Wednesday, January 21, 2015

We are born in debt, owing the world a death. This is the shadow that darkens every cradle. Trauma is what happens when you catch a surprise glimpse of that darkness, the coming annihilation not only of the body and the mind but also, seemingly, of the world. Trauma is the savagery of the universe made manifest within us, and it destroys not only the integrity of consciousness, the myth of self-mastery, and the experience of time, but also our ability to live peacefully with others, almost as if it were a virus, a pathogen content to do nothing besides replicate itself in the world, over and over, until only it remains. Trauma is the glimpse of truth that tells us a lie: the lie that love is impossible, that peace is an illusion. Therapy and medication can ease the pain but neither can suck the venom from the blood, make the survivor unsee the darkness and unknow the secret that lies beneath the surface of life. Despite the quixotic claims of modern neuroscience, there is no cure for trauma....Trauma is our special legacy as sentient beings, creatures burdened with the knowledge of our own impermanence....The best we can do is work to contain the pain, draw a line around it, name it, domesticate it, and try to transform what lies on the other side of the line into a kind of knowledge, a knowledge of the mechanics of loss that might be put to use for future generations.
- The Evil Hours: A Biography of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, David J. Morris

(He's clearly remembering Feeble's "we owe God a death" from 2 Henry IV, which is neat, as part 1 has Lady Percy quizzing her husband on his PTSD symptoms: "Why dost thou bend thine eyes upon the earth, And start so often when thou sit'st alone?....")