Category Archives: David’s Personal Experiences

PTSD Nightmares : Typical Content And Symbols

PTSD nightmares

A major symptom of CPTSD / PTSD is nightmares. I myself have suffered from these and they have led to frequent waking during the night, sheets and pillow cases damp with sweat, thrashing around in my sleep to the extent that I have, on several occasions, knocked the lamp (and several other items, such as piles of books, the alarm clock, cups of cold, unfinished tea etc) off my bedside table with arms wildly flailing about like those of a crazed and demented windmill and, even, falling out of bed a few times. I have also woken myself up shouting and, even, screaming, more than once.

A particular torment of nightmares is, of course, that after a day spent in mental anguish in a state of wakefulness, they prevent one from escaping this mental pain even in sleep so there is no respite from one’s suffering. Indeed, when one has intense and terrible nightmares, one fears going to sleep ; for us, it is not a time of mental recuperation, but of continued psychological torture. This can be so devastating to the morale that one may fear one will go permanently and irrevocably insane.

According to the Harvard psychologist, Dr D Barrett, an expert on dreaming and dream analysis, PTSD nightmares tend to contain the following types of themes / symbols :

The Themes And Symbols Of PTSD Nightmares

– dying

– monsters

– being chased

– being in danger

– being punished

– being isolated

– revenge

– being powerless

– being trapped

– guilt

– shame

– violence

– anger

– filth

– garbage

– physical injury

Nightmares, Suppression, Repression And Dissociation :

If we have extremely painful memories relating to our traumatic childhood then we may, as a means of psychological self-protection, cut off from them mentally.

In order to achieve this we may suppress the memories (i.e. try to put them to ‘the back of our minds’). This takes conscious effort and can be counterproductive – see The Rebound Effect below).

Alternatively, we may repress the memories ; this is an automatic / unconscious process that stores the memories away so deeply in the mind that they become inaccessible to conscious awareness. Mentallly cutting ourselves off from painful memories in such a manner is known as dissociation.

Processing Of Traumatic Memories

However, because these memories are dissociated, they remain unprocessed by the brain and a leading theory as to why dreams/nightmares occur is that they represent the brain’s attempt to process the dissociated memories.

Barrett’s  research has led her to the view that, immediately following traumatic events, a person’s nightmares about them tend to quite closely reflect what actually occurred. However, as the traumatic events that triggered the nightmares recede further and further into the past, the PTSD nightmares relating to them become increasingly symbolic.

What Can We Do To Alleviate Nightmares?

If our nightmares do not result in effective processing of our traumatic memories they can become ‘stuck’ ; this can lead to recurring nightmares that tend to centre upon the same themes.

To alleviate such nightmares, it is necessary to attempt to process the traumatic memories in our waking lives (assuming they have been suppressed rather than repressed – see above).

We can attempt to process the material contained within our nightmares in the following ways :

– by keeping a written record of the nightmares (e.g. by recording our recollections of them or writing these down using a pen and pencil kept by the bed etc)

– by describing our nightmares to another person (who is emotionally supportive, such as a therapist) and trying to work out what their themes and images may represent.

–  going through the nightmare in our minds when awake but changing its ending to a positive one – then mentally replaying/rehearsing this new, positive ending. It is then helpful to write out what happens in the nightmare, including writing out the new, positive ending. Alternatively, we could draw a series of pictures representing the nightmare, but, again, incorporating the new, positive ending.

– by imagining, when awake, carrying out a simple action in our dream, such as taking a single step, and saying to ourselves : ‘You are completely safe, this is just a dream’. If we then mentally rehearse this before we go to sleep we may find this action, carried out in our dream, will cue the comforting and reassuring thought (the action that is to act as the cue can be anything simple that is likely to recur in the nightmare).

Nightmares And The Rebound Effect

In relation to some of what has been said above, it is useful to look at a psychological phenomenon known as the rebound effect :

If we try very hard not to think about something, this, paradoxically, frequently increases the probability that we will think about it. The classic example that is given to first year psychology undergraduates is the instruction NOT to think about a pink elephant for the next minute. Of course, this instruction is impossible to carry out  (try it if you don’t believe me!).

This is known as the rebound effect and research suggests the phenomenon may apply to nightmares, too. One possible technique to reduce the probability of having a nightmare is, therefore, to actually think about whatever it is the nightmare represents (if this has been inferred from reflection / dream analysis) for a few minutes before going to sleep as trying not do so, because of the rebound effect, may actually increase the chances that the nightmare will occur, however counterintuitive this may sound.

RESOURCE :

Stop Recurring Nightmares / Dreams | Hypnosis Downloads. Click here for more information.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

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BPD And Algopsychalia

algopsychalia

For several years, unremittingly, I was in a constant state of intense psychological torment. I realize this sounds melodramatic or exaggerated. It isn’t. In fact, no words can fully convey the intensity of the mental anguish from which I suffered.

I would complain to others I had a ‘terrible pain in my head’, neither physical nor solely mental, but some appalling, inarticulable, combination both. I constantly meditated on suicide as an escape : thinking about it, talking about it to anyone who would listen (other psychiatric inpatients when I was in hospital, cab drivers, even, once, when I was in a desperate state, sobbing, to complete strangers in a coffee bar – much to their alarm), planning it, researching how to do it online, buying various items to make it practicable (including, once, a rope with which to hang myself – a surprisingly complex purchase involving considerations of thickness, strength and length) and, more than once, attempting it. Indeed, the knowledge I could escape my pain by suicide was, ironically, the only reason I was able to endure it.

algopsychalia

I told various psychiatrists about this, but, having experienced some psychiatrists to whom it was difficult to warm, I frequently felt paranoid in their presence and believed if I used terms like ‘psychological torment’ and ‘mental torture’ to describe my emotional state they’d regard me as an hysteric prone to exaggeration.

Instead, I used terms like ‘severe mental pain’ or ‘intense mental pain.’ Now, you’d think (would you not?) that that was putting it strongly enough to galvanize them into immediate and fervent therapeutic action. Stunningly, however, the usual response was a blank stare, a barely perceptible nod and a quick Biro jotting in their notebook (although I would not be surprised, in some cases, if they carried out this latter action because they were working on their shopping list at the time).

Another name for the mental anguish I describe is ALGOPSYCHALIA. This condition is particularly prevalent amongst people who suffer from borderline personality disorder (BPD).

Indeed, research shows that those with BPD are worse affected by algopsychalia than are people with any other personality disorder and/or mood disorder (including bipolar and unipolar depression).

This is, perhaps, why approximately 10% of those suffering from BPD end their lives by suicide and why many, many more BPD suffers unsuccessfully attempt suicide.

It also helps to explain why so many BPD sufferers seek to escape their pain through any means possible, such as overeating, chain-smoking, taking illegal drugs, gambling, compulsive sex and physical self-harm (to detract attention from mental pain and to release endorphins into the brain) amongst other forms of dissociation.

TREATMENT :

There is some research to suggest that several weeks of treatment with paracetomal my help alleviate certain aspects of this mental suffering (this is theorized to be the case because aspects of both physical and mental pain are processed by the same brain regions). Always consult a doctor when considering taking medications to treat BPD and other serious conditions.

Learning, and then regularly practicing, mindfulness has also been shown to be of therapeutic value.

Hypnosis can be utilized to alter the meaning we attribute to pain and, by doing so, alter our perception of it.

 

RESOURCES :

Pain relief Hypnosis for pain relief : click here.

 

 

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

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Social Learning Theory And Childhood Maltreatment.

social learning theory

Albert Bandura developed a theory known as SOCIAL LEARNING THEORY during the 1960s which stated that we learn our behaviours through interacting with, and observing, those around us. And, of course, when we are children, our parents are particularly influential upon which specific ways of behaving we develop.

If parents maltreat their children over an extended period, therefore, the theory predicts that such children may absorb these parents’ negative behaviours into their own behavioural patterns and, later in life, when they themselves become parents, replicate/’play out’ such behavioural patterns within their own families (this is sometimes known as intergenerational transmission [of the effects of trauma]).

According to research conducted by Rener and Slack (2006), adults who had been physically abused as children were 2.6 times more likely to have experienced IPV (Intimate Partner Violence) than those who hadn’t; Intimate Personal Violence can be defined as :

‘Harm which is both serious and preventable of a physical, sexual or emotional nature inflicted upon a person by a current or former partner.’

It is possible that this nearly threefold increased risk is due to ‘learning’ (on a conscious or unconscious level) to form a self-concept as ‘a person who is victimized’ or, even, ‘a person who deserves to be victimized.’ This self-concept may then become a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy.

(On a personal level, I myself have had periods in my life in which people with whom I have had a relationship, Platonic or otherwise, have treated me very badly over extended periods of time. I see now, that had I had anything vaguely approaching the merest vestige of self-esteem/respect at the time, I wouldn’t have allowed such relationships to continue. I can’t pinpoint precisely what my attitude was at the time, but I think it was something along the lines of : ‘Oh well, this is just how things are for me’ – a kind of feeble, helpless resignation, I suppose). [To read my article entitled : TRAUMA, DEPRESSION AND LEARNED HELPLESSNESS, click here.]

Other research, conducted by McCloskey and Bailey (2000), found that mothers who were sexually abused as children were 360% more likely to have daughters who were also sexually abused than were mothers who were not sexually abused as children. It is a possibility that this may be due to the mothers who were sexually abused as children having,  by an insidious learning process (again, either consciously or unconsciously), come to the distorted worldview that all men are sexually exploitative and therefore more accepting of such men in their social circle which may, in turn, put such mothers’ daughters at increased risk.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

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Does Trying To Relax Paradoxically Increase Your Anxiety?

Paradoxically, trying to relax can actually make some people feel more anxious and stressed, not less.

Indeed, when I was extremely ill and in hospital (I was hospitalized on several occasions due to the seriousness of my condition), I was encouraged to attend certain therapeutic classes (which, because I was almost catatonic with severe clinical depression and anxiety, I most resolutely did not want to do –  amongst other myriad other symptoms, I had no motivation whatsoever, together with an unshakable belief that there was no possibility at all of me getting even very slightly better (such thinking is almost universal amongst the seriously, clinically depressed).

However, I eventually agreed to attend a class in which the therapist tried to guide me (and the other patients who had attended) through a relaxation exercise. Just a minute or so into the exercises, I felt so overwhelmed by anxiety that I had to excuse myself and leave the room, seeking, instead, refuge in the smoking room where I chain-smoked innumerable cigarettes.

In fact, this such a paradoxical reaction to an attempt to relax is not especially rare – a small percentage of those with anxiety will react in a similar manner.

So, what is the cause of this paradoxical response? Several ideas have been proposed, and I briefly look at some of these below:

POSSIBLE CAUSES OF A PARADOXICAL RESPONSE TO ATTEMPTS TO RELAX :

  • Trying to relax and ‘let go’ of stressful mental activity can induce in some individuals a feeling of loss of control. Related to this is the phenomenon whereby some people feel that, if they stop worrying about things, something terrible will happen and that their constant worrying is therefore somehow ‘protective’. Psychologists sometimes refer to such mistaken belief systems ‘magical thinking’.
  • Fear of loss of identity – for some, being stressed (eg always busy, ‘driven’, ”keyed-up’ etc) forms part of their identity and they feel uncomfortable relinquishing this identity, fearing that if they do so others may see them as complacent, indolent etc rather than as the ‘dynamic’ individual they hope others perceive.
  • Brain wave activity – becoming relaxed correlates with a shift in brainwave activity from beta-waves to alpha-waves which may cause thinking to become cloudy, hazy and foggy; some individuals find this disconcerting.
  • Frustration – if we try to relax, and find we cannot immediately do so. this can lead to frustration which makes relaxation even more difficult; this can quickly develop into a vicious circle.
  • Fear – similarly to the above, we may fear we will not be able to relax (by thinking things like : ‘If I don’t relax soon, I’ll go completely and irreversibly insane’ – which was the kind of thing I used to think) thus putting too much pressure on ourselves. In this way, the fear that we will not be able to relax can rapidly become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
  • Depersonalization – relaxation techniques can lead to feelings of ‘depersonalization’ in some people. Depersonalization can manifest itself as feeling of being ‘detached from one’s body‘ or as being an ‘observer of oneself.’ Many find such a sensation unpleasant.
  • Derealization –derealization’ can manifest itself as a feeling that ‘the world is not real’ and more like a nebulous, hazy, dreamworld. Again, many find this unpleasant. (‘Dearealiztion’ is a type of ‘dissociation.‘)
  • Distraction – for some individuals, certain types of stress (such as always ‘keeping busy’) can operate as a distraction from problems and worries the person finds hard to face (in extreme cases, this may result in workaholism‘). In this way, the stress/’keeping busy’ works as a psychological defense mechanism – the sudden dropping of this defense may lead to the person becoming vulnerable to being overwhelmed by floods of previously suppressed anxiety.

In response to the problem of the possible paradoxical effect a small minority of individuals may suffer as a result of trying to relax, some hypnotherapists have been trained in technique of inducing what is referred to as an ALERT TRANCE which some may find to be helpful.

RESOURCES :

Related Post :

Fighting Anxiety Can Worsen It’. Why Acceptance Works Better.’

Click here to read.

eBook :

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Above eBook now available from Amazon for instant download. Click here.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

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Copyright 2017 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

‘Incest Panic’

In his immensely helpful book, ‘Healing Trauma’, Peter Levine, PhD., describes a phenomenon that he terms ‘incest panic’.

Levine proposes that it is not uncommon for parents to start to feel an awkward attraction towards their opposite gendered off-spring around about the time the child enters early adolescence (i.e. the father may develop an attraction towards the daughter or the mother may develop an attraction towards her son).

Whilst Levine does not broach the subject, it is also, of course, possible for the parent to develop an attraction towards his son and the mother towards her daughter.

I mention this because a highly qualified and respected therapist once told me (and he was far too responsible a professional to have said this lightly) that he thought it overwhelmingly probable that my father, during my childhood, had behaved inappropriately towards me but that I had repressed the memory of it.

At first I dismissed this out of hand, and he did not pursue it the matter (obviously he would have been aware of the danger of creating false memories through repeated suggestion which, I imagine, is why he let the subject rest).

However, what my therapist had said made me re-appraise certain interactions I had had with my father as a child.

First, when I was about four, I remember I had misbehaved in some way whilst standing with my father by a tall wooden back gate. In order to reprimand me, my father warned : ‘If you do that again I will take down your trousers and pants and lift you over the gate so the neighbours can see you!‘ Obviously, I’d always thought that was a bizarre way for a father to discipline his son, and obviously wrong. But, perhaps naively, I had never, up to that point, believed there may have been some sexual motivation at work. I’d assumed he ‘just’ wanted to deeply humiliate me. (Now I think about this more deeply, my possible ‘denial’ was perhaps related to the idea that, when young, we find it hard to face up to the fact our parents could actually want to hurt us (click here to read a related post about how children idealize their parents).

The second relevant memory is that when I was about nine or ten years old my older brother and I were staying at my father’s maisonette (my parents were divorced at this time and my brother and I stayed with my father every-other weekend). It was quite hot weather and, just before I went to bed, my father said to me, apropos nothing : ‘When it’s hot like this I sleep naked on top of my blankets with nothing covering me.’ At the time, I remember, this struck me as an odd remark (a non-sequitor, in fact, though I wouldn’t have known that phrase at the time, as you’ll no doubt understand). However, after my therapist’s comment, this memory, too, took on a rather more sinister complexion. Was my father encouraging me, in a devious manner, to copy his own liberated nocturnal behaviour for his own nefarious purposes? The simple answer is : ‘I don’t know’).

Thirdly, and this memory most compels me to believe my therapist was might have been right, one night (around the same time, so, again, I would have been nine or ten, I was lying on the top bunk (my brother sleeping on the lower bunk beneath) in the bedroom my father provided for us during our weekend stays with him. I did not have on a pajama top and my father came in  to ‘kiss me goodnight’ and then went on to lower my bed sheets to about the level of my navel and began to not just kiss, but slobber, over my chest and stomach. Again, I remember thinking this odd. However, I don’t remember anything else, including how the incident concluded. It is, I admit, quite possible nothing else happened. It is However, the evidence in support of my therapist’s opinion, when considered as a whole, cannot, I think, be lightly dismissed.

But back to Levine. I think the third memory I describe above at least suggests my father harbored incestuous feelings for me which, at best, he could only just control. Indeed, he may have suffered from the ‘incest panic’ that Levine describes. What further evidence do I have for this? Well, when I reached puberty, my father became extremely cold and distant towards me, as I have written about elsewhere. And, according to Levine, this kind of emotional withdrawal is typical of the parent who suffers from the aforementioned ‘incest panic’ ; feeling deeply uncomfortable with his/her feelings of sexual attraction towards his/her young adolescent offspring, the parent withdraws their affection from the child as a psychological defense mechanism – a kind of shame-based overcompensation.

Having said that, my father was, putting it mildly, not an emotionally demonstrative man in general, so I remain wholly unenlightened.

The book I refer to above is called ‘Healing Trauma‘ by Peter Levine PhD.

 

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

 

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When Parents Threaten Their Child With Violence

I have written elsewhere about how my mother was prone to unpredictable, unprovoked outbursts of extreme hostility when I was very young but it is only now I feel I want to be a little more specific – something has prevented me from going into detail up until now, although that ‘something’ is very hard to define, despite the fact I have (I hope!) gained a fair amount of insight into my past and its effects upon me.

When she was angry my mother’s verbal rage knew no limits ; her frequently repeated threats or hurtful statements included :

  • ‘I feel evil towards you! Evil!’ (The second ‘evil’ delivered in a particularly melodramatic, emphatic and malevolent tone)
  • ‘I feel I could knife you!’
  • ‘I feel murderous towards you!’  (or, if I was ‘lucky’, she’d be slightly more restrained and scream at me the rather more banal phrase, ‘I wish to Christ I’d never bloody had you!’ (though delivered in a tone of devastating conviction and palpable authenticity; one could almost feel the hot waves of hatred emanating from her).

(There may well be still worse examples which I have either repressed or which occurred when I was too young for them to form long-term memories – I simply can’t know; but this, of course, is true of everyone).

At the time, being on the receiving end of these, how shall I put it, rather less than maternally loving statements, I think I felt very little; just numb, in fact, as if everything had gone hazy and foggy. It seems I must have mentally shut down as a form of self-preservation; this is a psychological defense mechanism I now know to be called ‘dissociation‘).

For years, even decades, I kept these memories at the very back of my mind, so to speak, but, of course, that will have only worsened their psychological effect.

It is only now, decades later (I was about twelve-years-old when my mother’s verbal aggression was at its most vehement, just as I was entering puberty) that I feel ready to attempt to mentally process such experiences. However, painful this may be, avoiding doing so is likely to be even more so.

Very few of the articles I publish on this site are so personal and I apologize for, once again, indulging myself. However, my next post will be more objective and its topic directly related this one : ‘The Effects Of Parental Threats Of Violence Upon The Child.’

 

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

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Effects Of Homophobia In Schools

homophobia in schools

What Are The Effects Of Homophobia In Schools?

When I was about fifteen, I drew a heart in a notebook I kept on my desk in my bedroom and, within the heart, wrote ‘ I love…’ followed by the name of a boy in my year at school (complete with drawing of arrow piercing the heart, and, for good measure, a few dollops of blood seeping from the wound – yes, I know!)

Of course, I always kept the notebook shut and in a drawer, to keep it safe from prying eyes (as I naively believed at the time), concealed by other books, innocuous books placed on top of it.

Some weeks later, I arrived home from school (still never having even spoken to the boy – I was mysteriously struck dumb whenever in his presence), and, as was my habit, beat a hasty retreat to the solitude of my bedroom (to avoid having to interact with my stepmother who despised me).

Imagine my horror when I saw on my bed the notebook which I always so carefully kept concealed! And worse, oh, so much worse, open at the ‘incriminating’ page.

This was, of course, my stepmother’s handiwork (nobody else had been in the house all day) calculated to cause me maximum shame, humiliation and embarrassment. Well, It worked (and then some).

To make the matter even more sinister and insidious, she never mentioned it – nor, of course, did I. (Preferring, instead, to skulk around the house looking sheepish).

Her communication of the hatred she felt for me, epitomized by this both shameful, and shaming, incident, continued in its usual vein – tacitly, implicitly and by insinuation – making it impossible for me, as a callow young teenager, directly to identify or effectively defend myself against.

Indeed, if I attempted to, I would be accused of paranoia (this is a well known psychological technique known as gaslighting which undermines the victim’s sense of reality and can, when chronically sustained, eventually induce psychosis).

As teenagers we long to be accepted as part of the group, and, whilst things are much better than they were three decades ago when I myself was a teenager, teenagers today still, sadly, experience homophobia.

Needless to say, this discrimination, leading to exclusion from the group, can be very traumatic, particularly as being singled out due to something as sensitive as one’s sexuality can be especially devastating (teenagers are, after all , at a stage in their lives when they are especially self-conscious and in need of acceptance).

Homophobic Bullying Leading To Mental Suffering :

A recent study carried out by Benigui found that young people who experience homophobia, including discrimination, prejudice, bullying and verbal attacks, have elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol flowing in their blood streams and are at increased risk of suffering from anxiety and depression.

And, most concerningly, they are fourteen times more likely to commit suicide than the average person their age.

homophobia in schools

Internalization Of Anti-Gay Attitudes :

It is likely that one of the main reasons for these findings is the fact that these victimized young people internalize the negative views others express towards them. This can result in the young person becoming what is technically known as an ego-dystonic homosexual (i.e. his/her homosexuality causes him/her mental distress).

Resilience:

However, the study also found that the young person could develop resilience against the negative effects of homophobia if :

– s/he had good emotional support from friends

– good emotional support from family

Conclusion:

The main conclusion drawn from the study was that much work still needs to be done to increase acceptance of, and respect for, diversity in the home, at schools and in the community in general, notwithstanding the significant advances made over recent decades.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

 

 

 

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Koro (Or The Incredible Shrinking Manhood).

It has taken me a very long time indeed to pluck up the courage to write this post, such was my embarrassment; you may understand why when you read what follows below.

Male readers will be familiar with the fact that when it is very cold, or when one is extremely anxious or fearful, the penis can partially retract.

Whilst I know this now, I didn’t know it when I was ten years old.

One day, whilst staying at my father’s home for the weekend (my parents were divorced) when I was around this age, I noticed, whilst in the bathroom, that my penis seemed smaller – whether due to the bathroom being cold, or high anxiety, I don’t recall.

Immediately, I went into a terrible panic which had the effect of causing my penis to retract further into my body, thus setting up a vicious cycle.

As some readers will be aware from other posts that I have published on this site, I had already developed clear psychological problems by this age and became hysterical with fear due to the ‘fact’, as I perceived it at the time, that my penis was about to permanently disappear.

Koro_fear of penis disappearing

Terror stricken, and crying uncontrollably, I begged my father to drive me to the doctor’s. At first he refused, but, when it became abundantly clear that my hysterical condition was intensifying rather than abating, he reluctantly relented.

During the ten minute drive there, I remember, sitting in the back seat, I kept the flies of my jeans open, allowing me monitor the situation, fully expecting my penis to disappear altogether; my older brother was in the front seat, mocking me and sneering at me, absolutely true to form.

When we finally arrived at the surgery, we found that it was closed.

At this point, my memory of the incident shuts down. However, I do know I never did get to see a doctor about the incident, nor did my father ever arrange counselling for me as a result (typically) perhaps due to the fact that this might have obliged him to admit to any such counsellor that he had left me living with a highly disturbed, unbalanced and psychologically abusive mother.

As an adult, I was surprised to learn that this fear of the penis disappearing is a recognised psychological condition (referred to as Koro) related to extreme anxiety, which, for those who are interested, can be read about by clicking here

 

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

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My Humiliating Psychosomatic Response To Childhood Trauma

childhood_trauma

I have thought about writing this article previously on many occasions but have been prevented by what I realize is an irrational sense of shame. This helps to illustrate, I think you will see, how pervasive and enduring the legacy of such irrational shame, stemming from a traumatic childhood and universally felt by those who experienced it, can be.

The story I am about to recount relates to the phenomenon of children experiencing psychosomatic symptoms (such as headaches and, in this particular case, stomach complaints) as a result of intense stress and anxiety.

I have mentioned before that when I was about ten years old (about two years after my parents’ divorce) my mother started a relationship with a schizophrenic who was frequently in and out of prison (for things like drink driving – whilst already banned from driving for the same offence – and car theft; he stole cars to visit his family in Scotland – a family we did not know existed at the time of the incident I am just about to relate.

When he came to live with us, he told us his name was Iain McDonald; after about a year, however, this was revealed to be an alias; his real name transpired to be John Lee.

One day (when I was still about ten years old), I was sitting in the back seat of our car with my mother driving and Iain McDonald (as he was at this time still styling himself) sitting in the front passenger seat.

My mother and ‘Iain’ were involved in one of their terrifying rows and, after a while, I started to feel sharp, excruciatingly painful stomach cramps.

Due to an very urgent need to use the bathroom, I pleaded with my mother to drive me home as quickly as possible, as you might well imagine.

However, ‘Iain’ insisted my mother first drivee him to a shop, involving a time consuming and, for me, agonizing detour, to buy cigarettes.

I protested, screaming my need to get back to our house and its urgently required bathroom post haste (although I did not use that particular expression at the time, of course).

To whom did my mother defer? You guessed it, her deranged, criminal, alcoholic live-in lover (if I may be permitted to employ an expression popular at the time).

The result? Predictable : let’s just say, euphemistically, that on the way to get the cigarettes I had a deeply humiliating ‘accident

Actually, having written this, I feel a strong sense of relief. A relief I was prevented from feeling at the time, sadly.

DH. 16.5.2016.

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Why A Part Of You May Have Remained Very Child-Like.

effects_of_childhood_trauma

As a teenager, when upset, under stress or in conflict with my parents/step – parent (and at any given time, it seems, retrospectively, I was in at least one of these states) my behaviour could become regressive (i.e. I would act in a manner far more typical of a much younger child).

This regressive behaviour, in my case, included raging tantrums, uncontrollable sobbing and, once, even, as I’ve mentioned in a previous post, shutting myself in a wardrobe, when I was about fifteen years old, after an argument with my father and stepmother.

I could go on, but you get the general picture, I imagine.

If we suffer significant trauma at an early age, it can result in part of us remaining child-like. This childhood part is cut off and separate from the main part of our personality (psychologists call it a dissociated part) and represents a phase of our childhood that was severely disrupted due to psychological and emotional turmoil.

Depending on the phase of our childhood was disrupted, this part of us may be infant-like, toddler-like, child-like or adolescent-like.

As the part of us in question as a dissociated part (as explained above) it can often remain hidden, both from ourselves and others.

However, at times of stress, this part of us may rise to the surface and express itself in an overt manner. When this happens, we both feel and act like an infant / toddler / child / adolescent.

inner_child

In accordance with this temporary transition we may, for example :

– suck our thumb

– cling to a soft toy

– hide under a table (or, in my case, shut ourselves in a wardrobe – see above)

– feel an intense sense of vulnerability

– feel exceptionally dependent on others and emotionally ‘needy’ with an overwhelming desire to be protected, loved and cared for

– display tantrum-like behaviour

Whilst we should aim not to indulge such aspects of ourselves in ways that are ultimately self – destructive, it is important that we acknowledge they exist and accept them in a spirit of self-compassion.

We need, too, to grant ourselves permission to grieve for our unmet childhood needs, and look for ways to satisfy these needs in the here and now that are not self – destructive and which do not compromise our adult lives (e.g. holding a soft toy at home OK, but probably not a good idea to take it to the board of directors’ meeting at work, sit it next to you at the table and provide it with a name tag embossed with the moniker Ted E. Bear).

For advice about managing our ‘inner child’, a useful link can be found by clicking here.

Resource:

EBook – click image below:

 

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

 

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