Trauma is written by the culture. | binary-chaos

My hypothesis is that trauma is written by the culture and that the experiences themselves can’t actually traumatize a person without the context of the imposition of belief about the experience (obviously physical trauma is different).

So, many of the things we think are bad experiences have no special value by themselves, but come from all of the surrounding mental frameworks given to us by the culture.

This of course flies in the face of so much lived experience about what causes us psychological damage actually being damaging implicitly. Then we have to look at these things and realize how little our reactions have to do with the experience itself being the problem, but the culture as the problem.

If we didn’t make these things as horrible as we do, they wouldn’t cause such lasting damage. Does it invalidate the legitimacy of the perception? No. But it does show that the pain is directly caused by our belief in it, not by the event itself.

The question is, what will we do with that? Will we continue to reinforce a culture of offense and pain? Because if we do, our lives will get worse, and we’ll create trauma that was never there that will leave people emotionally damaged for life.

This is why early humans could survive much more brutal realities. Because those things actually didn’t cause any damage to our psyches. We decided to turn those things into pain later on.

So how do you explain what this means to someone who was abused and has “lived” experiences they feel traumatized them?

My first qualifier mentions physical trauma differently. How one was affected by the actions going forward has to do with how that person was consistently, and how you eventually wrote the experiences in your memories.

I had a physically abusive step-parent as well and was pulled out of bed and whipped for not washing one dish right (among other continuously physical abuse). Ultimately I had to understand that the physical experience was not what the experience was about. If I had written the experience in and held my resentment for my life, I would have carried that in my psyche for a long time (as in all the things I went through with them).

Ultimately I had to realize those things weren’t about me, and let them go.

Where the culture adds to the trauma is in neglecting kids, and offering no place to talk about it without embarrassment. And that is also a very good example of the problems of privacy, where no one is necessarily there to believe you.

And what is therapy after the fact? It’s revisionist programming. It’s seeing the events and changing your perspective on them. It’s rewriting it so it is no longer traumatic.

Many extremely abusive situations are issues of defined normalcy. Embarrassment itself is defined by the culture. Any trauma that comes from it is in alienating someone within their experience and rejecting them for having gone through it as if it was their fault.

Culture has been writing trauma into the human condition for as long as we have existed. The point is to understand and identify the source and see it and understand that how it defines how people think about themselves.

Even that kind of physical experience only remains in the memory as trauma because the culture lets it happen and often blames the victim, or ignores it because that too writes trauma.

So yes the experience was traumatic. The point is not to say these things aren’t traumatic, but to say that what allows it to occur, and how it perpetuates is what makes it traumatic. But the event itself is just an event that either gets written as traumatic or not depending on all of the rest of the social and mental factors involved.

The physical experience requires the rest for trauma to occur.

Because it was a controlling authority figure. Because they used overwhelming strength to intimidate. Because it was repeated. Because it was tolerated and nobody was there to help.

The trauma comes from all of that together, from a culture that allowed it and didn’t care. And after the fact made sure to talk about how traumatic it is to go through it, reinforcing the negative aspects of the experiences over years and years.

The physical act did traumatize, but not because it in and of itself had to be traumatizing, but because it made sure you stayed abused, alienated, and repeatedly traumatized by the thoughts of it.

The current culture makes sure we don’t let go. Don’t rewrite it. Live it in our heads over and over and in a sick way now even see it as a major component of what makes our identity unique. And now more and more things are added that might be, which then are traumatic. So everyone has PTSD of some sort, and no real mechanism there to let go.

Originally published at




A multifarious heretical transgressive iconoclast seeking the chaos that will bring order to the world.

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Glen Allan

Glen Allan

A multifarious heretical transgressive iconoclast seeking the chaos that will bring order to the world.

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