Is it Really Mental Illness?

IS IT REALLY MENTAL “ILLNESS”? Maybe the name should be changed to “Survivor Reaction Suppression”? This is a phenomenon where as children, we froze because we could not either flee or fight off our attackers. Freeze is one of 4 biological stress responses to trauma and unhealed people live in a functional variation of unexpressed fight or flight.

All “mental illness” might be — is our unique way of coping with repressed (or unrepressed) unhealed trauma (repressed means blocked from the mind; it’s a survival mechanism). The more shame or self-blame we felt after the abuse or the earlier the trauma happened, the more likely we are to block it from conscious awareness. Stockholm Syndrome is common and we bond the most with those who abused us the most. Another survival strategy of the child.  Forgotten or unforgotten childhood trauma causes physical changes in our brain, cells, our tissues, our immunity and our biochemistry in general. Trauma that is not dealt with is stored in the body affecting our physiology and our nervous system. So when ‘the experts” say that mental illness is due to a “chemical imbalance” they are only partially correct. There are imbalances and mutations, but very few people want to talk about where they come from. Then we hear the nature vs nurture argument debate pop up. Nature are the predispositions that come through genetics, but those genes are activated through our environment, so it’s both.

Mental illness  or SRS (Survivor Reaction Suppression) is really repressed heartache, repressed rage, repressed sadness, repressed grief, repressed terror, repressed feelings of helplessness, repressed feelings of inadequacy and unworthiness, repressed needs, and the repressed sense of self. It is also frozen physical agitation that comes from not discharging the freeze response from trauma (not completing the cycle of fight or flight). There is an instinctual biological response we have built-in to being violently attacked. Per the culture we live in, we are conditioned to hold on and stuff down that response. This is why we all suffer and eventually have physical-emotional-spiritual troubles.

Survivor Reaction Suppression (or what people call “mental illness”) is not a disorder, an illness, or a syndrome and does not make anyone special. It’s because we all have various degrees of it and individual expressions of it. Survivor Reaction Suppression (SRS) is what brings us all together. While some people DO use their inability to function or their unhealthy habits, addictions, relationship patterns or behavior patterns  to get special treatment, they are in the minority. Most of us are not trying to get attention, to be special, or to get sympathy. How could that be possible when we are all suffering together? I cannot speak for us all, but I know myself and have spoken to lots of survivors and they do not want sympathy or special treatment that puts them above others. I can promise you that.

Relief from SRS is not about addressing a chemical imbalance as much as it is about finally doing what the body and the emotions needed to do at the time of the violent event but could not do (The Freeze Response). It is really that simple. We differ on how to get access to the body and the emotions, but how to truly move past our past is all the same and it can take a lifetime to move through all the layers of denial and defenses due to self-blame and crippling shame.

In conclusion, SRS is common; it is one of the threads that tie us all together. SRS does not come out of nowhere. Nothing exists without an action-based cause. Once we start learning cause and effect in terms of trauma and our response to it, I predict that will be the day we start seeing more healing and less perpetration.

The real syndrome, illness, pathology or disorder exists in the perpetrator —  NOT THE VICTIMS. You are perfectly healthy and normal to respond to being abused. It’s the one who does the abuses that needs to be fixed, that needs therapy. I cannot speak for all trauma survivors, but I think it safe to say we don’t need as much therapy and drugs as it is needed to be heard, to be seen, to be validated, to be understood and witnessed in our pain. We want at least ONE PERSON to get it. Psychology is an aberration to that end, in my opinion.
Finally, the abuse was not your fault. You didn’t do anything wrong. No matter how your body responded to the abuse at the time, YOU DID NOT CONSENT. Therefore, you are not the guilty party.

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