4

The Painful Lifestyle Of A Super Sensitive

What to do when your high intuition is a right pain in the ass!

This post is about a recent painful experience regarding my instincts or intuition.

My high intuition has caused me great problems socially and if you read on you won’t be surprised… I’m sure it’s the main reason I isolate and avoid meeting new people.

This experience below is not uncommon for me and as I get older or maybe healthier my instincts are getting stronger and clearer. This is hard to explain but sometimes I meet people and I just know their story – I know what happened, and I often know the very thing they are trying to hide even from themselves.. their shadow aspect..

Often If I don’t see their story from this life, I’ll see their story from a past life perspective.

Now I don’t experience this with everyone, just some people and some I get loads of info and others a little.

I believe a lot of being able to see these things has to do with love. The people I see things in generally have healing challenges to face or overcome..  and as I have a great deal of love and empathy for people who are suffering in some form, love seems to cause me to blend with them and understand their situation on a soul and emotional level – a level where I can see and feel what they have been through..

Sometimes I see things out of fear – I think when I’m being hypervigilant due to fear  – I ‘consciously look’ for my own safety … maybe due to this, I stop going with the flow and it becomes maladaptive and causes me problems.. I’m not sure .. or maybe sometimes and with certain people I just need to be careful.

 This last painful experience taught me something … and I have now decided that although I trust my instincts and my visions, I need to ‘use my head’, stop and think rather than be instantly reactive regarding what I perceive intuitively.

I need to be a little more objective rather than subjective and take note when I am working from fear rather than love.

 It’s not fun being highly intuitive, it’s annoying, very often it’s emotionally painful and as it is super stressful I eat only an alkaline diet in order to stay well. It has caused me major problems to understand myself and to make friends and my life would be a whole lot easier without it. I wish I could turn my radar off but it seems to be something I receive on a subconscious level.

It’s know it’s got to be maladaptive if it causes me to spend my life alone. So I guess I am going to have to learn how to effectively handle it, ignore it or somehow put it to good use..

So here’s what happened..

A few months ago I joined a local ‘social group’ because for the first time I was feeling very lonely and I really felt the need to connect with people, make friends and after 5 years alone, I really felt I was ready for love (if it happened) so I thought I’d start by getting out and meeting some new people. Up until this point I was comfortable being alone and recovering my health.

When I first arrived at the group one particular member, a male stood out to me and I intuitively ‘knew’ I would get to know him better. Truth be known I had a flash vision that showed us as potential lovers (weird right.. who needs that when you first meet someone. (.. no wonder I stay at home)    :o(

* A flash vision is not something I imagine or dream up, it is a visual image that pops into my head usually representing ‘the past’ or ‘the potential future”.

During the meetings we barely spoke to each other, and naturally I felt kind of awkward around him the 3 times I saw him, and then out of the blue he privately messaged me to meet him for a coffee.

I was VERY surprised when I received a private message, I never even knew he could access me privately. It was pretty weird and pretty ballsy of him to be honest… but on another level I somewhat expected some sort of connection to eventuate due to what I had perceived.

Anyway we planned to meet up in about a week’s time… I wish it had been the next day as a week was a looong time to wait..

How my week went prior to our catch up…

First up I felt fine – actually really excited! Then as the days went on I started feeling sick with anxiety. Then I stopped sleeping well and became restless. I started to wonder why he messaged me? Maybe he was simply looking for a friendship, or…maybe he was interested in me… that felt weird as he seemed a lot younger than me (he looked around early to mid 30s..) I am 12 to 15 years older..

I started getting really nervous about this, and as you imagine my ‘flash vision’ certainly didn’t help things..

I had been sleeping perfectly fine but now I was restless and waking on and off in the night with my intuition giving me insight..

Admittedly I had read everyone’s introduction to the group and the only thing I knew about him was that he had suffered from depression starting in his late teens and hadn’t been functioning well for many years.

My insight/ dreams /visions showed me this .. basically the cause of his depression.

At 19 someone very close to him died tragically. It was a woman and he had loved her very much. It was his first love but their relationship was hush hush – no-one knew they had an intimate relationship. (not sure why…  I didn’t see but maybe it was an affair???)

One afternoon they had a terrible fight and he said something very cruel to her – quite cutting. He did love her deeply but the relationship was too intense for him and his emotional maturity levels, he couldn’t handle all the secrecy and drama. It was unhealthy, and in the spare of the moment he spoke out in frustration and anger and then split up with her.

Anyway, heartbroken and distraught she threatened to kill herself. He really didn’t take much notice of what she was saying, or did he realize just how fragile she was..

Well, on the way home distraught she crashed her car at full speed into a tree.

Her death was considered a strange but completely random accident to everyone… (I’m not sure if it was suicide, or really an accident because she was driving fast at the time and being reckless because she was so upset..)

As no-one even knew that they were lovers, he never mentioned to a soul what happened, and to this day he has still never aired it to a soul, not a counsellor, not a friend.. really he has never let it off his chest..

On a soul level what I saw was that he still carries the grief with him to this day … and for many years, it has been the source of his depression and a source of underlying self punishment and guilt.

He also carries the love he had/ has for her and is still psychically attached to her spirit. This continues to hold them. Being ‘bound’ to another spiritually/ psychically is the same as being bound physically. Because of this he has never had a relationship with a woman since, and until he forgives himself and sets her free.. he will never find love or peace of spirit on earth. His deep and underlying feeling of guilt and self punishment is causing him to spend his life alone.

He is not consciously aware that this is the source of his depression.. because he doesn’t understand just how deeply the spirit can be affected. He has also attempted to bury it ‘logically’ … and deeply because to him it is just something that happened a long time ago. He is not aware of the attachment.

So what happened when I met him

Now to be honest – I had not purposely asked for this information but as I did feel threatened by the thought of meeting him, I think I subconsciously blended somehow with his energy – maybe to see if I was safe (hypervigilance).. I’m not sure..

I wonder if this is maladaptive hypervigilance?- can’t I just make a friend without going that deep – are my fears so great that I scan someone that deeply or is this just my healer, visionary and spiritual guide simply doing their job.. well I tell you it’s a tough and stressful job!!

Anyway I had not got quite all the story or puzzle pieces together by the time I met him, but I did have a few. I did know a woman he had greatly loved had died around the time he got depressed and I knew he carried guilt surrounding her death (I knew it was a car accident) and that this was the cause of his depression.

The rest came on meeting him and talking to him …

To be continued..

 

17

Childhood Trauma Leads to Brains Wired for Fear

 Sound Medicine

brain regions
Last week, a report by the University of San Diego School of Law found that about 686,000 children were victims of abuse and neglect in 2013. Traumatic childhood events can lead to mental health and behavioral problems later in life, explains psychiatrist and traumatic stress expert Bessel van der Kolk author of the recently published book, The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma. Children’s brains are literally shaped by traumatic experiences, which can lead to problems with anger, addiction, and even criminal activity in adulthood, says van der Kolk. Sound Medicine’s Barbara Lewis spoke with Dr. van der Kolk about his book. Here are highlights from the interview.

Sound Medicine: Can psychologically traumatic events change the physical structure of the brain?

Dr. Bessel van der Kolk: Yes, they can change the connections and activations in the brain. They shape the brain.

The human brain is a social organ that is shaped by experience, and that is shaped in order to respond to the experience that you’re having. So particularly earlier in life, if you’re in a constant state of terror; your brain is shaped to be on alert for danger, and to try to make those terrible feelings go away.

The brain gets very confused. And that leads to problems with excessive anger, excessive shutting down, and doing things like taking drugs to make yourself feel better. These things are almost always the result of having a brain that is set to feel in danger and fear.

As you grow up an get a more stable brain, these early traumatic events can still cause changes that make you hyper-alert to danger, and hypo-alert to the pleasures of everyday life.

SM: So are you saying that a child’s brain is much more malleable than an adult brain?

BK: A child’s brain is virtually nonexistent. It’s being shaped by experience. So yes, it’s extremely malleable.

SM: What is the mechanism by which traumatic events change the brain?

BK: The brain is formed by feedback from the environment. It’s a profoundly relational part of our body.

In a healthy developmental environment, your brain gets to feel a sense of pleasure, engagement, and exploration. Your brain opens up to learn, to see things, to accumulate information, to form friendships.

It’s about becoming safe to feel what you feel. When you’re traumatized you’re afraid of what you’re feeling, because your feeling is always terror, or fear or helplessness. I think these body-based techniques help you to feel what’s happening in your body, and to breathe into it and not run away from it. So you learn to befriend your experience.

But if you’re in an orphanage for example, and you’re not touched or seen, whole parts of your brain barely develop; and so you become an adult who is out of it, who cannot connect with other people, who cannot feel a sense of self, a sense of pleasure. If you run into nothing but danger and fear, your brain gets stuck on just protecting itself from danger and fear.

SM: Does trauma have a very different effect on children compared to adults?

BK: Yes, because of developmental issues. If you’re an adult and life’s been good to you, and then something bad happens, that sort of injures a little piece of the whole structure. But toxic stress in childhood from abandonment or chronic violence has pervasive effects on the capacity to pay attention, to learn, to see where other people are coming from, and it really creates havoc with the whole social environment.

And it leads to criminality, and drug addiction, and chronic illness, and people going to prison, and repetition of the trauma on the next generation.

SM: Are there effective solutions to childhood trauma?

BK: It is difficult to deal with but not impossible.

One thing we can do – which is not all that well explored because there hasn’t been that much funding for it – is neurofeedback, where you can actually help people to rewire the wiring of their brain structures.

Another method is putting people into safe environments and helping them to create a sense of safety inside themselves. And for that you can go to simple things like holding and rocking.

We just did a study on yoga for people with PTSD. We found that yoga was more effective than any medicine that people have studied up to now. That doesn’t mean that yoga cures it, but yoga makes a substantial difference in the right direction.

SM: What is it about yoga that helps?

BK: It’s about becoming safe to feel what you feel. When you’re traumatized you’re afraid of what you’re feeling, because your feeling is always terror, or fear or helplessness.  I think these body-based techniques help you to feel what’s happening in your body, and to breathe into it and not run away from it. So you learn to befriend your experience.

Sound Medicine – Childhood Trauma

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Dissociative Disorders

 Dissociative Disorders: (A Medical Perspective)

As society has become increasingly aware of the prevalence of child abuse, trauma or neglect and its serious consequences, there has been an explosion of information on posttraumatic and dissociative disorders resulting from abuse or trauma in childhood. Since most clinicians learned little about childhood trauma and its aftereffects in their training, many are struggling to build their knowledge base and clinical skills to effectively treat survivors and their families.

Understanding dissociation and its relationship to trauma is basic to understanding the posttraumatic and dissociative disorders. Dissociation is the disconnection from full awareness of self, time, and/or external circumstances. It is a complex neuropsychological process. Dissociation exists along a continuum from normal everyday experiences to disorders that interfere with everyday functioning. Common examples of normal dissociation are highway hypnosis (a trance-like feeling that develops as the miles go by), “getting lost” in a book or a movie so that one loses a sense of passing time and surroundings, and daydreaming.

Researchers and clinicians believe that dissociation is a common, naturally occurring defense against childhood trauma. Children tend to dissociate more readily than adults. Faced with overwhelming abuse, it is not surprising that children would psychologically flee (dissociate) from full awareness of their experience. Dissociation may become a defensive pattern that persists into adulthood and can result in a full-fledged dissociative disorder.

The essential feature of dissociative disorders is a disturbance or alteration in the normally integrative functions of identity, memory, or consciousness. If the disturbance occurs primarily in memory, Dissociative Amnesia or Fugue (APA, 1994) results; important personal events cannot be recalled. Dissociative Amnesia with acute loss of memory may result from wartime trauma, a severe accident, or rape. Dissociative Fugue is indicated by not only loss of memory, but also travel to a new location and the assumption of a new identity. Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), although not officially a dissociative disorder (it is classified as an anxiety disorder), can be thought of as part of the dissociative spectrum. In PTSD, recall/re-experiencing of the trauma (flashbacks) alternates with numbing (detachment or dissociation), and avoidance. Atypical dissociative disorders are classified as Dissociative Disorders Not Otherwise Specified (DDNOS). If the disturbance occurs primarily in identity with parts of the self assuming separate identities, the resulting disorder is Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), formerly called Multiple Personality Disorder.

The Dissociative Spectrum

The dissociative spectrum (Braun, 1988) extends from normal dissociation to poly-fragmented DID. All of the disorders are trauma-based, and symptoms result from the habitual dissociation of traumatic memories. For example, a rape victim with Dissociative Amnesia may have no conscious memory of the attack, yet experience depression, numbness, and distress resulting from environmental stimuli such as colors, odors, sounds, and images that recall the traumatic experience. The dissociated memory is alive and active–not forgotten, merely submerged (Tasman & Goldfinger, 1991). Major studies have confirmed the traumatic origin of DID (Putnam, 1989, and Ross, 1989), which arises before the age of 12 (and often before age 5) as a result of severe physical, sexual, and/or emotional abuse. Poly-fragmented DID (involving over 100 personality states) may be the result of sadistic abuse by multiple perpetrators over an extended period of time.

Although DID is a common disorder (perhaps as common as one in 100) (Ross, 1989), the combination of PTSD-DDNOS is the most frequent diagnosis in survivors of childhood abuse. These survivors experience the flashbacks and intrusion of trauma memories, sometimes not until years after the childhood abuse, with dissociative experiences of distancing, “trancing out”, feeling unreal, the ability to ignore pain, and feeling as if they were looking at the world through a fog.

The symptom profile of adults who were abuse as children includes posttraumatic and dissociative disorders combined with depression, anxiety syndromes, and addictions. These symptoms include (1) recurrent depression; (2) anxiety, panic, and phobias; (3) anger and rage; (4) low self-esteem, and feeling damaged and/or worthless; (5) shame; (6) somatic pain syndromes (7) self-destructive thoughts and/or behavior; (8) substance abuse; (9) eating disorders: bulimia, anorexia, and compulsive overeating; (10) relationship and intimacy difficulties; (11) sexual dysfunction, including addictions and avoidance; (12) time loss, memory gaps, and a sense of unreality; (13) flashbacks, intrusive thoughts and images of trauma; (14) hypervigilance; (15) sleep disturbances: nightmares, insomnia, and sleepwalking; and (16) alternative states of consciousness or personalities.

Diagnosis

The diagnosis of dissociative disorders starts with an awareness of the prevalence of childhood abuse and its relation to these clinical disorders with their complex symptomatology. A clinical interview, whether the client is male or female, should always include questions about significant childhood and adult trauma. The interview should include questions related to the above list of symptoms with a particular focus on dissociative experiences. Pertinent questions include those related to blackouts/time loss, disremembered behaviors, fugues, unexplained possessions, inexplicable changes in relationships, fluctuations in skills and knowledge, fragmentary recall of life history, spontaneous trances, enthrallment, spontaneous age regression, out-of-body experiences, and awareness of other parts of self (Loewenstein, 1991).

Structured diagnostic interviews such as the Dissociative Experiences Scale (DES) (Putnam, 1989), the Dissociative Disorders Interview Schedule (DDIS) (Ross, 1989), and the Structured Clinical Interview for Dissociative Disorders (SCID-D) (Steinberg, 1990) are now available for the assessment of dissociative disorders. This can result in more rapid and appropriate help for survivors. Dissociative disorders can also be diagnosed by the Diagnostic Drawing Series (DDS) (Mills & Cohen, 1993).

The diagnostic criteria for the diagnosis of DID are (1) the existence within the person of two or more distinct personalities or personality states, each with its own relatively enduring pattern of perceiving, relating to, and thinking about the environment and self, (2) at least two of these personality states recurrently take full control of the person’s behavior, (3) the inability to recall important personal information that is to extensive to be explained by ordinary forgetfulness, and (4) the disturbance is not due to the direct physiological effects of a substance (blackouts due to alcohol intoxication) or a general medical condition (APA, 1994). The clinician must, therefore, “meet” and observe the “switch process” between at least two personalities. The dissociative personality system usually includes a number of personality states (alter personalities) of varying ages (many are child alters) and of both sexes.

In the past, individuals with dissociative disorders were often in the mental health system for years before receiving an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment. As clinicians become more skilled in the identification and treatment dissociative disorders, there should no longer be such delay.

Treatment

The heart of the treatment of dissociative disorders is long-term psychodynamic/cognitive psychotherapy facilitated by hypnotherapy. It is not uncommon for survivors to need three to five years of intensive therapy work. Setting the frame for the trauma work is the most important part of therapy. One cannot do trauma work without some destabilization, so the therapy starts with assessment and stabilization before any abreactive work (revisiting the trauma).

A careful assessment should cover the basic issues of history (what happened to you?), sense of self (how do you think/feel about yourself?), symptoms (e.g., depression, anxiety, hypervigilance, rage, flashbacks, intrusive memories, inner voices, amnesias, numbing, nightmares, recurrent dreams), safety (of self, to and from others), relationship difficulties, substance abuse, eating disorders, family history (family of origin and current), social support system, and medical status.

After gathering important information, the therapist and client should jointly develop a plan for stabilization (Turkus, 1991). Treatment modalities should be carefully considered. These include individual psychotherapy, group therapy, expressive therapies (art, poetry, movement, psychodrama, music), family therapy (current family), psychoeducation, and pharmacotherapy. Hospital treatment may be necessary in some cases for a comprehensive assessment and stabilization. The Empowerment Model (Turkus, Cohen, & Courtois, 1991) for the treatment of survivors of childhood abuse–which can be adapted to outpatient treatment–uses ego-enhancing, progressive treatment to encourage the highest level of function (“how to keep your life together while doing the work”). The use of sequenced treatment using the above modalities for safe expression and processing of painful material within the structure of a therapeutic community of connectedness with healthy boundaries is particularly effective. Group experiences are critical to all survivors if they are to overcome the secrecy, shame, and isolation of survivorship.

Stabilization may include contracts to ensure physical and emotional safety and discussion before any disclosure or confrontation related to the abuse, and to prevent any precipitous stop in therapy. Physician consultants should be selected for medical needs or psychopharmacologic treatment. Antidepressant and antianxiety medications can be helpful adjunctive treatment for survivors, but they should be viewed as adjunctive to the psychotherapy, not as an alternative to it.

Developing a cognitive framework is also an essential part of stabilization. This involves sorting out how an abused child thinks and feels, undoing damaging self-concepts, and learning about what is “normal”. Stabilization is a time to learn how to ask for help and build support networks. The stabilization stage may take a year or longer–as much time as is necessary for the patient to move safely into the next phase of treatment.

If the dissociative disorder is DID, stabilization involves the survivor’s acceptance of the diagnosis and commitment to treatment. Diagnosis is in itself a crisis, and much work must be done to reframe DID as a creative survival tool (which it is) rather than a disease or stigma. The treatment frame for DID includes developing acceptance and respect for each alter as a part of the internal system. Each alter must be treated equally, whether it presents as a delightful child or an angry persecutor. Mapping of the dissociative personality system is the next step, followed by the work of internal dialogue and cooperation between alters. This is the critical stage in DID therapy, one that must be in place before trauma work begins. Communication and cooperation among the alters facilitates the gathering of ego strength that stabilizes the internal system, hence the whole person.

Revisiting and reworking the trauma is the next stage. This may involve abreactions, which can release pain and allow dissociated trauma back into the normal memory track. An abreaction might be described as the vivid re-experiencing of a traumatic event accompanied by the release of related emotion and the recovery of repressed or dissociated aspects of that event (Steele & Colrain, 1990). The retrieval of traumatic memories should be staged with planned abreactions. Hypnosis, when facilitated by a trained professional, is extremely useful in abreactive work to safely contain the abreaction and release the painful emotions more quickly. Some survivors may only be able to do abreactive work on an inpatient basis in a safe and supportive environment. In any setting, the work must be paced and contained to prevent retraumatization and to give the client a feeling of mastery. This means that the speed of the work must be carefully monitored, and the release painful material must be thoughtfully managed and controlled, so as not to be overwhelming. An abreaction of a person diagnosed with DID may involve a number of different alters, who must all participate in the work. The reworking of the trauma involves sharing the abuse story, undoing unnecessary shame and guilt, doing some anger work, and grieving. Grief work pertains to both the abuse and abandonment and the damage to one’s life. Throughout this mid-level work, there is integration of memories and, in DID, alternate personalities; the substitution of adult methods of coping for dissociation; and the learning of new life skills.

This leads into the final phase of the therapy work. There is continued processing of traumatic memories and cognitive distortions, and further letting go of shame. At the end of the grieving process, creative energy is released. The survivor can reclaim self-worth and personal power and rebuild life after so much focus on healing. There are often important life choices to be made about vocation and relationships at this time, as well as solidifying gains from treatment.

This is challenging and satisfying work for both survivors and therapists. The journey is painful, but the rewards are great. Successfully working through the healing journey can significantly impact a survivor’s life and philosophy. Coming through this intense, self-reflective process might lead one to discover a desire to contribute to society in a variety of vital ways.

by Joan A. Turkus, M.D.

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What Is C-PTSD?

I used to think I was overreacting. Now I realize it was just a normal reaction to an abnormal amount of bullshit. A yup, that sums it up.

Complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD) is a psychological injury that results from protracted exposure to prolonged social and/or interpersonal trauma in the context of either captivity or entrapment (a situation lacking a viable escape route for the victim), which results in the lack or loss of control, helplessness, and deformations of identity and sense of self.

Forms of trauma associated with C-PTSD involve a history of prolonged subjection to totalitarian control including sexual abuse (especially child sexual abuse), physical abuse, emotional abuse, domestic violence or torture—all repeated traumas in which there is an actual or perceived inability for the victim to escape.

C-PTSD was not accepted by the American Psychiatric Association as a mental disorder.

It was first described in 1992 by Judith Herman in her book Trauma & Recovery and an accompanying article.

Though mainstream journals have published papers on C-PTSD, the category is not formally recognized in diagnostic systems such as Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).

However, the former includes “disorder of extreme stress, not otherwise specified” and the latter has this similar code “personality change due to classifications found elsewhere”, both of whose parameters accommodate C-PTSD.

The seven categories of after effects include the following:

1. Alterations in the regulation of affective impulses, including difficulty with modulation of anger and of tendencies towards self-destructivenesss. This category has come to include all methods used for emotional regulation and self-soothing, even those that are paradoxical such as addictions and self-harming behaviors;

2. Alterations in attention and consciousness leading to amnesias and dissociative episodes and depersonalization. This category includes emphasis on dissociative responses different than those found in the DSM criteria for PTSD. Its inclusion in the CPTSD conceptualization incorporates findings that dissociation tends to be related to prolonged and severe interpersonal abuse occurring during childhood and, secondarily, that children are more prone to dissociation than are adults;

3. Alterations in self perception, predominantly negative and involving a chronic sense of guilt and responsibility, and ongoing feelings of intense shame. Chronically abused individuals (especially children) incorporate abuse messages and posttraumatic responses into their developing sense of self and self-worth;

4. Alterations in perception of the perpetrator, including incorporation of his or her belief system. This criterion addresses the complex relational attachment systems that ensue following repetitive and premeditated abuse and lack of appropriate response at the hands of primary caretakers or others in positions of responsibility;

5. Alterations in relationship to others, In hypervigilance, there is a perpetual scanning of the environment to search for sights, sounds, people, behaviors, smells, or anything else that is reminiscent of threat or trauma. The individual is placed on high alert in order to be certain danger is not near. Hypervigilance can lead to a variety of obsessive behavior patterns, as well as producing difficulties with social interaction and relationships (social anxiety) such as not being able to trust the motives of others and not being able to feel intimate with them. Another “lesson of abuse” internalized by victim/ survivors is that other people are venal and self-serving, out to get what they can by whatever means including using/abusing others. Abuse survivors may be unaware that other people can be benign, care giving, and not dangerous;

6. Somatization and/or medical problems. These somatic reactions and medical conditions may relate directly to the type of abuse suffered and any physical damage that was caused or they may be more diffuse. They have been found to involve all major body systems and to include many pain syndromes, medical illnesses and somatic conditions;

7. Alterations in systems of meaning. Chronically abused and traumatized individuals often feel hopeless about finding anyone to understand them or their suffering (chronic depression). They despair of being able to recover from their psychic anguish.

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The Wounded Child – Movies

Watching movies related to one of your archetypes, especially when going through the process of healing your shadow aspect is a powerful tool to help you understand yourself (your motivations, your passions, your fears – why you behave the way you do).

Silver Girl