Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Blame and Control

The earthquake in Haiti highlighted for me the desire we have to explain everything and to blame either God or the victims for their plight. I can't help feeling that for me the 'shit happens' response is the most psychologically helpful and pastorally responsible approach, and anyway it is the only response I can come up with.

The naked pastor's graph remains for me the most insightful statement that was made at the time:

I think it is insightful at many levels. I remember being on a course, run by Joanna Collicutt (this is relevant) and she said that the ease with which rape victims recover from trauma is dependent upon the way in which the rape happened. So if they went down a dark alley that they knew they shouldn't, in a bad part of town, in the night time and were raped, awful as that was, it is better than being in their home in the middle of the day and someone breaking in and raping them. The reason for this is the feeling of being in control. In the first case they would blame themselves for going down a dark alley and decide to never walk alone like that again. Hence the prospect of future assaults had, in their minds, disappeared. They are in control. In the second case they cannot regain that feeling of control and hence there is a sense of insecurity from then on.

I believe that we all repeat these insecurities when we see natural disasters, we too have no control over nature, and the temptation is that the worse the suffering is that we see, the more we try to explain it or blame, to maintain our sense of security. We need to feel in control of our environment. This was brought home to me  in this post, where, surprisingly, one of the reasons that people are pro euthanasia is because of the desire to maintain control.

So I suppose the conclusion I am reaching is that to be psychologically well and emotionally healthy we have to accept that we are not in control, but on the other hand, this is the very thing that we fight against in order to maintain sanity. How do I reconcile these two thoughts? I do believe we need control and must maintain it. However, I think the control we need it over our self, our integrity. I may lose everything material, but not my sense of being loved by God, I may be raped but not lose my sense of self worth.. you get the idea..

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