Thread: Numb
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Unread May 13th, 2008, 07:13 AM
Sandra Paulsen Sandra Paulsen is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Bainbridge Island WA
Posts: 207
Default 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.
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