The CRITICAL importance of overcoming past trauma  |  Jordan Peterson

The CRITICAL importance of overcoming past trauma | Jordan Peterson



I had this client once and she came in and told me that she had been sexually assaulted by her older brother and she told me the story and I kind of got the impression that maybe she was like eight and he was like 17 or something like that and she was about 27 when she came and talked to me and then I found out by further questioning that she was 4 and he was 6 and I thought she still had this story in her head of her being tormented by this older person right that that's how she told the story and what I told her was well look another way of looking at this is that you two were very badly supervised children because I mean he was six for God's sake you know he's a little kid that doesn't mean that what happened to her was any less traumatic but but he wasn't 17 right if the story was different than the one she had in her head and you know by the time she left after we had that conversation it was clear that the way that she was construing the experience had radically shifted and that was very interesting because you know you think of the past as fixed but and it is in some sense but the reason you remember the past isn't to make an objectively accurate record of the past it's so that you can use the information in the past to prepare you for the future and your mind won't leave you alone unless that has happened so if you've encountered something that's negative and you don't know why and you don't know what to do about it if that happens again in the future then that will stay with you and I think one of the things it does too is it increases your overall physiological load there's actually physiologists who've been talking about this I can't remember the damn phrase but you could imagine that your mind is doing something like this all the time it's it's it's it's got a record in some sense of your autobiographical experiences and what it's doing is calculating how frequently you've been successful versus unsuccessful and the more frequently that you've been successful the higher you are up on the dominance hierarchy that's one possibility so your serotonin levels go up and you're calmer but also it's reasonable to assume that the environment is less dangerous right because that's sort of what constitutes danger you're somewhere in and you act and and something you don't want to have happen happens that's danger and so your brain is always trying to figure out how to calibrate how anxious you should be and one of the things that does is by sort of keeping track of your past success failure ratio and so to the degree that your past has been characterized by will call them failures that those are situations where you do not get what you want then your your body your brain puts your body on constant alert because if everything that you've done has resulted in catastrophe then you're somewhere insanely dangerous and you should be like like a you know like a prey animal that's ready to dart in any direction and how much you should be a prey animal is dependent on it's an estimate partly your trait neuroticism partly your your success as adjudicated by other people right because they'll pop you up the doorman its hierarchy if you've been successful but also partly on your record of failures and successes in the past and so you can go back and you can find out where you have holes in your in the structure through which you're viewing the world that's one way of looking at it and you can sew those things up and that's a very that's in some sense that's what you're doing in psychotherapy you know partly its exposure to things you're afraid of and disgusted by and are likely to avoid that's a huge chunk of it but if you go back into your past and you start talking those things through it's really the same thing it's more abstracted so Freud of course was always when he was doing his free association process with his clients he'd find that if he just let them talk that their speech would circle until it hit a place like that where they were confused and doubtful and then their speech would sort of wander around that and and then they'd have an emotional expression that was a consequence of that he thought the emotional expression was what was curative it was cut cathartic in his terms but later James Pennebaker upon whom these writing exercises I described his research it is based on that miry my exercises are based on his research he found that if you brought college students into the to the lab and you had them write for 15 minutes three times over three days about the worst thing that had ever happened to them or the worst thing they ever did if I remember correctly they got worse in the short term but better in the long run for example he went visited the doctor less and markers of their physical health improved and so I think the reason for that is because what does that called is called something load I just about it got it right from the physiologist doesn't matter they got healthier as far as I can tell because they basically calmed down once they had gone through the negative memory and sorted it out properly and told a properly articulated story and figured out how to deal with it then their physiology calmed down and so then they weren't as stressed they weren't producing as much cortisol and so cortisol suppresses your immune function and so they were more likely to stay healthy and so well so that's all very much we're thinking about that's all in the domain outside of the light that's one way

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