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Unread August 1st, 2005, 05:45 PM
Sandra Paulsen Sandra Paulsen is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Bainbridge Island WA
Posts: 207
Default Re: Anesthesia Awareness

Makes perfect sense to me, actually.

You may already know that I can't do case consultations to your specific situation but that I can make some general comments which may or may not apply to you.

When a traumatic event is so overwhelming that it can't be processed at the time, it is set aside or disowned or dissociated. It remains frozen in this raw unprocessed state until it can be safely processed. REM sleep tries to do this, and maybe for some it works, especially for smaller things. But we are all designed to have defenses and protections inside so that overwhelmingly dangerous things -- or things that seem dangerous because they once were -- don't do us in altogether.

Flashbacks and nightmares are evidence that the material is trying to work its way through, like a sliver trying to work its way out. The feeling of the content feel unreal or not quite about oneself is very typical for what we call derealization and depersonalization, both are dissociative symptoms. (Dissociative symptoms don't necessarily mean there is a full scale dissociative disorder; PTSD and other anxiety conditions also have some of these symptoms at times).

In EMDR, the material gets systematically worked through until it feels neutral. Its not as scary as a nightmare or flashback because one is awake and accompanied by an EMDR professional who knows the ropes. Even when the processing is very real in the sense of having some of the sensory experiences of the memory, for all but the most deeply divided dissociative folks, its not so bad because the client knows its just a memory, not happening now. For the most deeply divided dissociative folks, we break the work into pieces via fractionation, which makes the chunks "bite size" and manageable.

As Ms Carol Ann Rowland has stated, when one does EMDR on a memory that has altered consciousness as part of the original memory, there may be a sense of that altered state as part of the EMDR experience. Not to worry, we just notice it "like scenery through a train window" and keep on sailing through.
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