Flutterby™! : Stiff upper lip

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Stiff upper lip

2003-02-24 17:00:17.386432+00 by Dan Lyke 4 comments

It might be the case that "processing" and talking about injuries just keeps the shrinks employed, those who repress end up with less post-trauma stress.

George Bonanno works in New York City, while Richard Gist works in Kansas City; the doctors have never spoken, but they should. They share a lot. Gist told me: ''The problem with the trauma industry is this: People who successfully repress do not turn up sitting across from a shrink, so we know very little about these folks, but they probably have a lot to teach us. For all we know, the repressors are actually the normal ones who effectively cope with the many tragedies life presents. Why are we not more fascinated with these displays of resilience and grace? Why are we only fascinated with frailty? The trauma industry knows they can make money off of frailty; there are all these psychologists out there turning six figures with their pablum and hubris.''

[ related topics: Psychology, Psychiatry and Personality ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment made: 2003-02-24 22:57:20.67062+00 by: petronius

In 1958, when I was in 3rd grade, my grammer school caught fire, with a large loss of life. In those days there was no trauma industry, and although the neighborhood was devastated, we just didn't talk about such emotional events much, back then. No spontaneous shrines, no gangs of conselors descending on our working-class district, just a bib bunch of funeral masses and then the rebuilding.

Are we survivors all crazy now ? I dunno, I don't think so. About 10 years ago some group interviewed a bunch of us, witnesses and family members of the lost, but I never saw the results. I think our generation felt that your griefs were your own, and you still had duties and families to take care of. Somehow, that strikes me as more healthy.

#Comment made: 2003-02-24 23:27:35.532109+00 by: skrubly

I'd probably feel better about that if I wasn't the younger generation that has witnessed the seemingly complete emotional wasteland of the parents of my friends. Some of them suffered terrible abuse and trauma in their childhoods - a lot have passed it on, lamentably.

I think there is too much weight to those kinds of thoughts, and I for one don't want to carry them to the grave.


#Comment made: 2003-02-25 15:32:32.256304+00 by: petronius

I think the problem is that we swing from extreme to extreme. The "shutup and get on with yer life" school of macho berevement does not cover a lot of human emotional needs, while the Oprah school of endless therapy might actually cause as much harm as good. I have worked on these matters with a therapist, and I was glad to do so. Seeing kids hanging from windows while smoke billowed around them obviously had some effect on me.

Maybe the point at which I realized that there were unresolved issues came about 22 years after the fire, when a local free weekly printed an article by a survivor of the disaster, the first such article I had seen in years. I did not sleep that night. Something was going on. When I spoke to my parents about it they mentioned the night we attended wakes for the children of frends, who had been lost in the fire. The funeral home had 4 wakes going at the same time for fire victims. I have absolutely no memory of the wakes, it is a complete blank. I guess something is going on there.

BTW, for more info on this fire, I just found a new site, OLAFIRE.com .

#Comment made: 2003-02-25 19:51:39.796144+00 by: Dan Lyke

Wow. This morning I was going to make some comment tying it all to the shrink who counsels those who've lost data, but that seems unduly flip.

My grandfather is still a fireman, although he recently said that he'd go out on a call only if they needed someone to go door to door to do evacuations, and I grew up with a lot of "think about where your exits are" drilled into me, and when I fly with people they think it's weird that I count rows fore and aft to exits. It's only now that I'm realizing that this stuff is actually useful.

Perhaps it's necessary that the survivors forget, but that we all learn the lessons to better our chances the next time.