TRAUMA AND ITS IMPACT (2)
"Dissociation is the essence of trauma. The overwhelming experience is split off and fragmented, so that the emotions, sound, images, thoughts and physical sensations related to the trauma take on a life of their own." Bessel van der Kolk
Dissociation and Reliving
‘Dissociation is the essence of trauma. The overwhelming experience is split off and fragmented, so that the emotions, sound, images, thoughts and physical sensations related to the trauma take on a life of their own.
The sensory fragments of memory intrude into the present, where they are literally relived.
As long as the trauma is not resolved, the stress hormones that the body secretes to protect itself keep circulating, and the defensive movements and emotional responses keep getting replayed…
Flashbacks and reliving are in some ways worse than the trauma itself. A traumatic event has a beginning and an end – at some point it is over.
But for people with PTSD a flashback can occur at any time, whether they are awake or asleep. There is no way of knowing when it’s going to occur again or how long it will last….
If elements of the trauma re replayed again and again, the accompanying stress hormones engrave those memories even more deeply in the mind.
Ordinary, day-to-day events become less and less compelling. Not being able to deeply take in what is going on around them makes it impossible to feel fully alive.It becomes harder to feel the joys of aggravations of ordinary life, harder to concentrate on the tasks at end.
Not being fully alive in the present keeps them firmly imprisoned in the past.’ Bessel van der Kolk, The Body Keeps The Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma
Trauma and Our Bodies
'…However, traumatized people chronically feel unsafe in their bodies: The past is alive in the form of gnawing interior discomfort.
Their bodies are constantly bombarded by visceral warning signs, and, in an attempt to control these processes, they often become expert at ignoring their gut feelings and in numbing awareness of what is played out inside. They learn to hide from themselves.
The more people try to push away and ignore internal warning signs, the more likely they are to take over and leave them bewildered, confused and ashamed.
People who cannot comfortably notice what is going on inside become vulnerable to respond to any sensory shift by shutting down or going into a panic - they develop a fear of fear itself.' Bessel van der Kolk, The Body Keeps The Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma
Befriending the Body
‘Trauma victims cannot recover until they become familiar with and befriend the sensations in their body.
Being frightened means that you live in a body that is always on guard. Angry people live in angry bodies.
The bodies of child-abuse victims are tense and defensive until they find a way to relax and feel safe.
In order to change, people need to become aware of their sensations and the way that their bodies interact with the world around them. Physical self-awareness is the first step in releasing the tyranny of the past.’ Bessel van der Kolk, The Body Keeps The Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma
> The Elders Report