broken people and getting fixed (an additional thought)


It’s taken me awhile to gather my thoughts on this one.

I have written a lot about life and resiliency and ‘being broken’ … a whole series in fact. It is an important topic to me. Maybe because I am a ‘hope guy.’

But then I received a comment after someone read my “can broken people be fixed” post  that kind of rocked me a little … made me think a lot … and … well … made me write some more.

The comment:

“I think you wrote a lovely article, full of hopeful ideas and beautiful thoughts. I wish everyone could feel that way, however, I don’t agree with you. I don’t think you’ve ever been truly broken. And the sad part is some people can’t be fixed. Abuse as a child can damage you in ways you would never imagine. Some children are so severely abused that they develop reactive attachment disorder, where they literally lose the ability to love. That is a broken person. And what of the sociopaths of the world. They are broken people. Some people aren’t fixable and the only solution is to walk away. Sometimes someone is so damaged that they hurt everyone they touch. I’ve been broken beyond repair. I will never have a normal life again. That is not to say, that I am never happy or that I don’t have people I love desperately and who love me back. I have a good life, I support myself and have my own home. It took me years to accomplish all that. But I have terrible demons from my past that will truly never go away. A part of me will always remain broken. The abuse and neglect and violence I endured have scarred me in ways I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. I tell all of you this so you can see the other side. I hope you always see the positive and never “break”. May god bless you and yours!” – texastwinky comment


I agree I have never been truly broken.  Pieces & parts but never the whole.


I agree some people are so damaged (and cannot fix themselves) and therefore hurt everyone and everything they touch.


I don’t agree sociopaths are broken.  Well.   At least not the way I have been defining it and trying to talk about it.  Sociopaths are the 1% lunatic fringe that are just wired wrong. Not broken.  Just built differently (built wrongly as a matter of fact).


I agree, depending on how much you have been broken, some parts will always remain broken or the parts that do heal will have such deep scars they will always remain.


I apologize to anyone where I have overstepped any boundaries when discussing topics. And by that I mean … how dare me to discuss broken people when I myself cannot put myself in their shoes and the depth of brokenness. While life has certainly tested my boundaries of breaking at times I would imagine in the scheme of things when compared to many others I have had an easy ride in the park.

All that said. Maybe I wanted to begin with where I just ended.

“… compared to many others …”

When we tell the stories about ourselves, and about others, it is those things that can make us who we are and inevitably what the world around us is.

The stories give our own brokenness perspective.

And at some point I imagine all broken people have to find perspective in order to move on (and by ‘moving on’ I don’t mean forgetting but rather as texastwinky suggests “I have a good life”).

Through stories, and maybe you have to try hard, you need to realize that someone else was broken worse. Someone just had it worse.

And maybe it is also by reading, and re-reading, these stories we find an understanding what might be triggering any personal destructive behavior and enables us to devise ways of transforming our behavior through context.

This transformation, at its core, is a personal responsibility.  An understanding that you, and only you, can mend the brokenness. Or at least be able to manage the brokenness.

I have talked about resiliency a lot.  But maybe someone like Texastwinkie is making me think the most broken people who end up having a functionally positive life are … well … durable.

Durable shares many of the same virtues as resiliency and also has an intrinsic strength at its core.

Successful broken people want to be durable. Maybe they just learn that they have to be. And maybe these people help the rest of us create a more durable world.

I do know researchers have studied this:

Sandro Galea, a public health professor at Columbia University, was one of the first scientists to study the psychological impact of 9/11 on New Yorkers. Early on, he made a surprising finding.

While most New Yorkers were understandably anxious in the days after the terrorist attacks, only a minority went on to develop debilitating psychological problems like post-traumatic stress disorder.

“Even among people who were in the towers and who were trying to escape or got injured, the risk of PTSD was still in the minority,” says Galea.

He says it was an “aha” moment for him.

“Human beings are incredibly adaptive and incredibly resilient,” he says. “Even in the face of a dramatic trauma, with horrendous circumstances, most people are still pulling through fine.”

By “pulling through fine,” Galea does not mean that people were not upset. Rather, they were able to function normally even if they had periods of great sadness.


Is this extreme personal trauma creating brokenness? Well.  Not really.  But you get the point.

We humans are incredibly adaptive.

Even after extreme measures of brokenness.

And while a little of what texastwinkie quite fairly pointed out as a hopeful, if not too Pollyannish, point of view on my part on whether broken people can be fixed … I am not sure I like the alternative.

That they cannot be fixed.

So. I have to say I still find that people who have been broken can still be healed once they find something solid, unbroken in other words, within themselves. And I purposefully chose the word ‘something.’  It doesn’t have to be the whole … just maybe a meaningful part to hold on to and to build upon.

And I did purposefully choose to make it a ‘self statement.’ To me “fixing” begins with the truism that the important thing is not a relationship with any other person. It is your relationship with yourself.

Another truth is everyone is imperfect. In some form or fashion.

The truth is that most adults become functional people despite being broken and yet because of being imperfect humans we, in some ways, remain ‘screwed up’ in some ways and do not function as well (or as well as we could).

But for perspective, as you think about yourself, interestingly this is just like the person across the room from you … in fact … just like everyone else.

We are all imperfect.

We are all broken in some way.

We are all not equal in brokenness.

But we are all equal with regard to what we choose to do with that brokenness.


Let me type that again.

But we are all equal with regard to what we choose to do with that brokenness.

With that said I want to end this with a TED video I found somewhat on this topic of ‘what it takes for you to fix your broken self.’
It is of Brene Brown … I am a “life’s messy … clean it up” person. – TED ideas to share video

it is a great thought provoking talk.

Some immediate thoughts on what it takes for an individual to successfully move on from brokenness:

–          courage (to be imperfect).

–          compassion (to be kind to themselves).

–          connection (willing to let go of what they thought they should be … and accept who they are).


And embrace vulnerability (not being comfortable with it …  just the ability to accept it).


This is the kind of thinking I wish I had said or written.

I have always called it a good combination of resiliency & strength of character

This is better.


Can broken people be fixed? In my mind, yes.

They have to fix themselves first and foremost (although if you know a broken person that doent mean you shouldn’t try and help).

I loved what texastwinkie wrote.

And it created some real soul searching on my part.

But in the end, particularly after reviewing the video, I stand by my belief that broken people can be fixed.


–          Vulnerability? We have all dealt with it in some form but accepting and embracing it? Frightening but when given the alternative, as explained by Brene, is there even an alternative? – commenter on the TEDBreneBownvideo.

Yup. Because what’s the alternative?

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Written by Bruce