In every physical symptom, there is a piece of personal history. ‘Illnesses’ are symptoms and usually just the tip of the iceberg.Source: ‘My Body My Trauma My I’, Setting up Intentions Exiting our Trauma biography. Franz Ruppert 2018
In the previous blog posts I have used the term ‘Trauma biography’ a number of times. I realize that this is a concept that is not immediately clear to my readers. Before I started to delve into the psychotrauma work of Franz Ruppert, I had never heard of it. Perhaps it is good to pay some attention to it in this blog. It is a concept which, in my opinion, is presented by Ruppert in a simple overview. It provides a picture of the influence and the ‘route’ that major and often traumatizing events have on the development of autonomy and identity.
Both Psychosynthesis counseling and therapy and in the Psychotrauma work of Franz Ruppert, you are invited to encounter yourself. The question: ‘Who am I’ and ‘what do I want’, is central to both approaches; . This invitation to encounter yourself is not taken for granted by every client who signs up. I understand that very well. I know from my own experience that this is not an invitation without consequences. Yesterday I listened to the most recent podcast of Robert Bakker, psychosynthesis therapist and trainer at the Broedplaats for Psychosynthesis, he made a statement that stuck with me.
The path of personal development, awareness and self-realization has consequences.
He said, “You can’t go in to your own inner world with impunity. There are consequences.” I imagine this is quite a firm stance that might discourage the invitation to go in, to encounter yourself. It’s probably because of the use of the word ‘punish’. A word that, like any other word, has a personal ‘connotation’ for everyone. Yet it is important to consider what is actually being said. Entering your inner world has consequences.
Ego does not like change
Usually you cannot foresee or map these consequences in advance. That’s what makes it so difficult for the ego, for our survival strategies. The ego is simply aimed at preserving the ‘status quo’. Even if that status is not what we like at the moment. It can even be a state where we don’t feel safe. We prefer to be in control of any encounter and especially when we have to take a path that is unknown to us and may even be accompanied by anxiety and resistance. When the desire for personal development and inner growth continues to increase, it requires a lot to really make time and space for an encounter with yourself. To get to know yourself in who you are and what you want.
Crisis as an chance
There is often an occasion that helps you accept the invitation and take your own desire seriously. This can happen both consciously and unconsciously. It may also be that the body just takes over when you cannot choose with your head or your heart because the survival is still too strong and you do not yet feel safe and protected enough to really allow your longing. When it comes to experiences at the very beginning of personal development, then as a child you have no choice at all and you can only switch to survival mode. As you get older and move into adulthood, you usually can and you can become aware that survival is not the only option anymore. Physical symptoms can signal that it is time to pay attention and clear the way for what wants to become visible in and through the symptoms.
Dare to be critical.
Once you are ready to take the step to ask for help, I hope that you will end up with a counselor or therapist who is familiar with the dynamics of the inner world and has been able to accept and integrate the consequences of that journey into his or her life. If all goes well, this will not be stated on his or her diploma, but it will become visible in the contact how she or he lives her own answers. So also dare to be critical of where and from whom you accept the invitation to encounter yourself and enter your inner world.
A personal biography in preparation for a counseling process.
When I started my own ‘journey’ with a psychosynthesis therapist, I was asked to make an extensive report of my own biography before the intake. I was meant to take the time to reflect on how my personal life had developed from birth till now. To pause and reflect on the important events in my life. Illness, birth, death, marriage, divorce, education, etc … This creates a picture in which a kind of timeline of personal development becomes visible and the persons or events that have influenced this development come into view. It is an important ‘assignment’ to take time for this and to reflect very consciously on what happened and how you have learned to relate to it. Often patterns become visible that show how you have managed to relate to them. Usually it is an important document that gives the counselor or therapist a lot of information and insight into the personal history of the client.
The Trauma Biography
The Trauma biography that Ruppert talks about in his Psychotrauma Theory and Therapy goes beyond reflecting on the personal events in his own timeline. It adds multiple perspectives to working with the personal biography. For example, the perspective of the period before, during and after birth. And the perspective of the influence of previous generations. Trauma can be passed from one generation to the next. And when this trauma is not worked through and the energetic charge is broken, it is passed on unconsciously. When a mother is not able to carry and care for her child with an open and free heart, during and after pregnancy, this influences the development of the child, which at that time cannot but ‘survive’ in a situation that does not feel safe. Everything that takes place in that important period of the first and earliest development of a new (un) born life is stored by the body of the child in the so-called ‘cell memory’. A human being is a living organism that consists of often incomprehensible and unconscious processes of all kinds of structures and systems (hormonal, neurological, etc.) that mutually influence each other and where experiences are stored in the memory of every living cell that we interact with. cannot reach our conscious brain.
Criticism of Ruppert’s work
Ruppert’s approach to working with early childhood trauma has also been criticized. The criticism focuses in particular on the fact that Ruppert places a lot of emphasis on the role of the mother in the trauma biography. And of course not everything lies solely with the mother. But she is the person with whom unborn life forms a unit throughout pregnancy. A system in which information is exchanged at all levels (hormonal, neural, energetic, etc.). And the child is totally dependent on the care and attention of the parents and in most cases the mother for the first years and especially the first months of his or her life. Ruppert breaks down the personal experiences that can be considered traumatic in an individual’s life into a simple overview. The first experience leads to the following:
It may be that the mother discovers she is pregnant when it is not wanted at the time. There may even have been rape or a possible consideration for an abortion. It may also be that the father does not want the pregnancy or that there is an unsafe situation in which both parents find themselves due to war or other crisis situations. These are all situations in which a child experiences that it is not wanted, which leads to what Ruppert calls the Trauma of Identity. From the moment of conception, the new life seeks a place in the womb. When, for whatever reason, the new life is not welcome, not wanted or not planned, this human being is already confronted with the first obstacles it must overcome / survive in an environment that is sometimes consciously but more often unconsciously this ‘implantation’ hindered. Or the mother or father may be disappointed if the mother is pregnant with a boy while hoping for a girl. This early traumatization ensures that the idea of one’s own ‘I’, one’s own identity, is experienced as threatening. Following your own needs and desires would mean depriving you of the necessary loving care and attention that you need so much in these early stages. And as a child you are of course not aware of all this. Yet this is unconsciously stored in the body’s memory and thus becomes the blueprint for the development of the behavioral repertoire with which the child enters the world.
Not being loved
From the Trauma of Identity inevitably follows the experience of the lack of loving care and attention for who the child really is in his or her own needs. The child, when not empowered in who he is, focuses on someone else and thus exchanges his own autonomy and own needs for the autonomy and needs of someone else. The child is thus literally drawn into the trauma of someone else because it is the only way to feel connected with the other person. Because the child has already had to withdraw from not being wanted, it goes for the necessary loving care and attention to survive, focusing on the needs and desires of someone else. In most cases this is the mother. The child thus gets into a symbiotic entanglement with the mother. It lives from the motto: ‘I am happy when you are happy’ In adult life it may be the case that this unresolved trauma causes two partners to meet in each other’s trauma and / or survival part and unconsciously need each other for the fulfillment of each other’s needs and this seems to be the only way to connect from the heart. The child then unconsciously continues to search all his life and long for the mother who was not there when it was needed. Was not available to ‘mirror’ him or her and to envision that it is wanted, loved and protected.
Not being protected
The Trauma of love is then a rich breeding ground for the origin of the trauma of Sexuality. Not being protected and thus susceptible to the influence of the perpetrator of someone else. A perpetrator who is then also stuck in his or her own Trauma Biography. Because the young child is unable to set his or her own boundaries or to protect himself, he is susceptible to the perpetrator of the other. Abuse in various forms is then lurking.
Experiences of being a perpetrator yourself
In his Psychotrauma theory, Ruppert assumes that any form of traumatization can lead to being a perpetrator against oneself and / or against the other. In order to survive the trauma of the victim, the victim can get into the survival strategy of the perpetrator in order not to have to feel his own trauma. It may also be that the perpetrator focuses on oneself and one’s own body. Autoimmune diseases are an example of this in which the body’s own material is seen as an enemy. Eating disorders are also an offense to themselves.
In this blog post, it goes too far to describe the underlying theory regarding the Trauma biography in more detail here. For the interested reader, I recommend consulting Ruppert’s work on this.
The actual experience of a trauma remain in the body even when emotional pain, fear, anger, disgust or shame no longer force their way into the consciousness as a result of emotional numbing and psychological splitting. We can therefor state, the truth concerning our experiences is stored in our body. The body does not lie!
(Source: ‘My Body My Trauma My I, Setting up Intentions Exiting our Traumabiography. Franz Ruppert 2018)
The body does not lie
Het werken met de opstellingsmethode van Frans Ruppert biedt de gelegenheid om jezelf in je eigen trauma-biografie onder ogen te komen. Jezelf te ontmoeten. Niet op een cognitief en intellectueel niveau maar op het niveau van het lichaam waar de informatie is opgeslagen en ligt te wachten om bevrijdt te worden. Het werken met Trauma-opstellingen is lichaamswerk.
I cordially invite you to encounter yourself in who you are and what you want. An invitation that is not without consequences, but in a setting that is safe and reliable with a counselor who has learned to encounter himself and who has also traveled the way inward and who has been able to accept the consequences and integrate them into his own life. Which does not mean that as a person or as a therapist I no longer have any questions or no longer know any anxiety and uncertainties. It means that I can stay with it and dare to keep longing for a full and free life.
When we bring our healthy ‘I’ back to full bloom and freely develop our own will, our self-healing powers can unfoldSource: My Body My Trauma My I, Setting up Intentions Exiting our Traumabiography. Franz Ruppert 2018)