Darkness Visible


Like ending a symphony after one note of discord, numbing is the stymie of the emotional symphony. A symphony, I might add, that may be the singular most important source of growth in the human psyche. 

If you did nothing but feel the ebb and flow of your emotions without distraction, avoidance, denial, judgment, shame, addiction, defense... you may reach God status by age 30.

One can speculate, modern civilization has yet to see this spectacle of human.  

The genesis of this collective emotional dismantling is an impossible discussion. My hope is to sell the emotional experience here, but I will offer a couple source hypotheses.

>Religion has made an almost impossible task of pursuing emotional balance. Because our brains think in spectrums, we can not think of the moral without the contrasting immoral. A thing can only be known on a spectrum. The 100% inevitable "sinful" thought/emotion, understood as harbinger of damnation, births defense mechanisms by the billions. 

>The bewildering masculinity/femininity dyad. If I'm understanding this right, we've decided authentic emotional expression is a luxury of only half the planet. Men seem to be condemned to complex systems of numbing. 

>The same old survival problem. Many painful aspects of the emotional experience are actually intended to serve us. Shame, for example, is a symptom of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The thought is, it is easier for our brains to make us the source of trauma than to conceive of living in a world where bad things happen at random (Bessel Van Der Kolk). Who wants to experience that?

The thing is, something pretty profound happens when contrasting emotions follow their course. Much like our body having mechanisms to heal or develop callouses, emotional cycles without resistance, always result in maturation/resilience (I treat trauma and can say this with certainty).

Try to imagine a separate emotional body moving through experiential landscapes. When this emotional body comes in contact with a circumstance that creates disharmony (dissonance in thought, values, hopes, comfort etc...) a process of strengthening that part of the emotional body begins instantaneously. 

The issue is we don't trust this. The messages we receive are emotions are a choice, emotions are arbitrary, emotions are a nuisance, emotions are shameful, and, terrifyingly, emotions are based on external factors that need changing. All of this has had cataclysmic effects on our development. 

The easiest way to illustrate this is drug addiction. When treating drug addiction (the most extreme state of perpetual numbing) it is now common knowledge that most heavily drug addicted persons present as the emotional age of when they began the addiction.

Having treated drug addiction, and returning to the emotional symphony metaphor, I've also watched how numbing paradoxically results in the same note of discord consuming the person

Just a reminder, emotions are time-limited even when we exacerbate them through rumination. And just a rude awakening, our bodies keep score of every unprocessed emotion. We don't actually escape through numbing, we stifle a process (Bessel Van Der Kolk). 

If anyone read this and questioned the longevity and intensity of depression, understand depression isn't an emotion. I often think of the name, depression, and imagine a giant crater where the history of unfelt emotions are no longer distinct, but you feel their burden. 

And because only Carl Jung omnipotence will do right about now, I leave you with this:

"Emotion is the chief source of consciousness. There is no change from darkness to light or from inertia to movement without emotion." Carl Jung 

(The starting clip is from the short film "Destino" by Salvador Dali and Walt Disney. Please, for God's sake, watch this.)



- Samsara

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