Would you be surprised if I actually admitted to reading the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy- and went so far as to state is the best fiction I have recently read that deals with the potential effects of early childhood trauma and attachment patterns?
I did and it is.
It's also highly sexual and totally inappropriate for readers who will be distracted by that sort of stuff (fair warning- that part of the hype is true!)
But honestly- if you can overcome the whole sex thing and see beyond the in-your-face -this is too weird - discomfort - these books offer a window into a world that is far more common than most of us realize. A place where young children are abused and neglected, where families implode and healthy attachment doesn't occur in the formative years. In their teens these children fall prey to adults who have their own unhealthy attachment patterns and as the traumatized child develops into an adult they are unable to function in healthy ways, easily falling into behaviors which exploit their low self image and lack of healthy relationships.
Looking at this series from a RAD/Attachment Disorder perspective it is totally understandable why the main character acts and believes the things he does. His behavior is not unusual within this this paradigm - it is one of the logical ways his experiences would affect his development. Not that they are good choices - but they are predictable within the scope of his life experiences.
I was happy to note that as the trust relationship between the two main characters develops, you can track the emergence of earned secure attachment where there were once only disorganized reactions. As this more healthy attachment develops, the 'unusual' behaviors that earned this book it's 'erotic' rating subside and new more 'normal' patterns emerge. Sure - all three books have a lot of sex in them but within the world of abuse and trauma, hyper sexual and divergent behaviors are actually more 'normal' than not.
So.... I am glad that I read these books - they have caused me to stop and think again about the high cost of childhood trauma and the overwhelming need for caregivers to protect children and teens who's attachment patterns are not secure. Too many times in real life I have seen predatory or self seeking adults gravitate toward those who are attachment challenged - and I hate the destruction and misdirection that they bring with them. Sadly, the same adults we need to protect vulnerable children from were once abused and poorly attached children themselves. It's a cycle - but one that awareness and intervention really can help to break.
There it is. I have read 50 Shades of Grey and it spoke to my heart - showing me the brokenness and fear behind the main characters sexual behaviors and giving me another level of compassion for those who have walked through life without the security of healthy attachment patterns.