Becoming Your True Self by Vivian Broughton
Green Balloon Publishing, £7.95
‘Where can I read more?’
The coaching client has described an early life trauma: parents so preoccupied by their own fights and struggles that he says he felt ‘chronically unsafe’ despite an apparently comfortable middle class upbringing. We have made the link to his ‘survival self’, the self he constructed to protect himself against more hurt and we have made the further link to his pattern of chronic over-work. We have discussed the uselessness of tackling the over-work in the traditional ways – for instance with little homilies about ‘work-life balance’ because naturally he knows all about these anyway and it has never helped. Now he is transfixed. He wants to know more.
This is also the common request from the coaches we train at workshops on coaching and trauma. The ideas are so striking, they make so much immediate sense, people expect to have immediate access to a range of reading and other resources. The trouble is that these are in short supply. But now there is an updated version of Vivian Broughton’s book Becoming Your True Self to fill at least some of this gap, based on the ideas of Professor Franz Ruppert, Professor of Psychology at the University of Applied Sciences in Munich. His work is still relatively unknown in the UK. Julia Vaughan Smith has been a doughty champion of his ideas as they can be translated into coaching and Vivian Broughton, the author of Becoming Your True Self, has been Professor Ruppert’s translator and loyal disseminator of his ideas in the world of therapy.
I recommend this book to coaching clients and coaches who are eager for more. It is short, only 87 pages of 14pt Helventica and much white space. It is simply written. Vivian says in her intro that she believes ‘trauma is the most pervasive and unaddressed issue of our society. It affects all of us… ‘ – and I agree. The book discusses trauma as a long-lasting stressful state, the result of being overwhelmed by failures in bonding as a child. These experiences can start in utero and may go on to mean that as children we surrender our own identity in order to meet our parents’ needs. There are clear descriptions of the traumatized self, the survival self and the healthy self. There are compelling lists of survival strategies, why they are so toxic and how they develop, as well as the hopeful message that healing is possible. The book also has an excellent short chapter on how perpetrator-survivor dynamics develop and are sustained.