Dream energy and the undervalued self

For highly sensitive people and those of us with neglect trauma Elaine Arons’ book The Undervalued Self is a very valuable resource. I will link to some of the posts I have written on the persecutor/protector (and scapegoat) archetype (referred to as PPA from now on) at the end of this post.

Pete Walker’s comprehensive work on Complex PTSD shows the PPA becomes very powerful in those of us freeze as one of the dominant 4 F responses to neglect, abandonment or abuse trauma (Fear/Flight/Fight/Freeze).. He speaks of it in terms of the inner and outer critic though.

For those of us neglected we often do not know about it consciously as we were too young.. Other siblings may not suffer as much as the more sensitive ones (possibly the younger but not always). Some siblings in bonding better with one or other parents may seem to do better but may be carrying an aspect of that parent’s shadow. So we see the scapegoat (often the female or second child) and the hero (often male or older child) playing out roles of high and low competency. There are also the lost child and mascot child roles..but of course these are not always so cut and dried.

The following is an excerpt from Aron’s book on how the PPA shows up in a dream as a persecutory cutting off energy.. she explains the back ground.. The issue of cutting off of limbs appears also in the fairy tale of the Handless Maiden that Jungian therapist and storyteller Clarissa Pinkola Estes narrates in a significant chapter in her book Women Who Run With The Wolves. I found that I identified with the Handless Maiden and even had a dream in which I appeared with cut off bandaged hands a few months prior to running off alone overseas and having the second head injury. You will see in Aron’s telling of it how this image relates not only to cut off life energy and emotions of fear, guilt and grief but to a cut off sense of competency and value that the child of neglect experiences and which may trap us for years in toxic situations and a half dead life.

Karen’s Dr. Death

Karen was a highly sensitive, hardworking surgical nurse who came to see me because of the anxiety she experienced on the job which gave the doctors she worked with the impression she was incompetent. She was unable to sleep because she worried about making serious errors during surgery. Her undervalued self ruled her days and nights, which was exactly what the protector-persecutor wanted, as it keep her from feeling confident, enough to seek what she wanted or needed in life.

On one particularly bad day, a doctor dismissed her from a surgery and officially cited her for not acting on his orders. Karen knew the doctor was not up to date on the procedure and that his orders could be dangerous; she simply froze. That night she had a nightmare in which she was a deer, her front legs tied to one pole and her hind legs to another. She was strung up so that she could not move (freeze trauma from neglect.) A doctor appeared, and as soon as she saw him, she knew he had arranged this torture. Impressed that she was still alive, he cut her free but also cut off her front legs. She hobbled off into to the woods ashamed of her handicap.

The doctor followed and changed her into a young girl but made her a slave. Now she had to help him catch deer and string them up, tying them to the poles by the legs until they died. She was in fresh agony every time she did this, but she had to obey him.

The girl in the dream was eight, the age Karen had been when her mother died of cancer. Karen had always been a good child, and she behaved even better when her mother became ill. But she was only a kid, and just before her mother died she became friends with a far more rambunctious child. The two of them stole from the grocery store. For Karen it was thrilling to share this secret danger with her brave, clever new friend, until the two were caught.

Karen’s mother was devastated, fearing her daughter would “go bad” without her there to guide her. The doctor told Karen that her deed had made her mother much worse.

What were the emotions in the dream? Pain, helplessness, and shame about the handicap Karen would always have – the cutoff legs representing her cutoff life and her lack of freedom to choose to change. Above all,the dream revealed her terrible guilt about having no help to kill the deer as she had helped to kill her mother.

The doctor in the dream was the protector- persecutor, whom Karen nicknamed Dr. Death. Karen’s dream came out at that time because she was freeing herself in therapy, so Dr Death cut her legs off to keep her hobbled. But by linking the trauma associated with the medical world in her past to the medical world she was in now, she began to push for freedom from the p-p, speaking up with less fear at work.

End of quote

Such a moving dream really and so telling of Karen’s past.. If we can manage to link the images of the PPA in our dreams to our current life we too may find freedom in time. Sadly, a childhood rife with lack of emotional attunement, neglect and a deep void of connection, or containing many other buried and hidden emotions as a result of traumas experienced and never integrated, so often ends up leaving us only frozen in permanent hostage to this death dealing paralysing figure.

Following on in this chapter Aron also gives ways we can connect to the energy of the PPA when awake through a process of active imagination.. In this way we may even give it a name (I call mine Mr A) and when it shows up create a dialogue with it and in so doing become able to challenge some of the ways it tries to block, sabotage or stop us linking with others or feeling safe enough to express the truest parts of ourselves so often devalued or undervalued.

Links to other posts :

Published by: emergingfromthedarknight

"The religious naturalist is provisioned with tales of natural emergence that are, to my mind, far more magical than traditional miracles. Emergence is inherent in everything that is alive, allowing our yearning for supernatural miracles to be subsumed by our joy in the countless miracles that surround us." Ursula Goodenough How to describe oneself? People are a mystery and there is so much more to us than just our particular experiences or occupations. I could write down a list of attributes and they still might not paint a complete picture pf Deborah Louise and in any case it would not be the full truth of me. I would say that my purpose here on Wordpress is to express some of my random experiences, thoughts and feelings, to share about my particular journey and explore some subjects dear to my heart, such as emotional recovery, healing and astrology while posting up some of the prose/poems which are an outgrowth of my labours with life, love and relationships. If anything I write touches you I would be so pleased to hear for the purpose of reaching out and expressung ourselves is hopefully to connect with each other and find where our souls meet.

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