Repeated early trauma will frequently lead to dissociation, a separation of the self from the body in order to survive the reality of what the body is being subjected to. Structural Dissociation in some degree may occur (for more on this, I found http://www.complex-trauma.eu/?p=307 to be of great help).
In indigenous shamanic cultures dissociation is seen as soul loss, where a part of the soul takes flight. This fragmented soul-part can be brought back through practices such as soul retrieval.
In prayer, I have always struggled with the sense that there is a veil between myself and God/divinity; a veil I would now term a dissociative veil.
In my 20s I spent five years as a Carmelite nun, five immensely rich years, intending to dedicate myself to God for the rest of my life. What I did not realise at the time was just how devastating the trauma I had experienced as a child through abuse had been, and the impact that had had on me as an adult. Living in community was highly triggering, but I had little idea of what it was triggering back to; what the emotional flashbacks were all pointing to. It became clear that I could not continue my life as a Carmelite, as I had been too damaged by my childhood; left too unstable for community life.
Now I know just how traumatised I was, and am grateful indeed for the trauma therapy (EMDR) I am now going for. I would liken this to the process of soul retrival, placed within a modern psychological framework. Fragmented parts of the soul are brought back. Yes, they are the dissociated emotional parts which carry traumatic memories, but specialist trauma therapy is able to put these in the past, where they belong.
Today I spent an hour in prayer in another Carmelite monastery chapel. A place of deep Healing, of Light, of Peace, and of Hope. Carmel stands as a witness to the Eternal, the Absolute, the One. It is uncompromising; asking that we give ourselves totally to that One. Yet that Eternal One does not want a mere sliver of who we are, a tiny fragment of who we are, a superficial persona. What that One calls us to be is the fullness of ourselves – because how can we relate to any B/being if we are splintered into dissociative fragments? The relationship will only be with a tiny part of who we are.
Called into the fullness of Life by that One, I know that One will also give me the strength to continue in this path of recovery, no matter how tough it is.