Further to my previous post. Below, (1) my presentation of Colin Ross’ cornerstone to understand the trauma model of mental disorders; (2) a translation of “Regaining Self-esteem” by Dr. Claus Wolfschlag—original in German here—, and (3) my views on traumatized Germany.
1.- Ross’ trauma model
Attachment theory, originally developed by John Bowlby, is one of the most fruitful platforms to explain human psychological development.
Evolution always chooses its available mechanisms for its use, and since every living creature has the imperative to survive, hominids developed an unconscious structure to maintain the illusion of parental love even when there really is none.
Perhaps the most accessible way to visualize attachment is through a modern fairy tale: Steven Spielberg’s film Artificial Intelligence. I’m referring to the scenes in which Henry warns Monica not to imprint their adoptive son David with the program of affective attachment if Monica is not completely sure that she will want to reciprocate the love that David would profess, since the program is irreversible (“The robot child’s love would be sealed—in a sense hardwired—and we’d be part of him forever”). After some days Monica nonetheless reads to David the seven magic words that imprint him (“What were those words for, Mommy?”).
The platform which Ross is standing on in order to understand mental disorders is what he calls “the problem of attachment to the perpetrator”:
I defined the problem in the mid-1990s, in the context of the false memory war.
In order to defend myself against the attacks by hostile colleagues, I sought solid ground on which to build fortifications. It seemed like the theory of evolution offered a good starting point. What is the basic goal of all organisms according to the theory of evolution? To survive and reproduce. This is true from amoeba on up to mammals. Who will dispute that all organisms want to survive and replicate? This seemed like safe ground.
Dragonflies, grasshoppers, salamanders and alligators do not have families. They do not send cards on Mother’s Day. Things are different if you are a bird or mammal. Birds and mammals are absolutely dependent on adult caretakers for their survival for a period after birth, which ranges from weeks to decades depending on the species. For human parents, it seems like the period of dependency lasts over thirty years. In some species, if the nursing mother dies, the child dies. But in others, including elephants, if the nursing mother dies, a female relative takes over the care of the young one, and the child survives. In elephants there is a built-in Child Protective Services, and there is a sociology of attachment.
Attachment is like the migration of birds. It is built in, deep in our brain stems and DNA. The infant bird or mammal does not engage in a cognitive, analytical process to assess the cost-benefit of attachment. It just happens. It’s biology. The fundamental developmental task of the human infant is attachment. You will and you must attach. This is true at all levels of the organism. You must attach in order to survive biologically, but also in order to thrive and grow at emotional, intellectual, interpersonal and at all possible levels.
We know the consequences of failure to attach from several sources. The first is the third world orphanage. Orphan babies may have an adequate intake of protein, carbohydrate and fat, and may have their diapers changed regularly, but if they are starved for love, stimulation, attention, and affection, they are damaged developmentally. Their growth is stunted at all levels, including basic pediatric developmental norms.
Ross goes on to explain the body of scientific evidence about the effects of abuse in the offspring of primates: “The Harlow monkey experiments, for instance, are systematic studies of abuse and neglect. Little monkeys cling desperately to their unresponsive wire-and-cloth mothers because they are trying to solve the problem of attachment to the perpetrator, in this case the perpetrator of neglect.” He also mentions experimental evidence that profound neglect and sensory isolation during early infancy physically damage the brain in a measurable way: “The mammal raised in such an environment has fewer dendritic connections between the nerve cells in its brain than the mammal which grew up in a ‘culturally rich’ environment.” It is in this context that Ross states that it is developmental suicide to fail to attach, and “at all costs and under the highest imperative, the young mammal must attach.” He then writes:
In a sense, we all have the problem of attachment to the perpetrator. None of us have absolutely secure attachment. We all hate our parents for some reason, but love them at the same time. This is the normal human condition. But there is a large group of children who have the problem of attachment to the perpetrator to a huge degree. They have it to such a large degree, it is really a qualitatively different problem, I think. These are the children in chronic trauma families. The trauma is a variable mix of emotional, verbal, physical and sexual abuse.
The locus of control shift
For psychiatrists Theodore Lidz, Silvano Arieti and, in a less systematic way, Loren Mosher, in schizophrenogenic families not only one but both parents failed terribly. If the problem of attachment to the perpetrator is a cornerstone for the trauma model of mental disorders, there is yet another stone. Though the number one imperative for birds (and in previous times, the dinosaurs) and mammals is to attach, in abusive families the child makes use of another built-in reflex: to recoil from pain. Ross explains what he calls “The locus of control shift” (in psychology, “locus of control” is known jargon).
The scientific foundation of the locus of control shift is Piaget and developmental psychology. We know several things about the cognition of children age two to seven. I summarize this as “kids think like kids.” Young children are self-centered. They are at the center of the world, and everything revolves around them. They cause everything in the world [“locus shift”] and they do so through magical causality. They do not use rational, analytical, adult cognitive strategies and vocabulary.
Imagine a relatively normal family with a four year-old daughter. One day, the parents decide to split up and dad moves out. What is true for this little girl? She is sad. Using normal childhood cognition, the little girl constructs a theory to explain her field observation: “Daddy doesn’t live here anymore because I didn’t keep my bedroom tidy”.
This is really a dumb theory. It is wrong, incorrect, inaccurate, mistaken and preposterous. This is how normal kids think. But there is more to it than that. The little girl thinks to herself, “I’m OK. I’m not powerless. I’m in charge. I’m in control. And I have hope for the future. Why? Because I have a plan. All I have to do is to tidy up my bedroom and daddy will move back in. I feel OK now”.
The little girl has shifted the locus of control from inside her parents, where it really is, to inside herself. She has thereby created an illusion of power, control and mastery which is developmentally protective [of the attachment].
Ross explains that this is normal and happens in many non-abusive, though dysfunctional, families. He then explains what happens in extremely abusive families:
Now consider another four year-old girl living in a major trauma family. She has the problem of attachment to the perpetrator big time. What is true of this little girl?
This other girl is powerless, helpless, trapped, and overwhelmed. She can’t stop the abuse, she can’t escape it, and she can’t predict it. She is trapped in her family societal denial, her age, threats, physical violence, family rules and double binds. How does the little girl cope? She shifts the locus of control.
The child says to herself, “I’m not powerless, helpless and overwhelmed. I’m in charge here. I’m making the abuse happen. The reason I’m abused is because I’m bad. How do I know this is true? Because only a bad little girl would be abused by her parents.”
A delicious exemplification of the locus of control shift in the film A.I. is the dialogue that David has with his Teddy bear. After Monica abandoned him in the forest David tells his little friend that the situation is under control. He only has to find the Blue Fairy so that she may turn him into a real boy and his mom will love him again…
In contrast to fairy tales, in the real world instances of the locus of control shift are sordid. In incest victims, the ideation that everything is the fault of the girl herself is all too frequent. I cannot forget the account of a woman who told her therapist that, when she was a girl, she took baths immediately after her father used her sexually. The girl felt that since she, not her father was the dirty one and that her body was the dirty factor that aroused the father’s appetite, she had to “fix” her body.
But there are far more serious cases, even, than sexual abuse. According to Ross, in near-psychotic families:
The locus of control shift is like an evil transfusion. All the evil inside the perpetrator has been transfused into the self, making the perpetrator good and safe to attach to. The locus of control shift helps to solve the problem of attachment to the perpetrator. The two are intertwined with each other.
Although Silvano Arieti made similar pronouncements half a century before, these two principles as elaborated by Ross are the true cornerstones to understand the edifice of my work, Hojas Susurrantes. As I mentioned in my second book, when I visited the clinic of Ross in Dallas as an observer, I had the opportunity to observe the therapies of some adult women. I remember a lady in particular who said that if her husband hit her it may be because she, not her husband, behaved naughtily.
In The Trauma Model Ross mentions cases of already grown daughters, now patients of his psychiatric clinic, who harm themselves. These self-harmers in real life exemplify the paradigm of the girl mentioned by Ross: Evil has been transfused to the mind of the victim, who hurts herself because she believes she is wicked. In my previous book I said that in the film The Piano Teacher a mother totally absorbs the life of her daughter, who in turn redirects the hate she feels toward her mother by cutting herself in the genital area until bleeding profusely: a practice that, as I show in Hojas Susurrantes, is identical to the pre-Hispanic sacrificial practice of spilling the blood of one’s own genitals.
In his brief class Ross showed us why, however abusive our parents, a Stockholm syndrome elevated to the nth degree makes us see our parents as good attachment objects. The little child is like a plant that cannot but unfold towards the sun to survive. Since even after marriage and independence the adult child very rarely reverts in her psyche the locus of control shift to the original source, she remains psychically disturbed.
For Lloyd deMause, this kind of super-Stockholm syndrome is the major flaw of the human mind, the curse of Homo sapiens that produces an alter ego in which all of the malignancy of the perpetrator has been transfused to the ego of the victim. In a divided self this entity strives for either (1) substituting, through the locus of control shift, the unconscious anger felt towards the parents onto herself with self-harming, addictions, anorexia or other sorts of self-destructive behavior, and/or (2) harming the next generation of children. In any case the cause of this process is the total incapability of judging and processing inside ourselves the behavior of the parent: the problem of attachment to the perpetrator.
As I said above, I believe that Ross’ class is the cornerstone to understand the trauma model of mental disorders.
2.- Wolfschlag’s translated piece
A note was sent to me about the topic of “Trauma, fear and love.” The psychotherapist Franz Ruppert from Munich has dealt with so called “trauma energies” in his books, a trauma that can be passed down through generations. Because individual psychological findings can at least partially be transferred to collective experiences, I have read the slides on “perpetrators” and “victims” from Ruppert’s website from this vantage point.
A fortnight ago I wrote an article about some recent movies where the subject of the expulsion of civilian Germans after 1945 plays an important role. But such artistic products of processing the trauma are still rare and on individual cases. There is a striking imbalance in the German “culture of remembrance.” Since the 1970s the Holocaust and the persecution of leftist-resistance groups during the Nazi period have obtained a dominant, partly sacralized meaning while German victim stories of those years, which could also incriminate other actors as “perpetrators,” have increasingly been hidden and marginalized.
If occasionally an audible voice rises intending to give these German victims their right in the German “culture of remembrance,” it will immediately be attacked with the rationale of equating “victims and perpetrators” and that the dead Germans are, at most, victims of second or third class. This lesson was learned and requires constant repetition, since it is ultimately a very important tool to preserve the foreign political control over the economically important German industrial base.
Passivity is an emergency response of the victim
In conservative circles it is frequently heard that since 1945 Germany would be in a traumatized phase. In this context the words of Ernst Jünger have been recorded: “From such a loss one cannot recover.”
So now I had this in mind when I looked at the slides of Franz Ruppert, which appeared to me like an incidental proof of the theory of “the traumatized nation.” After Ruppert’s definition of the terms “perpetrator” and “victim,” he goes on to explain that the victim would make the damage even bigger with a stress reaction to the suffering inflicted upon him or her. A failure to react is, therefore, an emergency response of the victim to maximize her chances of survival. The victim gives in to the situation, but experiences herself as helpless and powerless.
Presently this reaction can be seen very clearly in the behavior of the Germans after the end of the War; it partly persists even to these days. One must give up on further acts of resistance and surrender oneself into a feeling of political powerlessness. This in spite of the fact that for some political groups there are now separate possibilities of participation and new beginnings. I speak of the collective, national, fundamental experience. According to Ruppert, the splitting of the personality allows the traumatized individual to live on. It is a survival strategy, and it means the victim’s experience will be suppressed and split off. The traumatization will be denied; memories will be tried to be erased, and impulses of resistance suppressed.
The prosperous Germany is only very moderately happy
The result of this repression, according to Ruppert, are feelings of guilt. In addition to it, it comes the imagination that the wounds, which one has suffered personally, are “fair punishment.” One doesn’t perceive the perpetrator as such, but rather defends him. The individual even identifies herself with the needs of the perpetrator.
As a side effect the traumatization shows itself in constant complaining, suffering, bemoaning without being able to give cogent reasons for it. According to an assessment [linked at the original article], the affluent Germany only takes a middle place on a map of Europe ranked by perceived happiness. And that alongside poorer eastern European countries, which have to process their own traumatizations due to Soviet occupation. The people of the poorer western European nations on the other hand are interestingly almost happier than the Germans. Why?
For the perpetrator the traumatization also has consequences. He denies the injury inflicted on other humans, even feels justified. He blames and ridicules the victim and declares to have acted on behalf of a higher thought. This behavior is often the result of an earlier victimhood of the perpetrator and a misguided coping strategy. It leads to events such as the recent election in the Czech Republic, where Miloš Zeman could win the presidential elections with his defensive nationalistic position against Karel Schwarzenberg, who cautiously reminded us the historic suffering of the Sudeten-Germans.
Learning to mourn, developing compassion for oneself
Franz Ruppert comes to the conclusion that unprocessed experiences of victimization can turn into eruptive perpetrator behavior. The powerlessness can be followed by a furious outbreak of aggression. Victims turn into perpetrators, and the lack of emotion towards oneself leads to a lack of empathy towards the new victim. In this way victim-perpetrator spirals keep running: a power which can be seen interpersonally and also in the larger political conflicts. Innocent people are dragged into the conflicts, and it comes to delusions and acts of self-destruction.
An eruption of violence is not yet to be expected from the Germans in their current state. Perhaps nothing will ever come from them again, except a last gasp on the deathbed. But maybe one can at least try to heal a couple of things.
Healing would, however, require a massive reform of our “culture of remembrance.” This would, let’s not delude ourselves, encounter the most brutal resistance since this is where the core of the trauma is located [emphasis added], in which influential people have a vested interest.
For the healing process one can therefore transfer the problem-solving approach from the individual of Ruppert to the national situation. First of all one has to acknowledge one’s own traumatization and psychological injuries, but also learn to mourn for oneself, to develop compassion for oneself. Finally, although one must refrain from blind vengeance it is by all means appropriate to “demand from the perpetrator a concrete compensation for the damage, if still possible” (Ruppert).
Only compensation can bring healing
One can speak of compensation, and if it only consists of the annulment of the discriminatory Benesch-decrees in the Czech Republic, the construction of memorial sites for the displaced Germans in the Czech Republic and Poland, bilingual place signs and symbolic material compensations, a memorial for the German victims of the bombing campaign must also be constructed in London and Washington; in Moscow, another for the German Gulag-slaves and the women who were raped by the Red Army.
Only then will the false and traumatized relations of today be overcome. Only then will constructive symbiotic relations be possible, from which all participants can profit.
At the end of this process stands for all sides the rediscovery of self-respect. Because for the perpetrator too the acknowledgement of responsibility for his own deeds is a way to inner healing.
The problem of the German process of coming to terms with the past is, after all, not the examination of one’s own crimes but rather the one-sidedness, the political instrumentalization and anti-German manipulation. The healing process, which was outlined here, has for now been delayed in the Czech Republic due to the electoral defeat of Schwarzenberg. However, time and again it will knock against the coffin lid from below, no matter how much earth one hurls onto it.
3.- My 2 ¢
Today’s Germans, so attached to the Judeo-American perp and overburdened with guilt, remind me the character of the badly wounded Amfortas in Wagner’s last opera, Parsifal.
(See YouTube clip of track 7 of Parsifal’s Act I: here)
Unlike Wolfschlag, I believe that only full revenge heals the wounded soul, even if it comes from Above, not from Below. The good news for German nationalists is that they will soon be gloating after the dollar crashes and Murka burns. Together with an England overwhelmed by immigrants, as depicted in the film Children of Men, the fall of the US will do the healing trick with no need of Teutonic violence—insofar as the subversive tribe that my beloved Nazis wanted to deport from Europe is directly involved in their ongoing / coming fall.
I call this poetic justice (Murkans really lost the War because they fought on the side of those who would one day enslave them)…
The Russians on the other hand have already suffered a lot after their incredible blunder: allowing the empowerment of Jewry right after the Bolshevik Revolution, where dozens of millions of Slavs were killed. But yes: the Russians must erect monuments commemorating the German victims anyway.
Only thus can Amfortas fully heal.