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Trauma-Worlds and their Transformation: Moving beyond a life built around fear, dissociation and shame

When we suffer emotional wounds, survival systems are activated in our minds and bodies. Built around fear, dissociation, and shame, these systems change how we feel, think and behave. In the short term the changes are protective, but in the long term they distort our internal reality and create terrible suffering. I call the distorted inner reality a ‘trauma-world’.  

In this presentation I describe trauma-worlds, the protection they offer and the suffering they create. I then explore how we can transform trauma-worlds, and move into a more conscious, vibrant and self-compassionate life.

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Persephone’s Tor (in Women on Nature)

This personal, biographic essay tells of of an archetypal experience on Dartmoor, inspired by a Marion Woodman/BodySoul Rhythms retreat I was attending at the time.

It is one of over 100 essays in a wonderful collection of women’s writing on nature.

Available at all bookshops.

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Meeting ‘The Death Mother Archetype’

Meeting ‘The Death Mother Archetype’

Description of this to be changed to: “In a wide-ranging conversation, Sara & I explored Death Mother. Sara’s insights prompted me to move between different areas of my research, and our exchange encompassed trauma psychology, Jungian analysis, anthropology, evolution and personal experience.

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Being Human Podcast

Discussion of how to define trauma, the trade-offs that come into play in the wake of traumatising events (and their roots in evolution), the difference between healing and curing trauma.

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‘What makes emotional trauma? Fear, disconnect and shame.’

When we experience overwhelming pain and fear, we develop an unconscious conviction that our life is at risk. As a result, survival systems are activated in our minds and bodies and we move onto a different developmental path to the one we would have followed had we not been traumatised. We begin to live our lives from within a ‘trauma-world’.

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The Death Mother as Nature’s Shadow: Fostering compassion and healing through an evolutionary consciousness

Why might a woman feel ambivalent or hostile to her child? After all, isn’t it natural for mothers to love their children unconditionally? An evolutionary perspective challenges these assumptions. The situations faced by ancestral mothers sometimes made abandoning a child inevitable. Recognising this fosters compassion for struggling mothers today, as well as greater understanding of the trauma carried by their children.

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The Death Mother as Nature’s Shadow: Infanticide, Abandonment and the Collective Unconscious

Why might a woman feel ambivalent or hostile to her child? Isn’t it natural for mothers to love their children unconditionally? An evolutionary perspective show that the challenges faced by ancestral mothers sometimes made abandoning a child inevitable. Recognising this reality fosters compassion for struggling mothers today, and greater understanding of the trauma carried by their children.

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Confronting Death Mother – An interview with Marion Woodman

I Interview Jungian analyst Marion Woodman about the archetypal Death Mother. Death Mother’s gaze, when directed at us, penetrates both psyche and body, killing hope and turning us into stone. Eventually this state permeates our cells, causing our body to turn against itself. We may become physically ill.

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Being Animal

I knew that I was an animal. I had studied ecology and understood that I was part of the web of life. I had studied evolution and understood the processes that had forged humankind. But my understanding came from books, and it was not until I lived in Tanzania that it became real to my own body and mind.

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My animal body

How my understanding of the world and my place in it, was forever changed by moonlight and mosquitoes.

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‘Authenticity – are you being real?’

When [healing] experiences unfold organically and we live them through our body, the memory of that experience is written into our being in a way that can change us. It is one thing to think or imagine ‘X’ or ‘Y’, and quite another to know it in our nervous system, muscles and bones because we have lived it.

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To move and be moved

Being at home in my body when spending a day as a volunteer with Dancer Akram Khan as he worked to create a new work.

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Trauma-Worlds and their Transformation

When we suffer experiences that are emotionally damaging, survival systems are activated inside of us. These systems are built around fear, dissociation, and shame. They change how we feel and think about both ourselves and others. They also change how we behave. In the short term these changes are protective, but in the long term they create terrible suffering. Indeed, as the changes are incorporated into both our minds and bodies, we start to live from within a reality that is distorted, self-critical and dulled. I call this reality a ‘trauma-world’. In this presentation I’ll describe trauma-worlds, the protection that they offer and the suffering that they create. I’ll then explore how we can transform our trauma-worlds, and move away from their distortions towards a more compassionate and vibrant life.

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