Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Why the human response to threat is so important

How we respond when we feel threatened is hugely important. I believe a sense of threat can only be truly measured subjectively. What matters is that the threat feels or is perceived as real.

When we feel threatened and/or frightened we can enter what is called tonic immobility (also called the freeze response) and/or we can peritraumatically dissociate. If a threat is not defused and we internalise it, trauma results. That's how important our response to feeling threatened is and why we need to listen to what people say and feel and take it seriously.

I would strongly argue that trauma cannot be measured objectively and my recent thesis for my MA in counselling and psychotherapy was all about these very topics. I argued that there is an inherent link between tonic immobility, trauma and dissociation (peritraumatic and posttraumatic). It is a subject that I find fascinating and is very close to my heart. Over the next few weeks I will post excerpts of my thesis here.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Wanting to forget

Wanting to forget something painful is understandable. On closer inspection though, it is another form of resistance. Resistance doesn't work in the long run, as a recent article from says "Many individuals who have survived a traumatic life event wish to simply forget about the experience, hoping that forgetting will be synonymous with overcoming. However, it is not possible to erase pivotal life experiences or to truly forget about them. The human mind and body remember and clamor for healing". My colleague Puja Kanth Alfred has written a great article on the need to forget or disown our stories by rewriting our memories.

I sometimes wonder whether the need to forget or disown our stories is stronger in others rather than in ourselves. Let's be honest, the pressure in society to be "positive" and "move on" is strong, even if that sense of positivity is feigned or forced. We therefore receive a lot of societal support in disowning, pretending, forgetting, dissociating, distracting and avoiding. It takes a huge amount of courage to face our pain and sometimes we can feel very alone in doing so.

Our need to forget can also ensure our survival in many cases, but again this sense of survival is short term. Surviving only gets us so far until the cracks start to show. Sooner or later, we need to address and heal our pain. What usually happens is physical and psychological symptoms worsen so they get our attention. We can see this in various different ways, I prefer to see these symptoms as a way of making us take our pain seriously. Serious enough so that we do something about it so it doesn't hurt so much, or at all. 

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Your confusion is not pathology, it is path

I'd like to share this article that a friend shared with me from sounds true by Matt Licata.

It's certainly not the easiest of paths but it's the one that resonates with me as being the most true and honest. While our resistance is so understandable, it just doesn't work. And I know that from experience.

"There are movements of somatic wisdom arising within you that contain very important information for your journey. If you will provide shelter for what is burning within, you will see that these are no ordinary messengers. They are harbingers of integration, sent from beyond to reveal the wholeness that is the signature of this dimension. Nothing is missing, nothing is out of place, nothing need be sent away. Inside your body, in the center of your emotions, in the core of your somatic experience the sacred world is wild and alive. Feel it, friends. You have been brought to right here and right now, for this". Read on

Love is the absence of anxiety ~ Wilhelm Reich