When you feel that your sense of reality has been denied or distorted by a “specific person”, are you being “gaslighted”? In other words, did this “specific person” deliberately carry out “strategies” to “drive you crazy”? Is this person really a “puppet master“, an analogy some people used to refer “gaslighter” or “emotional manipulator”?
From my years of understanding of complex trauma and attachment injury, I would like to propose a somewhat different view to examine this issue. However, let’s make a cup of hot non-caffeinated tea in a warm ceramic cup (so we are not driving up the sympathetic system arousal and we will be able to keep ourselves within the Window of Tolerance).
As you drink a sip of the tea, I invite you to remember an image of hurricane (or typhoon). Hurricane is empty in the center, yet, the outside swirling wind filed could be very powerful! It brings out violent winds, incredible waves, torrential rains, and flood. On the one hand, it has tremendous destructive power; on the other hand, the center of hurricane is EMPTY, and it always dissipates after it moves over solid land or cold water, which discontinues the energy supply. The “hurricane” is the image I came up for those people who consciously or unconsciously manage to manipulate other people’s sense of reality.
Hurricane doesn’t really have an intentionally well-organized strategy to destroy a place. A powerful hurricane needs plenty supply of the energy from the system. However, hurricane does create a chaotic wind/rain field that temporarily distorts the reality. It could bring tremendous trauma to people’s life.
It may not be helpful to see a hurricane as a puppet master who literally has controlled all over our body and mind. This simply surrenders too much power away from ourselves. In addition to acknowledge hurricane’s destructive power, it may be more important to take a look of the empty center of the hurricane and the energy system that creates the hurricane. Let’ just see things as they are. The more the outside system is grounded, the power of the hurricane will weaken.
In order to do so, I would like to introduce the concept of trauma-related structural dissociation (proposed by Dr. Van der Hart and his colleagues). For people who like to think in pictures, it may be helpful to take look of the following slide I created. Then, I will provide more explanation in next blog post.
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