The Family Children of God by insidersChildren of God Family International
Home Chat Boards Articles COG History COG Publications People Resources Search site map > chatboards > genX > archives > post #30162

This is what really yanked my chain

Posted by CB on October 19, 2007 at 17:33:56

In Reply to: Re: I think you have confused Millikan with Shepherd posted by Someone on October 19, 2007 at 12:58:28:

"Remember that there is very little that I concretely know about his experience, but I don't believe that he was the target of any abuse," Shepherd replied. "During his time growing up in The Family, I don't think he sensed that anything was going wrong. My guess is that he began to reassess his experience later—to re-interpret what was going on after the fact. But at the time he didn't have a sense he was living in some depraved environment. There's an assumption that merely being exposed to things has this corrosive effect. But if sexual activity is seen as normal and enjoyable then that doesn't have an independent effect to create emotional disturbance. You reinterpret that experience, and then you become upset. Now you are defining that experience with another set of norms."

This is true to a point, but it overlooks all the further points raised by Mary de Young.

Children don't have a framework for evaluating their sexual experience beyond what the adult world gives them. If they're told, "yes, it feels good, doesn't it?", "It is good for you to experience this with me," and "I know you like this," they don't have the language or the power to talk about whatever negative feelings the experience arouses in them.

Ricky's feelings of rage were always present, but he repressed those feelings while he was in TF because he had no way of expressing it. He couldn't allow the rage into his conscious awareness. When he finally opened himself up to identifying those feelings, he spiralled out of control and exploded. It's ironic that he felt therapy would not help him, because if he'd had a good therapist, he might have developed better coping skills with which to manage his painful feelings and memories. A huge issue for SGs who leave TF, imo, is that they have very limited coping skills, particularly where their emotions are concerned.

It really doesn't matter whether you evaluate your childhood experience as good or bad or whether you reassess it as being abuse as an adult when you saw nothing wrong with it growing up. This is because certain forms of stimulation and stress appear to produce permanent changes at the genetic level. Yeah, the environmental impacts of stimulation and stress go as deep as the genes! National Geographic recently aired a NOVA documentary called "The Ghost in Your Genes" that makes the following claims:

"The fast-growing field of epigenetics investigates hidden influences that could not only affect our health today but that of our descendants far into the future. It now appears the environment we live in makes small chemical changes to our DNA without affecting the gene’s overall makeup: In other words, epigenetics adds another layer to our DNA that acts as a control system of “switches.” Variable life experiences, such as nutrition or stress, may trigger these switches, turning genes on or off."

The documentary reports on research that demonstrates how adverse life experiences during childhood development suppresses the gene expression of brain cells controlling our ability to respond to stress. It's fascinating stuff.

If people could understand the implications of this research, they wouldn't ask why some survivors can't "just get over it".