Trauma, art and music

1)  Children’s Art and the Dissociative Brainby Mary Sue Moore in Trauma, Dissociation and Multiplicity: Working on Identity and Selves, edited by Valerie Sinason, Taylor and Francis, Kindle Edition (2013-03-01)

 Tonya Alexandri – April, 2014

In her interesting chapter Mary Sue Moore  mentions that there is substantial evidence that people’s early relational histories impact both one’s drawing of a person and the process by which one creates the drawing (Cates & Moore, 1997; Kaufman &Wohl, 1992; Koppitz, 1968; Malchiodi, 1990; Moore, 1994; Martensen,1991). Human drawings are a representation of the experience of self and other (Burns, 1987; Kaufman & Wohl, 1992; Klepsch & Logie, 1982; Lewis et al, 1997; Moore, 1990; 1994; Wohl & Kaufman, 1985) and ‘the neurobiological impact of relational trauma as it is recorded in brain processes directly affects the quality and content of any individual’s drawing of a person’ (Moore, cited in Sinason, 2012).  Neuroscientists have found that when one consciously thinking about oneself or a person in general, ‘the areas of the brain that hold knowledge of relational experience, (which) are located predominantly in the right, but as an infant matures, also in the left hemisphere’, are activated (Cozolino 2006; Schore 2003; Siegel 1999). So thinking about or drawing a person ‘elicits both conscious, declarative and non-conscious, procedural knowledge of self and other’ (Gallese et al. 2004; George and Solomon 1989; Grigsby and Stevens 2002; Lanius et al. 2003).  More interestingly, the quality of a drawing, similar to the quality of an REM dream is directly dependent on the exact areas of the brain either activated or shut down, at the time the drawing is created or the dream is dreamt (Hartmann, 1984; Moore, 1998). In this chapter Moore includes human figure drawings (HFDs) created by young children and claims that in her years of studying HFDs, both of children and adults who have had dissociative episodes, she has found that they often used a single line to trace the form of the figure or placed empty units instead of limbs. She refers to these drawings as ‘cookie cutter’ or ‘ragdoll’ drawings (1994). Studies using MRI brain scans and EEGs reveal the altered brain activation states involved in dissociative vs. integrative processing of information (Conway, 1994; Lanius et al, 2003). Moore goes on to mention that through collecting drawings from children with abuse histories over the years, she found that often, very young children drew a scene viewed from above, which is highly unusual for young children, as normal development of an aerial perspective normally occurs in late latency or early adolescence. This dissociative experience has very often been described by survivors of childhood trauma and abuse, torture, accidents or war experiences because when people experience terror, or dissociative states, they often experience being removed from their body and not feeling any sensations. Specifically, Moore mentions that there is a lot of evidence now from clinical reports from survivors of chronic and / or sadistic abuse, who describe ‘the dissociative experience of suddenly looking down from above the scene where abusive acts are being perpetrated on themselves as a child’ because this capacity to ‘cut off all sensation from the body when in inescapable pain’ (Moore, cited in Sinason, 2012), danger and threat is inherent and available to us as a basic survival mechanism and it is automatically triggered by fear and terror. 

 2)  A short extract from Michael Salter’s book:Organised Sexual Abuse

 “Qualitative and quantitative research with adults and children reporting ritual abuse has found that it occurs alongside other forms of organized abuse, particularly the manufacture of child abuse images (Scott 2001, Snow and Sorenson 1990, Waterman et al. 1993), and hence subsuming such non-ritualistic experiences under the moniker ‘ritual abuse’ is misleading at best and incendiary at worst. Moreover, it is unclear why an abusive group that invokes a religious or metaphysical mandate to abuse children should be considered as largely distinct from an abusive group that invokes a non-religious rationale to do so. The presumption evident amongst some authors writing on ritual abuse that a professed spiritual motivation for abusing children necessarily reflects the offenders actual motivation seems naïve at best, and at worst it risks colluding with the ways in which abusive groups obfuscate responsibility for their actions.”

 3) Beautiful songs from Australia, sung by Archie Roach, related to the Stolen Generation      

They took the children away  

 Took the children away,
The children away.
Snatched from their mother’s breast
Said this is for the best
Took them away…………  (with trailer from the film Rabbit- Proof Fence)  (with lyrics)

‘Lighthouse’ (Song for two mothers)

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