestic violence—that are chronic and begin in early childhood. Moreover, the initial traumatic experiences (e.g., parental neglect and emotional abuse) and the resulting emotional dysregulation, loss of a safe base, loss of direction, and inability to detect or respond to danger cues, often lead to subsequent trauma exposure (e.g., physical and sexual abuse, or community violence).

Complex trauma outcomes refer to the range of clinical symptomatology that appears after such exposures. Exposure to traumatic stress in early life is associated with enduring sequelae that not only incorporate, but also extend beyond, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). These sequelae span multiple domains of impairment and include: (a) self-regulatory, attachment, anxiety, and affective disorders in infancy and childhood; (b) addictions, aggression, social helplessness and eating disorders; (c) dissociative, somataform, cardiovascular, metabolic, and immunological disorders; (d)sexual disorders in adolescence and adulthood; and (e) revictimization. http://www.nctsnet.org/sites/default...Trauma_All.pdf
Quote:
Dealing with sexual abuse is not a luxury; it's a necessity. http://www.enotalone.com/article/25881.html
Abstract: Survivors of sexual abuse enter psychotherapy with special needs that challenge some of the traditional therapeutic assumptions. The therapeutic relationship, which is the foundation for treatment with abuse survivors, often must shift in nature and quality to address these needs. The main goal of treatment is the integration of self and affective experience. To facilitate this process the authors discuss the establishment and maintenance of an "affective edge" which allows for direct attention to and intervention with the trauma memories and the accompanying affect.
The violations of children's bodies, especially by people in positions of affection and authority, create deeply held difficulties with trust, intimacy, and dependency. This traumatization causes profound vulnerability and vigilance which continue into adulthood. To deal with these overwhelming experiences, victims of childhood abuse numb their bodies and disconnect from the existence, impact and/or meaning of their histories.

Traditionally, psychotherapy has focused primarily on personality structure and the resulting disturbances in the individual's system of thoughts, emotions and beliefs. However, in recent years clinicians have also begun to develop an understanding of the repercussions of physical threats, intimidation, and violence, as it has become increasingly necessary to treat the impact of wounds to the body as well as the mind.

During treatment with adult survivors, directly addressing the painful memories of childhood and the accompanying affect is essential for the resolution of sexual abuse (Cornell & Olio, 1991). As Wilson (1989) explains, "the successful working through of distressing affect and imagery restores a sense of integration, coherence, and cohesion to a previously fragmented self" (p. 203).

The authors advocate the development of an active, affective, therapeutic relationship to create a safe, interactive environment. This type of therapeutic relationship provides the context necessary for accessing, reworking, and integrating the traumatic material. It becomes the foundation for treatment; acting as a bridge to facilitate the survivor's reconnection to self and offering a corrective interpersonal experience. Providing, sustaining, and monitoring this type of therapeutic relationship is emotionally demanding and involves unusual challenges and responsibilities for the therapist. http://kspope.com/memory/relationship.php
 


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