Monday, April 2, 2012

Zimmerman, Bales and Mother Nature: The common thread

Zimmerman, Bales, and Mother Nature
The first three months of this year wrapped up with news which has an international focus.  Media images provide us with almost daily updates in the cases of Zimmerman  and Bales, and the details of the notable weather pattern change which caused early spring-like weather that generated destructive tornadoes.  I’ve been thinking about these three events for several days now, looking for the common thread that unites the three. 
The most obvious thread is the emotional pain of those most affected by these traumas.  Each event meets the first criteria when screening for PTSD: an event occurred which threatened bodily harm to self and/or others, and the response to which includes intense fear, helplessness, or horror.  As bystanders observing media images, or listening to various broadcasts, we slowly learn the impact via unfolding event details.  We, too, must come to terms with the reality.
When being interviewed about trauma, Charles Figley routinely underscores the importance of answering Five Victim Questions”:
 -What happened?
-Why did it happen?
-Why did I behave the way I did then?
-Why am I behaving the way I am now?
-What will I do if something like this happens again? 
Most people can answer these questions sufficiently to acquire peace of mind and become survivors. The process requires deep trust in the practitioner (psychological or spiritual), and/or deep faith in one’s capacity to overcome the trauma.  Answering these questions when one is ready is both powerful and transformative.  
One tool to help victims become survivors and create a healing theory is the Spiritual Intelligence Self-Report Inventory.  The inventory measures four constructs, quoted here from King’s website:
I. Critical Existential Thinking: the capacity to critically contemplate meaning, purpose, and other existential/metaphysical issues (e.g., existence, reality, death, the universe); to come to original existential conclusions or philosophies; and to contemplate non-existential issues in relation to one’s existence (i.e., from an existential perspective).
II. Personal Meaning Production: the ability to derive personal meaning and purpose from all physical & mental experiences, including the capacity to create and master (i.e., live according to) a life purpose.
III. Transcendental Awareness: the capacity to identify transcendent dimensions/patterns of the self (i.e., a transpersonal or transcendent self), of others, and of the physical world (e.g., holism, nonmaterialism) during normal states of consciousness, accompanied by the capacity to identify their relationship to one’s self and to the physical world.
IV. Conscious State Expansion: the ability to enter and exit higher/spiritual states of consciousness (e.g. pure consciousness, cosmic consciousness, unity, oneness) at one’s own discretion (as in deep contemplation or reflection, meditation, prayer, etc.).
The scores may be used to identify areas in which an individual remains strong after a traumatic event, or to monitor growth post-trauma. 
My hope in sharing this tool is that you will find it useful when working with someone who is traumatized.  I am very interested in hearing your feedback about its application.

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