Friday, 29 October 2010

Rage as a response to pain ~

Rage is a natural response to acute and enduring pain.  It is anger pole-vaulted to its extreme, a reflexive reaction in which we may be fighting for our lives, physically or for our identity, our conscious sense of who we are.  Rage can provide us with the capability of getting out of traps with the energy and strategy which would otherwise be beyond us.  It's about survival.  But if escape is not possible and rage turns inwards chaos can result.

To express rage can be dangerous, a pathway of violence and hatred that can lead to greater harm.  To contain it may be even more toxic, a possible road to self-mutilation and madness.  But we can't always let it out, or may not know how.

Rage contained and denied expression for years is likely to result in all manner of disturbances, among them a weird sense both of disembodiment and rigidity, a sense of split realities, in which one's awareness of a situation may seem both normal and emotionally indifferent and on another level intensely abnormal.  The contradiction between inner and outer levels of functioning can be overwhelming and confusing.  Emotional responses, and even thoughts about emotions, may be unpredictable and extreme, a welling up of pain and desperation leading to panic and outbursts.

I am still coming to terms with trauma in my own life.  I often seem fine when I'm not.  Hearing myself sounding normal, and observing myself behaving normally when I'm feeling quite dreadfully unwell can make me feel even more unwell and distinctly weird.  There are times when even sleeping hurts.

Before exploring the depths of my own trauma and rage I had an intense aversion to Michael Jackson's more recent recordings.  Over the years he seemed to become increasingly rigid, brittle and unhappy-looking.  His movements lost fluidity and became robotic.  His handsome features disintegrated.  I still see him this way.  The difference now is that I've confronted parallel distortions in myself and having done so see his work with fresh eyes.  It now makes complete sense.  These things are not random or meaningless.  They comes from deep places within us which demand recognition - and expression.  Michael sang and danced it out with astonishing creativity and artistry.

His song and video of "Scream" perfectly exemplifies the weird head space and out-of-control feelings of a deeply traumatised person struggling to be normal.  He performs it with his sister Janet Jackson.  Like them I've found the sense of static in the brain almost unendurable at times.  No wonder that latterly Michael could not sleep.  Very likely by that time he was hot-wired to out-run or out-dance his own inner catastrophe.  Even dancers have their limits. 

Here is a version I found on YouTube: Michael Jackson: "Scream".

The link was slow when I first watched this recording, which gave me the opportunity to watch the video in slow motion.  It's masterful - art work in action, frame by frame.  I'm grateful to have seen it - and to have been able to find meaning in it, a reflection of aspects of my own troubled inner world, thank you Michael.

Looking elsewhere:
In an article about Trauma in my Wasteland Chronicle I provide a link to an interview with Jessica Stern, described as America's top expert in the motivation of terrorists.  Prompted by her publisher she has recently written a book about herself entitled "Denial: a memoir of terror" in which she relates her experience of being raped when a teenager.  The interview closes with these words:
"People have asked me, 'Is this what you recommend as a way to recover from rape?' And the answer is absolutely not," Stern said. "This is not a model for how to recover from rape, to write a book like this. What I did was expose myself to madness."
My experiences have been different, for which I give thanks, but I recognise the signature of this depth of suffering.  One's sanity can seem dangerously tenuous at times.
Kia kaha, sister, I wish you strength.

There are no easy answers.  Acknowledging these difficulties is a start.  In my article "Speechless" I make the point that...
'Suffering of a deeply personal nature often seems to be accompanied by strange and incomprehensible taboos about speaking of it'. 
Possibly this is a self-protection mechanism.  However, starting to express it in some way can be an important step on the road to recovery.  Expert help is likely to be required.

I have written further about dealing with the effects of trauma in my article "Trauma in the world around us and striving for peace" as well as in other articles in Part Five of the Wasteland Chronicle.

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