Kylo coded as traumatized?

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Re: Kylo coded as traumatized?

Post by Slade on Mon 13 Jun - 20:24

I'm reading Ajax now.  One thing that seals the deal for me regarding Kylo being traumatized is the self-injury.  I'd almost go so far as to say that self-injury does not happen but for trauma. (which is not to say all traumatized people self-injure; they don't). People have said that he may be engaging in SI to "power up" his dark side, and while I agree with that, I'll add that even so, what Kylo does is still SI. It doesn't become any less SI because one of his motivations is to tap into his rage.

I"m still amazed (and thrilled) that TPTB had the guts to create this character.
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Re: Kylo coded as traumatized?

Post by guardienne on Mon 13 Jun - 20:28

@slade is self-injury the same as self-harm?
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Re: Kylo coded as traumatized?

Post by Slade on Mon 13 Jun - 20:42

@guardienne wrote:@slade is self-injury the same as self-harm?
@guardienne

Yes.
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Re: Kylo coded as traumatized?

Post by guardienne on Mon 13 Jun - 21:00

oh ok. i think most self harm is done for relief. i don't think that's how it works for kylo, though.
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Re: Kylo coded as traumatized?

Post by snufkin on Mon 13 Jun - 21:10

The wound beating made me think of the Reverend Dimsdale in the Scarlet Letter, where it's self flagellation for ones' sins. And in this context, he's beating a wound inflicted for patricide, possibly to ameliorate the physical pain (diffuse rather than focus the physician sensation), and also because of the belief that the darker powers tap into darker feelings like pain. The last part he has to have been taught that by Snoke, who is the author of his trauma/pain. And I kind of like @slade's earlier comments, that besides the parallels to PTSD from the ugly things a soldier has to do (and remember that it's Snoke who's made him into a weapon), the concept of the Force being this dark, dangerous and ungovernable entity that he's looked into the heart of and gone slightly mad.
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Re: Kylo coded as traumatized?

Post by Rimfaxe96 on Mon 13 Jun - 21:36

@guardienne

I don't perceive him to be hiding from everybody/anybody. Obviously he's somewhat distanced from other people, but considering the novel as well it sounds more like indifference on his part is the reason for that.

As for him rejecting Han's offer, I'll take his word for it - yes, he probably does believe it's too late now to go back. Might sound weird but killing Han was still somewhat easier than going back and deal with whatever consequences he'd have to face (at least until he did kill him - the look on his face shows plainly that he was wrong).
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Re: Kylo coded as traumatized?

Post by guardienne on Tue 14 Jun - 16:14

@snufkin i also got a catholic vibe of self-flagellation from the wound-beating. and i'm leaning towards the dark side in itself and his inner conflict that snoke is enabling being traumatising. i haven't decided yet whether the dark side always corrupts or whether he simply isn't strong enough to hold his own against it.

@rimfaxe96 there is a lot of self-loathing in that kid already, something which i guess has been attributed to things he has done, which we have caught a glimpse of, but if they are done in the course of duty, why the self-hatred? if he believes this is where he should be, why is he so wildly unhappy about it.

but anyway, the whole point of the argument isn't whether he believes that it's too late to go back, he clearly does, it's why he thinks that he can't. it is probably easier but that's a pretty messed-up way of thinking, again, if he feels that his being with the dark side is actually the right way to go about it.

if you read about moral injury, you'll see that people whose ethics have been severely violated, will argue the same way. that's what struck me. that they cannot be loved because it's too late. their past crimes, done in the name of some cause (as in any war) causes them to think they are beyond saving.

hiding from people = being covered up at all times. he's not indifferent to being seen, he can't be seen. and if he is seen, he wants to be in control of the situation. we see this with rey obviously, but with han, he brings out all the 'go away' rhetoric he can muster. maybe hiding isn't the best word, tho.

the other thing that i forgot to mention the other day was his tantrums. again, you can construe them as something snoke enables and condones and probably tells him that he should let it all out, that it makes him stronger or whatever, but really to me it just comes across as a kid whose emotional regulation is way off. why that is we don't know, but it's unusual to find this in someone his age without some kind of severe damage.

so, yes, within the context of the film we can attribute this to the dark side, but it means we can also say there's been trauma.
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Re: Kylo coded as traumatized?

Post by snufkin on Tue 14 Jun - 16:28

@guardienne wrote:@snufkin i also got a catholic vibe of self-flagellation from the wound-beating. and i'm leaning towards the dark side in itself and his inner conflict that snoke is enabling being traumatising. i haven't decided yet whether the dark side always corrupts or whether he simply isn't strong enough to hold his own against it.
@guardienne

The Catholic part is interesting because I've known several people where if the parents bend towards one extreme in their values set, there's a kid who automatically goes off in the opposite direction. Like a couple of people who come from very conservative Catholic backgrounds and have become pagan or bounced around in different cults. It's exchanging one worldview for another and still needing a structure to live by. Or in this case, you can kind of see a kid with some pretty anarchic parents in their lifestyle, worldview throwing himself into an extremely rigid way of thinking/living because he didn't have that structure as a child. Kind of like a couple I met while traveling who were from one of the really old school hippie enclaves here in Northern California - very much free spirited, counter culture, conscious objector/war protesters, off the grid lifestyle and one of their sons had run away from home at 18 to join the Army. Told me how heartbroken they were because he'd become a Republican and was working on a Nuclear Submarine.  Maybe in this case, it's a combination of the instability of childhood and having nobody (save for creepy opportunistic Snoke) able to help with managing that much Dark Energy in ones mind (@slade's comment about looking into the abyss).
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Re: Kylo coded as traumatized?

Post by SoloSideCousin on Tue 14 Jun - 17:02

@snufkin wrote:
@guardienne wrote:@snufkin i also got a catholic vibe of self-flagellation from the wound-beating. and i'm leaning towards the dark side in itself and his inner conflict that snoke is enabling being traumatising. i haven't decided yet whether the dark side always corrupts or whether he simply isn't strong enough to hold his own against it.
@guardienne

The Catholic part is interesting because I've known several people where if the parents bend towards one extreme in their values set, there's a kid who automatically goes off in the opposite direction. Like a couple of people who come from very conservative Catholic backgrounds and have become pagan or bounced around in different cults. It's exchanging one worldview for another and still needing a structure to live by. Or in this case, you can kind of see a kid with some pretty anarchic parents in their lifestyle, worldview throwing himself into an extremely rigid way of thinking/living because he didn't have that structure as a child. Kind of like a couple I met while traveling who were from one of the really old school hippie enclaves here in Northern California - very much free spirited, counter culture, conscious objector/war protesters, off the grid lifestyle and one of their sons had run away from home at 18 to join the Army. Maybe in this case, it's a combination of the instability of childhood and having nobody (save for creepy opportunistic Snoke) able to help with managing that much Dark Energy in ones mind (@slade's comment about looking into the abyss).

@snufkin

I agree with all of this (and I'm a Catholic, lol). I don't care if it's too Catholic or too Christian or hippie/free-spirited, when a kid is not raised in an atmosphere of moderation, there is frequently some kind of blowback because there is going to be some individuation, some rebellion somewhere. To give a really goofy but very real and personal example, my mother was extremely OCD about being organized while I was growing up. But for me, the more I individuated from her the more disorganized I became, especially with papers (which were her favorite thing to organize). It's completely stupid and my subconscious rebellion is cutting off my nose despite my face, lol, but I really have to be in the perfect mood to sit down and really organize stuff.

And on the bolded, I think you are completely spot on. The Bloodline book shows Han and Leia like some kind of textbook tempestuous romance where two people totally love each other but who are both so volatile that they forever live this cycle of passionate affair to "I can't stand your face" to "I gotta get away from you for a few months" to "I miss you" and make-up sex a few months later, starting the whole pattern over again, with it continuing in an endless cycle. Then marry that dynamic to two people who are both equally driven in their personal goals (government for her and "being free and having thrills" for him) that they are quite okay with ignoring each other for a while and really couldn't take settling down in any kind of typical way even if they weren't tempestuous. Throw in a very sensitive kid with crazy powers that he doesn't understand one bit, and you get what JJ Abrams said in the documentary, a "broken" kid. You also get the kid Adam Driver described as feeling abandoned and "having no guidance" and "feeling like a stranger in the world he was born" (paraphrase). Throw that angst on top of the emotional sensitivity and the crazy force powers, and it's a complete mess. He's prime for the picking for Snoke because no one else is paying attention.

I have a feeling that Ben probably very much craved a much more stable and less dramatic lifestyle with his parents ... at least one where his parents would be on the same planet most of the time (not much to ask, lol) ... and he didn't get it. I imagine Snoke provides attention, insidious and poisonous, but attention nonetheless and some framework of order that Kylo/Ben desperately needs. In a weird way, Snoke never forgets about him ... his parents did. Snoke says he has a great force composition. Luke and Leia were probably scared s***less of his dark half and probably conveyed their wariness quite clearly. Snoke doesn't fear him at all.

In a very sick way, Snoke may seem to "care for" and "be comfortable" with him in a way his family never was. Then that guy, who has groomed you to have a bad dependency relationship with, tells you to touch the darkness. Maybe you fight it for a long time (which I absolutely think Ben did for many years), but at some point you got no more fight left ... and so you listen. Too bad that darkness burrows into you and taints your mind unless your mind is strong enough to keep it at bay ... but too bad "broken" Ben's psyche was never allowed to develop the strength to let him fight off something like that forever.
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Re: Kylo coded as traumatized?

Post by snufkin on Tue 14 Jun - 17:47

@SoloSideCousin - you were the one who made the comment about Snoke being like the priests in Spotlight, right? Able to prey on vulnerable kids who were badly in need of adult attention/validation? He seems to share childhood issue with Rey, although they obviously aren't going to go there with her. Because as the equivalent of somebody who grew up homeless/in foster care, the potential abuse/trauma angle would be even more dark and disturbing.
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Re: Kylo coded as traumatized?

Post by Slade on Tue 14 Jun - 22:12

@guardienne wrote:@snufkin i also got a catholic vibe of self-flagellation from the wound-beating. and i'm leaning towards the dark side in itself and his inner conflict that snoke is enabling being traumatising. i haven't decided yet whether the dark side always corrupts or whether he simply isn't strong enough to hold his own against it.

@rimfaxe96 there is a lot of self-loathing in that kid already, something which i guess has been attributed to things he has done, which we have caught a glimpse of, but if they are done in the course of duty, why the self-hatred? if he believes this is where he should be, why is he so wildly unhappy about it.

but anyway, the whole point of the argument isn't whether he believes that it's too late to go back, he clearly does, it's why he thinks that he can't. it is probably easier but that's a pretty messed-up way of thinking, again, if he feels that his being with the dark side is actually the right way to go about it.

if you read about moral injury, you'll see that people whose ethics have been severely violated, will argue the same way. that's what struck me. that they cannot be loved because it's too late. their past crimes, done in the name of some cause (as in any war) causes them to think they are beyond saving.

hiding from people = being covered up at all times. he's not indifferent to being seen, he can't be seen. and if he is seen, he wants to be in control of the situation. we see this with rey obviously, but with han, he brings out all the 'go away' rhetoric he can muster. maybe hiding isn't the best word, tho.

the other thing that i forgot to mention the other day was his tantrums. again, you can construe them as something snoke enables and condones and probably tells him that he should let it all out, that it makes him stronger or whatever, but really to me it just comes across as a kid whose emotional regulation is way off. why that is we don't know, but it's unusual to find this in someone his age without some kind of severe damage.

so, yes, within the context of the film we can attribute this to the dark side, but it means we can also say there's been trauma.
@guardienne

Rage attacks: exactly that ^^^. It's emotional dysregulation (which ties into the SI also)

Kylo's clothes: there's no reason to wear that helmet except to hide and/or to intimidate. Given Kylo's response when Hux barges in on him and Snoke while Kylo isn't wearing it, it certainly makes me think that hiding is part of his motivation. Here's this also: black clothes make the wearer *feel* protected (for certain wearers, I guess. I'm talking from personal experience here) and they also send very loud "keep away" signals to other people. Another thing is Kylo's gloves. Luke and Vader wore gloves to cover prosthetic hands (I think with vader?), but as far as we know, Kylo has all of his original parts. So it is interesting that he wears gloves, especially because we rely on our sense of finger/hand touch so much.

"It's too late"; Another idea = perhaps Kylo means "hey dad, you couldn't be bothered with me for thirty years and you did all these things that hurt me and damaged me and NOW you want to just come up and say a few nice words and expect to have a relationship with me? F you."
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Re: Kylo coded as traumatized?

Post by Slade on Tue 14 Jun - 22:20

@SoloSideCousin wrote:
@snufkin wrote:
@guardienne wrote:@snufkin i also got a catholic vibe of self-flagellation from the wound-beating. and i'm leaning towards the dark side in itself and his inner conflict that snoke is enabling being traumatising. i haven't decided yet whether the dark side always corrupts or whether he simply isn't strong enough to hold his own against it.
@guardienne

The Catholic part is interesting because I've known several people where if the parents bend towards one extreme in their values set, there's a kid who automatically goes off in the opposite direction. Like a couple of people who come from very conservative Catholic backgrounds and have become pagan or bounced around in different cults. It's exchanging one worldview for another and still needing a structure to live by. Or in this case, you can kind of see a kid with some pretty anarchic parents in their lifestyle, worldview throwing himself into an extremely rigid way of thinking/living because he didn't have that structure as a child. Kind of like a couple I met while traveling who were from one of the really old school hippie enclaves here in Northern California - very much free spirited, counter culture, conscious objector/war protesters, off the grid lifestyle and one of their sons had run away from home at 18 to join the Army. Maybe in this case, it's a combination of the instability of childhood and having nobody (save for creepy opportunistic Snoke) able to help with managing that much Dark Energy in ones mind (@slade's comment about looking into the abyss).

@snufkin

I agree with all of this (and I'm a Catholic, lol). I don't care if it's too Catholic or too Christian or hippie/free-spirited, when a kid is not raised in an atmosphere of moderation, there is frequently some kind of blowback because there is going to be some individuation, some rebellion somewhere. To give a really goofy but very real and personal example, my mother was extremely OCD about being organized while I was growing up. But for me, the more I individuated from her the more disorganized I became, especially with papers (which were her favorite thing to organize). It's completely stupid and my subconscious rebellion is cutting off my nose despite my face, lol, but I really have to be in the perfect mood to sit down and really organize stuff.

And on the bolded, I think you are completely spot on. The Bloodline book shows Han and Leia like some kind of textbook tempestuous romance where two people totally love each other but who are both so volatile that they forever live this cycle of passionate affair to "I can't stand your face" to "I gotta get away from you for a few months" to "I miss you" and make-up sex a few months later, starting the whole pattern over again, with it continuing in an endless cycle. Then marry that dynamic to two people who are both equally driven in their personal goals (government for her and "being free and having thrills" for him) that they are quite okay with ignoring each other for a while and really couldn't take settling down in any kind of typical way even if they weren't tempestuous. Throw in a very sensitive kid with crazy powers that he doesn't understand one bit, and you get what JJ Abrams said in the documentary, a "broken" kid. You also get the kid Adam Driver described as feeling abandoned and "having no guidance" and "feeling like a stranger in the world he was born" (paraphrase). Throw that angst on top of the emotional sensitivity and the crazy force powers, and it's a complete mess. He's prime for the picking for Snoke because no one else is paying attention.

I have a feeling that Ben probably very much craved a much more stable and less dramatic lifestyle with his parents ... at least one where his parents would be on the same planet most of the time (not much to ask, lol) ... and he didn't get it. I imagine Snoke provides attention, insidious and poisonous, but attention nonetheless and some framework of order that Kylo/Ben desperately needs. In a weird way, Snoke never forgets about him ... his parents did. Snoke says he has a great force composition. Luke and Leia were probably scared s***less of his dark half and probably conveyed their wariness quite clearly. Snoke doesn't fear him at all.

In a very sick way, Snoke may seem to "care for" and "be comfortable" with him in a way his family never was. Then that guy, who has groomed you to have a bad dependency relationship with, tells you to touch the darkness. Maybe you fight it for a long time (which I absolutely think Ben did for many years), but at some point you got no more fight left ... and so you listen. Too bad that darkness burrows into you and taints your mind unless your mind is strong enough to keep it at bay ... but too bad "broken" Ben's psyche was never allowed to develop the strength to let him fight off something like that forever.
@SoloSideCousin

And broken people will accept "love" and attention from a horrible person because they often feel it is better than nothing.
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Re: Kylo coded as traumatized?

Post by Slade on Tue 14 Jun - 22:23

@snufkin wrote:@SoloSideCousin - you were the one who made the comment about Snoke being like the priests in Spotlight, right? Able to prey on vulnerable kids who were badly in need of adult attention/validation? He seems to share childhood issue with Rey, although they obviously aren't going to go there with her. Because as the equivalent of somebody who grew up homeless/in foster care, the potential abuse/trauma angle would be even more dark and disturbing.
@snufkin

It would be interesting to learn more about Rey's years on Jakku.  I doubt The Mouse House will go there, but I don't think there is any way she grew up without some kind of abuse from someone.  That girl was scared.  Think about the scene where she is eating and first hears BB8.  She rips that helmet off, looks very frightened, and immediately goes into fight/flight, grabbing her staff to defend herself.  That reads to me as someone who lives with low-level fear of harm, who has had to fight to protect herself many times.

I wonder if that is why she lives out so far from Niima Outpost/town. I mean, Tuanal was a little village; I assume there are other villages, yet she lives in this dead AT AT out where there is nothing at all around her.
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Re: Kylo coded as traumatized?

Post by snufkin on Tue 14 Jun - 22:49

@Slade wrote:
@snufkin

It would be interesting to learn more about Rey's years on Jakku.  I doubt The Mouse House will go there, but I don't think there is any way she grew up without some kind of abuse from someone.  That girl was scared.  Think about the scene where she is eating and first hears BB8.  She rips that helmet off, looks very frightened, and immediately goes into fight/flight, grabbing her staff to defend herself.  That reads to me as someone who lives with low-level fear of harm, who has had to fight to protect herself many times.

I wonder if that is why she lives out so far from Niima Outpost/town.  I mean, Tuanal was a little village; I assume there are other villages, yet she lives in this dead AT AT out where there is nothing at all around her.  
@Slade

If this were a YA novel series, they'd go there with being more specific about what she had to face against predators as a child and adolescent girl. It does sound like the tie-in novel hints as sexual harassment, which would've been in earlier drafts of the screenplay but obviously got dropped for the final cut. Otherwise this being Disney we get instead get Simon Pegg's Dickensian* space alien junk boss dragging her away screaming as a tiny child and then overworking/cheating her as a young woman.

The choice of home for her on Jakku seems like "cool visual of a downed AT-AT in the middle of a vast desert." But it's probably also personal protection, both for security and also for not developing any ties/emotional connections because she believes that she's waiting to leave.

* If I were going to compare TFA to any novel I've read, it'd have to be Our Mutual Friend, as Lizzie Hexam makes her living off the corpses fished out of the Thames and has a whole "you need a teacher" dynamic with two men, one possessive/obsessive and the other disillusioned about the society he comes from.  Hell, I could be cheeky enough to say that the Mutual Friend will likely be Obi-Wan ; ). And the early spoilers about VIII for her already have me thinking about the Tempest with Prospero, Miranda, and Caliban/Ferdinand.
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Re: Kylo coded as traumatized?

Post by Slade on Wed 15 Jun - 3:54

Yeah, that whole thing with Unkar Plutt just squicks me out.
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Re: Kylo coded as traumatized?

Post by guardienne on Wed 15 Jun - 12:20

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Re: Kylo coded as traumatized?

Post by guardienne on Wed 15 Jun - 16:03

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Re: Kylo coded as traumatized?

Post by guardienne on Wed 15 Jun - 18:59

When, to the contrary, wars are based on false pretenses, a moral vacuum results. As Martin Luther King Jr. observed, troops then experience “not simply the brutalizing process that goes on in any war,” but also “cynicism to the process of death, for our troops must know after a short time that none of the things we are fighting for are really involved.”

[...]

The severity and extent to which veterans suffer with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder is a direct response to our culture’s blindness about war’s true cost. PTSD is the expression of the anguish, dislocation, and rage of the self as it attempts to cope with its loss of innocence, reformulate a new personal identity and cultural role, and awaken from massive denial. Veterans with PTSD are people whose belief systems have been shattered. We can better understand PTSD as an identity disorder and soul wound rather than a stress and anxiety disorder, as it is presently classified. War dehumanizes anyone it touches, but especially a veteran who questions the cause he served.

Most conventional therapies teach healers to avoid talk of morality. But war is inherently a moral enterprise and veterans in search of healing are on a profound moral journey. Healers and communities must walk with them. As a society, we must honor those wounds in ways that recognize their depth and degree of psychic suffering.

[...]

Our veterans cannot heal unless society accepts responsibility for its war making. To the veteran, our leaders and people must say, “You did this in our name, because you were subject to our orders, and because we put you in untenable and even atrocity-producing situations. We lift the burden of your actions from you and take it onto our shoulders. We are responsible for you, for what you did, and for the consequences.”

from Heal the Warrior, Heal the Country  by Edward Tick

it's interesting how he shifts responsibility to the community.

People cope with that in different ways. Some of course deny it. Some, even combat veterans, will try to perpetuate the mythology of glory and honor and heroism and patriotism. Others, who have more courage and more honesty will confront what they did by trying to live a life of atonement, by seeking a kind of redemption for the acts they carried out. I think that leads them to a much healthier response, and hopefully sets many on the road to recovery. I think we saw this with the conflict in Vietnam, although not exclusively with Vietnam, because my father and all my uncles fought in World War II—the supposedly “good” war—and they hated war when they came back.

[...]

So much of the psychosis of war involves an active effort to destroy feelings of tenderness and compassionate love.

[...]

The only force that is powerful enough to subvert the force of war is love. Love is never organized. Love is always individual love. Love is a force that is built between two human beings. In wartime, everything is done to subvert that force.

I don't know that there's an organized force that can stand up to the allure of war, which gives us a sense of empowerment—allows us to be part of a cause, to ennoble ourselves, to rise above our small stations in life.

The need to find meaning like that, I think, is an indication of the huge deficit of our emotional life. In conflict after conflict, those who are able to remain sane, who were never able to hate the perfidious enemy (who, in places like the Balkans, were often their neighbors), were those who had good relationships, those who were in love.

from Love and Resistance in Wartime: An Interview with Chris Hedges

and then in the end he does the reylo thing WTH

sorry this is a bit of a quote-a-thon but it's so interesting. (they are oldish articles from 2008)

@solosidecousin thanks for sharing the junger vid- he makes such an interesting point on creating a society that is worth protecting. i think that's where some of the cognitive dissonance comes from, that vets are coming hom and nobody has an inkling of what happened and either despises them for participating in the war or finds the hard facts difficult to cope with.

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Re: Kylo coded as traumatized?

Post by Slade on Wed 15 Jun - 19:23

Wow. Especially the highlighted part...
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Re: Kylo coded as traumatized?

Post by guardienne on Wed 15 Jun - 19:27

@Slade wrote:Wow. Especially the highlighted part...
@Slade

yessum. i nearly fell off my chair.
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Re: Kylo coded as traumatized?

Post by Slade on Wed 15 Jun - 23:35

@guardienne wrote:
@Slade wrote:Wow. Especially the highlighted part...
@Slade

yessum. i nearly fell off my chair.
@guardienne

Yep...I'm about to order that book from Amazon. Thanks!!
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Re: Kylo coded as traumatized?

Post by guardienne on Thu 16 Jun - 21:29



homework for you guys! Lolilol

in my head i'm triangulating this with the conditioning that i've read about in 'on killing' and adam's stories about how much he wanted to be deployed.

the belonging you seek ... and all that.

what i think is interesting wrt kylo is that we haven't seen him actually be with 'his' men. the master of the knights of ren... would he lay his life on the line for them?
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Re: Kylo coded as traumatized?

Post by Slade on Thu 16 Jun - 23:58

@guardienne wrote:

homework for you guys! Lolilol

in my head i'm triangulating this with the conditioning that i've read about in 'on killing' and adam's stories about how much he wanted to be deployed.

the belonging you seek ... and all that.

what i think is interesting wrt kylo is that we haven't seen him actually be with 'his' men. the master of the knights of ren... would he lay his life on the line for them?
@guardienne

Wow. Good vid. You can hear the tension and trauma in Junger's voice.
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Re: Kylo coded as traumatized?

Post by guardienne on Fri 17 Jun - 8:10

i dunno if anyone has a google account (i don't) but there is “Post-War Rituals of Return and Reintegration of Warriors” as well.

if you can access this, could you share bits?


Last edited by guardienne on Fri 17 Jun - 8:29; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Kylo coded as traumatized?

Post by guardienne on Fri 17 Jun - 8:29

Ex-correspondent Chris Hedges on covering war, dealing with PTSD

Paul Kennedy: You spoke about the addictive power of war when you started covering the conflict in El Salvador. What is the nature of that addiction?

Chris Hedges: Well, war, the culture of war, is unlike any other culture. And it offers emotional and physical stimulus that cannot be replicated except maybe, perhaps, through synthetic drugs. I haven't used drugs so it's conjectural. When you are in combat, you are aware in ways that you never were before. It is a Zen-like experience of being totally present.
Occupy NYC

PK: It is hard for you to talk about it.

CH: It's always hard. You see hallucinogenic landscapes that you could not imagine, what large shells — for instance, when I was in Sarajevo — will do to human bodies. It will sever them in half and they're still alive. You never sleep. The trauma is so intense because not only are you around violent death, but over the years many of those I have worked with, including my closest friends, were killed.
It so upends the moral and physical universe that when you step outside the war zone you just cannot relate, you cannot function. Soldiers call it a combat high. I did it for 20 years and what happens when you cannot extract yourself from it is early death, whether that is through drinking, substance abuse, or a heart attack.

PK: You mentioned that your time in war zones has left you battling a number of demons — depression, PTSD, nightmares — do you still have nightmares?

CH: Yes, but not like I used to. What's interesting with my experience of wars is that I almost never had nightmares while in any conflict. You don't go out at night in a war zone so I actually read a lot. I did not have dreams there but as soon as I left, I would. When I stopped going to war, I struggled with PTSD quite severely. What was crippling were these night visions, they were a re-visitation of trauma.

so, the question is, for me anyway, is this the dark side?
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