Healing From Terrorism Sickness
Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph.D.
In terrorism, the numbers of persons affected are huge; terrorism is *meant*
to affect thousands and millions of people –all at the same time. Most
think terrorists’ main aim is to kill people and destroy
installations. This is only secondary. (Yes, I know that sounds
unbelievable, but it is so.) The main goal of terrorism is “intentional
trauma” to the living. The murder and mayhem are SECONDARY goals.
The concept of doing ongoing psychic injury to thousands and millions “all
at the same time” is an important tactic of terrorists. Terrorists
understand, if only in their diseased unconscious’s, that accomplishing such
will unleash a greater communicable and spreading “psychic infection” than
any biological or germ warfare could ever hope to achieve.
This “infection” that terrorists hope to circulate is that of innocent
persons becoming afraid of life, afraid of the future; of causing people to
put off the living of life, to move in ways that are far less than
their previous free selves. The effect of living in such a crouch hurts the
human spirit and heart. The main goal of terrorism is “intentional
psychological trauma.” Murder and mayhem are only secondary and
sometimes even tertiary goals.
Terrorism is willful psychological assault; a conscious and planned assault
against the minds and hearts and spirits of a large group of persons. I
repeat this only if it be necessary to press past the reader’s ego’s
resistance to this hideous truth: In terrorism, murder and mayhem are
secondary to this primary goal of ruining the hearts and hopes of others.
This is partly why terrorism is difficult to comprehend by reasoned minds as
anything but the most grotesque form of manifest evil. We can barely
conceive of thinking to psychically injure others so.
There are other secondary goals to terrorism. Any and all of them are the
sickest imaginable. But the above is how terrorists seek to cast their net
of “sickness” over all survivors and victims, over the
living— by trying to deprive you of esperanza, fullest and freely felt
Hope. By trying to limit your libre, your Freedom, your living life as a
completely free person, shoulders proud, head up, mind on goodness and love
for all and pleasures that bring peace and happiness.
The “post-trauma recovery list” contains the central ways to proceed. Here
are some additional which are very specific:
It is peculiar to find how strongly that poisonous net holds when one is
unaware of what it is made of, and how easily it falls apart when one
consciously begins to contradict its malicious urgings:
1) Refuse to dwell on what psychically depletes you of hope, contentment and
ease. During post-trauma times, sometimes an extremely difficult or
disheartening set of thoughts attach themselves to us; almost like a gang
cruising around looking to harass someone. Terrorists are counting on this
to happen to many. Refuse this set of thoughts. Use the discipline of your
mind. Say to them, “f-off! and I mean it!” If you are
an old believer like me, it is as effective to assert, “Get thee behind me!”
My grandmother used to say, “Just because someone presents you with a dog
poop on a pretty plate doesn’t mean you have to eat it.”
2) Dwell in what strengthens you. For some it is reading, others physical
activity, others, crafts. There are so many things and combinations of
things. Remember, what brings you peace tends to be the
same as what strengthens you.
3) Clean up your kitchen around food especially, (time to give your body
what it needs for its equilibrium and best strength now) . Do not assault
your own body by making it work extra hard to throw off toxins
4) Rest (real rest, even if only a few hours at night, even if, like many
are, awakening many times in the night, do not entertain “bad thoughts,” do
not allow yourself to fall into a pit of them. Think instead of the greatest
beauty and love you know, discipline your mind to stay with those images;
they are medicine for what has hurt you. The key words are ‘practice
discipline.’ If you do not know how to discipline your mind, think of how
you train a beloved dog to stay and heel. Proceed.)
5) Insofar as you are able, pick your endeavors carefully. Now is an
opportunity to drop various endeavors that deplete you or to join up with
people/matters/groups that invigorate.
6) Refuse to think you are less able than you were last week. You are not
less. regardless of flaws, quirks or wobbles– you are in soul, actually
more shining than you were a week ago.
7) With regard to goodness and things that are good for you and others, do
what you always do. Do not cease goodness or pleasures that bring good.
8) Continue to implement life dreams. If you don’t have one, you’re overdue.
Get out your thinking cap.
9) Use your intuition to guide you through these days. It will not fail you.
Some call this great gift that every person possesses–insight, some call it
‘sense,” some like us old believers, call it guardian Angel–which for me
incidentally is no small little feathery thing flapping around, but
more–sort of like a fierce-gentle Guido with wings. (grin.)
Normal Reactions to Loss, Injury, and Catastrophe
Over a period of time you may find yourself having one or all of the
following reactions. These are normal reactions to the kind of experience
you have had:
Inability to sleep
– Sleeping too much
– Changes in appetite, digestive disturbances
– Feeling numb
– Need for Comfort
– Poor concentration
– Inability to attach importance to anything but this event
– Recurrent dreams
– Inability to remember
– Refusing to talk
– Feeling one should not cry
– Startle reactions while awake or asleep
– Isolating, wanting to be alone.
– Wanting to just sit, or just stare.
– Feelings of fear
– Feelings of guilt
– Feelings of helplessness
– Feeling one cannot stop crying
– Anger, which may cause the blaming of others, outbursts
– Frustration with rescue workers, the bureaucracy, anyone who tries to
– Ongoing violent fantasies,
– Thinking no one can ever understand, no one can ever help.
– Blaming oneself.
These are NORMAL reactions, and although painful, are part of the healing
process. There is not a lot anyone can do to make you not experience these
feelings, but they will recede if you will take the
Actions to Take For Recovery
2) Keep busy, do not sit and do nothing. You are having a NORMAL reaction,
do not tell yourself that you have lost your mind.
3) Talk to people – talk is the most healing thing you can do. Talk it out.
You may have to tell your story over and over again, many, many times before
it loses much of its pain. Each time you tell your story
and receive someone’s caring, you will be healing yourself.
4) Try not to cover up your feelings by withdrawing or by using alcohol.
Talk your feelings