The Roots of Racism and Phobia


Defense parts expect trauma to occur again. In the attempt to ensure trauma doesn’t re-occur defenses widen their vision. Wide-angled vision is a condition of expanded suspicion where all situations or people bearing some similarity or resemblance to those who originally caused trauma are suspected as having the potential or ability to create trauma again.are (Read: What are defenses?)

If the old retired male neighbour caught the child picking apples off his apple tree and screamed and yelled in the child’s face to the point that the child was traumatized by the incident, to ensure the child is never traumatized in this way again his defense parts might widen their vision to include all older men as having the potential to re-traumatize him. If this wide-angled vision stays in place the child’s defense part may advise him to be wary and suspicious of all older men, a suspicion that if left unchecked could extend into his or her adult years. Even into his middle aged or retirement years he could feel anxious and insecure when in the presence of an elderly man and may choose to avoid situations where he is alone with an older man.

If a woman was a passenger when in a car accident, she may feel hyper alert when in a car because her defenses carry the expectation that similar trauma – another car accident – could and probably will re-occur. Consequently, in the passenger seat she is always on edge and constantly advising the driver how not to drive. Because of the trauma of the accident, her defense parts suspect all related people or incidents as possible causes or catalysts to like trauma taking place again. And so any driver falls under her defense’s wide-angled vision.

Alternatively, another person may have experienced excessive control from a parent to the extent that he had little freedom of movement as a young child without someone criticizing him. Consequently, he felt under the constant eye, suspicion, and scrutiny of his parents. His defense vision widened. As he grew up into a teenager and later into an adult he inwardly panicked in any situation where he felt under the control of someone else: air travel, dentist chairs and being under the jurisdiction and control of an employer were particularly situations he would either avoid, rebel against or experience excessive panic.

Significant costs can result from wide-angled vision. The costs incurred are the opportunities lost as a result of heeding the defense’s wide-angled perceptions. The person held up at gunpoint and robbed while walking home may refuse to ever walk the neighbourhood alone at night. The cost is manifold: the health care gained from nightly exercise, the enjoyment lost from a late night’s summer’s stroll, and the feeling unsafe in the area in which she lives. If her wide-angled vision is extended to a certain segment of the population, such as to all people of a particular creed or colour, then the cost could be the loss of interaction, or even intimate friendships or relationships with all people of that colour or creed. (Read: What are the costs of defense behaviours?)

Anxiety is always behind the wide-angled vision. In all of the above examples, the person caught picking apples off of the neighbour’s tree will experience anxiety when around men. Anxiety is behind the woman in the passenger seat’s criticism of her drivers. She doesn’t feel safe as a result of her trauma, so her monitoring of the driver is an anxiety-based attempt to create safety and certainty based on her belief that the trauma of another car accident could hit her again. If the person who was held up at gunpoint ever walks home at night again, were she to see anybody walking towards her she would feel anxiety. Her wide-angled vision has been extended to the whole neighbourhood itself, as possessing the potential of recreating her trauma.

Wide-angled vision then is a form of extended fixation, where people or situations outside of those originally involved in the trauma are suspected to be potential initiators or influences to future trauma. This happens all around us, in our own cities and neighbourhoods, our own countries, and countries outside of our own often with devastating consequences. In the days after 9-11 in the United States, many mosques were attacked and ransacked. Peaceful, law abiding Americans who subscribed to the Islamic religion were included within the vision of some fellow Americans alongside the extremists who flew planes into buildings killing thousands. History is full of incidents where a wider segment of a population is blamed and made to suffer for the belligerent and often devastating acts of a few.

Wide-angled vision is logical but rarely correct. It makes sense that the child who suffered trauma involving a man would suspect and therefore feel anxiety when around all men, however, the wide-angled assumption is not a correct one. Anxiety should be felt towards the original manbehind the trauma, but there are no realistic grounds for anxiety towards any man not directly connected to the trauma.

As we learned with addiction, anxiety will latch onto anything it deems as reasonable.  (Read: When We Grasp Onto Something) This is the foundational basis of phobia. Consider the girl whose trauma was her parents not being around when she was asleep. Her father worked night shift and her mother, being an alcoholic, on occasion at nights left her alone to slip to the local bar to buy more liquor leaving her child alone in bed for periods up to half-an-hour at a time. One night her daughter wakes up because she had a bad dream about a giant spider attacking her. She cries out for her mom but she doesn’t answer because her mother is not in the house. She panics. Her survival-anxiety kicks in. Alongside her survival-anxiety her unsophisticated logic attempts to quickly rationalize the situation and fixates not on her mother’s absence but on the spider in the dream. This fixation is then extended, or wide-angled, to include all future spiders. The spider becomes the focus and therefore the outcome of her anxiety. So that when in the future she happens to see a spider, any spider, her survival-anxiety kicks in, and she panics. She grows up avoiding all dark rooms that carry the potential of housing spiders. Her cost is that she is always reluctant to turn the light out in her bedroom. While the cost is somewhat minimal when she is on her own since she has over the years learned to sleep soundly with a light on, she is rarely able to sleep with someone else, whether in the same bed or the same room, because the light disturbs the sleep of the other person.

Wide-angled vision is logical, but rarely is it correct. All sorts of people and creatures are victim to the rational of wide-angled vision. Creatures such as snakes, spiders, mice, rats, and insects have been the object of phobic wide-angled vision for generations. In Europe, North America, indeed in many parts of the world, black people, Jews, oriental people, individuals deemed handicapped, short people and tall people and many more have borne the brunt of racial prejudice, which is just another way of saying wide-angled vision has reasoned that these creatures, these people are a threat, and may in some way, initiate trauma.

Contemplation Questions:

What events have contributed to your own wide-angled visions?

How and when does wide-angled vision show up for you?

Can you trace an event(s) that might have caused, influenced or initiated your wide-angled vision?

Are you aware of underlying anxiety in these wide-angled vision moments? Is there a way to address or to attend to this anxiety?

Do you believe there is a connection between racism and phobia?

Tune in next Friday for excerpts from a brand new chapter from A Return to Consciousness

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2 thoughts on “The Roots of Racism and Phobia

  1. Hi Pietro,
    This is a great idea, thank you. Are you familiar with the Monroe Imstitute? I’m doing some reading and may host an outreach trainer for a wknd. in the fall. Would you be Interested in attending? You would be a valuable addition.

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