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stoicism and trauma/ptsd (article)

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As someone who has been through some amount of trauma in my life I’ve found myself often questioning the stoic philosophy of “nothing can harm you unless you let it.”

I agree with a lot of stoic teachings but this was one I chewed on for a long time.

As much as that is applicable to a lot of life, it can feel awfully dismissive of victims of traumatic or abusive situations, and absolve the responsibility of some truly harmful perpetrators or abusers.

I find that a more applicable and empowering way to look at that line of stoic philosophy is that you have ownership over your mind and soul to recover from any situation or experience you have been to. And in that essence, you have more power to not hurt than to hurt forever.

Although you absolutely be a victim, to no fault of your own, nothing and nobody can completely remove the essence of you from yourself.

“Choose not to be hurt and you will not be.”

I found this arguably false on a surface level, once again especially as a trauma survivor. However it depends on how you define its terms.

Choose can be seen as a more proactive, ongoing effort rather than a simple choice in the moment. Work to recover from hurt, and you will no longer be. You can recover your own agency, even if it has been taken away from you.

Of course my interpretation of philosophy from years and years ago likely changes the original meaning of the philosophy, but I think the point of learning about philosophy is not to take it blindly but to adapt it with changing times and greater understanding of people and yourself.