By Doe West

Note from Kathie: Dr. Doe West, member of the Engaging Peace Board of Directors, Psychologist, and Counselor, is also a pastor.  The next few posts will focus on her sermon on Sunday October 8, 2017, a week after the horrendous mass shooting in Las Vegas.  It is a message for all people, regardless of their personal faith.

This is not the sermon I prepared last week to deliver today.  That is because none of us are the same people we were a week ago today.               We all came out wounded to some smaller or greater degree by this latest — and one of the largest — massacre in US history — the massacre in Las Vegas.  People lost their lives. People lost their loves. People may have lost hope or may have lost faith.

And with the understanding of a counselor as well as a pastor, I see a next dangerous occurrence:

The transition whereby anger without a pathway for safe expression turns inward.

Anger turned inward creates depression, a depression associated with helplessness and hopelessness.

In my psychology training, I learned about the experiments done with rats put into a cage with electrodes on all four walls and ceiling and floor. When they were shocked from one side, the rats were startled but found balance. When they were shocked from all sides, the rats fell over and became catatonic.

In my nearly 40 years of working with human minds, emotions, and spirits, I’ve seen how we can deceive others and ourselves about how much shock we can take before we go catatonic — or ballistic.

I’ve witnessed how often we define ourselves by how we’ve been wounded. We can wear it like a skin, and thus be seen in that shape.

At such times, the counselor in me will offer tools of expression and decompression, for ways to get out of the cage, but that is a harder trip than people think.

Once we are in a cage, we begin to structure our lives in alignment with the pain as long and effectively as possible, even after the way out is pointed to, or after the outside infliction of pain stops.

How can we get free of our cages?

[Stay tuned for next post.]


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4 Responses to TRUE COLORS, Part 1

  1. Barbara says:

    I never thought the day would come when I’d feel sorry for a rat, but that day has arrived. I am picturing the poor little creature, shocked into a catatonic state by a human scientist, who is most definitely not doing to others as he would be done by. (See Dr. Malley-Morrison’s previous post.) Wouldn’t and shouldn’t this compassionate maxim apply to “lower” animals as well as to my fellow human beings? We shrink from the sight of a rat, but in a laboratory, the unfortunate creature shrinks from the aight of the human beings who are torturing him. Poor little fella, it shouldn’t happen to a dog but undoubtedly does in some lab somewhere in the name of scientific advancement.
    I’ll sign this post as Pollyanna and then will run and hide.

  2. Gold Dust Twin says:

    There is a very poignant article on WBUR’s site that resonates with this post. The story is about Alyssa Parker, the mother of one of the little girls killed at the Sandy Hook school shooting a few years ago. She has published a book, An Unseen Angel, on how forgiving the murderer helped her recover from the tragedy and find some hope in her life again.

  3. Pingback: TRUE COLORS, Part 2 | Engaging Peace

  4. Linda Dupre' says:

    Empathy for the poor rat! I can understand the sense of being fired upon from all sides and wanting to withdraw and hoping a solution will present itself.

    And forgiveness? It is unhealthy to carry anger for long periods of time. For an individual, or a nation, forgiveness is a must. How could repair and forward movement occur otherwise?

    Please, please do provide us with suggestions and insights. The world could do without these recurring tragedies.

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