The Illness of the Domination System

August 6, 2020

By Valeria Vanzani, CPS Partnership Community

(Editor’s note: this post is excerpted from the author’s blog: One Step Beyond the Light Cone. For the full article in English with references, see the link below).

When we talk about trauma we think only of physical and sexual violence, but at the basis of it there is, equally serious, a whole psychological violence: verbal, coercive (punishing if orders aren’t obeyed), social (excluding, discriminatory social measures, deny or threaten to deny food, healthcare and education), cultural (literature, mass media, stereotypes that justify as normal relationships based on dominating-being dominated). Western society has focused on physical violence, but psychological violence remains invisible to those who believe only what they see.

In past blog posts, I mentioned a class of disorders whose triggering trauma is precisely this domination system. Among them there is my illness, fibromyalgia syndrome, which means feeling chronic musculoskeletal pain throughout the body— more recently identified as Central Sensitivity Syndromes (CSS). These disorders are united by the perception of an invisible pain that doesn’t correspond to physical harm or measurable parameters.

As Riane Eisler had guessed, each child has in part a genetic-psychic legacy inherited from his parents and grandparents (as genetic-biological characters are inherited), in other part a plastic neurological structure that is structured according to the first relationships he sees and lives 25,28. In the early years of life, the part of her/his brain that stores information is the ‘animal-emotional’ part (amygdala)25 and he/she doesn’t have the ability to mediate emotions through reason yet (reflective function)24. If she/he grows up in a domination environment, a child experiences dysfunctional relationships, that is, s/he depends on people who take care of her/him but cause him/her pain, and learns that not obeying orders is painful28.

It is no coincidence that the victims of an androcratic (relating to a social system ruled or dominated by men) system, which are mostly females, develop psycho-physical syndromes related to pain. This happens because emotions correspond to specific molecules in the body and therefore a psychic (abstract) factor turns into a biological (concrete) feature: one’s biography becomes one’s biology25.

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24. Baldoni F., “Alle origini del trauma: confusione delle lingue e fallimento della funzione riflessiva”, in Crocetti G & Zarri A (a cura di), 2008, Gli dei della notte sulle sorgenti della vita, il trauma precoce dalla coppiamadre al bambino, Pendragon, Bologna, pp. 137-159

Valeria Vanzani is partnership leader and scholar in Padua, Italy. Her areas of research cover a holistic spectrum including partnership and gender equality, restorative justice, climate justice, cosmology (I have graduated in astronomy), philosophy and psychology, theology and spirituality. “A part of my identity is communicating the possibility of going beyond mental and social schemes that imprison us. For this reason, I started this blog “One Step Beyond the Light Cone”. Contact Valeria:

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