July 26, 2016 8:38am Fifty Shades of Healing

IMG_0392_2I’m blogging less because I’m writing a book. My life’s work captured on a laptop. It took thirty years to live as a doctor and just two weeks to spit out the bulk of the story. But it’s going to take years to edit.

I’m writing and re-writing and editing over and again. Writing and remembering stories of patients’ traumas I really never wanted to be true. Wondering who will want to hear them now if it was hard to tell them in the first place.

“It’s too graphic, Julia, folks won’t be able to process this.You have to be more positive. Aren’t there any good stories, any happy endings?” Sadly, they were few.

And how, I wonder, did my patients survive, live and tell, if others can’t read them? Especially after confiding in so many people who did not believe and refused to rescue them. And then they told me and I believed but often couldn’t rescue.

images And how does Fifty Shades of Grey, a book about bondage, dominance and sadomasochism, BDSM, make it to the top of the best seller list for over 100 weeks with 100 million copies sold, if people are so squeamish? Initially published as an ebook, it was panned by critics as being almost “unreadable” it was so poorly written.

Fifty Shades of Grey was so pornographic it was taken off it’s fan fiction site and placed on E. L. James’, the author’s personal site. There the sadomasochistic addiction went viral. Google it and you will bring up hundreds of web sites – graphic uncut versions on YouTube, the new Fifty Shades Blacker, Shades of Grey from the viewpoint of the man.

Readers of Fifty Shades of Grey are associated with having abusive romantic partners with stalking behaviors. Professionals who rated the interactions between the male and female characters with the intimate partner violence scale in a 2014 study, found that nearly every interaction between the man and woman was emotionally abusive. Stalking, intruding, intimidation and isolation were common. The readers themselves were more likely to have eating disorders, binge drinking and five or more sexual partners before the age of 24. The book “romanticizes dangerous behaviors and perpetuates abuse.”

images-1Ah, then why the attraction? What are we missing?

Remember the one in five? One in five girls who are sexually abused in childhood and one in ten boys? The international epidemic of childhood trauma? Turns out that eating disorders, abusive, highly dramatic relationships, addiction, binge drinking and multiple sexual partners are all associated with abuse. Trauma patients that are attracted to erotic fan-fiction suffered childhood trauma at a rate of 80-90%. They also suffer from social anxiety, panic attacks, mood swings, agoraphobia and chronic physical illnesses that are ill-defined and hard to treat. Interest with BDSM stems from experiences with masochistic perpetrators. Victims are stuck developmentally at the age when they were abused and reading the book allows them to establish a narrative for their traumas in hopes of healing. E.L. James is exploiting the unnamed epidemic of childhood sexual abuse and most likely is completely unaware because of her own traumatic childhood. That’s the attraction. Just a guess but an educated one.

Stay tuned because my book is going to offer a narrative for healing too. Except it’s going to do it in an honest and true, non-exploitative way. If that’s too graphic, I’m sorry.                   Julia W. Burns, MD


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