Let us begin by defining trauma and interrogating its means of operation. Trauma can be looked at on a spectrum. At the low intensity side, for example, think about walking into a classroom that you frequently weekly and after several months when you walk into the classroom and the desks are rearranged. When entering a room that is not like how you remember it. There is a very brief moment in which your reality does not make sense to you. The feeling of weirdness is a symptom of trauma. It is as if you feel disrespected because someone fiddled with your reality. On the high intensive end of trauma, for example, think about soldiers riding in a convoy when all of a sudden and IED explodes. Reality suddenly becomes something radically differentiated from the past. You are not who you were nor is the world. A soldier's training may kick in and he may instantly recognize the situation for what it is and provide adaptive strategies to interpret the situation and acting on it. But, once the intensity of the even or trauma sets in clarity is lost, and the mind seeks to fragment between competing and sometimes incoherent narratives.
Stories are what we use to protect our self from reality. Chris's addiction to meth, is an adaptation to narrative incoherence. The addiction has driven his friends away, pushed him to isolate himself, and incorporate the addiction into point of a meaning constitution for who he knows himself to be. Without friends or others to challenge his self-image Chris is free to avoid confronting the reality of his life. Forced into an existential crisis when he learns his wife is pregnant, Michael reflects on his life. Not wanting to be the of father that abandon his friends Michael re-codes his role in Chris's life as a vigilante social worker bent on curing his vice. Zizek argues
When we think we really know a close friend or relative, it often happens that, all of a sudden, this person does something - utters an unexpectedly vulgar or cruel remark, makes an obscene gesture, casts a cold indifferent glance where compassion was expected - making us aware that we do not really know him; we become suddenly aware that there is a total stranger in front of us. (Zizek, 1997)Is this not Chris's immediate reaction after being handcuffed to a pipe? He was living his life in floating from one drug stupor to the next, when all of a sudden his mild manner friend forcefully interjects himself into his life. Michael's arrival, here, destabilizes what Christ knew his relationship to be with Michael. Michael does not hide the fact that that shaking Chris from hermit/isolationist self-identification is his intent. What Michael take's from Chris is not only his ability to get high, but his ability to continue being who he was. What is interesting is Michael is willing to break into Chris's symbolic universe and rob him of the only thing that give significance to his life in order to shift his universe of meaning in order to address his guilt for letting his friend descent into addiction.
What precedes fantasy is not reality but a hole in reality, its point of impossibility filled in with fantasy. (Zizek, 1997)
Zizek, Slavoj The Plague of Fantasies Google Books,. (2014). The Plague of Fantasies. Retrieved 20 August 2014, from http://books.google.com/booksid=NM5PqgKd2dsC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false