Trauma and addiction go hand in hand. Recent research points to the conclusion that all addictions, drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling, etc, share common patterns in neurobiology, genetics and childhood attachment history. Traumatic experiences in childhood are believed to be a major risk factor for sex addiction and other addictions by virtue of the way they affect brain development, emotion regulation, attachment patterns and coping mechanisms in general.
A book about trauma, addiction and healing
Reflective Meditations is a spare, elegantly presented series of reflections on many of the most important ideas in trauma and addiction theory and treatment. It is presented in a series of short paragraphs along with lovely original photography by the author. The book is an interesting mixture in that it is a primer on the basic information about the topic, presented as a series of daily meditations and indirectly built on Tait’s own experience.
A multi-use book for survivors and others
Because of the multifaceted nature of the book it sometimes seems the reflections rotate around between the author
1) talking to the reader (“Do not let the negative words that others say about you affect who you are…”),
2) suggesting a self affirmation (“I choose to release myself from the victim mode…”) and
3) describing people in general (“Outward aggression also includes manipulation and controlling behavior”).
Each aspect of the book has its own separate logic. It can be used as a way to get centered and remind oneself of some basic truths. It can also be used for specific advice. The reflections become quite directive when talking about the fact that trauma is never the victim’s fault and about the need to get appropriate kinds of help.
The book can also serve as an introduction to the field of trauma with entries on trauma in general; types of responses to trauma such as flight, fight, freeze, etc.; and affects of trauma such as compulsive attachment, self harm, and suicide. But in addition to introducing the basic concepts relating to trauma, Tait attempts to at least touch on the neurobiology of trauma, the connection between trauma and addiction, substance addiction vs. process addiction, specific treatment strategies and the process of healing.
This seems like a monumental amount of material to cover in sixty short snippets but for some readers it may provide snapshots of many important concepts in a short time. Alternatively, the reader may get the most out of it if he or she already has some acquaintance with the theoretical concepts relating to trauma and addiction and can mentally connect the dots and fill in the details. Otherwise the reader may have difficulty understanding some of the more schematic explanations such as:
“Neuropathways are built by the body in response to what we do. In trauma the pathways are built based on the trauma. We keep using the same pathways and change does not happen without intention.”
“Compulsive attachments include staying with unhealthy people, trauma bonds, co-dependency, co-addictions, rescuing others, giving too much, managing impressions (what others think about me), and other similar bonds.”
Everyone will use this book in their own way
The book is at its best when pulling out simple ideas and stating them simply such as: “The more traumas we have experienced the more addictions we develop because we have more to cover up.” The book is also strong on guiding the reader into treatment and support and suggesting when and how to get help.
As a collection of meditations, I believe the book has the most impact when taken in sequence. It is presented as a chronological exploration with a beginning and an end, not as a random set of reflections that can be opened anywhere.
I personally wish that Tait had followed the thread of her own journey in a more explicit way. She does not give much in the way of detail about her own experience. I believe that giving more personal examples would bring concepts like “assertiveness” and “boundaries” to life better than general, third person descriptions. But perhaps that’s another book.
Reflective Meditations is available as an e-book. See also Ms. Tait’s website www.inspirationalinsightscounselling.com