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Healing the Trauma of Oppression: Past and Present Ron Lawrence.

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Presentation on theme: "Healing the Trauma of Oppression: Past and Present Ron Lawrence."— Presentation transcript:

1 Healing the Trauma of Oppression: Past and Present Ron Lawrence

2 Healing the Trauma of Oppression A. Prime Time B. Made it this far! C. Tough, innovative, resilient, persevering, and imaginative D. Grew up and matured in a mainstream culture that reflected oppression

3 Healing the Trauma of Oppression E. Oppression: a situation in which growth and development of a group or an individual is systematically frustrated because of the social position of the oppressed and/or the structure of the social situation in which they live.

4 Healing the Trauma of Oppression F. Social Homophobia G. An active socio-cultural equation that operates in regard to our own liberation and equality; Increasing visibility = increasing resistance from some our part areas of mainstream culture (vicious, cruel, myth-bound) Increasing visibility = weakening resistance, dissipation on our part, coupled of myths (in some cases, from a with a deepening of roar to a whimper) issues

5 Healing the Trauma of Oppression H. Impact of the younger generation in the mainstream – the erosion of homophobia I. Society/media images still largely heterosexist in nature – images that depict the culture

6 Healing the Trauma of Oppression J. Institutions of Repression 1. The Family – Some families still oppressive/abusive, but many families now changing their views 2. The Education System – Instead of a repressive negative universal response, the system is slowly beginning to change. Adolescent gay clubs put pressure on schools. Sex education lacking 3. Organized Religion – A wide variety of responses, but changing rapidly – gay marriage, gay clergy

7 Healing the Trauma of Oppression J. Institutions of Repression (continued) 4. Government – biggest change – “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” – Major influence 5. Business – can accept an “out” gay person but the room at the top is reserved for… 6. Mass media, images are heterosexist with LGBT tokenism 7. Organized crime – exploitation of the gay community through syndicate-owned establishments

8 Healing the Trauma of Oppression K. Some of the historical images of oppression 1. Laws against homosexuality – being forced to hide, meet in secret, and talk in code 2. Gay bashing – physical violence-bullying. The vast majority of homosexual criminal assault is perpetrated by male aggressors on male victims. Many theorists indicate that this is a result of fear in the aggressor of their own deep-seated homoerotic impulses

9 Healing the Trauma of Oppression K. Some of the historical images of oppression (continued) 3. Anti-gay political/religious campaigns – Anita Bryant, Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, various politicians 4. Military discharges for being gay 5. Terminations from employment

10 Healing the Trauma of Oppression K. Some of the historical images of oppression (continued) 6. Governmental inaction at the inception of the AIDS crisis 7. Getting involved in political movements that morphed into drudgery when change failed to happen at the anticipated pace (Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore from her book, “The End of San Francisco”) 8. Words can be as hurtful as physical attack

11 Healing the Trauma of Oppression L. Trauma-based responses to oppression (symptoms) 1. Some individuals not affected at all 2. Vicarious trauma – a result of watching harm as it happens to others – we develop our own trauma reactions from being an observer. Memories that have a negative emotion attached to them unlike any other social or minority group, anger, frustration, grief, hurt, a sense of non-resolution, or lack of closure 3. Acute Stress, Post-Traumatic Stress – litany of symptoms

12 Healing the Trauma of Oppression M. Short-term Intrusive Symptoms 1. Hyper-vigilance 2. Increased startle response 3. Intrusive and repetitive thoughts and feelings 4. Emotional instability 5. Sleep and dream disturbances 6. Physical symptoms related to chronic arousal – nausea, diarrhea, sweating 7. Self-medication with drugs and alcohol 8. Avoidance of reminders and triggers

13 Healing the Trauma of Oppression N. Long-term Avoidance Symptoms 1. Emotional numbing 2. Inability to appreciate the significance of internal or external stimuli 3. Avoidance of specific topics/situations 4. Amnesia – blank places in memories of the past 5. Inflexible thinking 6. Using fantasy to counteract reality 7. Sleep disturbances 8. Bowel problems 9. Fatigue

14 Healing the Trauma of Oppression N. Long-term Avoidance Symptoms 10. Headaches 11. Hyper-arousal 12. Impulsivity 13. Over-activity as a means of distraction 14. Social isolation 15. Self-blame 16. Phobias 17. Depression – can take the form of an interrupted drive; there’s something we want and we are unable to attain it 18. Anxiety 19. Diminished self-care

15 Healing the Trauma of Oppression N. Long-term Avoidanced Symptoms 20. Foreshortened sense of future 21. Internalized homophobia 22. Character Armor (Reich) – a defense mechanism (muscular rigidity) having two functions; while enabling the emotional component of the memory to be repressed, it also stifles the capacity to feel pleasurable sensations 23. Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, author (“The End of San Francisco”) member of ACT UP and other groups, now suffers from fibromyalgia and says, “I locked everything in my body and today it hurts to carry a bag, walk more than a few blocks, or sleep the wrong way.” Analyst Eleanor Bader writes that reading Sycamore’s book left her feeling optimistic and believes it likely that writing the book will help Sycamore to heal

16 Healing the Trauma of Oppression O. All levels of trauma can translate into: 1. Job strain 2. Eroded idealism 3. Loss of or challenged personal beliefs 4. Feelings of professional incompetence 5. Trust-related problems 6. Feelings of losing control 7. Intimacy problems, decreased self-esteem 8. Feelings of insecurity and being unsafe 9. Intrusive imagery (what if?)

17 Healing the Trauma of Oppression P. Healing Interventions: Individual, Group, and Both 1. Acts of advocacy that center around our community and subculture 2. Debriefing – telling with feeling 3. Storytelling and narrative therapy

18 Healing the Trauma of Oppression P. Healing Interventions: Individual, Group, and Both (continued) 4. Identifying negative experiences with a detailed examination of context (redefining context) 5. Examine the lives of heroic figures in our subculture 6. Get connected to the present-day images of change

19 Healing the Trauma of Oppression P. Healing Interventions: Individual, Group, and Both (continued) 7. Humor 8. Bodywork – awakening bodily sensations 9. When feeling stuck, meaning-based statements can be helpful 10. Attending gatherings that reinforce our subculture

20 Healing the Oppression of Trauma P. Healing Interventions: Individual, Group and Both (continued) 11. Educating others 12. Coming out in affirmative ways

21 Healing the Trauma of Oppression “When I despair, I remember that all through history, the way of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it -- always.” ― Mahatma Gandhi


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