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Images Key to Unlocking Preverbal Trauma


My pastel “Self-Hate,” on display at the Sacramento Poetry Center this month, along with two others of mine and those of eight other artists who also write as part of Jennifer O’Neill Pickering’s Sable & Quill exhibit, is an expression of the feelings I felt about my body and about life in general, especially as a teen-ager. Anger ruled my life.

A decade later in my early twenties, I discovered the source of this rage–infant surgery at 26 days old to correct pyloric stenosis, a stomach blockage, without anesthesia. Did you know that before 1987, anesthesia was often not administered to infants for invasive medical procedures and operations?  The medical community had convinced themselves that babies didn’t feel pain. It also worried that anesthesia could cause brain damage, for how could safe doses be determined? Instead, a muscle paralytic was given so that the baby could not fight. Sometimes a sugar cube soaked in alcohol was given or small amounts of anesthesia.

Since the torture occurred before I had language, I didn’t really understand the messages I was receiving from my body, emotions and senses over the years. My body was frozen in terror, for as a baby, I could not flee or fight–only lie helplessness. Many others have suffered this fate, some of whom have contacted me through this blog. We number in the millions and may or may not understand the depression, rage, and numbness we have felt throughout our lives. Post-traumatic stress or PTS it has come to be called. Preverbal infant trauma is not something the public, or the victims themselves, is generally aware of. Through artwork, early feelings find their way to the surface, feelings for which no words were ever attached.

Jennifer has given me the opportunity to speak briefly about this and read from my memoir manuscript, Autobiography of a Sea Creature – Coming Home to My Body after Infant Surgery, at the Sable & Quill reading this Saturday, January 9, 2016 at the Sacramento Poetry Center (25th and R) reading 7:30-9 pm, which follows the art reception 5-7 pm.  I am grateful for the opportunity and look forward to reading and hearing from the other artists as well. Hope to see you there!




So what is PTSD anyway?

It’s complex, that’s what. How to boil it down into some simple statements of fact? The symptoms of  post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which I’ve learned from Dr. Louis Tinnin, Dr. Robert Scaer, and Dr. Judith Herman, are classified in a three-fold way: intrusion, constriction, and hyperarrousal. Here’s my own spin or synthesis of their material.… Continue Reading

Depression in America: Linked to Unresolved Infant Medical Trauma?

In a recent article  ”Dosing Down” published in O Magazine, writer Robin Rinaldi states, “. . . nearly 23 percent of American women between the ages of 40 and 59 take antidepressants.” That’s a helluva lot of women. According to psychologist Dr. Bob Murray, “recent research has shown that men are actually just as likely to be… Continue Reading

Out in the Community with ReStory Your Life

I am psyched. I gave my first talk out in the world beyond the classrooms of The College of Alameda and it was thrilling. Eight women from the Women’s Motivational Meetup in Sacramento, hosted by Griffin Toffler, gave me their attention, listened to my lecture, and participated in a writing exercise at the library in… Continue Reading

ReStory Your Life!

Lots of good changes coming to myincision!  By January 2013, this blog will be part of my website ReStory Your Life. This website will not only house my blog but will announce my speaking engagements, workshops, and publications and showcase my poetry, prose and artwork. I am excited to announce my first presentation of 2013,… Continue Reading