Tag: Mental Health

Resistance Is Futile: The Effects of Past Trauma

Resistance Is Futile: The Effects of Past Trauma

Introduction

Star Trek Voyager (as of this moment) is not my favorite of the Star Trek series, but its characters I can appreciate. I like Tuvok who all the while takes pride in being Vulcan, finds he too can fall susceptible to the same temptations and follies as his crewmates. Then you have “The Doctor”, the Emergency Medical Hologram, who has learned he is more than the sum of his parts. Next is Neelix, a Talaxian, who lost ALL of his family members in a terrible war, still manages to look on the bright side of things and takes pride in being Voyager’s cook and “Chief Morale Officer”. But the character I found most intreging was Seven of Nine.

Seven as a Borg Drone

Borg

Seven of Nine is a former Borg Drone who was once part of the dreaded and feared Borg Collective, who are basically a collective of various species melded with organic cybernetic materials. This group of alien species considers anything not up to Borg standards, imperfect. However while assimilating other species, they collect information about them and their fighting tactics. Unfortunately those caught by the Borg, undergo excruciating surgeries that add robotic components to their bodies as well as “stripping” them of their individuality and culture leaving them as “mindless drones” that can only hear the voices of the collective hive.

The Struggles of Humanity

After being stranded on the Voyager ship on part 2 of “Scorpion” (season 4), she struggled accepting her humanity, but even more, she struggled with nightmares of the assimilation process guilt as well PTSD and social anxiety. In addition to Data of “The Next Generation”, it’s still nice to–in a sense–relearn about humanity through Seven of Nine, because despite her vast knowledge and vast memory and the implants that help her accomplish many tasks, she experienced the struggles of being human.

Seven with Kovin

In the 4th season of episode 17, “Retrospect” Seven experienced memories of her own assimilation process as a child and ends up accusaing Kovin, an Enthran trader of assaulting by removing some Borg technology. Then in another episode, this time in the 6th season episode titled, “Survival Instincts”, it was found that when Seven of Nine was in the Borg Collective, she as well as three other drones remembered their former lives. However because Seven was assimilated at a younger age and Borg was the only thing she knew, it made hard for her to accept those memories.

PTSD and Trauma

Whenever people undergo trauma they can develop PTSD which can lead to (Wlassoff, 2015):

  • Vivid flashbacks
  • Edginess
  • Retreating to into their “shells” after reacting to the slightest cues
  • Avoiding people, objects, and situations that remind them of traumatic situations
  • Also indirectly, the individual may also turn to coping mechanisms where they forget the details of painful memories. Unfortunately, this may lead to having a hard time functioning in everyday life.
  • As shown on the tree the symptoms of trauma (e.g depression and body memories) can stem from many things like abuse.

    Making Peace With The Past

    Likewise in the first few episodes of Seven’s appearance she struggled with her life as Borg drone and past life as a human child with parents. This is what she was pretty much dealing with:

    • The anger toward her parents for choosing to study the Borg, instead of the safety and well-being of their family only to end up being the very thing they observed.
    Seven’s parents Magnus (left) and Erin (right) Hansen studying a Borg drone
    • The assimilation process of being Borg isn’t pretty. The process is done while the person is being is awake which obviously can leave significant psychological damage. For example, a drill is used to penetrate the eye pupil in order to add the cortical array and the neural transceiver which makes the brain process language and memory faster as well as to send messages to the collective consciousness. Then the individual’s organic organs are replaced with synthetic organs. Can you imagine a little girl having to endure that?
    Picard undergoing the assimilation as the drill prepares to enter his pupil
    • Her anxiety of reentering human society. Like as mentioned many times in this post, she has spent 20 years of her life as a Borg drone of the Collective and doing whatever she was told to do. And being that her individuality was stripped from her at young age she never learned how to interact with humans. She felt more Borg than human for a time, but she eventually accepted her humanity.
    • She underwent guilt because how she assisted the Borg to assimilating other species:
  • Neelix: Seven…when you were a Borg, you were involved in some unpleasant activities.

  • Seven of Nine: I helped assimilate millions.

  • Neelix: I don’t mean to be insensitive, but do you every feel shame…about what you did.

  • Seven of Nine: Frequently.

  • Neelix: How do manage to keep going, knowing that you’ve done such horrible things.

  • Seven of Nine: I have no choice.

    Neelix: Guilt is irrelevant?

    Seven of Nine: On the contrary. My feelings of remorse help me remember what I did, and prevent me from taking similar actions in the future. Guilt can be difficult but useful emotion.

    Another thing that doesn’t help is that she had an implant, a cortical node, that causes drones to shut down whenever they experience emotion. Regardless, she did her best to redeem herself.

    Conclusion

    In a sense, I felt like I could relate with her dealing with repressed feelings and unpleasant memories of the domestic violence I witnessed as a child and the sexual assault/rape I faced as an adult. But no matter how stoic I was, the unresolved pains would seep out one way or the another whether be it nightmares, paranoia, or just repressed anger. But on the outside many people on the outside saw me as this “happy go lucky” person, but the thing was that’s how I wanted them to see me. I didn’t want them to see my vulnerabilities. Another problem was, especially after realizing I was sexually assaulted/raped, I developed hyper awareness of my surroundings. Any guy who slightly looked like assaulter, whether it be their long brown hair, build, tattoos…I freaked the hell out. It didn’t fair any better when I had to drive around his area either. Then here I was watching Voyager seeing this bionic woman perfect in every way, suffered so much trauma. She tried her best to keep some of her pains to herself to not show she had her problems (then again she’s trying to understand some her trauma). She tried to work past her traumas, but one way or another, they’d haunt her. Yet, Seven of Nine showed when you possess perseverance, patience, self forgiveness, self-love, courage, and take it a day at a time, you can still have a hopeful future.

    Reference:

    Wlassoff, V.(2015).”How Does Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Change The Brain.” Retrieved from: https://www.brainblogger.com/2015/01/24/how-does-post-traumatic-stress-disorder-change-the-brain/

    For More Reading on PTSD and Trauma click on the links below:

    California’s First Surgeon General: Screen Every Student For Childhood Trauma

    How PTSD and Trauma Affect Your Functioning Brain

    Three Ways Childhood Trauma Affects Adulthood

    Tough Childhood? The Effects of Trauma on Your Brain