Most helpful positive review
71 of 71 people found the following review helpful
One of the most important books I've ever read
on 15 January 2006
The Inner World of Trauma is a truly compelling, moving and important book. Kalsched shows that when a child is traumatised, or shamed for its genuine and healthy needs, a psychololgical defence sytem is constellated in the child's psyche, and the job of that system is to protect the child from being further shamed and re-traumatised. The system is commonly personified by a symbolic inner figure that swings from from being protective to being persecutory. What is more the inner protector will do whatever it has to do in order to prevent a repeat of the original, unbearable experience - and if that means turning into a daimonic, destructive and self-destructive inner persecutor, then so be it.
More-often-than-not the strategies of the inner protector-persecutor mean that the person is stuck in a cycle where the 'trauma' is repeated time and time again. Every time the person has a chance of moving beyond the definsive, but imprisioning psycholgical walls, the protector-persecutor deems the risk of retrumatisation to be too high, and so sabotages the path to freedom and emotional health.
Worse, the inner figure fails to take account of changing circumstances, and it fails to recognise that the traumatised child has grown up and now has new, and healthier, ways of defending him or her self. The inner protector gets stuck at the point where the original damage occurred. Kalsched explains that in order to find freedom from protector-persecutor a person has to become conscious of how this inner figure is suffocating life, and then the person has to find the courage to do battle with the protector-persecutor.
All that Kalsched writes about resonates deeply with my own experience. I am not a therapist, and I struggled with some of the more technical object-relations language, but having read (and re-read) The Inner World of Trauma I now have a sense of what drives much of my destructive and self-destructive behaviour. More importantly, the new understanding that I have gained from this book has helped me to drop some of the shame that I have about my destructive and self-destructive behaviour, and it has provoked me into starting to challenge some of the toxic beliefs and strategies employed by my inner protector-persecutor.
For me, The Inner World of Trauma has been a truly provocative, powerful, moving and healing book. I consider myself to be pretty widely read, and The Inner World of Trauma is one of the most important books that I have ever read. In many ways, having read Kalsched's book I feel like I have entered a new world - albeit a world that isn't going to suddenly become easy, happy and neatly sorted out, however, I am enormously grateful for this book.