Our childhood wounds : B.R.A.H.I.P.I!

« We are contemporary in our most ancient pains. »
Henry Bonnier, Journal of a conversion, Rocher 2005
This small text is without any other pretence than to remind the main childhood wounds (psychic or moral) that we are all bearers of. And to offer a small aide-mémoire – that is worth what is worth – to recall them more easily. I will confine myself to consider wounds derived from everyone’s personal and singular story. I differentiate them from pain inherent to life – in general, and to the relationship life in particular. They are linked to the inescapable and necessary experiences of differentiation, separation, individuation, etc.

We all come from the country of our chilhood1. Of this time-space of our life, we keep happy and pacified memories, but also long-lived although inactive and dormant traces – always ready to be revived, all life long – of painful or dissatisfied experiences, registered under more or less elaborated forms, between body’s memory and unconscious or “preconscious” representations. These survivals of the past are sources of excitement, irritability or sensitiveness ready to emerge under certain favourable conditions (if they should be isomorphic to the circumstances that prevailed to their forming originally).

« I believe, says Jacques Salomé2, that wounds received in childhood are never healed. They can be pacified, even form a scar, but they always remain ready to become inflamed if an event or a situation awakens or stimulates them. When we say that we are feeling well, that we are reconciled with ourselves, it simply means that our primary wounds are resting, that they are not inflamed. »

Jacques Salomé often evokes these wounds which he calls, « primary », sometimes « archaic ». I will not discuss in this editorial, the adjective «primary», or, especially, the sense of the word «archaic» which would deserve in itself some developments. I will use for convenience, the current wording « childhood wounds » that the author has, by the way, also used in “Vivre avec soi. Chaque jour la vie

« What are, exactly, these main wounds that Jacques Salomé talks about? »

It happened many times to me, these last few years, to look for a mnemonic mean to remember them or to facilitate memorizing them for those who were sometimes asking me that question.

Nothing pertinent had come to mind until then. I was always succeeding, on average, to reconstitute that list, but sometimes I had to make an effort to achieve naming them all without forgetting any. And then, recently, I found a small trick.
I must say that I had participated a few days before, to an interview evening organised by my favourite  bookstore, with the writer Sorj Chalandon, for the promotion of his last book « Mon traître »4. The evening was charged with emotions during which the author, still very shattered by the real-life experience he relates in this novel, entrusted to share about his childhood history and betrayals that went through it. The presenter pointed out to him, that beyond his terrible history of reporter to the Liberation who covered the Irish conflict, everybody could identify to his hero. I had the occasion to remind that betrayal is part of main childhood wounds that we all suffered up to some different degrees.
Deep into the reading of « Mon traître », the state of sensitivity and the absorption by this thematic which resided in me during the following week, certainly did an underground work without my knowledge. But the fact remains that this particular context contributed to put some order in my ideas: I heard myself pronouncing in my mind the evocative acronym T.R.A.H.I.I.I. (note: this word means Betrayal in French; the closest English version would be B.R.A.H.I.P.I. although it has no real meaning in English). It would mean here

B as Betrayal
R as Reject
A as Abandonment
H as Humiliation
I as Injustice
P as Powerlessness
I as Intrusion

There is in each one of us, a very particular vulnerability to life experiences. We all have our out of proportion reactions, and this propensity to feel the tickling or the untimely awakening of these wounds that infuriate us, make us wild with rage. Sometimes it will be in reaction to attitudes of others or sometimes even, from « nothing » which play a role of triggering element: a look, a simple word (or subjects that make angry), a gesture evaded by someone in our direction, or an inattention from a close one (a forgotten anniversary) or less close one (somebody who pass in front of you at the supermarket or elsewhere). One or the other of these wounds (or of their variances) concerns us: betrayal (or deceit), reject (or exclusion), abandonment, humiliation (or shame), powerlessness, injustice, intrusion (in intimacy for example).
Do you know which one is or are yours?

Maryse Legrand

1 Car nous venons tous du pays de notre enfance, Jacques Salomé, Albin Michel 2000
2 in Je mourrai avec mes blessures, Éditions Jouvence 2002, p 18
3 Les Éditions de l’Homme, 2003, p 69 « À l’écoute de nos blessures d’enfance »
4 Published by Editions Grasset in December 2007