Using Hypnosis In Trauma Treatment

Last week I introduced you to three people and their stories with the idea in mind of understanding trauma a little better — and what to do about it. The common element in trauma is that a person is shocked and overwhelmed by a great loss. That feeling of shock is important. It means that the new event can’t easily be integrated into one’s expectations of what is “normal.” For example, a picture of “normal” would not include a terrorist running into a store and killing people. A traumatized person might replay that scene over and over in his mind, unable to comprehend such a thing. Replaying the tape does not make the event easier to accept or to understand. A well-known therapist, Bessel van der Kolk, tells the story of this trauma repetition in the case of a Vietnam veteran who lit up a cigarette one night during his period of fighting the Viet Cong. The cigarette gave away his and his buddies’ location and the enemy fired, killing one man. As van der Kolk tells it, “From 1969 to 1986, on the exact anniversary of the death, to the hour and minute, he yearly committed ‘armed robbery’ by putting a finger in his pocket and staging a ‘holdup,’ in order to provoke gunfire from the police. The compulsive re-enactment ceased when he came to understand its meaning.” Replaying or a sense of reliving an incomprehensible and disturbing event is one symptom of trauma. Others include poor sleep fear avoidance of being in a certain location or with specific people flashbacks extreme preoccupation blocking out the memory of...

It Might Be Trauma

Lilly was ten. When she was in school, she could dig into her work and her mind could entertain itself with whatever the subjects were; she loved school. It was when she came home that the problems began. Her father had a temper that would erupt easily. Lilly could not know what would bring it on. Her mother didn’t know either. Her mother’s response was to beg her father not to hit the little girl. Her father might push her mother out of the way as he came after Lilly. Lilly knew that she could find a hiding place in the back of her closet. Her father would stomp off if he didn’t grab her before she fled into hiding. That’s why, as she got just a little bit older, she found the greatest refuge in school. She could always find some reason to stay late — library research, a team practice, helping a friend. When Lilly reached adulthood she got a very well-paying job on Wall Street. She was pretty happy there until there was a shuffle in her department and a new boss took over. He had a temper. Lilly could not understand for the longest time why his temper would send her home crying and shaking on the railroad. She was ready to quit her job. Was Lilly suffering from trauma? Joe remembers living in a happy family. He, his three brothers and sister got along, played, did their school work, and generally lived uneventfully. At 18, his mother received a scary diagnosis and before the family could gather their wits about them, she died. Things...

Emotional Dissociation And What To Do About It

REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION from the Florida Jewish News There was a spate of books some time ago about women who had been severely emotionally abused and sexually molested as children and grew up with “split personalities.” The Three Faces of Eve was even made into a movie. A well done and true story was presented in The Flock. Milder cases of dissociation are described in Marlene Steinberg’s Stranger In The Mirror.   While a complete barrier to conscious awareness to the extent described in these books is very rare, there are degrees of everything, including the tendency to split off, or dissociate, feelings or information. In fact, disconnecting oneself from painful feelings is rather common. What’s scary about it is the fact that the person doing it is usually not aware that he or she is doing it. That’s a problem. How Prevalent This Problem Is: 1. When going through a divorce, the nicest people frequently can shut down any feelings of compassion for someone who they now consider an adversary, even if they had presumably been in love at one time. When you talk to them about this phenomenon, they deny that’s what they’re doing and tell you they never had any positive feelings for that no-good so-and-so.   2. Mothers who went through all sorts of tribulations to nurse their babies manage to turn off that feeling of connection to those same children six years later when the children get wild. Not only does the mother feel intensely angry, but they often cannot recall or recreate those warm, fuzzy feelings they once had toward their own children....

6 Ways To Understand Abusers & 10 Ways to Reconciliate

Consider these important elements in working out your relationship problems: 1. Every abuser has been a victim Research proves again and again that people who were victimized as children are likely to grow up to be either abusers or drawn towards abusive relationships because that is what is familiar to them. Many abuse victims manage to escape these ills and lead satisfying lives. But if you look at someone who is verbally abusive, there is no doubt that he or she was originally abused. 2. Being abused is traumatic Being told again and again “you’re stupid” by someone who is supposed to love you is no less traumatic than having been in downtown New York City on September 11, 2001. Trauma does not have to happen all at once. In fact, the most difficult trauma to shake is the kind that lasts and lasts. It is so familiar it seems as though it’s normal. When an abuse victim is so used to it that it feels normal, that is an indication of trauma. 3. The vast, overwhelming majority of abusers are not mean, nasty, hateful people. Yes, there definitely are some bad apples but most abusers do not mean to be mean. They don’t know how to handle their hurt and anger and have either watched their parent verbally or physically battering the other parent or they have been victims themselves. Why does this matter? Because it means they can change. They can learn to be good. They can learn kindness and compassion. For some relationships, it’s too late; too much damage was done. For others, it’s not. 4....

Substance Abuse & Family Abuse–They’re Connected

Substance abuse and addictions do not occur in a vacuum. It is not merely the result of vulnerable kids becoming involved with the wrong crowd. If only it were that simple. In fact, substance abuse is more a symptom of the real problem than “the” problem. The real problem falls in one of three categories: abuse, neglect, or failure to discipline. Abuse Physical, verbal, emotional, or sexual abuse will inevitably lead to later scars. Even people who cope well and rise above it are forever hurt by their horrible experiences. For some individuals, the best way to blot out the pain is substance abuse. When chemicals anesthetize emotions, a person can go on with life. There isn’t much quality to that life, but it is bearable. Neglect Neglect does not mean leaving a child without food-although that too happens. Neglect may simply mean being too busy to have formed a relationship with one’s child. My hunch is that Noelle Bush’s history involves this category at least [She is the daughter of former Governor of Florida, caught with drugs]. As children grow, parents become models for them of how to function in the world. Children also discover who they themselves are through the feedback they get from their parents. When the small girl constantly picks out the frilly clothes, her parents may say, “She’s all girl.” Those remarks help that little girl define her personality. Parents who ignore their children not only fail to give this feedback that is vital to their personality development, but instead give a most undesirable message: You are not important enough for us to pay...
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