From Rape to Assisted Suicide

This morning I opened up the newspaper and to my surprise…Euthanasia is now administered to sexually abused, chronically ill children around the age of 12, if they feel that they cannot move on with their lives. The article went on to state that many more people are choosing euthanasia as a result of mental illness. As a psychologist, I may be able to shed some light on how to cope and intervene without taking such desperate measures. (Taking my personal history of mistreatment into consideration, I might not be the most objective observer, but at least I speak only the truth.)
If this topic concerns you, I’d like you to know that I understand…I have been where you are. It is easier to be ‘put to sleep’ and simply restart at another time or place, but what lesson are we teaching? What we are basically saying to others and ourselves is “It’s okay that you’re hurt, but since we can’t fix you, how would you like us to assist you in your suicide?” when we should be letting them know that they don’t have to go through this alone…that they don’t have to die, because the world is corrupt and there is little other free support.
Many that fall victim to a sexual predator can’t simply forget or move on, especially children. They no longer view themselves as innocent. Moreover, if the parents push their own responsibility for the abuse onto their child, this can develop into severe identity problems. After less than a year, their view of the world becomes distorted. They begin to feel guilty and undeserving. Many stop speaking, eating and socialising. Every breath they take becomes a reminder of how responsible they were for what happened… The pain, they feel, doesn’t vanish. It festers…but many never say a word for one reason: The majority get hurt for being hurt.
This can occur in countless ways, but most commonly, victims of sexual assault express how these experiences continue to harm them internally, which leads to one of several negative reactions: (a) apathy/cold indifference, (b) dismissal, (c) misplaced rage, (d) misplaced sadness
Many of the people I’ve worked with struggled to make their voices heard initially. When they discuss what they how they feel during recovery, close relatives tended to drift off topic. One minute they’re crying their eyes out about how Uncle Joe bent them over the table, nearly tearing them a new asshole, while the relative that they’re confiding in is too occupied, thinking about how Uncle Joe still owes them a tenner. In my early student years, I despised conducting family therapy for that reason, simply because sometimes there is no happy ending. Some people will never love their children or family members the way they would like them to. With or without the application of force, they probably never will, but telling a survivor that is painful. It pries into a primal fear of abandonment that we all share. No child should be expected to deal with abuse and then neglect, it sets very bad standards and lowers expectations in others from the outset.
None of the responses listed above are rational or even helpful but that has never stopped people. However, before we judge, it’s vital to understand that they don’t know how to cope with the situation. If forced to confront the reality of the situation, they’d shut down, cry hysterically or experience a depressive episode. It should be noted that approx. half have traumatic experiences of their own that they keep bottled up that need to processed first before they can support loved one’s through such tough times.
On a related note, we can all be rather self-centred without meaning to be, when someone we care about shares something to deeply personal. However, when we don’t take them seriously, it can have grave consequences. Particularly, when the tables turn. Many abused children drift apart from friends or relatives that are then later abused…and the first person they call is someone they know who experienced similar. Although what these friends often do not take into consideration is that no half-hearted apology makes up for something like that. In frequency, these friendships were imbalanced from the start. One cared more about the other and less about themselves. Then, the assault occurred and they no longer care about their own life, let alone the problems of the former prom-queen, social butterfly or alpha female of the group.

Post-Traumatic Stress: Dependent on when, where and how an assault takes place is important when it comes down to moving forward. Many survivors struggle to return to their old life. In cases, in which a boyfriend is a part of the equation, recovery can become complicated. Whereas some men are more supportive than others, the subject of sexual intercourse is bound to cause tension, unless there is ample space for open dialogue.

Identifying Stressors & Flashbacks: After a traumatic event, latent impressions of the experience inadvertently imprinted themselves on the mind. Survivors can develop aversions to the opposite or same sex, tools used during the assault, specific locations etc. For example, if an individual was tied and gagged during repeated assaults, they can easily be spooked by S&M. Conversely, some survivors unconsciously relive the experience by engaging in self-destructive behaviour, which can become heavily sexualised.
Although typical responses are sadness, rage, panic or other forms of extreme emotion, when coming into contact with a stressor or object/subject that triggers a flashback. From personal experience, I’ve found that resistance is futile. The more we resist the memory or image, the more it rages underneath the surface. Therefore, it is highly important to be patient and don’t be too hard on yourself. Reminders will crop up, but they don’t have to rule your life. One day, you’ll be able to look at something that would usually remind you of the worst times in your life and it’ll no longer be the root of your stress or the first thing you are reminded of.
Confront your stressor, but don’t go overboard. If it scares you, approach it slowly. If it angers you, charge at it with all your might. If it upsets you, let it out through a good cry, but never bury it. Burying a stressor is dangerous! The more you aim to ignore it, the more ferociously it’ll come through. If it sets your teeth on edge, there’s a reason. Learning that reason will benefit your personal growth and make your more resilient.

Stressors can awaken memories of a time, when we felt powerless, violated and/or deeply injured. In combination with flashbacks, they give the impression that the event is still ongoing. In a split second, a survivor can feel as if they are right back where it all started…As if no time passed. The lines between the past and present can become blurred, particularly if the abuse remains ongoing or happened not too long ago. In other words, living in present time becomes a challenge, when we are locked in a mental prison of our past. Every deeply traumatic experience forces us to re-learn how to live. That means learning how to accept what happened and moving forward.
Survivors Guilt: Thousands of men, women and children throughout the ages have experienced the most horrific forms of sexual abuse. Some of which survive, when those close to them did not. Driven by the experience, some strive to make their lives mean something. With every nightmare, failure and accomplishment, the guilt compounds, until it literally becomes the prime motivator behind their actions. In their eyes, the amount of suffering they feel was created by them, through whatever they did. In rare cases, it can manifest through the very fact that they survived, whereas others did not. More importantly, it is something that they cannot forgive, overcome or let go without assistance…Without some form of acknowledgement that it is okay, others simply need to hear that there is nothing wrong with them. They did what they needed to do to survive and they are still loved regardless. In cases with a high suicide risk, associated with survivors guilt, it can be very helpful to give them to opportunity to express themselves without being judged or criticised. In therapy, I use the method of creating a safe space for them to share their thoughts or unburden their darkest secrets. This can be easily done with friends or relatives at home. In some extreme cases, survivors just need to hear that they are forgiven to forgive themselves, which is more effective when it is conveyed by people that knew them before the event.

Relationships: As a survivor, the world no longer looks the same, nor do we connect to it in the same way. Opening ourselves to others can become difficult for the lack of empathy or shared experience. To the average man, women can be instantly downgraded to just another ‘rape-case’ or ‘woe-woman story’. So many women avoid sharing as to not make themselves look like a victim. This makes genuine relationships difficult and fosters commitment issues.
Many women choose not to share their past experiences with prospective or actual partners. Although this may seem like a justified defensive measure, how close can we truly be to someone, when we shut a part of ourselves off? If they cannot accept that part of ourselves, how can they accept us for who we truly are? My personal advice is for survivors to take a chance. If we never openly discuss what happened, how are we meant to find closure? How are we supposed to be expected to live with what happened, when we can’t acknowledge it to those we love?

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Mind Over Matter

Placebo Effect

Each function of the human body is susceptible to thoughts and feelings, in a way it is hardwired to experience every emotion. In consequence it was discovered that the suppression of negative emotion influences diseases harboured within the physical body to the degree of aiding its progression. The placebo effect describes the procedure of a patient receiving that which they believe to be actual medicine that results in the same physiological outcome, conclusively it is evidenced that the patients belief in itself was capable of neutralizing the bodily condition. In addition, the mind affecting biology and biology affecting the mind is a commonly experienced fact within daily life. For instance, in a study performed by the Institute of Heartmath, scientists unravelled that positive and negative thinking patterns impact upon the immune system. The amount of salivary immunoglobulin A (s-IgA) was monitored in each individual, assessing the influence of the thought “Anger and Frustration” in comparison to “Care and Compassion”. It should be noted that a large amount of salivary immunoglobulin A indicates a strong immune system, whilst a low amount indicated a weak one. The outcome clearly showed that thoughts involving “Care and Compassion” produced a more resilient immune system, which remained elevated for at least five hours afterwards, whereas thoughts of “Anger and Frustration” generally lowered the overall immune system for five hours. Another study observing the effects of Transcendental Mediation discovered that practitioners for over five years appeared to be physiologically younger than their chronological age. Hence due to a further study into Zen meditators, it was affirmed that the brain does not require to decline with age, if it is in receipt of the appropriate treatment in order to trigger neuroprotective effects. Also, it was evident that Zen meditators develop an increased thickness of the prefrontal cortex in areas associated with attention. Therefore, the body can be influenced rather strongly by the mind, even age may not necessarily have to apply. A way of thinking and feeling, which allows for the individuals body to heal or preserve the youthfulness of the faculties, as it may. Nonetheless, for the actual placebo effect to occur, three main factors are necessary. The individual must have a substancial desire to be healed, they must expect to be healed or at least hold a form of positive expectation, and naturally the belief that they will be healed due to the medicine or competency of the medical staff. Technically, the patient enters a non-ordinary state of consciousness, most of the time this does not occur on a conscious level. Primarily, the principle of mind over matter proven by hundreds of studies performed applies greatly with the placebo effect, yet it is also a known factor that the behaviour and attitude of the medical personnel has the capability of reducing the outcome, if the placebo is administered poorly.

Psychosocial Genomics

Originally psychosocial genomics was constructed as a new area of DNA research, as a mixture of psychology and genomics. In essence, it is the study, which evidences that DNA affects the manner, in which an individual thinks and feels. As 99.9 genes are the same for each individual, the differences lie in the tiniest of variations in single genes. Consequently, the same set of genes is able to produce an infinite variety of species. As a result, it has been scientifically proven that height is inherited by approx. 80 percent, whilst 20 percent are environmentally based. Subsequently, certain genes are more active than their counterparts, since repetitive action causes repetitive gene expression, for instance, in daydreaming or flashbacks, which in itself is an unintentional form of visualization that inspires the DNA.

A study, involving the nature of maternal touch, revealed that love promotes physical growth by allowing for ornithine decarboxylase to be activated and growth hormones to be released. It has even been evidenced that fear suppresses growth and consequently results in the child struggle to socially fit it to the environment. Through the power of visualization, an individual begins to influence the desired circumstances through continual programming with a strong intention in mind. For example, one can biologically affect the healing process of a condition, such as cancer, liver failure, tuberculosis etc. Eastern practices, such as qigong, acupressure, acupuncture or tai chi, have also amply demonstrated a similarly beneficial effect upon mind and body, including regular meditation. Initially, it reduced the risk of the worsening of the condition, yet it also serves the purpose of reuniting mind and body to its natural equilibrium by adjusting the flow of energy through the physical body, whilst strengthening the existent natural defences. These mental techniques, however, also serve another purpose, once one attains the realization of mind over matter by actual experience, as through healing the self, one becomes capable of taking full responsibility for ones own body and health. The actualisation that the human body possesses the capacity to entirely mend itself, as and when required, if enough willpower, intention and belief is focused upon the objective.

All is energy, thus all has a frequency. Lower or higher frequencies naturally affect individuals differently. Each word possesses a different frequency, also dependent upon the manner in which it is vocalized. As a consequence, studies in regards to the effects of sound, such as shamanic drumming or meditation music revealed a slower heart rate and a deeper state of sleep and relaxation. In consequence, thoughts and feelings contain a level of frequency, which initially is released into the world, causing a slight ripple effect. For instance, in India, it is common knowledge that the condition of the meat of an animal is in correspondence with its manner of dying. Sequentially, an inhumane environment, including brutality and a painful death, an energetic imprint of fear is thought to remain on the meat, which would then be transferred to the individual ingesting it. In addition, it has been discovered that the practice of mindfulness or even a small prayer of grace affects the atomic structure of water, for instance. Overall, distance does not influence the act of intention, long distance healing or prayer, in fact, a study around the year 1998 resulted in the successful curbing or slowing of AIDS in twenty patients. However, it should be noted that certain healing practitioners absorb their clients energies, including their feelings, thoughts, emotions and psychological problems, which causes them to require psychic protection during any healing session. Often a golden shield or egg is visualized, dependent upon the preference of the practitioner. Truth be told, all thoughts and emotions consciously or unconsciously radiate out into the phenomenal world, affecting other accordingly. Due to this reason, it is recommended for spiritual, ascended masters are accustomed to meditating either late at night or close to sunrise, in between the hours of 11PM and 4AM, since there appears to be less emotional or mental interference in close proximity. In 1983, Randolph Byrd MD conducted a scientific study regarding the direct medical influence of prayer, it was discovered that the individuals that were in receipt of the prayer required fewer antibiotics, diuretics and less ventilator assistance, including a more rapid recovery rate than those patients, which had not been prayed for. In practicality, everything is interconnected through a field of energy, also known the quantum field or field of conscious intelligence. Similarly, the collective unconscious is the entirety of information or intelligence of all within existence, with each thought or idea the web of reality is altered, limited only by the speed of connection whilst it rises up through the unconscious contents to the conscious awareness. Since each thought streams a pulse of electrical energy throughout the brain along the neurons that interlink the nerve cells. Each nerve cell then responds to the thought by exerting a certain set of chemicals, whilst the thought could literally be felt anywhere and everywhere, although it may not be consciously recognized just yet.

A paper published around the year of 1981 described an experiment involving several hundred experienced meditators that gathered in a city in order to perform Transcendental Meditation, as a result, the federal statistics gathered over the following year