How Experiences become Trauma and the 8 different ways we Cope
Books of reference
The after effects of Trauma
Since my divorce and newly self prescribed addiction to Meth, Ive taken some time to look around and ask myself "Who am I?" and "What has made me this way?". Sometimes I wish I could turn the clocks back and freeze time at just the right spot. That inevitable place in time where experiences became trauma and trauma left a scar that never properly healed.
As explained in detail by Patrick J Carnes, author of the book i was asked to read by my therapist, The Betrayal Bonds, you learn the two essential factors in creating traumatic experiences.
1. How far our systems are stretched
2. For how long our systems are stretched
For example: Every situation effects people differently and because of this difference, trauma could be defined as something as simple as tickling someone if they did not like to be tickled and you did it for a long enough period that you caused a negative feeling in one's brain instead of a playful experience. This type of event can happen only once or several times, and still leave a trauma impact. The book uses the example of Child neglect leaving serious lifelong wounds if a pattern occurs, even if the parent is trying to cover all the bases but falls short. Same goes with a toxic marriage or working for a toxic corporation. Like a bad odor your nose has adjusted to, its only until leaving the room do you recover your sensitivity to the odor once more.
In the Book The Betrayal Bonds Dr. Carnes explains our bodies react the same to high stress, danger or anxiety. The mind and body will adjust and pay the price for the compromises we make to live within it. We have to get away from our traumatic circumstances in order for our sensitivity to return.
Trauma continues to affect people over time in eight ways.
1.Trauma Reaction- Because fear causes extreme changes in the neurological system and in your organs-especially the brain, the problematic issue with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is how the alarm system of the brain is activated.Biological tissues in the brain are actually altered. Neglect and rejection of a child will create anxiety in human attachment and bonding. They say most people can have an emergency arise only to respond and return back to normal, But if the experience is overwhelming, trauma occurs when the brain is not able to go back to normal and instead stays in the "Alarm" state.This results in difficult people who do not want to be the way they are but feel powerless to stop their reactions
2. Trauma Arousal- During Vietnam, solders used sex as a way to escape their horrifying experiences in war. "High risk" sex became like a drug that stimulated the brain to dull the pain. Girls also took part in sex during this time and both as adults look for partners who will victimize them. So we can understand that Trauma Pleasure is "seeking" or finding pleasure and stimulation in the presence of extreme danger , violence, risk or shame.
3. Trauma Blocking- Using anything to escape the uncomfortable feelings you have at that moment, in hopes it will calm your nerves and make life bearable. Because Survivors of Trauma usually "Block" their pain they do not give themselves the opportunity to correctly deal with the situation and move forward in a positive manor. Addiction therapist use the term compulsive to describe the repetitive efforts to calm the mind. Sooner or later the addict will need the compulsion in order to feel normal and will eventually transform into an addiction.
4. Trauma Splitting-Easily defined as an "Escape". If the place you are currently in is too painful, you can find yourself slipping into another reality. Research has shown this to be common by children who were sexually assaulted. They would imagine themselves in a different reality, such as playing in the park or flying, while they were being fondled or penetrated. This was a coping strategy they used to cope when actual reality was too painful. "Therapists call this splitting- Victims lea3rn to split off the uncomfortable reality or dissociate from the experience." This type of coping strategy becomes a dissociative disorder if the "splitting" starts to interfere with living life. There are many forms of "Splitting"; multiple personality disorder, dissociative identity disorder, and addiction.
5. Trauma Abstinence- Otherwise called Compulsive deprivation occurs around memories of success, high stress, shame or anxiety, and is driven by terror and fear. Studies found similarities in people facing trauma abstinence such as neglectful families that taught lessons about self care and self esteem. Children become comfortable with deprivation and as adults self neglect. The Book states if this type of trauma is mixed with high arousal events like domestic violence or sexual abuse, the after affects are hard to shake. "The antidote to being out of control is to be in super-control. Ask Nothing, Do nothing, attract no attention. But Fear mobilizes the body and in a constant state it can become addictive".
6. Trauma Shame- Shame can originate from a perpetrator blaming the victim, but also the sometimes feeling of being defective or flawed from trauma can leave one to feel ashamed of their reaction to the situation and then they start to outcast themselves as different from others. "Shame represents a fundamental break in trust.". People who carry a burden of shame tend to think they are unlovable, and if someone actually knew who "they" really were or were "really" like, they would be alone. People with this "scar" have difficulty trusting anyone or allowing anyone to really care for them, but will try to compensate by driving themselves to meet unreachable goals or standards to get others to accept them. People with trauma shame tend to think of issues as "black or white", "one way or another" in reactions and never consider a mid-ground. Self destructive behavior and obsessive self hatred can result if shame continues to manifest in ones thoughts.
7. Trauma Repetition- Re-creating the trauma experience over again, with or without knowing. Repetition compulsion is also another name for repeating behaviors. Studies have shown some people will end up in the same situation, with the same type of person, over and over again in their lives. Sometimes not only is the same scenario repeated but the exact behavioral experience. One other form of reenactment is to victimize people in the same way you were victimized. Repetition occurs partially because the victim is trying to resolve the traumatic memory. They feel by repeating the experience, they can try to figure another way to respond in order to eliminate the fear, but instead this opens any wounds that might have been healing
8. Trauma Bonds- People who stay with or want to continue to be involved with someone who has betrayed them. Even through emotional pain, severe consequences or the prospect of death will not stop this type of person for caring or committing to their partner. Victims show to have a dysfunctional attachment that feeds off of the presence of dancer, shame or exploitation.
"The revolution is about relationships. Whether it is betrayal by seduction, terror, power, intimacy or spirit, exploitation is simply no longer acceptable. We've surveyed centuries of damage and we know better. We need to move towards a culture of mutuality and respect. We can build our relationships on the basis of our competencies, need and care. Men and women need to share power and privilege and all of us must commit to the nurturing of children. We are all accountable to each other for our behavior. There is no more room for terror in the human community." -Patrick Carnes.