Trauma treatment — Under the influence of trauma, Part 2

People who have experienced emotional and mental abuse often are so wounded they sometimes do not have the ability to empathize with other people. They are unable to put themselves in the other person’s shoes. Ironically these same people may do too much for others and allow themselves to be taken advantage of. They sometimes feel another person’s pain as if it were their own pain.

Do you wonder what your purpose in life is? Do you wonder if there is a God? Or have you wanted to know “Why did God allow so much bad to happen to me?” These are common questions of people who have been neglected and/or abused.

Some people who have experienced horrendous trauma as children and adults have turned to God for guidance, company and comfort. Sometimes they found help from God that they did not get from people. They may have strong spiritual faith.

Some people who were traumatized at a young age develop an excellent sense of intuition. As children they noticed the slightest changes in people as a way to protect themselves. I have been impressed with how perceptive these people are.  This can serve them well if they listen and honor this intuition.

Some people who were traumatized develop their creativity more than others. It is a safe outlet for their emotions. They can express the emotional pain and/or feel relief from the pain using art, music, dance, or writing. This can be a positive way to channel the persons’ pain and receive recognition from others.

People who have been traumatized are much more likely to become addicted to substances, food, work, exercise, sex, gaming, and the internet. Being addicted to work is especially tricky to identify since people are rewarded for working long hours and earning more money.

The feelings that addictions numb or cover up only intensify with time and require more addictive activity to do the job. Substance addictions, including food addictions, slow down the blood flow in the prefrontal cortex, causing the person to make poor choices. The shame of not being able to control one’s addiction and the related problems able to control one’s addiction and the related problems of the addiction often leads to stronger addictions. It is a vicious cycle.

People who have been traumatized often have difficulty controlling their behavior as well as their emotions. Sometimes their parents or care takers did not effectively discipline them so they have difficulty disciplining themselves.

Teens that have been traumatized sometimes use self injury to calm themselves down. Many girls are cutting or burning themselves. Self injury releases internal opiates and helps the girls calm upsetting feelings. They cut when they can’t talk about their emotional pain.

Suicide fantasies are another way the traumatized person can feel a sense of control. The fantasies make them feel they have a way out when they feel unbearable feelings. It can give them a false sense of empowerment. The assumption is that if he kills himself, he will be out of emotional pain. There is no guarantee for this. We don’t know what happens after we die.

Do you feel you are not motivated to take good care of yourself? Is it hard to get out of bed? Are you unable to push yourself to work towards getting what you want out of life? Lack of motivation is common for people who have experienced psychological abuse and physical abuse. It stems from feeling helpless and hopeless when the trauma occurred, carrying over to one’s adult life. As a trauma therapist, I look through the lens of one’s history and the person’s lack of motivation makes perfect sense.

Has anyone ever told you regarding emotional problems, “It’s all in your head”? Actually it is in your head. Emotional problems are physical and can be seen on Spect scans, which are nuclear imaging tests that show when there is too much or too little blood flow in different parts of brains.

Daniel Amen is known for his clinics that have taken images of 1000’s of brains. On the Spect image, the healthy brain looks mostly blue with a little red in the back of the brain. Here is a link to the images he shows for brains with anxiety and depression:  (click on the image to make it bigger)

Anxiety & Depression

here is a link to an image of a brain of someone who has PTSD:

Have you ever wondered why you married or became a partner to someone who has the same serious problems one of your parents had?

Perhaps the hardest to understand after effect of chronic trauma is something called “reenactment”. People often unconsciously recreate relationships, problems, and situations very much like the trauma they most want to forget and leave behind. The power of this unconscious behavior is bewildering and frustrating.  A client may say about her husbands/boyfriends, “I always pick the bad ones” or “In my heart I knew he was not good for me but I married him anyway”.     When this happens to my clients I tell them it means they need to work through the trauma from the past so they won’t recreate it for themselves again in their future. Although it is hard work, it can make the rest of your life so much easier. Living under the influence of unresolved trauma takes even more energy than working through one’s problems. Effective PTSD therapy is a great gift that “keeps on giving”.

Working through unresolved trauma with the help of a trauma counselor has unlimited positive possibilities for a life with precious friendships, wonderful partners, restored physical health, freedom from addictions and greater happiness. You can really accept yourself the way you are, let go of expectations of others, and become much more creative and artistic. And best of all, have more fun!­­­

You can read more about how I treat trauma here