Coping with Trauma Self Improvement — 19 January 2015
How to Stay Sane in a Violent World

The daily viewing of local and world news is a habit of many people. Yet, some of the sights, scenes, human cruelty and viciousness recently seen on the screen makes many people wonder about their safety and wellbeing as they struggle to understand those who righteously violate others while professing to “right the wrong” of humanity.

The violent and inhumane offenders often justify their heinous crimes as “righting a wrong”, defending their honor or punishing their perceived enemy. Healthy individuals are unable to follow these justifications for the horrendous and deplorable acts and are left bewildered and aghast.

In “Where’s the Truth? Letters and Journals, 1948-1957” Freud’s student and Pioneer of early psychoanalysis Wilhelm Reich wrote, “To stay sane in aninsane world as a creative man or woman he or she must: 1. Keep one’s life financially independent. 2. Continue unabated to exercise one’s power of creativity in concrete, strenuous tasks, always seeking perfection as near as possible. 3. Carefully cherish LOVE of a partner with full gratification, of the total emotional being if possible, of the body in a clean way if necessary. 4. Keep out of the trap of confusion by the average man and woman, helping others to keep out of the trap too as best they can. 5. Keep one’s structure clean like brook water through knowing and correcting every mistake, making the corrected mistake the guiding lines to new truth. 6. Never yield to the expediencies of life except where it is basically harmless or where the main line of development is not impeded for the duration of one’s life.”

These edicts of being financially independent, creative, cherishing one’s beloved, staying logical and clear-minded, avoiding being misled by illogical reasoning of others, being accountable and correcting errors and staying safe are sound guiding principles that still apply today. When violence is prompted by indignity, extreme judgmental views of others’ beliefs or actions and entitles the view-holder to take another’s life, it baffles the minds of sane people and destabilizes their basic human principles and sense of safety and security.

Decent beings are horrified and bewildered by the violent acts some feel entitled to use in total violation of others’ given right to “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Extreme religious persuasions that justify inhumane treatment of others or entitle the belief–holders to cruelty cannot be accepted.

To stay sane in an insane world we need to:

  • Abstain from trying to “understand their perspective.”
  • Be steadfast in our values of preserving the rights and dignity of all law-abiding people, while using punishment to the fullest extent of the law for those who act as though they are “above the law.”
  • Avoid trying to understand the insane, irrational logic, criminal acts and justifications of extremists.
  • Avoid fear, worries or reciting in our minds future worst-case scenarios since they may weaken our resolve and hinder us from maintaining our sane and healthy values and emotional balance.






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About Author

Offra Gerstein, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in clinical practice in Santa Cruz, California for over 25 years, and specializes in relationship issues for couples and individuals for improved quality of life. Her work includes: mate selection, marriage, long term relationships, gay and lesbian couples, work relationships, parenting issues, family interactions, friendships, and conflict resolutions. Offra has lectured extensively to various groups, conducted support groups for several organizations, and has been writing a weekly column "Relationship Matters" for the Santa Cruz Sentinel since 2001.

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