More Mind Injuries

Voice Card  -  Volume 25  -  John Card Number 9  -  Wed, Sep 2, 1992 10:39 PM

This is ONE OF 2 responses to VC 25 Drury 11 ("Handicaps")...


As often happens in these Archipelago debates, we are quickly reduced to arguing over the definitions of vague terms. How screwed up you have to be to be considered "mentally injured"? How many is "a lot"?

I don't think we're really all that far apart. Once again, I agree completely that is wrong and unfair and irresponsible and unhealthy to blame all of your problems on your parents. And I agree that there is much truth in the adage "time heals all wounds" (especially if you consider that time eventually reduces us all to dust). But with both your words and your almost cavalier tone you seem to be saying that mental injuries are rare and all but irrelevant in the larger scheme of things.

This is where we part ways. I grew up in a relatively healthy, non-dysfunctional family, sheltered from drug and alcohol abuse, child abuse, incest, severe financial woes, religious cults (the Mormons never bothered us much for some reason), household violence, suicides, and other forms of insanity. Since then, I have spent most of my adult life learning just how lucky I was.

I haven't kept statistics, and all of the people I've met along the way are far too complex to pigeonhole into either a healthy or sick classification, but I've been astonished at how many of them are badly screwed up. It's now clear that at least TEN PER CENT of the population are alcholics and/or drug addicts. One in four women have been or will be raped. I would say that at least a fourth of the people I know intimately were abused or molested as children. And, like you, I've had friends who have comitted suicide.

You and I both move through the same world, but we see different things. Perhaps I've seen more mental injuries because I think of myself as a writer and I'm forever trying to figure out what makes people tick. Most people with mental injuries go to greath lengths to hide their scars (to show a scar is to risk rejection on many levels). And very few people ask to see those scars.

It seems to me that it is very important not to turn away from or deny the darker side of human nature. Every last one of us is scarred in some way or other. It might be nice if those scars would just disappear on their own, but the truth is that in subtle ways they shape us at the most fundamental level and mark us for life. In learning about these secret injuries I've learned more and more about myself and my relationship to a larger world. The darkness I've seen in others helps me to better appreciate the light. And the darkness I've found in myself has, I hope, given me a little more understanding and a little more compassion.