Click on the above link to visit Kitty’s blog for this piece on the brutal, damaging DWP work assessment system. This begins with one woman’s appalling experience, and then makes some general points. Kitty refers to Ken Loach’s powerful, excellent, heart-tearing film ‘I, Daniel Blake’.
We feel deep concern at this service about the assumptions, culture and attitudes that underpin Salena’s experience, and those of so many others, including our clients. Institutionalized, systemic, socially accepted abuse. Unfortunately, we hear accounts every week which make it clear that the film ‘I, Daniel Blake’ is all too realistic and Salena’s experience is characteristic, not an exception.
Reading Salena’s experience brought up feelings of pain and rage. It is hard to take in the sheer awfulness of her remaining in her chair and enduring a heart attack, for fear of sanctions, while the interviewer ignored/overrode her expressions of pain, distress and fear at what was happening in her body. How can one human being do this to another? And how can so many of us allow this to continue in our society, and contemplate voting for the government that introduced and oversees this horror?
The writer has been thinking a lot about this cultural phenomenon, given the only people who will actually be served by voting Conservative are the wealthy. And then only superficially and immediately – at some point down the line, even they may discover you cannot eat money, and that we need connection and community at a core level.
What causes people not only apparently to lack all compassion for others (at least others outside their own circle), but also to behave in such a self-harming way? To block out this much reality? There was a story a while ago about an American woman who voted for Donald Trump whilst married to an illegal immigrant – who was then deported after decades living and working in the US. She said it never occurred to her Donald Trump’s policies would affect him, because he was ‘a good man’.
It’s a wounded/child mindset, and unbelievably dangerous. The difficulty is we live in a culture that is routinely traumatic, and traumatizes people through the schools system and in multiple other ways throughout their lives. And traumatized people are often not in a place for accurate perception, or cognition that adequately takes in reality, nor for empathy or compassion. This is James Hillman’s ‘anesthetized heart’ – the heart which has no response to what it sees – the source of what we call ‘evil’.
And, of course, where the trauma is systemic and culturally accepted, it induces a kind of collective fugue in many. So people do not know they have lost connection with reality and with their hearts, and may strongly oppose/resist anyone challenging the fugue.
We hope enough of us will wake up, before 8 June.
Thank you Kitty.
Palace Gate Counselling Service, Exeter
Counselling in Exeter since 1994