I wanted to write this post in view of how the current understanding is in relation to our human condition and how we grow up within society. I don’t make any claims in offering a better alternative, I just want to make a case on how things are.
Some of us suffer more from the results of fragmentation than others. However, for all of us, the moment we were forced in some way from our environment to be one way other than what we actually were (for example the infamous: “don’t cry, or I’ll give you something to cry about“), creates some kind of trauma or conflict in the psyche. And why is that? We are forced to suppress a part of our identity, or our true selves into oblivion. And this might be a fact of life as we are not meant to go through life without any kind of conflict with the environment (personal view here!)
As relationships can vary greatly, depending on the context we grew up, we might have suppressed emotional parts, spiritual parts, creative parts, thinking parts or even our own sensations (e.g. desire) as that was not proper (or whatever) in our environment.
In extreme cases of severe trauma, we may also experience traumatic stress and helplessness. “…During and in the immediate aftermath of acute trauma, such as an automobile accident or a physical assault, victims have reported being dazed, unaware of serious physical injury, or experiencing the trauma as if they were in a dream. Some continue to feel detached and dis-integrated for weeks, months or years after trauma.” (See some more on dissociation in the relevant article by Dr David Spiegel)
What these processes do to us, is that we divide ourselves into different parts. Some of them are acceptable and some of them not. Some of them are presentable (and others not). However, there is a greater inner conflict going on beneath the surface as we are not a whole human being.
Think also of the following excerpt from a more philosophical viewpoint:
Thought itself is this energy manipulating itself into a narrow groove, a centre of the self. […] Thought by its very nature has limited this energy, and so the fragmentation of the senses takes place. Hence there are the senses, sensations, desires and the images that thought creates out of desire. All this is a fragmentation of energy. (Jiddhu Krishnamurti – Chapter 21)
In more ways than one, we utilise the power of our brain in adjusting to a moment of trauma, but we are not able to fully recover from the experience of trauma. This has been very well explained in the 2014 book by Besser A. van der Volk “The Body Keeps the Score” which I can recommend to anyone with more interest in the subject of trauma.
Therapy is a way of claiming back our fragmented parts and reuniting them to form a new whole. Particularly Gestalt which is a holistic therapy is very much focused on creating this new wholeness for the individual.
As I was exploring the issue, I came along these lines from a philosopher that challenged me further:
It seems to me that the idea of integration – of putting together the various fragments to make a whole – is obviously not intelligent, for it implies that there is an integrator, one who is integrating, putting together, all the fragments; but the very entity that tries to do this is also part of that fragment. (Jiddhu Krishnamurti on Fragmentation)
In this view, the picture I used for this post is obviously a whole by itself – the person stepping on the fragments is one of the fragments of the Self…
And I guess the question that emerged for me (which I don’t have an answer of course) is:
Can I live life as a whole, as a Self, as One and not as an integrator and integrated, an observer and observed, a “me” and a “them” – how would that be and what would that entail?