Sanctuary for the Abused
Thursday, March 31, 2016
Abuser Breakdown Tactics
Tuesday, March 29, 2016
Are You Involved With A Narcissistic Person?
According to the American Psychological Association, people with narcissistic personality disorder display a chronic and pervasive pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration, and lack of empathy. The Greek myth has it that Narcissus died enraptured by the beauty of his own reflection in a pool and feel forever in love with his own reflection. The Narcissist displays an operating style that involves extreme self-involvement, and a grandiose sense of self- importance. They exaggerate their achievements and talents, expecting others to recognize them as superior and often appearing arrogant and extremely self absorbed.
Preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, or beauty, they require the constant attention and admiration of those around them, although they are very choosy about the people and institutions they will associate closely with. They often admit to being snobs and are actually proud of it. They also believe that their problems are unique and can be appreciated only by other “special” high - status people. Despite their charm, the favorable first impression they make, and their wide circle of notable acquaintances, people with this disorder are rarely able to maintain a stable, long-term relationship. With their boastful and pretentious manner, narcissistic persons are seldom receptive to the feelings of others. They show a general lack of empathy, an inability or unwillingness to recognize and identify with your thoughts and needs. Many are often successful, impressively knowledgeable, and articulate, yet bored and doubt ridden as well.
Conversely, healthy narcissism is essential for emotional well-being. We need narcissism to feel confident in ourselves, and to give adequate consideration to others. NOTE: The healthy narcissist does not focus exclusively on themselves, demanding that the world reflect back their false manufactured sense of self and an image of idealized perfection.
If you encounter this personality type, a grasp of the underlying psychology can help you cope more effectively. Lets explore the genesis of the narcissistic personality. As stated above, people with this personality disorder must constantly seek outside support and approval. If they get that support and approval, they feel complete and powerful. Without that support and approval, they feel deprived, exposed, vulnerable, angry, and lonely.
KEY: Early childhood conditioning also plays a part. The child’s real or authentic self has generally been ignored, or the child’s self may have been attacked and assaulted while the parents placed demands on the child to be “perfect.” When that occurs, the type of behavior we associate with a narcissistic disorder is overindulged. Fiercely driven to achieve, children never develop the capacity to consider others’ needs. Enter adulthood, and the same traits naturally carry over.
What To Watch Out For
Most people with this disorder advertise themselves… They seek to be the center of attention. In search of constant approval and praise to reinforce their false grandiose sense of self, they’re “on- stage,” dominating the conversation, often exaggerating their importance.
They lack empathy for others and have an inflated sense of entitlement, requiring others to respond to their demands and grant favors. They need everything for themselves and are envious of others’ accomplishments and possessions.
Criticism or disapproval takes them back to their difficult childhoods, sending them into a defensive fury, since any flaw or mistake means they’re not perfect. Also, when things go wrong, they cannot acknowledge the imperfections implicit in accepting responsibility.
Appearance matters more than substance. Power, wealth and beauty bolster their fragmented self-image.
They may be extremely driven because the “narcissistic fuel” of outside approval is so essential. Many are workaholics. Warning: this personality disorder may not be immediately obvious. The subtle ones won’t show their true colors until “deprived.” Caution: Others may actually pursue and cater to you, if you have something they want, such as looks, money, or status.
Can you change them? Reality check: No. Even constructive criticism is experienced by them as an affront and is met with anger and a sense of betrayal. Placating only results in more demands, not a return of thoughtfulness and consideration. In fact, if you always excuse or rationalize self-absorption and give in to constant demands, you are actually supporting and reinforcing their narcissistic needs and wants.
Here are some tips on how to cope with the person in your life who processes the narcissistic style. Sometimes the best way to deal with extreme narcissistic behavior is to end the relationship. But since this solution isn’t always possible, I can only offer you some survival techniques…
It is important to set boundaries. Decide which demands you can meet or how much approval you’re willing to give to this person, and then stick to your decision. Also, terminate a self-centered conversation if you can, or at least set a time limit on how long you’ll listen.
Support yourself. If your resistance to them draws their anger or blame, refuse to be emotionally blackmailed. Remember that your time and feelings are not important in this person’s eyes. This can help remove your guilt.
Use bargaining chips. If you have something they want, such as a special expertise or solutions to problems—share it sparingly to keep their worst behavior under control. Be aware that when you no longer satisfy them, their old ways will resurface.
Avoid anger. Any confrontation should be conducted quietly and with control. But even a tactful approach may be greeted with anger or sometimes-frightening rage. Very likely, you’ll hear that the difficult situation is your problem and there’s something wrong with you. Arguing will only make you feel like you will want to blow your brains out. Be careful not to expect accommodation from the other person, but do give yourself points for standing up for your rights.
Finally, know when to leave. Dealing with this personality disorder can undermine your own sense of self. Ask yourself some questions…Do I continually feel depressed, irritable, devalued and worthless? Does my anger and resentment carry over into other relationships? Have I stopped supporting myself in general, not treating myself well or allowing others to coerce me? Bottom line: If you find yourself answering yes too frequently, you must examine the pay-off or importance of your relationship with this person.
ORIGINAL ARTICLE HERE
FACEBOOK GROUP for Victims of Narcissists
(not for discussions of children, support, custody)
Monday, March 28, 2016
Victim Blaming & Control
That women are sexual beyond the ways men wish them to be disturbs a certain kind of man. The fears that once kept female sexuality in check are gradually being eroded by social change and medical advances: fear of ostracism, fear of disease, fear of unwanted pregnancy. But fear of rape remains, and it can be a powerful weapon.
There was one piece of fall-out from the paratrooper incident that I didn't mention. A family member learned that I'd gone back to the camp with a couple of men for sex. He had no reason to think anything non-consensual had happened, but he was horrified all the same. He told me that my behaviour was disgusting and that I should be ashamed of myself. Friends and other family members defended his attitude by pointing out what many people in the other thread pointed out - that I'd put myself at quite some risk.
That explanation failed to convince me. Disgust and shame are appropriate responses to moral wrongdoing, not foolhardy risk-taking. He was horrified that I'd allowed myself to be sexual in an unapproved way; the risk of rape was a justification, not his true motivation.
It shocks some people that I want sex and don't want to submit to male authority. It shocks them even more that these two desires outweigh my fear of rape, so that I dare to gratify both by picking up paratroopers in a pub. The "prudent" suggestions for keeping myself safe always boil down to giving up sex (or at least, the kind of sex I'm interested in) or submitting to male authority.
These "solutions" might well have no effect on my risk of being raped. But even if they were guaranteed to protect me from all risk, they wouldn't be worth it. I think I'd rather be raped than spend the rest of my life turning aside from what I wanted and settling for something less. I know I'd rather take risks than allow fear of rape to control my expression of my sexuality.
In my ideal world, men would not be tempted to commit rape. Sexual encounters would be handled with negotiation, not with one partner's insistence on getting what he wants at the expense of another. Men would respect the desires of women to control what happens to their bodies, whether they've known each other for ten minutes or ten years.
And in my ideal world, the fear of rape could not be used as a justification for slut-shaming.
Posted by Nick Kiddle at Alas, a Blog
Sunday, March 27, 2016
10 Reasons Abusers Don't Change
Ten Reasons to Stay the Same
From "Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men" by Lundy Bancroft.
To answer the question "Why Does He Do That?" we have to examine the foundation on which abusive behaviors are based. On the first level are the abuser's attitudes, beliefs and habits-- the thinking that drives his behavior day in and day out, which we have been looking at. On the second level is the learning process by which some boys develop into abusive men or, in other words, where abusive values come from, which is the topic of ch 13.
There is also a third level, which is rarely mentioned in discussions of abuse but which is actually one of the most important dynamics: the benefits that an abuser gets that make his behavior desirable to him. In what ways is abusiveness rewarding? How does this destructive pattern get reinforced?
Consider the following scenario: Mom, Dad, and their children are having dinner on a Wed night. Dad is snappy and irritable, criticizing everybody during the meal, spreading his tension around like electricity. When he finishes eating, he leaves the table abruptly and heads out of the room. His 10 yr old daughter says, "Dad, where are you going? Wed is your night to wash dishes." Upon hearing these words, Dad bursts into flames, screaming, "You upstart little shit, don't you dare try to tell me what to do! You'll be wearing a dish on your face!" He grabs a plate off the table, makes like he is going to throw it at her, and then turns away and smashes it on the floor. He knocks a chair over with his hand and storms out of the room. Mom and the children are left trembling; the daughter bursts into tears. Dad reappears in the doorway and yells that she'd better shut up, so she chokes off her tears, which causes her to shake even more violently. Without touching a soul, Dad has sent painful shock waves through the entire family.
We move ahead now to the following Wed. Dinner passes fairly normally, without the previous week's tension, but Dad still strolls out of the kitchen when he finishes eating. Does a family member remind him that it's his turn to wash the dishes? Of course not. It will be many, many months before anyone makes that mistake again. They quietly attend to the cleanup, or they squabble among themselves about who should do it, taking out their frustrations over Dad's unfairness and volatility on each other. Dad's scary behavior has created a context in which he won't have to do the dishes anytime he doesn't feel like it, and no one will dare take him to task for it.
Any incident of abusive behavior brings the abuser benefits just as this one did. Over time, the man grows attached to his ballooning collection of comforts and privileges. Here are some of the reasons why he may appear so determined not to stop bullying:
1. The intrinsic satisfaction of power and control
The abusive man gains power through his coercive and intimidating behaviors -- a sensation that can create a potent, thrilling rush. The wielder of power feels important and effective and finds a momentary relief from life's normal distresses. It isn't the woman's pain that appeals to him; most abusers are not sadists. In fact, he has to go to some lengths to shield himself from his own natural tendenty to empathize with her. The feeling that he rules is where the pleasure lies.
Yet the heady rush of power is the bare beginning of what the abuser gains through his mistreatment of his partner. If the rewards stopped here, I would find it much easier than I do to prevail upon my clients to change.
2. Getting his way, especially when it matters to him most
A romantic partnership involves a never-ending series of negotiations between 2 people's differing needs, desires, and preferences. Many of the differences that have to be worked out are matters of tremendous importance to the emotional life of each partner, such as:
-- Are we spending Christmas with my relatives, whom I enjoy, or with your relatives who get on my nerves and don't seem to like me?
-- Are we eating dinner tonight at my favorite restaurant, or at a place that I'm tired of and where the children seem to get wound up and irritating?
-- Am I going to have to go alone to my office party, which makes me feel terrible, or are you going to come with me even though you would rather spend the evening doing almost anything else on earth?
It is important not to underestimate theimpact of these kinds of day-to-day decisions. Your happiness in a relationship depends greatly on your ability to get your needs heard and taken seriously. If these decisions are taken over by an abusive or controlling partner, you experiences disappointment after disappointment, the constant sacrificing of your needs. He, on the other hand, enjoys the luxury of a relationship where he rarely has to compromise, gets to the things he enjoys, and skips the rest. He shows off his generosity when the stakes are low, so that friends will see what a swell guy he is.
The abuser ends up with the benefits of being in an intimate relationship without the sacrifices that normally come with the territory. That's a pretty privileged lifestyle.
3. Someone to take his problems out on
Have you ever suffered a sharp disappointment or a painful loss and found yourself looking for someone to blame? Have you, for example, ever been nasty to a store clerk when you were really upset about your job? Most people have an impulse to dump bad feelings on some undeserving person, as a way to relieve-- temporarily-- sadness or frustration. Certain days you may know that you just have to keep an eye on yourself so as not to bite someone's head off.
The abusive man doesn't bother to keep an eye on himself, however. In fact, he considers himself entitled to use his partner as a kind of human garbage dump where he can litter the ordinary pains and frustrations that life brings us. She is always an available target, she is easy to blame-- since no partner is perfect-- and she can't prevent him from dumping because he will get even worse if she tries. His excuse when he jettisons his distresses onto her is that life is unusually painful-- an unacceptable rationalization even if it were true, which it generally isn't.
4. Free labor from her; leisure and freedom for him
No abusive man does his share of the work in a relationship. He may take advantage of his partner's hard work keeping the house, preparing the meals, caring for the children, and managing the myriad details of life. Or, if he is one of the few abusers who carries his weight in these areas, then he exploits her emotionally instead, sucking her dry of attention, nurturing, and support, and returning only a trickle.
All this uncompensated labor from her means leisure for him. During the house he spends talking about himself he is relieved of the work of listening. The long weekend days when she cares for the children are his opportunity to watch sports, go rock climbing, or write his novel. My clients don't make the connection that someone takes care of the work; they think of it as just mysteriously getting done and refer to women as "lazy." Yet on a deeper level the abuser seems to realize how hard his partner works, because he fights like hell not to have to share that burden. He is accustomed to his luxury and often talks exaggeratedly about his exhaustion to excuse staying on his read end.
Studies have shown that a majority of women feel that their male partners don't contribute fairly to household responsibilities. However, a woman whose partner is not abusive at least has the option to put her foot down about her workload and insist that the man pick up the slack. With an abusive man, however, if you put your foot down he either ignores you or makes you pay.
The abuser comes and goes as he pleases, meets or ignores his responsibilities at his whim, and skips anything he finds too unpleasant. In fact, some abusers are rarely home at all, using the house only as a base for periodic refueling.
5. Being the center of attention, with priority given to his needs
When a woman's partner chronically mistreats her, what fills up her thoughts? Him, of course. She ponders how to soothe him so that he won't explode, how to improve herself in his eyes, how she might delicately raise a touchy issue with him. Little space remains for her to think about her own life, which suits the abuser; he wants her to be thinking about him. The abuser reaps cooperation and catering to his physical, emotional and sexual needs. And if the couple has children, the entire famly strives to enhance his good moods and fix his bad ones, in the hope that he won't start tearing pieces out of anyone. Consistently at the center of attention and getting his own way, the abuser can ensure that his emotional needs get met on his terms-- a luxury he is loath to part with.
6. Financial control
Money is a leading cause of tension in modern relationships, at least in families with children. Financial choices have huge quality of life implications, including: Who get to make the purchases that matter most to him or her; what kind sof preparations are made for the future, including retirement; what types of leisure activities and travel are engaged in; who gets to work; who gets to not work if he or she doesn't want to; and how the children's needs are met. To have your voice in these decisions taken away is a monumental denial of your rights and has long-term implications. On the lfip side, the abuser who dominates these kinds of decisionsextorts important benefits for himself, whether the family is low income or wealthy. One of the most common tactics I hear about, for example, is that the abuser manages to finagle dealings so that his name is on his partner's belongings-- such as her house or her car-- along with, or instead of, her name. In fact, I have had clients whose abuse was almost entirely economically based and who managed to take many thousands of dollars away from their partners, either openly or thorugh playing financial tricks.
An abuser's history of economic exploitation tends to put him in a much better financial position that his partner if the relationship splits up. This imbalanace makes it harder for her to leave him, especially is she has to find a way to support her children. He may also threaten to use his economic advantage to hire a lawyer and pursue custody, on of the single most terrifying prospects that can face an abused woman.
7. Ensuring that his career, education or other goals are prioritized
Closely interwoven with financial control is the question of whose personal goals receive priority. If the abuser needs to be out several evening studying for a certificate that will improve his job advancement potential, he's going to do it. If a career opportunity for him involves moving to a new state, he is likely to ignore the impact of his decision on his partner. Her own goals may also advance at times, but only as long as they don't interfere with his.
8. Public status of partner and/or father without the sacrifices
With his strong people-pleasing skills and his lively energy when under the public gaze, the abusive man is often thought of as an unusually fun and loving partner and a sweet, committed dad. He soaks up the smiles and appreciation he receives from relatives, neighbots, and people in the street who are unaware of his behavior in private.
9. The approval of his friends and relatives
An abuser often chooses friends who are supportive of abusive attitudes. On top of that, he may come from an abusive fmaily; in fact, his father or stepfather may have been his key role model for how to treat female partners. If these are his social surroundings, he gets strokes for knowing how to control his partner, for "putting her in her place" from time to time, and for ridiculing her complaints about him. His friends and relatives may even bond with him on the basis of his view of women in general as being irrational, vindictive, or avaricious. For this man to renounce abuse, he would have to give up his cheerleading squad as well.
10. Double standards
An abusive man subtly or overtly imposes a system in which he is exempt from the rules and standards that he applies to you. He may allow himself to have occaisonal affairs, "because men have their needs," but if you so much as gaze at another man, you're a "whore". He may scream in arguments, but if you raise your voice, you're "hysterical". He may pick up one of your children by the ear, but if you grab your son and put him in timeout for punching you in the leg, you're a "child abuser". He can leave his schedule open and flexible while you have to account for your time. He can point out your faults, while setting himself above criticism, so that he doesn't have to deal with your complaints or be confronted with the effects of his selfish and destructive actions. The abusive man has the privilege of living by a special set of criteria that were designed just for him.
Glance back quickly over this impressive collection of privileges. Is it any wonder that abusive men are reluctant to change? The benefits of abuse are a major social secret, rarely mentioned anywhere. Why? Largely because abusers are specialists in distracting our attention. They don't want anyone to notice how well this system is working for them (and usually don't even want to admit it to themselves). If we caught on, we would stop feeling sorry for them and instead start holding them accountable for their actions. As long as we see abusers as victims, or as out-of-control monsters, they will continue getting away with ruining lives. If we want abusers to change, we will have to require them to give up the luxury of exploitation.
When you are left feeling hurt or confused after a confrontation with your controlling partner, ask yourself: What was he trying to get out of what he just did? What is the ultimate benefit to him? Thinking through these questions can help you clear your head and identify his tactics.
Certainly the abusive man also loses a great deal through his abusiveness. He loses the potential for genuine intimacy in his relationship, for example, and his capacity for compassion and empathy. But these are often not things that he values, so he may not feel their absence. And even if he would like greater intimacy, that wish is outweighed by his attachment to the benefits of abuse.
Saturday, March 26, 2016
The Male Abuser's Best Weapon
by Donna Canfield
This book was written to provide hope and inspiration to the millions of women involved in abusive relationships. Understanding the abusive relationship and the mighty fix of the abuser, the honeymoon, should provide them with a clear understanding of why they have stayed in their nightmarish relationships. Even more important, this book may help them gain the strength to seek help or get out, instead of being part of the horrifying statistics these types of relationships breed. Because it is important to get out in the safest manner possible, I discuss how to plan their escape.
Tuesday, March 22, 2016
Anger isn't always bad - 5 ways that anger is GOOD!
by Ron Huxley
Experience with anger may leave you with the idea that all anger is bad. Yelling at your children for cooperation doesn't leave you feeling very positively. Watching your children fight when they are angry doesn't give you any warm feelings either. But, anger does have it's purpose in our lives and can teach us a thing or two about how to have healthier, happier relationships.
Here are five ways that anger can be a good thing:
1. Anger protects. When your child is in danger your mind will automatically kick into a “fight or flight” reaction that can result in anger. You don't have time to stop and ponder a course of action when your child is in the middle of the street! Anger short cuts our thinking brain to allow us to act quickly. This is nature's way of protecting your family from harm.
2. Anger signals. The purpose of anger is to destroy problems in our lives, not our relationships. When something needs to dramatically change, anger not only lets you know but it gives you the power to do something about it. For example, if your child's doctor won't listen to your concerns, getting angry can stir things up and get a problem diagnosed and solved.
3. Anger rules. Your child left his toys all over the house again! Tired of yelling at your child to get his cooperation. That only reinforces the annoying behavior. Your anger may be telling you that expectations are too high, the rule is not clear enough, or that you are not following through on consequences consistently. Use the energy of your anger to communicate the rule (again) and then follow it up with consistent, age appropriate discipline.
4. Anger talks. What we say to ourselves affects our emotional state. If we tell ourselves we are bad parents then we may act like bad parents. If we tell ourselves we are doing the best we can under stressful circumstances we will react with less hostility and frustration. Practice listening to that little "anger voice" and challenge some of the misperceptions you hold of yourself and your child. Ask some honest friends to help you be objective in your inner inventory. If what you are saying to yourself is true, use this information to make changes in your parent/child relationship.
5. Anger teaches. Our anger management styles are learned from our own parents. If Mom was a yeller, we may follow her example, even if we vowed never to yell at our kids. Fortunately, if you learned one anger expression style you can learn another. Separate the idea that feeling anger is bad. That is natural and unavoidable but what you do with those hot emotions is completely under your control -- with some practice. Allow yourself permission to find new ways to cope with daily parenting hassles by taking a class or reading a book on anger management.
Monday, March 21, 2016
How a Narcissist Trains his Victims
by Kathy Krajco
Nearly everyone has seen something like the following little scene...
A three-or-four-year-old is with his mother in the grocery store. He points at a candy bar, looking at his mother with the brightest, cutest, most engaging little face you ever saw. Mother is busy and hardly glancing at him as she reads her grocery list and says, "No, you don't---"
She was going to say, "No, you don't need that," but she didn't get half the words out before he erupted into "WAAAAH!!!!"
Everyone in the store jumps, wondering who's killing that kid. In one split-second his face has undergone a startling transfiguration into something grotesque.
But he hasn't got the first "WAAAH!!!" half out yet before his mother, with a quick look around at all the people looking at her, grabs that candy bar and thrusts it into his hand.
WAAAAH--off, mid-WAAAH, and there is that darling little beaming angel-face again, unwrapping his his candy bar.
That's what you call a spoiled brat -- a kid who has learned to use temper tantrums to control his parents. The dead giveaway is how instantaneously he switches from one emotional extreme to the other. Real people don't do that in one split second, do they?
He can do that because those emotions are bogus. Faked. He isn't upset when he's screaming, and he isn't happy when he's not. He's just a little actor. He has two masks. One is for positive reinforcement, and the other is for negative reinforcement. He switches from one to the other in the blink of an eye.
Yes! This four-year-old has learned the art of Behavior Modification! It's childsplay, ain't it? His happy face is a carrot to reward you for good behavior, and his mad face is a stick to punish you for bad behavior.
Now notice how similar this is to an adult narcissist's rages. They are exactly the same thing.
Whenever you aren't behaving the way they want, they throw a fit. Like that brat in the grocery store, they don't think they should even have to ask for what they they want. They think you should be so attentive to their desires that you just offer it to them. It would be beneath them to ask for anything. So they throw a "Don't-go-there!" tantrum whenever you aren't playing the part they've assigned to you in the stageplay of their life.
That could be because you are behaving like you deserve respect. Or maybe you are busy and do not have lunch on the table yet. Whatever, the cowboy just herds people by yelling and waving things whenever the cattle in his home get out of line.
His wild act is so obnoxious and menacing that people soon learn how to turn it off. They would rather conform to his specifications than put up with that obnoxious wild act all the time.
Thus he trains them to behave the way he wants them to.
Saturday, March 19, 2016
Beware Disordered Therapists, Gurus and Spiritual 'Teachers'
Narcissistic gurus often come with fine academic credentials. Some are medical doctors or Ph.D.'s. Others call themselves holistic healers, medical intuitives. Their presentations are so smooth that most people are mesmerized by them. Often attractive physically with excellent communications skills, they can captivate any audience within a short period of time. I know of spiritual gurus who travel the world, peddling their packages or retreats which cost $1000 to $3000 for less than a week. The goal is enlightenment----the expensive way. What happens if you don't have any money--That's too bad -- you are out of the spiritual loop. Where do true spirituality and spending a lot of money and attending a five day seminar meet-----NOWHERE! (By the way learning how to meditate and reach levels of calmness and deeper consciousness doesn't cost money. It requires your time and dedication).
Monday, March 14, 2016
Emotional & Psychological Trauma
What is emotional or psychological trauma?
The ability to recognize emotional trauma has changed radically over the course of history. Until rather recently psychological trauma was noted only in men after catastrophic wars. The women's movement in the sixties broadened the definition of emotional trauma to include physically and sexually abused women and children. Now because of the discoveries made in the nineties known as the decade of the brain, psychological trauma has further broadened its definition.
Recent research has revealed that emotional trauma can result from such common occurrences as an auto accident, the breakup of a significant relationship, a humiliating or deeply disappointing experience, the discovery of a life-threatening illness or disabling condition, or other similar situations. Traumatizing events can take a serious emotional toll on those involved, even if the event did not cause physical damage.
Regardless of its source, an emotional trauma contains three common elements:
it was unexpected;
the person was unprepared; and
there was nothing the person could do to prevent it from happening.
It is not the event that determines whether something is traumatic to someone, but the individual's experience of the event. And it is not predictable how a given person will react to a particular event. For someone who is used to being in control of emotions and events, it may be surprising – even embarrassing – to discover that something like an accident or job loss can be so debilitating.
What causes emotional or psychological trauma?
Our brains are structured into three main parts, long observed in autopsies:
- the cortex (the outer surface, where higher thinking skills arise; includes the frontal cortex, the most recently evolved portion of the brain)
- the limbic system (the center of the brain, where emotions evolve)
- the brain stem (the reptilian brain that controls basic survival functions)
What is the difference between stress and emotional or psychological trauma?
One way to tell the difference between stress and emotional trauma is by looking at the outcome – how much residual effect an upsetting event is having on our lives, relationships, and overall functioning. Traumatic distress can be distinguished from routine stress by assessing the following:
how frequently upset is triggered
how intensely threatening the source of upset is
how long upset lasts
how long it takes to calm down
If we can communicate our distress to people who care about us and can respond adequately, and if we return to a state of equilibrium following a stressful event, we are in the realm of stress. If we become frozen in a state of active emotional intensity, we are experiencing an emotional trauma – even though sometimes we may not be consciously aware of the level of distress we are experiencing.
Why can an event cause an emotionally traumatic response in one person and not in another?
There is no clear answer to this question, but it is likely that one or more of these factors are involved:
- the severity of the event;
- the individual's personal history (which may not even be recalled);
- the larger meaning the event represents for the individual (which may not be immediately evident);
- coping skills, values and beliefs held by the individual (some of which may have never been identified); and
- the reactions and support from family, friends, and/or professionals.
What are the symptoms of emotional trauma?
There are common effects or conditions that may occur following a traumatic event. Sometimes these responses can be delayed, for months or even years after the event. Often, people do not even initially associate their symptoms with the precipitating trauma. The following are symptoms that may result from a more commonplace, unresolved trauma, especially if there were earlier, overwhelming life experiences:
Eating disturbances (more or less than usual)
Sleep disturbances (more or less than usual)
Chronic, unexplained pain
Depression, spontaneous crying, despair and hopelessness
Compulsive and obsessive behaviors
Exaggerating (especially when others chronically disbelieve them)
Feeling out of control
Irritability, angry and resentment
Withdrawal from normal routine and relationships
Memory lapses, especially about the trauma
Difficulty making decisions
Decreased ability to concentrate
The following additional symptoms of emotional trauma are commonly associated with a severe precipitating event, such as a natural disaster, exposure to war, rape, assault, violent crime, major car or airplane crashes, or child abuse. Extreme symptoms can also occur as a delayed reaction to the traumatic event.
Re-experiencing the Trauma
flashbacks or nightmares
sudden floods of emotions or images related to the traumatic event
Emotional Numbing and Avoidance
avoidance of situations that resemble the initial event
an altered sense of time
hyper-vigilance, jumpiness, an extreme sense of being "on guard"
overreactions, including sudden unprovoked anger
obsessions with death
What are the possible effects of emotional trauma?
Even when unrecognized, emotional trauma can create lasting difficulties in an individual's life. One way to determine whether an emotional or psychological trauma has occurred, perhaps even early in life before language or conscious awareness were in place, is to look at the kinds of recurring problems one might be experiencing. These can serve as clues to an earlier situation that caused a dysregulation in the structure or function of the brain.
Common personal and behavioral effects of emotional trauma:
compulsive behavior patterns
self-destructive and impulsive behavior
uncontrollable reactive thoughts
inability to make healthy professional or lifestyle choices
dissociative symptoms ("splitting off" parts of the self)
feelings of ineffectiveness, shame, despair, hopelessness
feeling permanently damaged
a loss of previously sustained beliefs
Common effects of emotional trauma on interpersonal relationships:
inability to maintain close relationships or choose appropriate friends and mates
arguments with family members, employers or co-workers
feeling constantly threatened
What if symptoms don't go away, or appear at a later time?
Over time, even without professional treatment, symptoms of an emotional trauma generally subside, and normal daily functioning gradually returns. However, even after time has passed, sometimes the symptoms don't go away. Or they may appear to be gone, but surface again in another stressful situation. When a person's daily life functioning or life choices continue to be affected, a post-traumatic stress disorder may be the problem, requiring professional assistance.
How is emotional trauma treated?
Traditional approaches to treating emotional trauma include:
talk therapies (working out the feelings associated with the trauma);
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) involves changing one's thoughts and actions, and includes systematic desensitization to reduce reactivity to a traumatic stressor
relaxation/stress reduction techniques, such as biofeedback or breathwork; and
hypnosis to deal with reactions often below the level of conscious awareness.
There are also several recent developments in the treatment to emotional trauma. Depending on the nature of the trauma and the age or state of development at which it occurred, these somatic (body) psychotherapies might even be more effective than traditional therapies. Some of the new therapies include:
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprogramming)
Integrative Body Psychotherapy
EMDR THERAPIST NETWORK
Wednesday, March 09, 2016
by Kathy Krajco
I'm almost afraid to talk about boundaries, because we're talking about the right to privacy here -- the right to be your own private property, so that you alone have rights of ownership in yourself. Otherwise, technically, you're livestock. It's a touchy subject. Partly because parents, religion, and even society in general cross these boundaries and partly because it reminds people of the abortion issue.
I don't mention it, because it's a poor example. The right to privacy isn't really the issue. The issue is whose right to privacy are we talking about in the matter -- the mother's or her unborn child's? For what little it's worth, in my opinion both extremes seem to carry things too far. Is a fertilized egg cell any more human than a sloughed off skin cell? All cells have the "potential to become a human being." But that's not the same as BEING a human being. On the other hand, when you start supporting even partial-birth abortions, clearly you are cruelly taking the life of a little human being, one the mother could even legally sue a third party for injuring. So, where to draw the line is debatable. Therefore, I just set the abortion issue aside as a question about when an embryo should be judged a human being and guaranteed the rights of one -- not a question of whether the right to privacy is implicit in the Constitution. If it weren't, none of the private-property rights referred to, and implicit in, in the Constitution would be there. The right to justice is another unenumerated right implicit in it.
The most invasive violence to boundaries is treating another person's very mind as your property. A good example of what I mean is the Inquisition, which enforced Church laws against heresy = choosing for oneself what to believe.
Again, your mind is YOUR house. You're the one who has to live in it. I have no right to just barge in and furnish it as if I own the place. I won't incur the consequences of what I put there -- YOU WILL. I can be totally self-serving in what I put there -- to your harm.
The way people (including narcissists) usually do this is by presuming to be your judge. They judge everything you think, say, do, or even just feel. Their judgements are value judgements they impose on you for it. This judges your worth as a person.
Not all judgements fit into this category. Here is a simple example to illustrate what I mean. One of the statements below judges something I am fit to judge, the other crosses the line:
* I might say, "You are doing a good job."
* Or I might say, "You have a lot on the ball."
Notice that in this example the judgements are carrots, not sticks. Which one judges YOU personally? That's the one that crosses the line. If I'm your boss, you might not think too much of it, though even then it rubs you the wrong way. If I'm your co-worker, it really strikes you as presumptuous.
A common example of this that victims of narcissists encounter is judging you for your feelings about the abuse. You get it, not just from the narcissist, but from every side -- people judging you for your anger. That's presumptuous and absurd. It's also a powerplay.
There's no way to win the perverted game a narcissist plays. But you can keep it from driving you yourself into mental illness by just protecting the borders of your mind. Your head is YOUR house. Don't let anybody else inseminate it with their ideas. Examine all ideas at the gate. If an idea doesn't make sense, if it ain't logical, keep it out. You wouldn't let anyone feed tainted information into your computer, so don't let anyone feed tainted information into your head. The resulting mess hurts only YOU.