The Assault on Our Eyes
September 17, 2016
Chaplain Kay Wilson-Bolton
Most people know when an image is seen, it is burned into the brain and no one can “un-see” it. Nothing can scar a person more than seeing images of cruelty and the results of tragic accidents and behavior, including pornography. The continuous assaults manifest themselves in post-traumatic stress disorder. The Civil War it was known as “soldier’s heart”. In WW1 it was “shell shock,” in WW2 it was “battle fatigue” and “combat stress.”
In 1952, The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual settled on “Gross Stress Reaction” but only for a time as psychiatrists believed a greater description was needed. We know it today as “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.”
The remembrance and rehearsal of explicit and upsetting images can have profound and lasting effects. People who have witnessed such images are forever changed. Outside of war zones, there is a daily assault on our senses from news reports and messages from the internet.
For good reasons, first responders are able to manage their emotions after a while because the continued assaults on the brain from the sights and smells of tragedy. Some will seek counseling to help manage the attacks and others may resort to less healthy mechanisms. Without some acceptance of the effects of tragedy, they could not do their jobs.
The internet has produced wonderful uses and opportunities for education. A program like Facebook has forever altered the communication techniques and the sharing of information — for good and for bad.
I have so enjoyed many of the videos and posts from people I know and trust to guard my senses and put “no worthless thing before my eyes.”
There have been numerous unexpected wounds to my mind and my heart from posts by people wanting me to know about some cruel practice as though I could change it. One particular post was very disturbing. I have to fight to suppress it and change my mental focus, particularly when I close my eyes.
Part of the reason for confidentiality among first responders is so that the sharing of tragic events, details and images can create vicarious trauma to the listener, particularly for spouses, children and significant others.
Children should never see these images. For one, they are too young to process them and they may be subject to an aroused curiosity that would take them to place from which there is no return.
There is a reason King David spoke of this in Psalm 101:3, “I will set no worthless thing before my eyes;”
I encourage everyone to be thoughtful about what you see, share, and say. It will promote good sleep and healthier private thoughts.