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Lynne Johnson May 12th, 2008 04:02 PM

I'm a psychologist trained in EMDR Levels 1 and 2. I also have a hx of PTSD. I was in a MVA yesterday, in the early afternoon. My car was "totalled" and I am blessed to have walked away physically unharmed with the exception of bruising. However, I have had no emotion what so ever, since the moment I realized the collision was happening. No fear, sadness, anxiety,....nothing. I can talk about it without emotion. Since the reality is that I came very close to being seriously injured or killed..this reaction, or lack of concerns me. My concentration is really off today and I've made a lot of paperwork errors but I don't feel anxious or stressed...but a strange calm. I can "see" the moment of impact and hear someone yelling...but still don't have any emotional response. I'd appreciate some feedback and suggestions.....does this just sound like shock. Thanks....Lynne J.

Sandra Paulsen May 13th, 2008 07:13 AM

Re: Numb
On this forum we don't consult on individual's symptoms, but I can make some general comments that may or may not apply to you.

At the time of trauma, when survival itself is at stake, adrenalin takes over, sometimes fight/flight takes over, and if fighting or flight is not possible, freeze takes over. When a gazelle has exhausted himself fleeing from a lion, at the moment before death, freeze takes over, with associated numbness, so that death is merciful, painless, and surrendered.

When instead of dying we survive, it takes some time for the adrenalin and the rest of the biochemistry of the shock of the trauma to clear.

For people with trauma histories, there may be wagon-rutted roads on the path to numbness. The trouble here is that the brain says, "danger? I know what to do with danger, I'll file it over here in this closet full of unresolved past traumas." However, that full closet may, at this point, not be closable, and the contents spill out in PTSD or complex PTSD symptoms.

There is a recent event protocol of EMDR for clearing fresh traumatic experience. In fresh trauma, the frame-by-frame memory of the trauma isn't consolidated in the brain (for several months, really), so one has to grope around for the pieces, the snapshots.

For recent trauma, kindness to self, grounding (I recommend a poodle, tho to each his/her own), rest, and talking it through with a trusted observing witness is good medicine. Any of the channels of information associated with the trauma can speak at any time, whether it is emotion that wafts through, body pain that can be physiologically based or a memory fragment, behavioral reenactments, images, smells, etc. Those are all flashbacks; flashbacks aren't just pictorial. They are the body saying, "the crisis is past, I'm ready to process this." Our task is to honor our body, our experience, and own the memory fragments as they breeze through. If they repeat without resolution, the processing is "blocked" even though it isn't EMDR, it is still looping in flashbacks or reenactments, because some conflict is pushing something out of awareness, preventing completion. EMDR time. And/or somatic empathy, resourcing, grounding, tracking. Imaginally or behaviorally completing thwarted fight/flight responses at the moment of trauma, now there's the ticket out.

Lynne Johnson May 14th, 2008 01:37 PM

Re: Numb
Sandra, Thanks for the response, information, and advice. It helped to be reminded of what happened (I feel you were "right on") in my body and brain during this recent traumatic event. I drove again for the first time and felt pretty shakey and things are happening. I'm the only EMDR clinician in my area so I'll have to do my own processing. I appreciate your suggestions! Lynne

P. S. My kitten and dog are very comforting!

Sandra Paulsen May 15th, 2008 11:14 AM

Re: Numb
Well you are quite welcome, but please! Be fully aware that I specific avoided giving you advice and suggestions because that is not what we do here.

Rather I gave general information that applies to the subjects you raised but the various things I mentioned may or may not apply to you.

I'm being pointy headed about this, with all due apologies, because on this forum so many people WANT and NEED advice, but we just don't have enough of an assessment to give advice. Advice and suggestions tailored to an individual can only be based on a proper history, assessment, and so on.

With all that said, good luck to you. I guess there is no proscription against wishing luck!

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