Tikkun Winter 2019 (34.1) - Page 49

Within the patriarchy, obedience is seen as a virtue in children, rather than a traumatic experience. Given that we come into life “a bundle of needs,” normative patriarchal upbringing, what Alice Miller refers to as the “hidden cruelty of child rearing,” is, quite simply, an assault on our needs and on what we want. Given the legacy of so many generations of patriarchal functioning, we have forgotten, especially in the most recent period of such extreme polarization and hostility, that trust is our natural state, not fear and not shame. As Humberto Maturana reminds us, “Biologically, trust is the spontaneous manner of being of any living system when in comfortable congru- ence with the medium.” Patriarchal upbringing, however, undermines trust through repeated experiences of trauma resulting from persistent coercion and sham- ing and the chronic experience of needs not being attended to, starting with modern birth and its consequences for both mother and child. These experiences have two dramatic re- being as individuals, because obedience is the sults. One is a higher propensity for interpret- very pathway that makes it possible for us to ing incoming signals as danger and activating override our aversion to inflicting harm. the fight/flight/freeze system. This mechanism, which originally evolved for facing rare situa- Shame, one of the four emotions associated tions of real danger, makes the other seem like with survival (along with fear, anger, and guilt), an enemy. It thus separates us from others and originally evolved when we lived in small leaves us caring only for ourselves. Beyond the groups in order to encourage us to act in ways individual scale, at least in its European ver- that are less likely to lead to being devalued sion, patriarchy arose from a series of catastro- by others, thereby strengthening belonging. 5 phes. This would mean loss of trust in nature, Here we are focusing on its social function: as followed by loss of trust in people as invasions each individual avoids damaging social rela- followed. We’ve never had time to recover from this trauma, as patriarchy has only intensified tionships, the cumulative result is that shame its grip on human societies over the millennia, protects human groups from the potential infiltrating more of the planet and more of our threat of an individual acting in ways that can consciousness to the point where now we live endanger the group. With patriarchy, sham- in a semi-permanent activation of the fight/ ing becomes a central mechanism for raising flight/freeze system, and a high propensity to children. Because, as children, our need for reach full activation of it. belonging is so vulnerable, through shaming this need is mobilized to maintain the power of The second consequence is that when sham- ing, or the persistent denial of the child’s basic the imposed patriarchal order. VOL. 34, NO. 1 © 2019 TIKKUN MAGAZINE 49