#WordlessWednesday: Soliloquy

I’m going to level up with my blogging buddies. First, thank you to the people who read Art by Rob Goldstein. You are my teachers and friends, and I am grateful to you.

I have lived alone and in quarantine for almost five months as our President weaponizes COVID19 and divides our nation. I’m stressed and afraid, and this feels like it is never going to end.

Our press and political leaders behave as if we are the powerless victims of a king over whom the law has no authority.

None of it makes sense. I don’t understand why we can’t arrest and remove a criminal president who threatens our nation and our lives.

It looks to me as if Trump and his Republicans are killing us on purpose. Am I right, or is this paranoia?

This confusion and anxiety are intolerable. I am continually dissociating and losing time.

For my health, I have to take another break.

I’m not fond of frequent breaks, but I can’t focus for more than a few minutes at a time.

I’ll be back shortly.

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Rob Goldstein 2020

The Header photo is a from a series of Images from ‘Memories of Market Street.’

The Man Who Forgot He Doesn’t Exist

Dissociative Identity Disorder is a childhood-onset trauma symptom induced by an overwhelming confrontation with human evil before the brain can create a functional mind.

When my psychiatrist diagnosed DID in 2009, I was already too symptomatic to work. I had no interest in social media, but I compulsively staged virtual photoshoots in Second Life and posted those photos to my Flickr stream.

‘The Man Who Forgot He Doesn’t Exist‘ is an example of the images I staged and posted.

I still feel like a man who doesn’t exist.

With therapy, I  eventually understood that I used my avatars the way a child uses dolls when asked to describe an assault for which there are no words.

Most people are unable to comprehend a person whose different emotional states and memories emerge as separate people with different names, genders, and world views.

It’s easy to dismiss these confusing and unsettling expressions of the mind as attention-seeking irresponsibility.

This short film, ‘Inside,’ is a weirdly accurate illustration of how it feels to be an ‘us’– minus the atmospheric asylum.

A primary goal of psychotherapy is getting everyone ‘inside’ to agree.

I’m not there yet.

M. Scott Peck, the psychiatrist who authored ‘The Road Less Traveled,’ described evil as “militant ignorance.”

I wonder if militant denial is a form of evil.

In “People of the Lie: The Hope for Healing Human Evil, ” Peck describes narcissism as a type of evil.

I see no difference between the individual narcissist and the cultist tribal communities that plague American culture.

The most horrific aspect of child abuse is that it often takes place in an institution or a community that doesn’t care or doesn’t want to bother. Hence, the adults blame the child if he reveals the abuse or the abuse becomes too apparent to ignore.

The best recent example of institutional abuse is Donald Trump’s detention camps, where children are separated from their families and treated like criminals.

How does a four-year-old escape the horror of a world that feels like a death trap?

A person with DID was a child whose mind shattered under the stress of life in an all-pervasive culture of evil from which there was no escape.

Recovery from DID and C-PTSD involves a never-ending cycle of accepting the damage, managing the symptoms, and healing what I can.

For me, healing means bearing witness to the evil, naming it, and working for change.

I want us to unite to make our world safe for children.  I want us to protect them from evil.

Children do not choose to live in hunger and pain.

Art by Rob Goldstein

 

According to Peck, an evil person lies to himself to prop up an image of perfection.

They also;

  • Deceive others as a consequence of their lies
  • Project his or her evils and sins onto particular targets (scapegoats) while being reasonable with everyone else.
  • Commonly hates with the pretense of love
  • Abuses political and (emotional) power (“the imposition of one’s will upon others by overt or covert coercion”)
  • Maintains respectability based on lies.
  • Is consistent in his or her sins. Evil persons are characterized not so much by the magnitude of their sins, but by their consistency (of destructiveness)
  • Is unable to think from the viewpoint of their victim (scapegoat)
  • Has a covert intolerance to criticism and other forms of narcissistic injury
  • According to Peck, evil people realize the wickedness deep within themselves, but are unable to tolerate the pain of introspection, or admit to themselves that they are evil.

Evil thrives on denial.

 

I’m revising some of my posts from 2015.

‘The Man Who Forgot He Doesn’t Exist’ was first posted in 2015,

I’ve kept the theme but completely revised the post.

I don’t know if I should make a new post but it seems practical to
keep the original.

What are your thoughts?

(c)Rob Goldstein 2015-revised 2020

 

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Trauma in a Culture of Abuse

In late November, I planned a short break from my blog to focus on Trump’s Impeachment.

I listened in shock as witnesses like Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch testified to crimes that included threats on her life.

Screenshot_2020-05-21 Marie Yovanovitch calls Trump's disparaging tweet 'intimidating'

After the House impeached Trump for extortion, I watched in horror as elected Republican officials used their positions, and media access to spread the smear Trump demanded of the President of Ukraine.

Republican Senator threatens to impeach Joe Biden
I felt personally betrayed when the Republican Senate voted to acquit Trump without hearing witnesses.

I went numb with fear and shut down.

When faced with life-threatening circumstances, most mammals shut down and play dead and hope the predator will go away.

I felt like a five-year-old trapped in a community of violent and corrupt adults. I shut down. Threatened children must not be seen or heard.

CPTSD  and Institutional Betrayal

C-PTSD is a cluster of symptoms caused by chronic childhood trauma such as physical assault, sexual assault, food deprivation, sleep deprivation, and threats of violence and death.  People with C-PTSD often suffer from feelings of betrayal, defeat, and shame.

“Instead of a single traumatic event leading to mental and emotional symptoms, complex PTSD is believed to be caused by chronic or prolonged exposure to traumatic experiences. “It’s the concentration camp, the person in a bomb shelter in Syria, the soldier in war or child suffering sexual or physical abuse. It’s happening to you, or you’re witnessing it,” says Dr. Robert Shulman, associate chair of psychiatry at Rush University Medical Center.” US News and World Report

As a child, I felt hopeless as the neighbors and social services that should have stopped my Mother’s abuse did nothing or became part of it.

‘Betrayal Trauma’ is the systematic abuse by a parent, a trusted leader, or an institutional authority figure, like the President and his government.

Institutional betrayal is potent because it represents a profound and fundamental violation of trust in a necessary dependency relationship. In that sense, it is similar to abuse in close relationships – it can be more harmful than abuse by a stranger. The breach of trust, unreciprocated loyalty, and exposure to retaliation are like a knife in the back. The Wiley Online Library

Recovery is finding the will to believe that life is more than a savage facade of well-mannered hypocrisy and hate.

The Shutdown

Stay Home
Photo by Polina Zimmerman on Pexels.com

I was in the aftermath of lingering flu when the pandemic and shutdowns began; my partner was away, taking care of his Mother.

I’ve spent the shutdown in isolation, triggered, and regressed to the darkest years of my childhood.

I’ve watched the President of the United States murder his citizens and gaslight us into accepting it.

A week in late November became an agony of months.

Writing this,  I found a recent essay at @CNN by

He writes about a world of people who are afraid to touch each other and how it feels to lose the lives we took for granted: life before the trauma of betrayal:

“Do you remember who you used to be? Before you were told that anyone could kill you? Before you were conditioned to avoid people the way you might avoid malignant obstacles in a video game? Before your brain rewired itself toward a continual search for the proper angle of evasion, the likely field of airborne dispersion, the space least contaminated by human touch?”

All this fear will have lasting consequences. We cannot know what they will be. Last Sunday, we had a visitor, a friend I’d known since childhood. Jessica knew and loved all our children, especially the youngest. Jessica got out of the car and sat on our front steps. We walked outside and stood at a safe distance. The 2-year-old ran toward her. Jessica told her to stay back.
“And she looked at me with the saddest eyes ever,” Jessica told me later. “And that broke my heart.”
It hurts to be treated like a monster.

How it feels to live in fear of each other

There isn’t a rape victim, an abused child, an unjustly imprisoned migrant, a hungry vet, or a homeless schizophrenic who doesn’t know how it hurts to be treated like a monster.

There isn’t an LGBTQ person on this planet who doesn’t know how badly it hurts.

There isn’t a parent who loses a child in a school shooting who doesn’t know
how badly it hurts.

We are a nation of traumatized survivors.

Can we stop the abuse, accept that it happened, and heal?

As I emerge from the ‘freeze,’ I can return to the blog.

For my next post, I am compiling a list of online resources for people who want to learn more about Information and Psychological Warfare.

Loyal Americans placed their lives and reputations on the line to warn us that we are under attack and on our own; we don’t have to be Agents of Shield to learn a few basic principles of psychological warfare.

People are hurting in different ways, and we’ve had a rough five months.

I hope everyone is coping and staying as healthy as possible.

I look forward to catching up with your blogs.

I also look forward to hearing about how you’re coping.

Update May 23: The focus of Art by Rob Goldstein for the next 164 days is pro-democracy essays and art and articles from advocacy groups like #DemCast.

Screenshot_2020-05-23 Flip The Senate 2020 - DemCast
Graphic by Cris Palomino

 

Screenshot_2020-05-23 Opinion America’s True Covid Toll Already Exceeds 100,000

You can also find this post on #DemCast

(c) Rob Goldstein, May 21, 2020

This post is dedicated to my friend Scott Baser, who reminded me of why I write.  Thanks, Scott

DID: Chronic Illness and Envy

A few days ago I told my partner I envy people who can live their lives without DID.

He asked how envy made my life better, and I said, ‘It doesn’t. That’s the point.”

No one wants to admit to feeling envy, yet learning to manage envy is crucial to successfully managing a chronic illness.

These days I struggle with an old demon: raised in a culture of disdain for intelligence, intelligent little boys were beaten for ‘showing off’.

The beatings were especially brutal when they came from my Mother.

I’ve spent most of my life avoiding attention and playing second fiddle.

I’m not afraid of succeeding, I’m afraid to be seen succeeding.

I’m most vulnerable to feelings of envy when I’m struggling.

Illness is the night-side of life, a more onerous citizenship. Everyone who is born holds dual citizenship, in the kingdom of the well and in the kingdom of the sick. Although we all prefer to use only the good passport, sooner or later each of us is obliged, at least for a spell, to identify ourselves as citizens of that other place.  Susan Sontag  1978

I’ve always had Dissociative Identity Disorder but I have not always been sick with it.

Prior to my diagnosis in 2009, I had a career, interesting friends, and an active life

One day I woke up and I was permanently too sick to go to work.

I told myself I hated the job, I told myself I’d find another job, I told myself I’d eventually get better, I told myself I brought it on myself, I did not have DID, I was burnt out and needed a rest.

Ten years later, it’s obvious that I’m not going to get well enough to work and I’m getting old, as in elderly.

The difference between fifty-seven and sixty-seven is like the difference between five and fifteen in reverse.

Whose body is this? Whose aches are these?

The problem is acceptance; I know I’m ill and getting old, but I still live in emotional denial.

I still expect myself to be healthy.

Knowing is not accepting and this is at the core of my envy and sense of frustration.

Accepting Envy

Envy is about someone getting ahead of you, someone doing better, someone possessing qualities that you wish you had. You think you are losing the race. You are falling behind. And you are feeling sad, angry, resentful, anxious and you just can’t accept it.  Psychology Today

It’s easier to be angry, or sad, to smother envy with somatic symptoms or to project it onto others.

We don’t want to admit to envy. We see it as a petty, selfish, sour-grapes emotion. So we hide it, we harbor it; we disguise it with claims of unfairness or with character assassination. And we may avoid the people about whom we feel envious. You might think, “I don’t want to be around him because it reminds me that they are doing better than I am doing.” Psychology Today

Finally, who wants to admit to wishing ill on the healthy?

Defusing envy is not as simple as not feeling it

Not letting yourself feel or validate envy makes it more toxic; repressed emotions express themselves in passive aggressive ways such as criticizing others, hostile and cynical comments, shaming and chronically feeling unappreciated.

The first step in defusing envy is acknowledging that it really does suck to be sick: life is already hard, and on top of it, you have a painful illness that saps your strength.

It really does suck to have an illness that interferes with your talents and goals.

The illness ends when you die; it’s a fact you have to accept.

In 2009, I could write a six-hour training presentation in less than a week while working full time.

That’s gone.

In 2009, I could walk for miles without panic attacks.

That’s gone.

In 2009, I thought I would be the clinical director of the agency I worked for by 2019.

That’s gone.

In 2009, I was still a young man.

Today I am old.

Acceptance is a daily practice.

Just for today, I can accept my life as it is, and I will let myself feel joy when others succeed.

Just for today, I can focus on my talents and take pleasure in my substantial accomplishments.

Just for today, I can forgive myself for being human and respect myself for having the courage to discuss my envy.

When are you most vulnerable to envy and how do you cope with it?

Rob Goldstein 2019