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Attachments 11

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Attachments 11

(Last week we talked about the ambivalent attachment style and we ended defining abuse.  Tonight we begin on page 106.)

The Sins of the Father

       The effects of the sins of the parents are passed down from generation to generation, and attachment theory helps discribe how this process unfolds.[1]  “First, we take in, or internalize, the way we’ve been treated.  If we’ve been loved, we feel lovable.  If we’ve been hated, we feel self-contempt.  If we have been both loved and hated, we feel ambivalent about ourselves.  Put simply, a ‘child comes to see himself modeled after the way his parents have loved him.  A child’s sense of self is shaped by the way others treat him or her.’”[2]

       I preached about this premise and biblical truth in two series of messages entitled:  “Family Mess I,” and “Family Mess II.”

Victims of Untold Stories:

The Legacy of an Unresolved Past

“When people are traumatized or when they bear significant losses, the emotional pain can be excruciating.  Most people buckle under the intensity of such pain, and they bury the pain beneath a ton of forgetfulness.  Then, in the same coffin, they bury everything that reminds them of it.  Burying painful memories is the same thing as dissociation.  We call thes dissociated memories untold stories.

       When memories of traumatic events are buried, they are literally stored in cerebral morgue-drawers in different parts of the brain.  Researchers have used brain-imaging techniques to show that when trauma victims are reminded of their tragedy, the parts of the brain associated with intense emotions and visual images ‘turn on’ and become active.  The result is what Basal van der Kolk calls ‘speechless terror,’ the inability to tell the story of the horrific event.


       Many traumatized individuals bury their stories quite well.  Burying those memories lets these people function pretty effectively in their daily lives—at least on the surface.  We’ve seen quite a few of them as successful professionals.  They’ve completed college, taken on responsibilities at work, managed their time effectively, and made important decisions for their companies.  But the toxic effects of their tragic past, buried deeply in remote states of their minds, surface in situations usually involving intimacy, aggression, abandonment, and fear.”[3]

(We move on to consider:)

The Power of Reflection

“God made us in His image and blessed us with the profound ability to verbally describe the world around us.  Then He extended the blessing so we can describe the world inside ourselves.  This is the ability to describe our feelings, our thoughts, even our physical sensations.  The more we understand that world inside, the better we understand the world at work within others.  We empathize with them and see the world through their eyes.  In other words, we learn to ‘walk in their shoes.’”[4]

       I have believed and taught this for many years.  I put it like this:  “You can’t understand others, if you don’t understand yourself.”  Consequently, with so many people suffering from the inability to describe their inner world—because of the impact of the Greek influence of American society—it is difficult for many people to empathize with anyone else!  Oh we believe that we are empathizing with people in our thought processes, but most of us have an inability to describe our inner emotions and that makes it difficult to empathize with anyone else.  The meaning of the word “empathy” is literally “in feeling,” which describes the ability to feel what someone else is feeling.  The synonym “sympathy” is literally “together feeling,” which desribes the ability to feel along with someone else.

       This is also covered in the field of emotional intelligence.  I did quite a bit of reading and research in that field also.  Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence, believes that “Empathy builds on self-awareness; the more open we are to our own emotions, the more skilled we will be in reading feelings.[5]


(All right, back to Attachments.)

       “Developmental psychologists have found this ability to label our internal experiences, a process called the power of reflection, and to empathize with others helps us bring some important elements to our lives:

·        The ability to know and understand feelings helps us manage our intense emotions.  We know what our emotions are, and we understand that they’re only emotions; they don’t have the power to take over our lives.

·        It helps us manage our impulses.  Our ability to reflect on what’s going on inside ourselves helps us understand when we’re acting on something unusual and unexpected.  For example, you may want to tell your boss to pound sand, but the power of reflection keeps the thought locked up and harmless.

·        The same intellectual and emotional process that allows empathy, the ability to see the world through another’s eyes, also allows us to feel close and connected to the ones we love.  It is the basis for caring and compassion.

·        Finally, reflection lets us believe we can influence others with our words, not just our actions.  This is the foundation and reason for prayer.  We believe God can understand our needs and that He is affected by our words.”[6]

Trauma Destroys the Power of Reflection

“When children are traumatized, or are constantly threatened with trauma, their power of reflection goes undeveloped.  The trauma is so painful it splits off, disconnects from the child’s self-awareness.  So, instead of understanding the self, trauma forces the children to step outside the self and leave the trauma behind—the very essence of dissociation.  The abused child adapts this way, otherwise he or she would be overwhelmed by fear and anxiety.

       Dissociation and reflection are incompatible.  The more the brain dissociates, the more difficult it is to develop the power of reflection.  Dante Cicchetti and colleagues found that abused children struggle with using words to describe what is going on inside of them.  Had this been the only problem and there had been no abuse, it wouldn’t have been so bad, but without the power of reflection, a number of grave consequences may bubble to the surface as the untold stories fester within the child’s inner world.”[7]

The Compulsion to Repeat the Past

“Have you ever wondered why people with horrific pasts, instead of learning from them and living later lives of calm and order, tend to experience more catastrophes later on?”[8]  They don’t seem to see the pattern, but it is there.

       “Basal van der Kolk powerfully describes how the wounded self continues to repeat this cycle throughout their lives:

Some traumatized people remained preoccupied with the trauma at the expense of other life experiences and continue to recreate it in some form for themselves and others.  War veterans may enlist as mercenaries, victims of incest may become prostitutes, and victims of childhood physical abuse seemingly provoke subsequent abuse in foster families or become self-mutilators.  Still others identify with the aggressor and do to others what was done to them.”[9]

“Van der Kilk then describes how traumatized victims may become addicted to trauma….  Whenever the brain is faced with extreme stress, it releases chemicals call endogenous opiods, what could be called the brain’s equivalent to heroin.  These chemicals are God-given painkillers.”[10]  Since those painkillers are released “over and over again in a stressful, even violent, situation.  The brain could easily become addicted to the drug, and withdrawing from that drug can be as difficult as breaking a drug addiction.  The withdrawal symptoms mirror the nightmare of the traumatized person:  emptiness, tension, irritability, and an internal sense of unrest.  To relieve these symptoms, the person must return to the trauma and its corresponding ‘morphine.’”[11]


       “Fear of the unfamiliar is another way ‘addiction to trauma’ can develop.  Researchers saw this when rats were placed in a ‘shock box.’”[12]  They lock a rat in a box and then shock it, but overtime the rat becomes familiar with the situation and pain becomes a way of life.  When they open the door to the box, you would expect the rat to hightail it out of there.  Well the rat did leave the box, but whenever it was faced with something unfamiliar, guess what it did?  Right!  It returned to the box, even though it was painful.  Why?  The box was a familiar place.  The rat was used to its home and retreated there whenever it became anxious, no matter the cause, even when confronted by something unfamiliar.[13]

A Need for Chaos and Turmoil

What was seen in the experiment with the rat is also seen in the lives of folks who have been traumatized.  “Research tells us, and our experience confirms, that children who come from abusize and/or chaotic homes see those homes as familiar surroundings.  It’s not just the ‘devil they know.’  The fact is, their brains are addicted to the constant release of endogenous opiods because of those homes.  So when they experience the unfamiliar, even the positive unfamiliar, like intimacy or deep friendships, they feel an overpowering urge to return to the familiar, which is chaos.”[14]

       Haven’t you seen people go back to abusive and painful situation when stress occurred, and you couldn’t understand why?  Haven’t you seen people get out of one bad relationship and keep finding someone else just as bad, and you couldn’t understand why?  Now you know!

Passing on a New Story

       Once we have told our story—all of it—we set the stage launch a new legacy.  We can then write a new story and pass it on to a new generation.  I vowed some years back to be the last link in a dysfunctional chain in my family and the first link of a new healthier chain.


The Key to Breaking the Cycle

“The research on disorganized attachment has produced some pretty straight-forward data.  Parents who have had significant trauma, emotional and/or physical abuse, or even the loss at an early age of one or both parents are likely to pass the toxic effects of that trauma on to their children.  Often, the result will be as if the children have experienced the parent’s trauma firsthand.  The key to breaking this cycle is the victim’s ability to get in touch with his or her particular story, the whole story.  That means recalling incidents and patterns, all the facts and all the feelings related to the story, most of which have been stored away, deep in the parent’s brain morgue, since the incidents occurred.  When they are able to paste the story’s components into a coherent narrative, the mere fact that they were able to do it buffers them from the toxic effect of their traumatic past.”[15]  This absolutely incredible news!

And one of the best ways to get in touch with one’s whole story is the Grief £ RecoveryÒ program.  The components of a “Loss History Graph,” a “Relationship Graph,” “Apologies, Forgives, and Significant Emotional Statements,” and a “Completion Letter,” for every loss and significant relationship in one’s life will dramatically help a person remember the incidents and patterns of loss and abuse in his/her life, deal with and feel the feelings attached to those incidents and patterns, surface things that have been buried in the brain morgue for a long time, and paste the components of one’s story into a coherent narrative, and share all of that in a group!  We have a ministry of Grief £ RecoveryÒ in place, and I beseech you, I implore you, I beg you to get signed up and go through the program.

Now I am beginning to establish a ministry of helping people develop a secure attachment style.  I believe we are five to ten years away from having a complete system to help people become spiritually, emotionally, intellectually, volitionally, and socially healthy!

       It will look something like this:

1.     Salvation

2.     The baptism in the Holy Ghost

3.     New Beginnings

4.     Grief £ RecoveryÒ

5.     Attachments

       If there is severe trauma that has led to dangerous or daunting dysfuncationality, we have FMO’s, FWO’s, and other forms of discipleship/counseling.

Homework:    Attachments (pages 117-123).

       Thank God for a church like this!!!

(Now is the Day of Salvation!  Come to Jesus, Now!)

Invitation

Call to Discipleship


----

[1] Tim Clinton & Gary Sibcy, Attachments, Integrity Publishers, Brentwood, Tennessee, 2002, p. 106.

[2] Tim Clinton & Gary Sibcy, Attachments, Integrity Publishers, Brentwood, Tennessee, 2002, p. 106.

[3] Tim Clinton & Gary Sibcy, Attachments, Integrity Publishers, Brentwood, Tennessee, 2002, pp. 107-108.

[4] Tim Clinton & Gary Sibcy, Attachments, Integrity Publishers, Brentwood, Tennessee, 2002, p. 108.

[5] Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence, Bantam Books, New York, New York, 1995, p. 96.

[6] Tim Clinton & Gary Sibcy, Attachments, Integrity Publishers, Brentwood, Tennessee, 2002, p. 108.

[7] Tim Clinton & Gary Sibcy, Attachments, Integrity Publishers, Brentwood, Tennessee, 2002, p. 109.

[8] Tim Clinton & Gary Sibcy, Attachments, Integrity Publishers, Brentwood, Tennessee, 2002, p. 111.

[9] Tim Clinton & Gary Sibcy, Attachments, Integrity Publishers, Brentwood, Tennessee, 2002, p. 111.

[10] Tim Clinton & Gary Sibcy, Attachments, Integrity Publishers, Brentwood, Tennessee, 2002, p. 111.

[11] Tim Clinton & Gary Sibcy, Attachments, Integrity Publishers, Brentwood, Tennessee, 2002, pp. 111-112.

[12] Tim Clinton & Gary Sibcy, Attachments, Integrity Publishers, Brentwood, Tennessee, 2002, p. 112.

[13] Tim Clinton & Gary Sibcy, Attachments, Integrity Publishers, Brentwood, Tennessee, 2002, p. 112.

[14] Tim Clinton & Gary Sibcy, Attachments, Integrity Publishers, Brentwood, Tennessee, 2002, p. 113.

[15] Tim Clinton & Gary Sibcy, Attachments, Integrity Publishers, Brentwood, Tennessee, 2002, pp. 115-116.

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