| Society

Negotiating Pain and Life’s Wounds

How does one respond to the forces and circumstances that insult, oppress and torment one’s soul?

There is an inherent, inescapable wounded quality to life.

Because we exist neither in a state of psychical limbo nor in the stasis of paradise, it is impossible not to be wounded by life in some An illustration by Dan Boothessential way. Yet one question is crucial: How does one respond to the forces and circumstances that insult, oppress and torment one’s soul?

For example, does one, by reflex, attempt to displace the permanent ache and angst attendant to trauma by inflicting wounds on others? Does one inflict pain on others so that he can vicariously cry while maintaining the illusion of being tough and unmoved by the tears of those who he hurts?

The sadist, to wit, reenacts his own trauma on his victims yet has (unconsciously) worked out a psychical system whereby he can remain detached from the memory of his own trauma.

Others court injury and oppression from bullies, both from an individual bully and from an authoritarian system, because they have been induced to believe, generally in childhood, that some benefit – akin to love – is derived from their submission to pain and oppression. These personality types are among the traumatized ranks of the apologists for killer cops and the military aggression of the state.

They believe the scars resultant from their punishment at the cultural whipping post are the braille markings of God.

Illustration by Dan Booth not to be reproduced without his express prior permission.

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