“Soul Murder” it doesn’t happen overnight. It happens slowly, bit by bit, through a series of trauma where you lose track of who you are you lose track of your feelings you don’t know whom to trust. You don’t know where to go and what to do. This has been beautifully put by the psychoanalyst, William Niederland. Your soul experiences death everyday, till it becomes a mute spectator of its own mutilation. Your soul gets fragmented and we stop knowing who we are. People like these have a blank look, they barely talk, they are in a frozen mode. You come to this deadened state when you know that you cannot escape your predator. You cannot fight, you cannot run away, you simply freeze.
The frozen state comes when you stop fighting and over time your feelings become numb. You just give in. You know there’s no escape. Wives abused by their husbands, both physically and mentally, children abused by their parents emotionally and physically, older sibling abusing the younger one and so on and so forth. Constant violence whether mental, physical or emotional gradually leads to “Soul Murder”. That’s the time a part of the soul leaves the body and when these people are abused they are in an emotionally deadened state. Many witness the abuse happening to them and say “I watched myself being beaten up from the ceiling. I did not feel anything”. When a part of you leaves your physical body, you become emotionless, you feel nothing and hence that vacant look, the blank stare, no words. we also call it fragmentation of the soul. A client of mine was a cutter, she’d cut herself at different places and tell me - “I cut myself to feel whether I’m still there, whether I’m still alive.”
Two years back a mom got her daughter for therapy to me. She had been molested time and again by her cousin brother and was too scared to share the problem with her parents. When She started having concentration problems, insomnia, fear, feeling of listlessness, lack of appetite, only then she could tell her parents and by then things had gone pretty bad. When your parents, your caregivers, specially the mother is unavailable emotionally, it’s terribly traumatic for the child. It’s the worst kind of nightmare when you’re undergoing a trauma and you’re unable to share it with your parents. When the very people who are there to nurture you, protect you, love you, and care for you, cannot sense what’s going on with their child, it’s truly sad. I sometimes feel numb myself and wonder what kind of a soul plan has this person taken. I know the answers but the client is too traumatised in the beginning to understand that.
You work with them slowly and surely because these wounds are very deep seated and healing takes place on their issue, tissue by tissue. Therapies take time because you need to win their trust but also ensure that they don’t become dependent on you. Sometimes clients disappear when they begin to feel well and then land up again after a month or so when they crash out. A lot of understanding, compassion, and steadiness is needed as a therapist. You know that beyond this tunnel there’s light but sometimes the path is long and arduous but the light shines.
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