Trauma leads to dissociation; dissociation is when a part of the individual’s psyche withdraws from an intolerable situation because it is impossible to withdraw physically. Strieber, and countless others in the fields of religion, psychism, and Ufology, are arguing that dissociation and/or out of body experiences that result from trauma are a way to access realms of experience that are otherwise unavailable to us. While (based on my own experiences) trauma can and does lead to authentic “soul journeys,” what is not being discussed, so far as I can tell, is the assumption that, because they are genuine—or to the degree which they are genuine—these visionary states are also desirable and beneficent to us.
My own position is that these non-corporeal excursions not only depend on a disconnection from the body, but that they exacerbate it. I would even suggest (again based on direct experience) that this is the sole imagined ”benefit” of such experiences, namely, that they allow for a surrogate form of individuation and a “pseudo-enlightenment,” one which I suspect is not only no substitute for the real thing but which severely reduces the chances of it happening. If we find a convincing counterfeit for what we are, at the very deepest level, striving for, we will suppress a deeper knowing that something isn’t right in order to settle for the more easily available substitute. Yet the substitute cannot ever satisfy. There is also nothing quite so addictive as the cure that almost works.
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