lb_lee: A short-haired person flexing their muscles and declaring, "Queer trans multi proud!" (pride)
[personal profile] lb_lee
Part of our brand of crazy is dissociation.  If endangered, stressed, or even startled too hard, we space out.  It's a numbing reflex, protecting us from inescapable pain.

We're harmless to others in this state... too harmless, which is why we've actively worked towards not doing it.  Dissociated, we're extremely passive and docile; we look to others for direction because we know we're too crazy to trust our own judgment.

This is good, because it means other people can tell us not to jump off a bridge.  But enterprising abusers can take advantage, and they have.  They do something relatively minor to space us out, then do something major, and when we surface from the episode, pretend it never happened or that we misunderstand what transpired.  And since they're the sane ones and we're crazy, obviously our judgment can't be trusted over theirs.  They won't even have to cover their tracks, because dissociation distorts our memory. (For bonus points, add that when the memory does become clear, they can claim, "Well, it didn't bother you BEFORE, so obviously you're just trying to make me feel bad now, and it's too late to do anything anyway.") Dissociation is very handy around inescapable trauma; when it comes to abusers, though, it can keep the relationship going, because we can't learn from what we don't remember.

If you're a dissociative, and you notice that you're dissociating a lot more around someone, or find that your memory becomes increasingly scrambled and unreliable around them, that is something to be concerned about.  You should not constantly need your coping mechanisms in a healthy relationship.  Sure, hard times happen everywhere, but there's a difference between a stressful time and a stressful PERSON.  Even if that person is not manipulating or harming you, you might just plain be bad for each other.


Date: 2015-04-11 02:44 am (UTC)
ljlee: (candle)
From: [personal profile] ljlee
Another sinister aspect of dissociation is that it prevents people from protecting children who depend on them, thus helping perpetuate abuse. You mentioned that your mother was possibly dissociative, too, and kind of floated away when you were suffering and needed her. Olga Trujillo in The Sum of My Parts had horrifying descriptions of her mother spacing out when a young Olga was being abused literally before her eyes.

My issue with adults failing to protect children due to dissociation is not that they are dissociative, which also happened to them because of continuous trauma that they had no other way to deal with, but that they took no steps to take care of these problems and protect their kids. Acquiring defense mechanisms due to trauma in unavoidable, but to know--or willfully ignore--that you're hurting children because you shut down at crucial times and do nothing about it is reprehensible.

This sort of thing is one of many reasons I object to using "crazy" interchangeably with irrationality or evil. Trauma-based craziness actually has a lot of rationality behind it; it's our minds working as designed, trying to keep us alive and functional (in that order, and not always accurately or proportionately, hence crazy). And being crazy is not evil; evil is knowing that your craziness is hurting people and not taking steps to manage it. Accuracy in language, people, it's not that hard!

Date: 2015-04-12 01:36 pm (UTC)
ljlee: (candle)
From: [personal profile] ljlee
The Spindle and Other Lesbian Fairy Tales, which revamped Sleeping Beauty into a lesbian play about incest. The "curse of sleep" is intended to be a metaphor for dissociation and trauma reactions, and the "curse" spreads to younger generations as it incapacitates the older ones.

That's an original way to interpret the tale! I like it.

Incest is not just the evil done by one person; it's the refusal to act by everyone around the perpetrator, or the collusion.

I cannot imagine how terrifying and isolating that must be, that the people who are supposed to watch out for the child are on the side of his abusers. I also can't imagine being an adult covering for a rapist. I'd like to believe that would never be me, that I'd be the hero and step up, but I don't know that.
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