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Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Trauma and the Spiritual Life, Part 1

I have been tossing around the idea of writing about trauma and the spiritual life for some time now, asking myself if it would be to self revealing. The last thing I want to re-create is that great coming out of Hollywood people who needed the world to know they had been abused as children, acting as if they were the only ones. It degenerated into a festival of both self pity and self promotion, a curious game of "my life is a bigger pile of crap than yours!" You must admit, that is a rather odd contest!

Nevertheless, the truth is that many if not most Americans have experienced trauma at one or more times in their lives. Merriam Webster defines trauma as: (a) an injury (such as a wound) to living tissues caused by an extrinsic agent, (b) a disordered psychic or behavioral state resulting from severe mental or emotional stress of physical injury, (c) an emotional upset. Wikipedia defines psychological trauma as "...damage to the mind that occurs as a result of a distressing event. Trauma is often the result of an overwhelming amount of stress that exceeds one's ability to cope, or to integrate the emotions involved with that experience.

We can experience trauma producing events more than once in our lives, as well as from all three categories in the Merriam Webster definition. Possible causes of trauma are automobile accidents, bullying, all types of assault, combat, witnessing violence or being acted upon violently; physical, emotional, or sexual abuse; child abuse and/or neglect, harassment of all types including sexual, and a host of others. It should be rather obvious that most people experience trauma inducing events in their lives. For reasons that aren't entirely clear, we have different levels of impairment that arise as the result of those events.

My interest in this series of posts is to explore the impact of trauma on our spiritual lives. As a nation that has been at war for nearly two decades and, if we are honest, has struggled to navigate daily life since the Industrial Revolution, I believe we desperately need to understand the impact of these events on our lives and our spirituality. We begin the journey with my next post! 

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