Shattered Assumptions, Ronnie Janoff-Bulman

What takes so long to figure this out?

In simplified terms, Boiled-Frog-Syndrome, followed by intellectual denial and emotional numbing. As stated previously, at some point, I allowed it to dawn on me, that none of this was true. It was a gradual process in which, as that dawn rose, so did a great storm of hurt and rage. As analyzed by Lifton (1991), and referenced by Janoff-Bulman (1992), the mind requires increments of understanding to assimilate such devastation. It cannot assimilate this volume of input all at once.

In the wake of this distress, when your comprehension of the world is suddenly and inexplicably no longer valid, one experiences an overwhelming loss of security, described by Jeffery Kauffman as ‘Loss of the Assumptive World’ in his book, Loss of the Assumptive World: A Theory of Traumatic Loss, wherein your assumptions of the world as you know it are no longer intellectually or emotionally valid.

In facing the aftereffects of such loss, how does one ‘cope’?

According to Janoff-Bulman (1992), the answer is twofold.

Realizing that every story of your own childhood, of your grandparents’ lives, etc., must be recognized as a lie — as each recollection resurfaces and you question cousins, aunts and uncles about each one, the rich family heritage, of which you were once confident and proud, no longer exists.

Furthermore, the abundant and absolute truth of the religion upon which you’ve built your lifetime of faith, and with which you’ve guided your own children, is all at once, non-existent.

Upon recognizing this two-fold situation of betrayal and “Shattered Assumptions” (Janoff-Bulman, 1992), how does one ‘cope’ (grapple, endure, survive)?

Cognitive denial of related “thoughts and ideas,” and “numbing” oneself emotionally, are considered by Janoff-Bulman (1992) to be “normal” responses to trauma. Like the freshest onion, with myriad fine layers that are tightly closed around it, one attempts to remain sealed-off and avoid the pain of facing it all at once. Therefore, only peeling away one recognition at a time.

The other side of this painful coin is the intrusive memories bombarding one’s thoughts. These involuntary invasions, Janoff-Bulman (1992), recognizes as the mind’s repeated attempts to confront and comprehend the trauma of losing all that was once held as its foundation. These are both sides of the coin of “Adaptive Responses to Abnormal Events” in the mind’s effort to enable recovery.

The frustration of vacillating between denying ideas and emotionally numbing oneself to the overwhelming nature of these circumstances, along with the opposite extreme of facing the situation in the form of unwanted memories is taxing. Yet, it is the basis upon which incremental growth occurs. Supposedly, coping is considered successful, when both cognitive reasoning and emotional assessments of the situation are satisfied, according to Janoff-Bulman (1992).

My hope is for that state of mind to actually come to pass.

BOOKS.GOOGLE.COM Ronnie Janoff-Bulman, Shattered Assumptions

This book investigates the psychology of victimization. It shows how fundamental assumptions about the world’s meaningfulness and benevolence are shattered by traumatic events, and how victims become subject to self-blame in an attempt to accommodate brutality. The book is aimed at all those who for…