Ponder This

Finding the Courage to Face the Truth: What I learned From ‘Life of Pi’

“When you look into his eyes, you are seeing your own emotions reflected back at you.” Pi’s father about the Bengal tiger in Life of Pi. Screenshot.

Juliet Bonnay
5 July 2023

Many of us have skeletons locked in our respective family closets we do not wish to see. They rattle the doors from time-to-time, begging to be released. They may howl during the full moon and send us into depression. Yet still we refuse to unlock the door and listen to their stories.

At this moment in time on the world stage, skeletons everywhere are rattling doors and screaming at us to let them out. We refuse to understand that listening to their secrets can set us free. I have learned the hard way that while they remain imprisoned in the closet, their untold secrets imprison us all.

This I have learned from finding the courage to open the closet door. The tears, heartache and pain released from this secret keeping have been difficult to bear. But it set me free from a prison of fear, anger, recrimination and self-hate. Listening to secrets taught me to open my heart to love, understanding, compassion, empathy, and all the wonderful attributes that make us truly human, including forgiveness.

I always know when a skeleton wants to reveal another secret, for something will trigger an emotional reaction to tell me to return to the closet, open the door and ask, “What do you wish to tell this time?” What was revealed during my latest encounter with the skeletons has kept me floundering for weeks like a beached dinghy with waves crashing over me, knocking me this way, then that.

I had to find the courage to face the truth about the damaging impact of dissociation in my life.

The trigger seemed innocuous at first. Someone sent me a pdf of S.K. Bain’s book, The Most Dangerous Book in the World, which focused on that terrible day in 2001, when so many people died and towers came crashing down as if in a horror movie.  But it wasn’t my horror movie. I had just sailed into Suva, Fiji when this trauma shook America, the sort of trauma that causes people to dissociate because the truth is too horrible to bear, ensuring most will readily believe the ‘official who dunnit story’.

Scrolling through The Most Dangerous Book, there was a passage that caught my eye about the CIA’s mind control program, MK-Ultra. Dr. Ellen P. Lacter stated in The Relationship Between Mind Control Programming and Ritual Abuse:

The objective is for the victim to follow directives with no conscious awareness, including execution of acts in clear violation of the victim’s moral principles, spiritual convictions, and volition.

Installation of mind control programming relies on the victim’s capacity to dissociate, which permits the creation of new walled-off personalities to “hold” and “hide” programming. Already dissociative children are prime “candidates” for programming.”

S.K. Bain then revealed what caused children to dissociate:

…programmers use a variety of horrific means, including forced sodomy, which in children can produce vaso-vagal shock and aid tremendously in splitting their personality.” [p.317]

“Split personality…” My father said my mother had a “split personality.” Exactly what it meant always puzzled me. I can only now guess at the horrors my mother endured when her single mother farmed her out to relatives and friends to look after sometime after her birth in 1929. It was another piece to the jigsaw puzzle I have been working on for the past thirty years or so to understand why my mother vanished completely out of my life when I was thirteen years old. It was time to lay more skeletons to rest.

If my mother dissociated as a way of coping with childhood abuse and abandonment, the haunting feeling I had growing up that she was never fully present as a mother makes sense. The long hours I have just spent going down to deeper and deeper emotional levels until I became dissociated and numb, told me I had something to learn from this. Witnessing my own distraction and dissociation, I then understood that this is what I had witnessed within my mother. While she did her best to look after my physical needs, it was emotional neglect that caused my greatest suffering, for it led to free-floating anxiety that has negatively impacted my health to this day. My mother was there, yet not there. And now I understand why.

Peter M. Barach wrote of dissociation:

Within the total traumatic environment…another type of trauma, which I am calling “the parents’ failure to respond,” profoundly influences the development of dissociative psychopathology. Under this rubric I am including (1) the parents’ failure to protect the child from abuse, and (2) the parents’ tendency to dissociate or otherwise detach from emotional involvement with the child. Though physical neglect can follow…the mother’s chronic failure to respond to indications of distress or emotional need in the child is by itself traumatic, eventually causing a corresponding detachment in the child. The child’s reactive detachment sets the stage for reliance on dissociation as a response to “active abuse.”

As adults, how do we cope with trauma and abuse when we are not heard and feel powerless to stop it? We do what children do, trapped within a home where they are not heard and from which there is no escape, and where the abuse goes on and on with no rescuer in sight. We dissociate as a first line of defense. Dissociation caused through trauma disarms people when they go into ‘freeze mode’, rendering them unable to fight back or run away. It is a picture of total overwhelm, where they act like stunned deer caught in headlights. They may also create a fantasy to protect them from the truth.

As I went deeper and deeper into my feelings, I began to feel great compassion for my mother and the child who tried in vain to make her happy. It furthered my understanding of how abuse creates a ripple effect that can become inter-generational. It enabled me to see more clearly how whole societies can become dissociated when governments do not listen to the people, or when they traumatize them through wars, civil wars, taking no action during the looting and damage of property caused by riots, and all the other crazy stuff that is beyond the realm of what was reality a few years ago – as we have recently experienced with the pandemic scare, lockdowns and mandatory vaccinations.

Dealing with this latest skeleton episode and reading through some of my old diaries looking for clues, I came across what I wrote about the film Life of Pi, which I saw as a classic example of dissociation at the time. Perhaps it is fitting, in a way, that I first watched it in July 2014 just as mainstream media around the world exploded with headlines of “Putin did it” after a Malaysian passenger plane was downed in Ukraine. What follows is an edited version of what I wrote in my diary on 30 July 2014.


Over a week has passed since the downing of MH17 in Ukraine. The crazed headlines attack Putin relentlessly, calling him a ‘KGB thug’ and blaming him directly for the deaths of all 295 people on board.

Questionable stories on social media tell of a smuggled BUK from Russia that did it. As people are given their fill of staged photos and victims’ heart breaking stories, Obama threatens to take the whole world into war. At times I despair that we will ever pull clear of this constant threat of war hanging over our heads.

Simultaneously, as if in a choreographed dance, Israel attacked Gaza. I see the shattered images of ruined homes and lives in Gaza and in Eastern Ukraine, where a civil war was planned in 2013 to take out the whole Russian speaking population there. It has to end. At times like this I wonder, “Where is God?” Tears of despair come to my eyes. Lies are now used as the excuse to place more economic sanctions on Russia.

But there are other stories buried under the media uproar, accusations and hubris that tell an even more sinister tale. And this is what I find most disturbing of all, for these are skeletons we collectively locked in the closet.

Mainstream media will never tell you that while the MH17 horror story was unfolding, a brave and horrified Spanish air traffic controller, Carlos (with a Twitter handle @spainbuca), working at the Borispol Airport in Kiev, tweeted what he saw happening in front of his eyes. Here are just three of his many tweets (translated from Spanish):

Before they remove my phone or they break my head, shot down by Kiev

The B777 plane flew escorted by Ukraine jet fighter until 2 minutes before disappearing from the radar

Military commanders here (ATC) control tower, confirm that the missile is from the Ukrainian army

Of course, the tweets were deleted – and from the paste bin from where I copied them. Carlos disappeared, never to be heard of again.

Mykolas Alutis who had been following Carlos’ tweets since March, 2014 re-tweeted and copied many of Carlos’ tweets about the downed MH17, and later made an appeal on Facebook as to his whereabouts after Carlos’ Twitter account was deleted. He wrote that Carlos had started tweeting about the MH17 disaster two hours before he heard it on the news. In other words, while the drama was unfolding.

I read many strange stories about the bodies of passengers found. Many rescuers immediately on the scene reported that they were bloodless, and the stench from them was so great they had to cover their noses.

A reporter from ANNA-News, a volunteer network news agency registered in Abkhazia, was at the scene of the crash immediately in the aftermath. She recorded a video going through photos she took at the crash site, which was translated by Lada Ray.

She described that there was some kind of liquid coming out of the bodies, not blood, which glowed green at night. She said:

It was impossible to stand by one of the plane parts – the smell of chemicals was overwhelming, as if in a morgue. Body parts didn’t look like they came from living people.

Of particular interest she said of their nationality, “most passengers seemed of Asian look, so it is unclear how so many could have been Dutch.”     

One of the passengers killed on board MH17 was Glenn Thomas, media officer for the World Health Organization in Geneva, who was on his way to the AIDS Conference in Melbourne, along with five other AIDS researchers. He was an expert on AIDS and the Ebola virus.

~ Photo by Wayne Crocker.

And now I am up again in the middle of the night unable to sleep. My heart is pounding and will not settle. I chanced to find an article by Andre Vltchek and read:

So much is at stake! Increasing cooperation between Russia, Latin America and China could mean the end of Western neo-colonial control of the world. The creation of alternatives to the World Bank can free billions of human beings from market feudalism and its slavery. Powerful news organizations broadcasting from Russia (RT), Venezuela (TeleSur) and Iran (Press TV) are consistently breaking the depressing and nihilistic monopoly of Western propaganda and control of people’s brains all over the world. [1]

The thought that a new world power could emerge and free us from the neocons’ nightmarish crusade to make this new century one of America’s own with its endless wars lifted my spirits momentarily, but not enough to allow me to return to sleep.

Distracted, I picked up a book I had borrowed from the library, The Emperors of Rome, by David Potter. I have always been fascinated as to what finally brought Rome down and opened it at random to read:

Temperamentally [the Romans] were inclined to individualism, a trait which, when it has manifested itself in other societies, has sat uneasily with autocracy. Yet after hundreds of years of democracy, Romans found that their government could no longer keep pace with the speed of change and the special demands that came with being a superpower. Foremost among these demands was that the government should remain responsive to the needs of the majority of the people and not be hijacked by special interest groups. The government of the Roman Republic failed to do this, and fell victim to men who took advantage of its weaknesses to further their own ambitions. That said, the men who usurped power in this way still found it impossible to do away entirely with the traditions of collective government that had existed for centuries under the Republic. (p. 3)

If there is a lesson to be learned from the history of the Caesars from Augustus to Romulus, it is that government must represent the collective moral wisdom of society. It is the duty of an administration not simply to ensure justice and peace for its people, but also to create a viable way for those people to make their voices heard. Government that withdraws from the realities of the world around it, or simply asserts banal ‘truths’ that have little resonance with the opinions of its people, ultimately only erodes the very foundations of society. The fall of the western Roman empire was not so much the result of barbarian invasion as of a failure of imagination in assimilating the new arrivals. Appeals to prejudice and fantasies about the nature of the world were then, and always will be, a recipe for disaster. (pp. 309-310)

What a find! And oh how this resonates with what is happening now. Western governments are certainly not listening to the people. We cannot even make ourselves heard. Leaders have become increasingly arrogant – like John Key (in New Zealand) and Obama. The fact that the majority of the people do not even bother to vote is a very damning indication that the government is only serving a small group of people with self-serving interests. New Zealand can give a tax break to Hollywood and bail out failed investment companies, but will not help the poor out of poverty or address pressing social problems of domestic violence and child abuse.

It is interesting that I chanced to see this book about Rome. I attended the opening on Saturday of our new library – beautiful architecturally with soft wood tones inside, and light and airy. I went there to have a break from all this stuff about the Ukraine and war, but soon found myself talking to a woman about the neocons, something she also was interested in exploring. We were standing in front of the videos and she said that I needed to distract myself for a while and watch a video. She recommended Life of Pi. I returned home laden with books to watch it.  

It had me on the edge of my seat the whole time. If one has a tiger in a lifeboat, it is not going to be a very relaxing time. Basically, it is about a family from India moving to Canada aboard a Japanese freighter with their zoo animals, intending to sell them there. The freighter sinks during a storm and it looks like a boy, Pi, is the only human survivor as the lifeboat suddenly rips free of its davits and plunges into the stormy sea below. A zebra then fell into the lifeboat and broke its leg. Pi saw someone swimming for the boat and held out an oar, only to discover that ‘the person’ he was helping aboard the boat was the tiger his father had terrified him with by making him watch the tiger kill a goat and eat it. It was his father’s lesson to Pi for disobeying him when he tried to feed the tiger. Pi had protested that he could see in the tiger’s eyes what was in his soul. But his father retorted, “When you look into his eyes, you are seeing your own emotions reflected back at you.”

With the lifeboat pitching and tossing about in the waves, a hyena happened to get aboard, and then an orangutan. Pandemonium followed. The hyena killed the zebra and orangutan. The tiger killed the hyena. This left only Pi and the tiger and they drifted for weeks on the lifeboat struggling to survive together.

Pi remembered his father’s words about the tiger and protects himself at all times, managing to make a raft to sit on, attached to the lifeboat by a long rope. The tiger looked back at him with evil in his eyes until they managed to stake out their respective territories on the boat after the raft was smashed in a storm. Pi managed to keep them both alive with fish he caught.

When the lifeboat finally nudged into soft sand on a beach in Mexico, Pi was emaciated, and the tiger also. The tiger immediately got off the boat and disappeared into the jungle without looking back. After all they had been through together, Pi was deeply hurt by this.

When Pi was rescued and taken to hospital, Japanese officials investigating how the ship sank interviewed him. After they heard his story, they said they didn’t believe him and that they wanted to hear a story that they could believe – the truth. So Pi dutifully obliged by seemingly making up a story where the ship’s cook, a sailor with a broken leg, and his mother were the only other survivors in the lifeboat. But as he gets into the story, emotions creep in that weren’t there when he told the story about the tiger.

The sailor’s broken leg became infected and he finally died after they amputated it. The cook used his dead body as bait to catch fish and the mother was angry and horrified. Arguments broke out between her and the cook, until finally the cook killed the mother and threw her body overboard, where sharks circled looking for a feed. This enraged the boy so much he killed the cook with a knife.

Tears were now dripping down Pi’s face and the Japanese investigators are visibly shocked by the story.

Years later, Pi as a grown man with a family, told this story to a writer who was similarly shocked by it. Pi said that the cook was evil, but killing him brought out the evil in him. The writer then paired the animals with the people. The man with the broken leg was the zebra. The hyena was the cook. The orangutan was his mother. And Pi…was the tiger.

But what is the truth?

When the writer checked out the report the Japanese investigators made, it ended with the startling fact that a boy made it across the Pacific Ocean with an adult Bengal tiger as his only companion.

It was late when the movie ended, but I was so wound up I couldn’t sleep. I sat in a numbed state just thinking and thinking until I finally understood that the story was about dissociation. What happened was so emotionally and physically traumatizing to a young boy that he could not accept it as the truth of what really happened. In order to psychically and emotionally survive the situation, he created a fantasy in his mind where his action of killing the cook became the reflection of evil in the tiger’s eyes. In this way he separated his ‘evil’ act by projecting it onto the tiger, and then wrestled with it as if it was really part of the tiger, and had no place within him. As the days went by and he was able to ‘tame’ this evil within himself, he was then able to return to sleep in the lifeboat. When they parted on the beach in Mexico he wanted the tiger to turn around and say goodbye so that he could see some semblance of goodness within himself for keeping it alive. But the tiger denied him that and disappeared into the jungle without looking back.

And so circling back to where I began, I saw what the American people are collectively doing. They have dissociated from the reality of what is happening in their country and have instead created a fantasy: they are Americans, the “exceptional ones.” As the “exceptional ones” they can safely project all the evil within the government onto so-called enemies. Right now, that happens to be Putin and Russia.

Living in the illusion that America represents everything that is good and right and just, how can the people possibly face the truth that their country is now turning into a brutal regime that is causing endless war in the world along with endless suffering and, as happened with the Cherokee Indians, have created a trail of tears that goes on and on around the world. Instead of Obama being the advocate for peace that he purported to be when he first campaigned to become president, it is instead Putin who has moved into this role because of the vacuum left by the United States. But because of the endless projections, most are not able to recognise this fact.

No one can triumph from the brutality America has thrust onto the world – at least since the first CIA orchestrated coup in Iran in 1953, which replaced the democratically elected prime minister, Mohammad Mossadegh, with the brutal dictatorship of the Shah for 25 years. America cannot survive living in a fantasy. It is like the sinking ship in the movie, and there will be very few survivors. The American dream is completely and irrevocably shattered because of the self-serving interest groups that have been allowed to usurp, sabotage, and destabilize from within what Americans believe to be the “greatest democracy in the world” – so much so that the voices of the majority can no longer be heard. When less than 50 percent of the people do not even vote in elections, it is not apathy that causes such a situation, it is democracy lost.

…End quoting

Political psychologist Dr. Andrew M. Lobaczewski wrote in his disturbing book about psychopathy and pathocracy, Political Ponerology: A Science on the Nature of Evil Adjusted for Political Purposes:

Mankind has a natural predator, the psychopath, and this predator is invisible because there are no easily discernible markings that set him apart. In a society where evil is not studied or understood, they easily “rise to the top” and proceed to condition normal people to accept their dominance, to accept their lies without question. The trick of the psychopath’s trade is to make us believe that evil comes from others.

Gene Wheaton, an Iran/Contra affair whistle-blower, former police officer, a military criminal investigator for 35 years, and who investigated the Gander, Newfoundland crash in 1985 said of the men in the CIA he got to know:

The covert operators that I ran with would blow up a 747 with 300 people to kill one person. They are total sociopaths with no conscience whatsoever.

Police officer, Tom Juby, who investigated the Swissair111 crash in 1998 was curious about several high profile passengers on board and asked himself of each one, “Was he a target? And if he was a target, what was it that made him a target?”

It now seems to me that being connected in any way to AIDS research could make flying a health hazard, for not only did Dr. Mann and his wife die in the Swissair111 crash, two years prior to this Dr. Rodolphe Mérieux died in the TWA800 crash on his return from Africa, where he was involved with Ebola research and a vaccine for AIDS, which some believe are bio-weapons. Yachtsmen found bags of HIV positive human blood in the TWA wreckage. Mérieux worked for Rhone-Poulenc which does secret germ warfare research.

Dr. Mann and his wife, Dr. Clements-Mann, were on their way to Geneva to attend a series of global strategy sessions on AIDS, sponsored by the World Health Organization and United Nations. Dr. Mann established the WHO’s Global Programme on AIDS, which he ran from 1986 to 1990 before resigning in anger and frustration because the WHO’s then-director, Hiroshi Nakajima, “completely paralyzed our efforts.” Dr. Mann was a key figure in highlighting the need for a global response to the crisis, and was outspoken in his criticism of the failure to develop an AIDS vaccine. He championed the idea that health is a human rights issue.

And on board MH17 when it crashed were prominent HIV researcher, Joep Lange, and Glenn Thomas, plus four other AIDS researchers. Glenn Thomas had returned from Africa where he was investigating a brewing scandal of trial operations of the Ebola vaccine in a biological weapons laboratory at the hospital in Kenema. There was serious concern that the vaccine was actually giving people Ebola, as had happened when the Gates’ funded polio vaccine caused paralysis and deaths in both India and Africa. With the involvement of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in the Ebola vaccine experiments in Kenema, and possible funding from George Soros, it seemed like a powder keg waiting to explode. Instead, a plane exploded in the sky over war torn Eastern Ukraine.

Putin then became America’s Bengal tiger – a fantasy for sure, but a much more believable story.


[1] Andre Vltchek, MH17: Sacrificed Airliner. “The New Cold War”

This article was originally posted on Juliet Bonnay’s Substack site, Rude Awakenings.

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