We are increasingly aware of the effects of PTSD. We used to think, before we knew much of anything about the human genome, that everything was “chemical imbalance.” Now we see and understand that trauma is the main factor.
But we still have some distance to go. Not all traumas are equal. I suspect the worst are:
1) What R.D. Lang called “double binds,” where one is given a choice that is not a choice. Whatever you do will be declared blameworthy retroactively.
This, not incidentally, is the essential feature of Buddhist hell: being pulled in two directions at once.
2) What is sometimes called “gaslighting”: the consistent inversion of truth and falsehood. This seems to me the perfect way to provoke schizophrenia. Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie is a case study.
3) Moral inversion: being taught that right is wrong, and wrong is right. Jesus condemned this in particular, saying that it would be better to be cast into the ocean with a millstone around your neck than to be guilty of doing this to a child.
It is not just the child’s morality that is at risk: because we all have an innate conscience, this sets him or her up for internal torture.