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Content Notes for "A Double-Edged Sword" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
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Content Notes for "A Double-Edged Sword"
Here are the content notes for "A Double-Edged Sword."


"Separation is like a double-edged sword. It not only breaks your heart but also creates a void that no other person can substitute. Parting from your loved ones is never easy. Separation always leads to heartbreak, frustration and unpleasantness. All said and done, at times it becomes unbearable that two people caught in a bad relationship stick to it. In such cases, separation is inevitable."
-- Separation Quotes

Unbalanced relationships happen when one person cares more about the relationship than the other person cares. Recognize the signs of this, because such imbalance causes significant harm. Take steps to address it.

The Just in Time principle developed in Japanese manufacturing. It also works well in health care settings., where lean process improves efficiency and effectiveness. This is crucial in small clinics that don't have space for people to pile up in a waiting room or extra staff to manage backlogged clients. Know how to schedule appointments efficiently. Yes, it can be done. I've seen it. It's just rare to see that level of skill, and thus impressive. Cleaver may be running a fly-by-night organization out of necessity, but he is running it well.

Informed consent applies to all contexts, but is most often discussed in regard to medical care and human studies. In this case, the tangled relationship makes consent iffy for Calliope and even more so for Vagary. Everyone just has to do the best they can in that situation. Here's a discussion about the spectrum of consent.

Soulbond refers to a variety of mystical or energetic connections between two (or rarely more) people. They are often difficult or impossible to break, and trying to do so can cause a lot of damage. Some people think the cost is worth it. Here are some tips for breaking a toxic bond. Without access to a bondbreaker, people are left to pull apart the bond until it dislocates.

fimbriated
Fringed with finger-like processes, as at the open end of the fallopian tube.
-- Medical Dictionary

Personal boundaries often prove challenging to people who grew up without them. Boundary violations or enmeshment can take a lot of work to fix. Now add in the fact that bonds naturally create an exchange of energy between the members, and you can see why Calliope and Vagary are struggling. Boundary issues play into almost everything that can go wrong in a relationship. It helps if you understand how to handle resentment, frustration, and abandonment issues.

Pain assessment poses a challenge in health care because it has both objective and subjective aspects. Different pain scales appeal to different people, so seek one that feels right for you. I favor this comparative pain scale because it provides both objective effects on activity and an upper end based in finite practicality. A Better Pain Scale is typical of supervillain humor and also life experience. Chronic pain patients need even more numbers. Think about the things you have seen supervillains experience and you can see how horrendous life is chronic pain patients. Some scales are designed for situations where communication is difficult or impossible. Compare ones for nonverbal cognitive impairment, and nonverbal critical care. This post discusses assessing pain in someone with impaired or absent communication. Bear in mind that some people have warped pain scales due to training or other experience. With soldiers, dancers, abuse survivors, refugees, chronic pain patients, etc. you may observe symptoms that indicate a much lower level of pain than is actually happening. Other people have exaggerated responses to lower levels of pain, or experience high levels from small stimuli such as light touch. If the person is communicative, ask about their pain tolerance and history. In Vagary's case, his tolerance of physical pain is higher than usual and he's good at working through it -- but he's defenseless against certain types of emotional pain.

It's hard to find any scale that references emotional pain. I did fine one that talks about frequency of upset. Since I couldn't find the kind of thing I really needed, I made one. It would look better with a visual representation, but I'm not an artist.

Emotional Pain Scale

0 -- No pain at all. Feeling content.
Relaxing, reading a book, taking a walk.
Healthy people spend a majority of their time at this level.

1 -- Trivial disturbance.
Friend didn't say hello, meeting is a few minutes late, disappointing news.
People typically experience this numerous times a day. It is fleeting and easily shrugged off. However, trivial issues can cause more serious upset if they happen when someone is already tired or frazzled.

2 -- Minor stress.
Important clothes unavailable, friend crying on you, lifepartner or children angry with you.
This often happens once or more a day. It tends to fade after a few minutes.

3 -- Significant stress.
Anticipated plans fall through, essential supplies unavailable, hearing about woeful political problems far away.
Such misfortunes may occur once or more a week. This may last for hours, but can be handled with your usual coping skills without affecting work or recreation.

4 -- Minor emotional pain.
The death of a public figure or a casual coworker, political or environmental upheaval in your region, self-recrimination for a small significant mistake.
This may happen once or more a month. It might last for hours or days, but can be handled with your usual coping skills without affecting work or recreation. It's just an occasional distraction. People already upset by something else may be much more impacted.

5 -- Moderate emotional pain.
The death of a beloved public figure, casual friend, or distant relative; loss of a valued relationship; political or environmental upheaval in your region; beating yourself up over traits; periodic bullying.
Such things can happen several times a year. They often take weeks to overcome, and some things like a habit of self-recrimination are ongoing. Most people can function almost normally but the issue may be distracting enough to require deliberate refocusing.

6 -- Substantial emotional pain.
The death of a close friend or well-known relative; political or environmental upheaval in your region; regular bullying; many mental illnesses and injuries which impair life somewhat.
Single incidents may happen once a year or less. Performance is affected, especially for challenging tasks. It's distracting enough to make concentration difficult. With chronic stress of this type, personality wears down, getting worse over time. This might or might not heal on its own if the cause is removed. It generally won't heal while ongoing.

7 -- Emotional suffering.
Death in the immediate family, such as a sibling or parent; loss of a beloved relationship; loss of a home or job to which one is somewhat attached; personal impact of political, environmental, or other upheaval; psychological abuse.
These experiences are uncommon for healthy situations, less than once a year. Isolated incidents can do lasting damage and make it difficult to function for a while. The preoccupation covers most awareness and escaping it even briefly is difficult. In chronic cases, pieces begin to break off the personality. This takes a long time to heal, if it does at all. It's less likely to heal well without help, although sometimes it does; and even getting help doesn't always fix it.

8 -- Emotional agony.
Death of a beloved spouse, loss of a home or job to which one is deeply attached, serious personal harm of a lasting nature, severe psychological abuse.
Not everyone has these experiences, although most people do have one or more horrible events in their life. Performance is deeply affected for a long time. The pain pervades every moment and in inescapable, though it may waver up and down in intensity. It can cause soul fragmentation or partial soul loss. This rarely heals without expert intervention, which is unavailable in many societies. However, experts can usually fix it.

9 -- Emotional torture.
Death of a child, losing someone to murder or suicide, watching helplessly while someone is tormented, loss of vocation, destruction of a beloved country.
Not many people encounter this much mayhem. Survivors may be marginally functional or completely nonfunctional. It can cause substantial or total soul loss. This almost never heals without expert intervention, which is unavailable in many societies. Even experts might or might not be able to fix this.

10 -- Existential agony.
Emotional pain so bad that the victim wants to be not, because existing hurts too much. Finding out that one has inadvertently killed many people, causing the death of a loved one, enslavement.
This tends to leave permanent damage even if treated. It might be eased down to a lower level, but often even experts can do little or nothing to help. A few people get through it on their own simply by not dying, but suicide is very common at this level. Victims tend to be nonfunctional, and even if they survive, they are unlikely to regain full function.

Mindful breathing can help with pain relief and relaxation. In T-America, most counselors, health workers, bodymod artists, etc. know at least the basics and coach people to use them routinely. Most quiet rooms have a poster or cards of breathing exercises. Just giving people something to try can reduce feelings of helplessness and overwhelm, thus lowering the risk of worse complications. Explore some breathing exercises to balance your mind, body, and soul.

When a broken bone knits, it leaves a thicker seam that usually fades over time.

Tattoos typically hurt at first, but it varies a lot depending on person and location. This pain chart uses a heat map and this one uses stars. However, some people find the process relaxing or even enjoyable. There are tips to cope with tattoo pain. This is not really the best reference for Calliope to be using, but it's what she can think of at the time.

Torture can have lasting health effects on the victim, one of which is depression. However, torture also harms torturers, who may experience PTSD, disabling guilt, or other serious problems. Rehabilitation offers challenges for clinicians. Sometimes energy work helps, such as qigong or t'ai chi. Caregivers can help survivors of torture, and there are self-care steps for survivors too.

Evil comes in different types. I wrote an article about the nature of evil myself. One way I define it is when you want what you want and you don't care who gets hurt in the process. This is a favorite rendition of that supervillain perspective. Here are some quotes about good and evil. The challenge is that good and evil exist on a spectrum; they're not black and white. The division between good and evil, heroism and villainy, runs through the heart of every person. Which one dominates depends on which one you feed. Good people can do bad things for various reasons. Know the traits of good people and evil people. Self-sacrifice is among the most salient aspects of goodness. Learn how to be a good person.

It has to be okay to make mistakes, because everyone makes mistakes and that's how we learn. Some mistakes are life-wrecking or even fatal. Create an environment that is resilient about mistakes. This encourages people to deal with them and learn from them instead of hiding them and making matters worse. There's even a game for learning this. In one of my online classes I assigned students to try a project at the edge of their current skill level, which pretty much guarantees something will go a bit pear-shaped. Know how to handle a major fuckup.

Self-loathing is a serious problem. Sufferers may have a distorted sense of self, often due to feeling hated. Right now Calliope hates herself because she pursued the bond severance and hurt Vagary. It is possible to shift attitudes slowly and overcome self-hatred.

Self-blame may be characterological or behavioral. When someone feels like an evil person, that is characterological. Self-blame often leads to self-bullying and other psychological problems. Follow the steps to stop blaming yourself.

Friendship is about helping each other. There are tips for children and adults on helping a friend through a rough patch. Much of the advice about taking care of a sick friend also applies to injuries, emotional upset, and other challenges.

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