Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Tribal mind

This is an interesting section from Women's Bodies, Women's wisdom by Christine Northrup. It is really helpful in understanding the dynamics of families when abuse is involved. 

     Though it is important to note that Northrup's use of the word "tribe" is very specific and focuses only on a family unit. It is not meant to refer to tribes in a cultural sense, it is a reference to the sociological structure and function of individual families. These individual families could be said to have a tribal structure and pattern to their functions, and cultural influences will certainly help to inform what those patterns and functions are. However a true tribal (cultural) structure cannot be pinned down to but a few consistent elements, as cultures are so varied. But from a sociological and even archetypal viewpoint, the individual family structure does have consistent elements to the structure, and is the reason Northrup can apply the term "Tribal mind" here.

     “The tribal mind is not an individual mindThe tribal mind is primarily a collective brain that seeks to hold onto its own and fight for its own survival in the world. The tribal mind is concerned with loyalty, not love, kindness, or tenderness. What the tribe refers to as “love” is really obligation to the tribe. An example of this is a family member who says to another, “If you really loved me, you'd come to visit your family and me more often.” Tribal consciousness, then, is not a high-level, highly evolved consciousness. Yet we all share it to some degree, and many women admit that as they get older, they can hear that tribal mind within themselves. “I sometimes hear my mother's words coming right out of my mouth, and I can't believe it,” patients often tell me. Above all, the tribal mind seeks stability by keeping everythingthe same, e.g., family holidays and birthdays become “obligations,” not joyful times of sharing.I sometimes refer to the tribal mind as “crabs in the bucket.” If you have a bunch of crabs in a bucket and one crab tries to escape overthe edge, the other crabs will always pull the escapee back down with the rest of them. The same sort of thing often happens to women and their families as the women decide to break free from limiting patterns. Almost invariably, family members try to sabotage her efforts- at least initially.     Countless women have had the experience of confronting their parents about abuse or incest soon after remembering these events only to find that their parents deny these allegations outright. The unconscious motive to preserve the tribe is the reason so many parents deny having ever violated a tribe member. At some level, their tribal memory bank has absorbed the memory very differently form the waythe individual member records the same event. The person who is waking up from the tribal trance is almost invariably seen as a “traitor” to the family.(…) Most tribes or families do not deliberately try to poison their members-they are merely handing down what they recognize as tribalwisdom, even in the form of limiting and painful ideas. It is useful to think of yesterday's tribe as today's dysfunctional family.”Christiane Northrup M.D.

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