Here's what I was thinking about on my drive this afternoon. It has nothing to do with the retreat I'm working on, except insofar as the completely unrelated dilemmas of others always raise questions about my own.
Most people who die of suicide suffer from a major mental illness, such as depression.
But most people who suffer from significant mental illness do not die of suicide.
It occurred to me that these statistics bear some relation to those pertaining to abuse.
Most people who abuse their spouses and/or children were at one time abused themselves.
But most people who suffered abuse at the hands of others do not themselves become perpetrators of abuse.
In other words, there are people who suffer serious damage, whether from mental illness or from various forms of abuse, who move forward into productive, successful, and contributory lives.
And there are people who suffer similar trauma who are destroyed by despair and hopelessness, and who inflict devastation upon those they love the most.
So the questions are: How do we identify and distinguish these two groups, and
How do we help the latter become the former?