James Arthur Ray may very well be paying the price for working with untreated Second-Hand Shock. His job, which focused on helping people deal with work-related stress, probably put him at risk to hear lots of trauma content stories over time while having to control his empathic response; a perfect storm for contracting Vicarious Trauma.
It appears from news reports and eye-witness accounts that Ray cajoled his participants into enduring the enormous physiological strain of remaining in the sweltering heat of the sweat lodge. This type of behavior is indicative of the Second-Hand Shock phenomenon called Miracle Worker Reverie.
The Miracle Worker Reverie is an altered state of consciousness that helpers unwittingly enter into in order to counteract their unconscious experience of the of the most foundational symptoms of Vicarious Trauma: a negative and hostile world view. The Miracle Worker Reverie is a false sense of identity the helper begins to develop. This includes a grandiosity that covers an inner feeling of being impaired. These impaired helpers, in their own mind and the mind of the client, become god-like and omnipotent.
Taking on this type of Miracle Worker persona is an unhealthy defense that our heroes rely upon to counterbalance their negative and painful view of the world. Untreated Second-Hand Shock puts our helpers at risk for only feeling good when they perceive themselves as Miracle Workers, effecting amazing solutions and making huge dramatic life changes for their clients. As we have seen from the sweat lodge tragedy, this unhealthy approach can be deadly.
Let us work together as heroes and helpers to raise awareness of Second-Hand Shock. We need to support early intervention to protect everyone from unnecessary suffering and loss of life.