If you’re looking for a podcast to ponder, I just finished Tim Ferriss’ Sept. 14 podcast titled ‘My Healing Journey After Childhood Abuse’. Tim talks honestly and frankly about his dissociative episodes that happened through adulthood until he finally unearthed his trauma using psychedelic medicines. Sharing the episode with his friend and counselor Debbie Millman, host of Design Matters podcast, they share a synergistic view of their experiences and run through the long list of potential treatments, including pharmaceuticals, talk therapy and friendship.
Tim cites some crazy high statistics regarding abuse, and I think that is well worth pondering. Tim’s sexual abuse was unusually severe, and it’s well worth noting how much of his life it consumed until he came to terms with it. He discusses his near-suicide, which I think is especially noteworthy, where he was barely rescued by his family through a mis-sent postcard on a library book.
As I’ve written about before, there are enormous collective societal impacts in societies that do not prevent child abuse. I’ve discussed some of these in the historical context, from Sparta to the Aztecs . I’m happy that Tim is making a dent in the world through sponsoring empathy-enhancing substances like MDMA. Drugs can indeed be a lifesaver, and we need pharmaceuticals that can really help people unpack their sadness, so they can see a more profound path out of the darkness.
From an empathy/sensorimotor perspective, Tim makes the point in his discussion with Debbie about his feeling of profound isolation and disconnection from others, and mentions books by Peter Levine and Bessel van der Kolk, including The Body Keeps the Score – one of my favorites, as van der Kolk makes the point of the need for sensorimotor retiming, and I extend into the core of mirroring empathy. I think this is especially important to understand from the larger, collective viewpoint on the need for connection. If you, as a cell in the larger collective simply doesn’t have this, your brain programming essentially shuts down, and tells YOU to shut down as well.
This is poorly understood, needless to say. But it sheds deep light on how these collective networks really act as a larger, holobiontic organism. John Donne said famously ‘no man is an island’ — and while Tim doesn’t use this phrase, mostly concentrating on his self-healing with friends, here’s hoping that this shout-out inspires him enough to reach back to me. Childhood trauma is not just an individual trauma — it affects our entire civilization in the people it creates, and their ability to connect. As well as our need to create more individuals that can face the complexity of problems our world has.