Dr. Mike Obsatz, Professor Emeritus at Macalester College
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Trustworthy Longterm Consistent Mentoring: The Antidote to Empire Consciousness, Childhood Trauma, Oppression, Abuse and Abandonment
Dr. Bruce Perry and Oprah Winfrey have written a book about childhood trauma called "What Happened to You?" One of the problems with early childhood trauma is that it changes the victim's brain chemistry. There is a fear of abandonment, a mistrust of life, a protection of one's fragile vulnerability that comes when one is been unloved, abandoned and hurt badly as a small child. This emotional wounding is not easily cured.
Trust is the cornerstone of maturity and healthy risk-taking. Iyla Van Sant has written about four kinds of trust -- trust in self, trust in others, trust in God, and trust in life itself. When this trust is eroded due to early trauma, it is challenging to regain it.
There is also cross-generational trauma. If one's ancestors have been persecuted, abused, oppressed, and marginalized, this emotional trauma is passed on from one generation to the next affecting the body and the brain. Many minorities who were enslaved, hunted, or killed carry this historical trauma experience into the present.
Whenever there is Empire Consciousness, there is always the consequence of trauma. Empire Consciousness requires hierarchy, domination, power and control over others -- especially those who are seen as "different." All bullying is the result of Empire Consciousness and leads to fear, anger, rage, and shame. Desire for control and self-protection is the natural response to trauma and abandonment. This leads depression, isolation, loneliness, and fear.
Building a trusting relationship takes time and matching of those who are ready to show vulnerability and reveal personal pain. If one is going to overcome the suffering and torture of abandonment and abuse, gradual opening up is required. Mentoring by a consistent, loving and trustworthy older person is one way that abused and abandoned people can overcome their trauma. Abraham Maslow said that safety is our first primary need.
When one is traumatized very young, he or she does not learn skills such as coping and discernment. Interpersonal communication, emotional openness, and understanding the complexity of life's circumstances come when one has been loved, supported, and guided into mature adulthood.
So -- traumatized people lack developmental skills and coping mechanisms. They are so fear-motivated that they don't learn to love themselves and trust that they will be all right. Empire Consciousness continues the idea that only those who come out on top will be all right. There is not enough for everyone, and some people will just have to suffer and do without. Scarcity thinking produces hoarding and scarcity becomes a reality.
Oneness Consciousness is the solution to such overwhelming pain and suffering. In order to love one's child, one must love oneself, and see the beauty and glory in everyone else. Mature parenting comes when one has been loved and guided as a child, or when one has worked hard to overcome early childhood trauma and re-wire brain chemistry.
We need mentoring programs for wounded children and adults that explore these issues, and screen carefully for loving, trustworthy, and mature mentors.