Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Reading Week


I need to take a little time for research this week; our next topic, which will appear in the next two weeks, will be dissociation: how it relates to abortion and how it correlates to chronic illnesses, particularly those that involve pain.

To prepare, let’s review a few definitions:

dis·so·ci·a·tion (dĭ-sō'sē-ā'shən, -shē-) n.

The act of dissociating or the condition of having been dissociated.


1. The process by which the action of a solvent or a change in physical condition, as in pressure or temperature, causes a molecule to split into simpler groups of atoms, single atoms, or ions.

2. The separation of an electrolyte into ions of opposite charge.

Psychiatry. A psychological defense mechanism in which specific, anxiety-provoking thoughts, emotions, or physical sensations are separated from the rest of the psyche.

We will focus on dissociation as a psychiatric condition. The psyche is defined as:

psy·che (sī'kē) n.

1. The spirit or soul.

2. Psychiatry. The mind functioning as the center of thought, emotion, and behavior and consciously or unconsciously adjusting or mediating the body's responses to the social and physical environment


When I speak of the “mind,” or informally, my “thinks”, I am referring to the psyche. When I was growing up, it was considered common knowledge that we don’t use 90% of our brains. Time and advancing medical technology have revealed that it is most accurate to say we don’t know what 90% of our brains are doing at any given point in time. Very little of what our nervous systems do reaches the level where we think. But does that necessarily mean we are completely unaware of this brain/body activity? Are the mind and body separate?

When it comes to our emotions, it’s apparent that they are not. We are already wired to express our emotions physically. Crying is the most easily recognized form of a somatoemotional response – a physical manifestation of a psychological or emotional experience. We feel our emotions as physical sensations (that pain in the gut, for example). Those who suffer from somatoemotional illnesses, like fibromyalgia, usually suffer from chronic pain. In these cases, experts suggest that dissociation has occurred to the point where the body bears all of the emotional response, because the psyche has split from unresolved or unbearable emotions that cause pain.

Here’s my reading list, just to give you a little foreshadowing of what’s to follow in the weeks ahead:

1. On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society, by Lt. Colonel Dave Grossman. I’ve referred to Grossman’s work before, as it was cited by Drs. Scaer and MacNair. Based on what they wrote, I knew I would be unable to talk about dissociation without reading this study. It is my premise that we are taught to dissociate from our unborn children, and that this is what enables us to kill them with abortion. Lt. Colonel Grossman is a leading authority on the techniques used in the military to make our soldiers more effective killers – here’s a preview from the book jacket:

"The good news is that the vast majority of soldiers are loath to kill in battle. Unfortunately, modern armies, using Pavlovian and operant conditioning, have developed sophisticated ways of overcoming this instinctive aversion. The psychological cost for soldiers, as witnessed by the increase in post-traumatic stress, is devastating. The psychological cost for the rest of us is even more so: contemporary civilian society, particularly the media, replicates the army’s conditioning techniques and, according to Grossman’s controversial thesis, is responsible for our rising rate of murder, especially among the young."

2. The Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Sourcebook, by Glenn R. Schiraldi, Ph.D. I don’t usually like self-help books, but I’m hoping this one may be an exception. In the acknowledgements section, Dr. Schiraldi pays homage to the work of Dr. Bessell van der Kolk, whose work I have referenced before. Dr. van der Kolk wrote a paper that is published online, well worth reading, called “The Body Keeps the Score: Memory and the evolving psychobiology of post traumatic stress.” http://www.trauma-pages.com/vanderk4.htm

3. Misconceptions: Truth, Lies, and the Unexpected on the Journey to Motherhood, by Naomi Wolf. A friend recommended I read Naomi Wolf’s writings. She is supposed to be avidly pro-abortion, and some of her essays were to be found published on the internet. I did locate a web page linking to some of this work, but all of the links were dead. I also saw an intriguing statement that said Ms. Wolf had changed her position on abortion. I have never heard of her before, and I don’t make a habit of reading pro-abortion arguments – consequently, I have no preconceived notions or ideas about her that will color my perceptions. If you have any opinions about Ms. Wolf, or links to more of her writing, I would be interested in hearing about them. Her reported change in attitude about abortion was interesting enough for me to purchase her latest book, to see what she has to say now that she is a mother. Here’s what the book jacket tells us to expect:

“With uncompromising honesty she describes how hormones eroded her sense of independence, ultrasounds tested her commitment to abortion rights, and the keepers of the OB/GYN establishment lacked compassion.”

I understand it is not considered polite to accuse someone of being in denial about her (or his) abortion pain and/or trauma. However, I have never suffered from acute manners. If someone publishes her thoughts in the public domain where I may run across them, she can expect me to find and point out any of her inconsistencies – “Pardon me, Madam, but your denial is showing.” When I finish this work, it will be book report time. I do hope Ms. Wolf is more skilled at hiding her inner conflicts than Jane Fonda was. I prefer a challenge.

3. Peace of Soul, by Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen. I personally do not believe we can find healing in body and mind without healing of the soul (and modern psychology is starting to lean in that direction as well). Archbishop Sheen addresses the issue from a psychological and theological perspective. Here are some reviews from the cover:

“Peace of Soul [shows] that inner conflicts can be resolved only through their redemption by God.”

“[M]any readers will find this to be the book they have been waiting for…it could…be classed as required reading for all psychiatrists and as recommended reading for all persons who are searching for peace of soul.”

“[Sheen] begins his book where the readers of self-improvement volumes seem to feel most at home: the realm of psychology…The psychiatrist’s patient may indeed gain peace of mind, but the Christian gets something far better – peace of soul.”

4. Lift Up Your Heart: A Guide to Spiritual Peace, by Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen. Along the same lines as the above-mentioned work:

“With clarity, logic, and unshakable faith, Sheen provides guidance in solving the problems caused by the tensions and stresses of living in a troubled modern world. This treasured classic contains simple, practical advice on identifying and overcoming conflicts associated with empty pleasure, character weakness, self-discipline, false beliefs, and the fear of ‘letting go.’ Above all, the book offers enduring words of wisdom on grace, prayer and meditation, sanctifying the present moment, and making up for the past.”

In the meantime, while I am doing all of this reading, here is a poem left by a kind soul.

NOTHING TO FORGIVE (adapted for abortion survivors)

A woman stands in judgment today,
Still attempting to atone,
She sheds a tear in memory,
And feels so all alone.

Too many years of silence,
Have ripped this girl apart,
As the death of her unborn child,
Lies heavy on her heart.

She sits alone with sorrow
Questioning the baby's sex and name,
Consumed by her emotions,
Of sorrow, guilt and shame.

Then she travels back in time,
To where it all began,
Back to the abortion clinic,
Where they finalized the plan.

Self doubt and fear plagued the way,
To which she'd heed no warning,
Crying out for absolution,
Yet condemned to a life of mourning.

In that instant when she gave up on,
All the values she held true
"I'm sorry my blessed baby,
There'll never be another you."

With helplessness and horror,
For this life who grew inside,
She still recalls the instant,
When that precious child died.

Staring death in the face,
Knowing she too would die that day,
She tried to deny the agony,
"Don't worry, it's okay."

Shock and horror were the result,
Of taking that precious life
That day she took a tiny heart,
And cut it out with a knife.

Years went by in anguish,
And the girl was never free.
She stood alone against the world,
On the verge of insanity.

Trying her best to hide the pain,
And the tears she never cried.
With too much guilt to bear,
She only thought of suicide.

Wanting to see her baby in heaven,
But knowing it was a sin,
And if she ever followed through,
They wouldn't let her in.

The Lord finally cried out to her,
"It's not your fault my child.
I do not think you're wicked,"
Then he gently smiled.

God showed her all the reasons,
That she was meant to live,
"Now go in peace my daughter,
There's nothing to forgive."

But she closed her ears,
And she closed her mind,
As she carried the guilt,
For leaving her baby behind.

And the woman never told a soul,
Until this very day,
About her aborted baby,
And how it passed away.

Then she brings herself to face the pain,
With all the sorrow that she would feel,
The wounded soul hoped to find,
A place for her to heal.

As she called out to her angel,
She fell upon her knees,
In an anguished voice she whispered,
"Can you forgive me please?"

Then the spirit of the unborn baby,
Reached out to her at last,
"The time has come dear woman,
To let go of the past.

"There was a reason to this rhyme,
There's no debt to repay,
I did have a purpose in this life,
And we'll meet again someday.

"Lay to rest your heavy heart,
And don't be afraid to live,
Now go in peace my mommy,
There's nothing to forgive."

Chris Woolnough
June 6, 2005


At 10:15 AM, Anonymous Lee Anne said...

Whew...this poem knocked the breath out of me...tears, and more tears. Blessings -

At 11:01 AM, Blogger Silent Rain Drops said...

Me, too, Lee Anne. Me, too.

At 6:34 PM, Blogger Catholic Fire said...

This poem melted my heart -- it is truly God-inspired.

I have just discovered your site and am very impressed. Keep up the good work!



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