Complex Ptsd Quotes

We've searched our database for all the quotes and captions related to Complex Ptsd. Here they are! All 200 of them:

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When you notice someone does something toxic the first time, don't wait for the second time before you address it or cut them off. Many survivors are used to the "wait and see" tactic which only leaves them vulnerable to a second attack. As your boundaries get stronger, the wait time gets shorter. You never have justify your intuition.
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Shahida Arabi
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In situations of captivity the perpetrator becomes the most powerful person in the life of the victim, and the psychology of the victim is shaped by the actions and beliefs of the perpetrator.
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Judith Lewis Herman (Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence - From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror)
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Beneath the surface of the protective parts of trauma survivors there exists an undamaged essence, a Self that is confident, curious, and calm, a Self that has been sheltered from destruction by the various protectors that have emerged in their efforts to ensure survival. Once those protectors trust that it is safe to separate, the Self will spontaneously emerge, and the parts can be enlisted in the healing process
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Bessel van der Kolk (The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma)
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Recovery can take place only within then context of relationships; it cannot occur in isolation.
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Judith Lewis Herman (Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence - From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror)
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Recovery unfolds in three stages. The central task of the first stage is the establishment of safety. The central task of the second stage is remembrance and mourning. The central focus of the third stage is reconnection with ordinary life.
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Judith Lewis Herman (Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence - From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror)
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...repeated trauma in childhood forms and deforms the personality. The child trapped in an abusive environment is faced with formidable tasks of adaptation. She must find a way to preserve a sense of trust in people who are untrustworthy, safety in a situation that is unsafe, control in a situation that is terrifyingly unpredictable, power in a situation of helplessness. Unable to care for or protect herself, she must compensate for the failures of adult care and protection with the only means at her disposal, an immature system of psychological defenses.
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Judith Lewis Herman (Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence - From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror)
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By developing a contaminated, stigmatized identity, the child victim takes the evil of the abuser into herself and thereby preserves her primary attachments to her parents. Because the inner sense of badness preserves a relationship, it is not readily given up even after the abuse has stopped; rather, it becomes a stable part of the child's personality structure.
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Judith Lewis Herman (Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence - From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror)
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Unspeakable feelings need to find expression in words. However... verbalization of very intense feelings may be a difficult task.
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James A. Chu (Rebuilding Shattered Lives: Treating Complex PTSD and Dissociative Disorders)
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Self-destructiveness may be a primary form of communication for those who do not yet have ways to tame their excruciating inner conflicts and feelings and who cannot yet turn to others for support.
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James A. Chu (Rebuilding Shattered Lives: Treating Complex PTSD and Dissociative Disorders)
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when a child is ridiculed, shamed, hurt or ignored when she experiences and expresses a legitimate dependency need, she will later be inclined to attach those same affective tones to her dependency. Thus, she will experience her own (and perhaps others’) dependency as ridiculous, shameful, painful, or denied. - Dependency in the Treatment of complex PTSD and Dissociative Disorders 2001 Authors: Kathy Steele, Onno van der Hart, Ellert R. S. Nijenhuis
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Kathy Steele
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The happy family is a myth for many.
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Carolyn Spring
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It is a rare person who can cut himself off from mediate and immediate relations with others for long spaces of time without undergoing a deterioration in personality.
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Harry Stack Sullivan (The Interpersonal Theory of Psychiatry)
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If you live your life to please everyone else, you will continue to feel frustrated and powerless. This is because what others want may not be good for you. You are not being mean when you say NO to unreasonable demands or when you express your ideas, feelings, and opinions, even if they differ from those of others.
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Beverly Engel (The Nice Girl Syndrome: Stop Being Manipulated and Abused -- And Start Standing Up for Yourself)
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Survivors who don’t stand up for themselves often develop physical and emotional illnesses. Many become depressed because they feel so hopeless and helpless about being able to change their lives. They turn their anger inward and become prone to headaches, muscle tension, nervous conditions and insomnia.
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Beverly Engel (The Nice Girl Syndrome: Stop Being Manipulated and Abused -- And Start Standing Up for Yourself)
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But on Kwajalein, the guards sought to deprive them of something that had sustained them even as all else had been lost: dignity. This self-respect and sense of self-worth, the innermost armament of the soul, lies at the heart of humanness; to be deprived of it is to be dehumanized, to be cleaved from, and cast below, mankind.
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Laura Hillenbrand (Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption)
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First, the physiological symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder have been brought within manageable limits. Second, the person is able to bear the feelings associated with traumatic memories. Third, the person has authority over her memories; she can elect both to remember the trauma and to put memory aside. Fourth, the memory of the traumatic event is a coherent narrative, linked with feeling. Fifth, the person's damaged self-esteem has been restored. Sixth, the person's important relationships have been reestablished. Seventh and finally, the person has reconstructed a coherent system of meaning and belief that encompasses the story of trauma.
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Judith Lewis Herman (Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence - From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror)
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The symptomatology of PTSD. In PTSD a traumatic event is not remembered and relegated to one's past in the same way as other life events. Trauma continues to intrude with visual, auditory, and/or other somatic reality on the lives of its victims. Again and again they relieve the life-threatening experiences they suffered, reacting in mind and body as though such events were still occurring. PTSD is a complex psychobiological condition.
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Babette Rothschild (The Body Remembers: The Psychophysiology of Trauma and Trauma Treatment)
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The human need to be visible is countered by the need to be invisible to avoid further abuse, and the need for intimacy and the dread of abuse, all pose insoluble dichotomies which promote further withdrawal from human contact, which reinforces the sense of dehumanisation.
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Christiane Sanderson (Introduction to Counselling Survivors of Interpersonal Trauma)
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Complex PTSD consists of of six symptom clusters, which also have been described in terms of dissociation of personality. Of course, people who receive this diagnosis often also suffer from other problems as well, and as noted earlier, diagnostic categories may overlap significantly. The symptom clusters are as follows: Alterations in Regulation of Affect ( Emotion ) and Impulses Changes in Relationship with others Somatic Symptoms Changes in Meaning Changes in the perception of Self Changes in Attention and Consciousness
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Suzette Boon (Coping with Trauma-Related Dissociation: Skills Training for Patients and Therapists)
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Closeness was the promise of suffering and pain
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Alice Jamieson (Today I'm Alice: Nine Personalities, One Tortured Mind)
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I have met many, many severely distressed people whose daily lives are filled with the agony of both remembered and unremembered trauma, who try so hard to heal and yet who are constantly being pushed down both by their symptoms and the oppressive circumstances of post traumatic life around them.
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Carolyn Spring
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Perhaps there was no more detrimental consequence of our childhood abandonment than being forced to habitually hide our authentic selves. Many of us come out of childhood believing that what we have to say is as uninteresting to others as it was to our parents.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
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Changes in Relationship with others: It is especially hard to trust other people if you have been repeatedly abused, abandoned or betrayed as a child. Mistrust makes it very difficult to make friends, and to be able to distinguish between good and bad intentions in other people. Some parts do not seem to trust anyone, while other parts may be so vulnerable and needy that they do not pay attention to clues that perhaps a person is not trustworthy. Some parts like to be close to others or feel a desperate need to be close and taken care of, while other parts fear being close or actively dislike people. Some parts are afraid of being in relationships while others are afraid of being rejected or criticized. This naturally sets up major internal as well as relational conflicts.
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Suzette Boon (Coping with Trauma-Related Dissociation: Skills Training for Patients and Therapists)
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Alterations in regulation of affect (emotion) and impulse: Almost all people who are seriously traumatized have problems in tolerating and regulating their emotions and surges or impulses. However, those with complex PTSD and dissociative disorders tend to have more difficulties than those with PTSD because disruptions in early development have inhibited their ability to regulate themselves. The fact that you have a dissociative organization of your personality makes you highly vulnerable to rapid and unexpected changes in emotions and sudden impulses. Various parts of the personality intrude on each other either through passive influence or switching when your under stress, resulting in dysregulation. Merely having an emotion, such as anger, may evoke other parts of you to feel fear or shame, and to engage in impulsive behaviors to stop avoid the feelings.
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Suzette Boon (Coping with Trauma-Related Dissociation: Skills Training for Patients and Therapists)
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Perfectionism. My perfectionism arose as an attempt to gain safety and support in my dangerous family. Perfection is a self-persecutory myth. I do not have to be perfect to be safe or loved in the present. I am letting go of relationships that require perfection. I have a right to make mistakes. Mistakes
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
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The price of admission to a relationship with an extreme narcissist is self-annihilation. One of my clients quipped: β€œNarcissists don’t have relationships; they take prisoners.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
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When fear is the dominant emotion in a flashback the person feels extremely anxious, panicky or even suicidal.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
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Many abandoned children enter adulthood feeling that the world is a dangerous place where they are ill-equipped to defend themselves
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
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Here we will also see how verbal and emotional abuse alone can cause Cptsd, and how profound emotional abandonment is typically at the core of most Cptsd.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
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I am continuously struck by how frequently the various thought processes of the inner critic trigger overwhelming emotional flashbacks. This is because the PTSD-derived inner critic weds shame and self-hate about imperfection to fear of abandonment, and mercilessly drive the psyche with the entwined serpents of perfectionism and endangerment. Recovering individuals must learn to recognize, confront and disidentify from the many inner critic processes that tumble them back in emotional time to the awful feelings of overwhelming fear, self-hate, hopelessness and self-disgust that were part and parcel of their original childhood abandonment.
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Pete Walker
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Their manipulation is psychological and emotionally devastating – and very dangerous, especially considering the brain circuitry for emotional and physical pain are one and the same (Kross, 2011). What a victim feels when they are punched in the stomach can be similar to the pain a victim feels when they are verbally and emotionally abused, and the effects of narcissistic abuse can be crippling and long-lasting, even resulting in symptoms of PTSD or Complex PTSD.
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Shahida Arabi (Becoming the Narcissist's Nightmare: How to Devalue and Discard the Narcissist While Supplying Yourself)
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Dissociative symptomsβ€”primarily depersonalization and derealizationβ€”are elements in other DSM-IV disorders, including schizophrenia and borderline personality disorder, and in the neurologic syndrome of temporal lobe epilepsy, also called complex partial seizures. In this latter disorder, there are often florid symptoms of depersonalization and realization, but most amnesia symptoms derive from difficulties with focused attention rather than forgetting previously learned information.
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James A. Chu (Rebuilding Shattered Lives: Treating Complex PTSD and Dissociative Disorders)
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Reparenting Affirmations I am so glad you were born. You are a good person. I love who you are and am doing my best to always be on your side. You can come to me whenever you’re feeling hurt or bad. You do not have to be perfect to get my love and protection. All of your feelings are okay with me. I am always glad to see you. It is okay for you to be angry and I won’t let you hurt yourself or others when you are. You can make mistakes - they are your teachers. You can know what you need and ask for help. You can have your own preferences and tastes. You are a delight to my eyes. You can choose your own values. You can pick your own friends, and you don’t have to like everyone. You can sometimes feel confused and ambivalent, and not know all the answers. I am very proud of you.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
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Recovery can take place only within then context of relationships; it cannot occur in isolation. In her renewed connection with other people, the survivor re-creates the psychological facilities that were damaged or deformed by the traumatic experience. These faculties include the basic operations of trust, autonomy, initiative, competence, identity, and intimacy. Just as these capabilities are formed in relationships with other people, they must be reformed in such relationships. The first principle of recovery is empowerment of the survivor. She must be the author and arbiter of her own recovery. Others may offer advice, support, assistance, affection, and care, but not cure. Many benevolent and well-intentioned attempts to assist the survivor founder because this basic principle of empowerment is not observed. No intervention that takes power away from the survivor can possibly foster her recovery, no matter how much it appears to be in her immediate best interest.
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Judith Lewis Herman (Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence - From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror)
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Somatic Symptoms: People with Complex PTSD often have medical unexplained physical symptoms such as abdominal pains, headaches, joint and muscle pain, stomach problems, and elimination problems. These people are sometimes most unfortunately mislabeled as hypochondriacs or as exaggerating their physical problems. But these problems are real, even though they may not be related to a specific physical diagnosis. Some dissociative parts are stuck in the past experiences that involved pain may intrude such that a person experiences unexplained pain or other physical symptoms. And more generally, chronic stress affects the body in all kinds of ways, just as it does the mind. In fact, the mind and body cannot be separated. Unfortunately, the connection between current physical symptoms and past traumatizing events is not always so clear to either the individual or the physician, at least for a while. At the same time we know that people who have suffered from serious medical, problems. It is therefore very important that you have physical problems checked out, to make sure you do not have a problem from which you need medical help.
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Suzette Boon (Coping with Trauma-Related Dissociation: Skills Training for Patients and Therapists)
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Dysfunctional emotional matching is seen in behaviors such as acting amused at destructive sarcasm, acting loving when someone is punishing, and acting forgiving when someone is repetitively hurtful. I
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
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Create vivid pictures of attainable futures that are safer, friendlier, and more prosperous. Cite
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
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I also hope this map will guide you to heal in a way that helps you become an unflinching source of kindness and self-compassion for yourself,
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
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Feeling is the antithesis of pain…the more pain one feels, the less pain one suffers” – Arthur Janov
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
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Skilled therapists and caregivers learn to discriminate between active and passive suicidal ideation, and do not panic and catastrophize when encountering the latter. Instead, the counselor invites the survivor to explore his suicidal thoughts and feelings knowing that in most cases, verbal ventilation of the flashback pain underneath it will deconstruct the suicidality.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
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Those who were molested or beaten as children or teenagers might later be vulnerable to sexual abuse or violence, because their natural impulses to protect themselves and protest (physical and verbal) were extinguished. Expectation of hurtful treatment by others or one's own failed capabilities can stubbornly persist despite overwhelming evidence that such is no longer the case.
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Babette Rothschild
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Eighty two percent of the traumatized children seen in the National Child Traumatic Stress Network do not meet diagnostic criteria for PTSD.15 Because they often are shut down, suspicious, or aggressive they now receive pseudoscientific diagnoses such as β€œoppositional defiant disorder,” meaning β€œThis kid hates my guts and won’t do anything I tell him to do,” or β€œdisruptive mood dysregulation disorder,” meaning he has temper tantrums. Having as many problems as they do, these kids accumulate numerous diagnoses over time. Before they reach their twenties, many patients have been given four, five, six, or more of these impressive but meaningless labels. If they receive treatment at all, they get whatever is being promulgated as the method of management du jour: medications, behavioral modification, or exposure therapy. These rarely work and often cause more damage.
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Bessel van der Kolk (The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma)
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I have tried to communicate my ideas in a language that preserves connections, a language that is faithful both to the dispassionate, reasoned traditions of my profession and to the passionate claims of people who have been violated and outraged. I have tried to find a language that can withstand the imperatives of doublethink and allows all of us to come a little closer to facing the unspeakable.
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Judith Lewis Herman (Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence - From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror)
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People with Complex PTSD suffer from more severe and frequent dissociation symptoms, as well as memory and attention problems, than those with simple PTSD. In addition to amnesia due to the activity of various parts of the self, people may experience difficulties with concentration, attention, other memory problems and general spaciness. These symptoms often accompany dissociation of the personality, but they are also common in people who do not have dissociative disorders. For example everyone can be spacey, absorbed in an activity, or miss an exit on the highway. When various parts of the personality are active, by definition, a person experiences some kind of abrupt change in attention and consciousness.
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Suzette Boon (Coping with Trauma-Related Dissociation: Skills Training for Patients and Therapists)
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Changes in Meaning: Finally, chronically traumatized people lose faith that good things can happen and people can be kind and trustworthy. They feel hopeless, often believing that the future will be as bad as the past, or that they will not live long enough to experience a good future. People who have a dissociative disorder may have different meanings in various dissociative parts. Some parts may be relatively balanced in their worldview, others may be despairing, believing the world to be a completely negative, dangerous place, while other parts might maintain an unrealistic optimistic outlook on life
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Suzette Boon (Coping with Trauma-Related Dissociation: Skills Training for Patients and Therapists)
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For our physiology to calm down, heal, and grow we need a visceral feeling of safety. No doctor can write a prescription for friendship and love: These are complex and hard-earned capacities. You don't need a history of trauma to feel self-conscious and even panicked at a party with strangers – but trauma can turn the whole world into a gathering of aliens.
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Bessel van der Kolk (The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma)
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As unsupported children, we have to dissociate because we are not able to effectively grieve.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
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When our emotional intelligence is restricted, we often do not know what we really want, and can consequently struggle mightily with even the smallest decisions.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
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if your brain changes in response to experience, then you have the opportunity to deliberately help your brain change again based on new experiences you create.
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Michele Rosenthal
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Emotional Neglect: The Core Wound In Complex PTSD Minimization about the damage caused by extensive emotional neglect is at the core of the Cptsd denial onion. Our journey of recovering takes a quantum leap when we really feel and understand how devastating it was to be emotionally abandoned.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
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In this climate of profoundly disrupted relationships the child faces a formidable developmental task. She must find a way to form primary attachments to caretakers who are either dangerous or, from her perspective, negligent. She must find a way to develop a sense of basic trust and safely with caretakers who are untrustworthy and unsafe. She must develop a sense of self in relation to others who are helpless, uncaring or cruel. She must develop a capacity for bodily self-regulation in an environinent in which her body is at the disposal of others' needs as well as a capacity for self-soothing in an environment without solace. She must develop the capacity for initiative in an environment which demands that she bring her will into complete conformity with that of her abuser. And ultimately, she must develop a capacity for intimacy out of an environment where all intimate relationships are corrupt, and an identity out of an environment which defines her as a whore and a slave.
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Judith Lewis Herman (Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence - From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror)
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Controlling my environment was still a compelling need for me. I did everything I could to not be surprised by anything... Looking back, I think that my need to predict how my day was going to unfold was a direct response to the amount of chaos in my childhood.
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Olga Trujillo (The Sum of My Parts: A Survivor's Story of Dissociative Identity Disorder)
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Generally the rational brain can override the emotional brain, as long as our fears don’t hijack us. (For example, your fear at being flagged down by the police can turn instantly to gratitude when the cop warns you that there’s an accident ahead.) But the moment we feel trapped, enraged, or rejected, we are vulnerable to activating old maps and to follow their directions. Change begins when we learn to "own" our emotional brains. That means learning to observe and tolerate the heartbreaking and gut-wrenching sensations that register misery and humiliation. Only after learning to bear what is going on inside can we start to befriend, rather than obliterate, the emotions that keep our maps fixed and immutable.
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Bessel van der Kolk (The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma)
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There is often a close relationship between emotion and physical sensation. Physical sensations in the body often co-occur with feelings. Moreover, sensations of tightness and tension can develop as a defense against feelings. As unexpressed feelings accumulate, a greater degree of muscular tension is necessary to keep them under wraps. A child who is repeatedly punished for emoting learns to be afraid of inner emotional experience and tightens [armors] the musculature of her body in an effort to hold feelings in and to banish them from awareness. Holding your breath is a further manifestation of armoring. It is an especially common way of keeping feelings at bay, as breathing naturally brings your awareness down to the level of feeling.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
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Few of us have a healthy sense of boundaries. We either have rigid boundaries (β€œNo one is ever going to get close to me”) or weak boundaries (β€œI’ll be anything anyone wants me to be”). Rigid boundaries lead to distance and isolation; weak boundaries, to over-dependency and sometimes, further abuse. The ideal is to develop flexible boundaries, boundaries which can vary depending on the circumstances.
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Laura Davis (Allies in Healing: When the Person You Love Is a Survivor of Child Sexual Abuse)
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Changes in the Perception of Self: People who have been traumatized in childhood are often troubled by guilt, shame, and negative feelings about themselves, such as the belief they are unlikable, unlovable, stupid, inept, dirty, worthless, lazy, and so forth. In Complex Dissociative disorders there are typically particular parts that contain these negative feelings about the self while other parts may evaluate themselves quite differently. Alterations among parts thus may result in rather rapid and distinct changes in self perception.
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Suzette Boon (Coping with Trauma-Related Dissociation: Skills Training for Patients and Therapists)
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no recovery from trauma is possible without attending to issues of safety, care for the self, reparative connections to other human beings, and a renewed faith in the universe. The therapist's job is not just to be a witness to this process but to teach the patient how.
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Janina Fisher
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Childhood trauma can range from having faces extreme violence and neglect to having confronted feelings of not belonging, being unwanted, or being chronically misunderstood. You may have grown up in an environment where your curiosity and enthusiasm were constantly devalued. Perhaps you were brought up in a family where your parents had unresolved traumas of their own, which impaired their ability to attend to your emotional needs. Or, you may have faced vicious sexual or physical attacks. In all such situations, you learn to compensate by developing defenses around your most vulnerabe parts.
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Arielle Schwartz (The Complex PTSD Workbook: A Mind-Body Approach to Regaining Emotional Control and Becoming Whole)
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The traumatic stress field has adopted the term β€œComplex Trauma” to describe the experience of multiple and/or chronic and prolonged, developmentally adverse traumatic events, most often of an interpersonal nature (e.g., sexual or physical abuse, war, community violence) and early-life onset. These exposures often occur within the child’s caregiving system and include physical, emotional, and educational neglect and child maltreatment beginning in early childhood - Developmental Trauma Disorder
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Bessel van der Kolk
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The reason why you need emotional support is because it's important for survivors to be heard. To be understood. To be able to express yourself without fearing criticism or harsh judgement. To be validated for your pain, suffering, and loss. For others to be there for you to encourage you, especially if you're having a bad day or feeling triggered.
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Dana Arcuri (Soul Cry: Releasing & Healing the Wounds of Trauma)
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If however, a person is also afflicted by ongoing family abuse or profound emotional abandonment, the trauma will manifest as a particularly severe emotional flashback because he already has Cptsd. This is particularly true when his parent is also a bully.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
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One of the reasons a survivor finds it so difficult to see herself as a victim is that she has been blamed repeatedly for the abuse: "If you weren't such a whore, this wouldn't have to happen." Each time she is used and trashed, she becomes further convinced of her innate badness. She sees herself participating in forbidden sexual activity and may often get some sense of gratification from it even if she doesn't want to (it is, after all, a form of touch, and our bodies respond without the consent of our wills). This is seen as further proof that the abuse is her fault and well deserved. In her mind, she has become responsible for the actions of her abusers. She believes she is not a victim; she is a loathsome, despicable, worthless human beingβ€”if indeed she even qualifies as human. When the abuse has been sadistic in nature...these beliefs are futher entrenched.
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Diane Langberg (Counseling Survivors of Sexual Abuse)
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Complexly traumatized children need to be helped to engage their attention in pursuits that do not remind them of trauma-related triggers and that give them a sense of pleasure and mastery. Safety, predictability, and "fun" are essential for the establishment of the capacity to observe what is going on, put it into a larger context, and initiate physiological and motoric self-regulation.
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Sarah Benamer (Trauma and Attachment (The John Bowlby Memorial Conference Monograph Series))
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Their manipulation is psychological and emotionally devastating – and very dangerous, especially consideringΒ the brain circuitry for emotional and physical pain are one and the same (Kross, 2011). What a victim feels when they are punched in the stomach can be similar to the pain a victim feels when they are verbally and emotionally abused, and the effects of narcissistic abuse can be crippling and long-lasting, even resulting in symptoms ofΒ PTSD or Complex PTSD.
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Shahida Arabi (Becoming the Narcissist's Nightmare: How to Devalue and Discard the Narcissist While Supplying Yourself)
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In the same way that people can drive each other mad, the company of people, and being understood by people, can also heal us.
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Bessel van der Kolk
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When inward tenderness Finds the secret hurt, Pain itself will crack the rock And, Ah! Let the soul emerge. β€” Rumi
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
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The objective is for the past to become a very tiny part of your very large, confident, capable, and free self.
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Michele Rosenthal (Your Life After Trauma: Powerful Practices to Reclaim Your Identity)
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The reality is that there are plenty of trustworthy people in the world rebuilding their lives. It was a very gradual process for me to open up and talk about what was really going on in my recovery. The more I started to take risks by talking to others, however, the more I had an opportunity to exercise boundaries. As I asserted new boundaries, I started to gravitate towards people with integrity, warmheartedness and decency.
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Christopher Dines (Drug Addiction Recovery: The Mindful Way)
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Bibliotherapy is a term that describes the very real process of being positively and therapeutically influenced by what you read. As stated earlier, when it is at its most powerful, bibliotherapy is also relationally healing. It can rescue you from the common Cptsd feeling of abject isolation and alienation.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
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Playing nice" comes naturally when our neuroception detects safety and promotes physiological states that support social behavior. However, pro-social behavior will not occur when our neuroception misreads the environmental cues and triggers physiological states that support defensive strategies. After all, "playing nice" is not appropriate or adaptive behavior in dangerous or life-threatening situations. In these situations, humans - like other mammals - react with more primitive neurobiological defense systems. To create relationships, humans must subdue these defensive reactions to engage, attach, and form lasting social bonds. Humans have adaptive neurobehavioral systems for both pro-social and defensive behaviors.
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Stephen W. Porges (The Polyvagal Theory: Neurophysiological Foundations of Emotions, Attachment, Communication, and Self-regulation)
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Assault survivors respond differently. There's no right or wrong way to react after being sexually abused. The assault can be so overwhelming that we may respond in three ways - fight, flee, or freeze.
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Dana Arcuri (Sacred Wandering: Growing Your Faith In The Dark)
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Emotional neglect, alone, causes children to abandon themselves, and to give up on the formation of a self. They do so to preserve an illusion of connection with the parent and to protect themselves from the danger of losing that tenuous connection. This typically requires a great deal of self-abdication, e.g., the forfeiture of self-esteem, self-confidence, self-care, self-interest, and self-protection.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
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He cannot forgive himself for having saved himself when his wife and child went to their deaths we are all as if drugged. Yesterday all of my family were living and now - all are dead. Each of us stands as if turn to stone. I weep for my fate, for what I have left to see.
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Chil Rajchman (The Last Jew of Treblinka)
β€œ
Hyperarousal causes traumatized people to become easily distressed by unexpected stimuli. Their tendency to be triggered into reliving traumatic memories illustrates how their perceptions have become excessively focused on the involuntary search for the similarities between the present and their traumatic past. As a consequence, many neutral experiences become reinterpreted as being associated with the traumatic past.
”
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Marion F. Solomon (Healing Trauma: Attachment, Mind, Body and Brain)
β€œ
As you may already know, post-traumatic stress disorder is extremely complex. Each client has a unique, perhaps virtually unbelievable, set of experiences, and an almost equally set of reactions to those experiences.
”
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Aphrodite Matsakis (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder)
β€œ
The worst thing that can happen to a child is to be unwelcomed in his family of origin - to never feel included. Moreover, many survivors have little or no experience of any social arena that feels safe and welcoming.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
β€œ
A refusal on the part of psychiatrists and therapists to validate the horrors of their patients' tortured past implies a refusal to take seriously the unconscious psychological mechanisms that individuals need to use to protect themselves from the unspeakable. Such a denial is, however, no longer ethical, for it is in the human capacity to dissociate that lies part of the secret of both childhood abuse and the horrors of the Nazi genocide, both forms of human violence so often carried out by 'respectable' men and women.
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Felicity De Zulueta (From Pain to Violence: The Traumatic Roots of Destructiveness)
β€œ
Finally, positive visualization can be a powerful adjunct to thought-substitution. Some survivors gradually learn to short-circuit the fear-mongering processes of the critic by invoking images of past successes and accomplishments, as well as picturing safe places, loving friends or comforting memories.
”
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
β€œ
Emotionally wounded addicts have an extremely difficult time with intimacy and with trusting themselves and others. They have a deep desire to trust, but their emotional scars and traumatic memories haunt them whenever an opportunity to trust another person arises. Naturally this can lead to a very lonely existence.
”
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Christopher Dines (Drug Addiction Recovery: The Mindful Way)
β€œ
As a survivor, I feel a duty to provide a realistic view of the complexity of recovery. I am not here to rebrand the mess he made on campus. It is not my responsibility to alchemize what he did into healing words society can digest. I do not exist to be the eternal flame, the beacon, the flowers that bloom in your garden.
”
”
Chanel Miller (Know My Name)
β€œ
Patients with complex trauma may at times develop extreme reactions to something the therapist has said or not said, done or not done. It is wise to anticipate this in advance, and perhaps to note this anticipation in initial communications with the patient. For example, one may say something like, "It is likely in our work together, there will be a time or times when you will feel angry with me, disappointed with me, or that I have failed you. We should except this and not be surprised if and when it happens, which it probably will." It is also vital to emphasize to the patient that despite the diagnosis and experience of dividedness, the whole person is responsible and will be held responsible for the acts of any part. p174
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Elizabeth F. Howell (The Dissociative Mind)
β€œ
The worst thing about having been traumatized with the look in childhood is that we can erroneously transfer and project our memory of it onto other people when we are triggered. We are especially prone to doing this with authority figures or people that resemble our parents, even when they are not sporting the look. Internal
”
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
β€œ
Physical symptoms such as muscle tension, back problems, stomach distress, constipation, diarrhea, headaches, obesity or maybe even hypertension can be caused by suppressing your emotions. Suppressed anger may also cause you to overreact to people and situations or to act inappropriately. Unexpressed anger can cause you to become irritable, irrational, and prone to emotional outbursts and episodes of depression.
”
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Beverly Engel (The Nice Girl Syndrome: Stop Being Manipulated and Abused -- And Start Standing Up for Yourself)
β€œ
I also like to apply β€œgood enough” to other concepts such as a good enough job, a good enough try, a good enough outing, a good enough day or a good enough life. I apply this concept liberally to contradict the black-and-white, all-or none thinking of the critic which reflexively judges people and things as defective unless they are perfect.
”
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
β€œ
If this is what you suffered, you then grew up feeling that no one likes you. No one ever listened to you or seemed to want you around. No one had empathy for you, showed you warmth, or invited closeness. No one cared about what you thought, felt, did, wanted or dreamed of. You learned early that, no matter how hurt, alienated, or terrified you were, turning to a parent would do nothing more than exacerbate your experience of rejection.
”
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
β€œ
Those who are repetitively traumatized in childhood often learn to survive by over-using one or two of the 4F Reponses. Fixation in any one 4F response not only limits our ability to access all the others, but also severely impairs our ability to relax into an undefended state. Additionally, it strands us in a narrow, impoverished experience of life.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
β€œ
Natural anger eventually arises when we really get how little and defenseless we were when our parents bullied us into hating ourselves.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
β€œ
[1] a minor upset feels like an emergency; [2] a minor unfairness feels like a travesty of justice.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
β€œ
Too often the survivor is seen by [himself or] herself and others as "nuts," "crazy," or "weird." Unless her responses are understood within the context of trauma. A traumatic stress reaction consists of *natural* emotions and behaviors in response to a catastrophe, its immediate aftermath, or memories of it. These reactions can occur anytime after the trauma, even decades later. The coping strategies that victims use can be understood only within the context of the abuse of a child. The importance of context was made very clear many years ago when I was visiting the home of a Holocaust survivor. The woman's home was within the city limits of a large metropolitan area. Every time a police or ambulance siren sounded, she became terrified and ran and hid in a closet or under the bed. To put yourself in a closet at the sound of a far-off siren is strange behavior indeedβ€”outside of the context of possibly being sent to a death camp. Within that context, it makes perfect sense. Unless we as therapists have a good grasp of the context of trauma, we run the risk of misunderstanding the symptoms our clients present and, hence, responding inappropriately or in damaging ways.
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Diane Langberg (Counseling Survivors of Sexual Abuse)
β€œ
Their experiences led them to create assumptions about others and related beliefs about themselves such as "this is my lot in life" and "this is what I deserve". Some also learned that personal safety and happiness are of lower priority than survival and that it may be safer to give in than to actively fight off additional abuse and victimization. When abuse is perpetrated by intimates, it is additionally confounding in terms of attachment, betrayal, and trust. Victims may be unable to leave or to fight back due to strong, albeit insecure and disorganized, attachment and misplaced loyalty to abusers. They may have also experienced trauma bonding over the course of their victimization, that is, a bond of specialness with or dependence on the abuser.
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Christine A. Courtois (Treatment of Complex Trauma: A Sequenced, Relationship-Based Approach)
β€œ
Children who receive good enough parenting easily recognize and protect themselves from bullying and exploitive people because they do not have to become accustomed to being treated unfairly.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
β€œ
Origins Of Cptsd How do traumatically abused and/or abandoned children develop Cptsd? While the origin of Cptsd is most often associated with extended periods of physical and/or sexual abuse in childhood, my observations convince me that ongoing verbal and emotional abuse also causes it. Many dysfunctional parents react contemptuously to a baby or toddler’s plaintive call for connection and attachment. Contempt is extremely traumatizing to a child, and at best, extremely noxious to an adult. Contempt is a toxic cocktail of verbal and emotional abuse, a deadly amalgam of denigration, rage and disgust. Rage creates fear, and disgust creates shame in the child in a way that soon teaches her to refrain from crying out, from ever asking for attention. Before long, the child gives up on seeking any kind of help or connection at all. The child’s bid for bonding and acceptance is thwarted, and she is left to suffer in the frightened despair of abandonment. Particularly abusive parents deepen the abandonment trauma by linking corporal punishment with contempt. Slaveholders and prison guards typically use contempt and scorn to destroy their victims’ self-esteem. Slaves, prisoners, and children, who are made to feel worthless and powerless devolve into learned helplessness and can be controlled with far less energy and attention. Cult leaders also use contempt to shrink their followers into absolute submission after luring them in with brief phases of fake unconditional love.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
β€œ
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) also has dissociative symptoms as an essential feature. PTSD has been classically seen as a biphasic disorder, with persons alternately experiencing phases of intrusion and numbing... [T]he intrusive phase is associated with recurrent and distressing recollections in thoughts or dreams and reliving the events in flashbacks. The avoidant/numbing phase is associated with efforts to avoid thoughts or feelings associated with the trauma, emotional constriction, and social withdrawal. This biphasic pattern is the result of dissociation; traumatic events are distanced and dissociated from usual conscious awareness in the numbing phase, only to return in the intrusive phase.
”
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James A. Chu (Rebuilding Shattered Lives: Treating Complex PTSD and Dissociative Disorders)
β€œ
Many children appear to be hard-wired to adapt to this endangering abandonment with perfectionism. A prevailing climate of danger forces the child’s superego to over-cultivate the various programs of perfectionism and endangerment listed below. Once again, the superego is the part of the psyche that learns parental rules in order to gain their acceptance.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
β€œ
As I discussed in the previous chapter, attachment researchers have shown that our earliest caregivers don't only feed us, dress us, and comfort us when we are upset; they shape the way our rapidly growing brain perceives reality. Our interactions with our caregivers convey what is safe and what is dangerous: whom we can count on and who will let us down; what we need to do to get our needs met. This information is embodied in the warp and woof of our brain circuitry and forms the template of how we think of ourselves and the world around us. These inner maps are remarkably stable across time. This doesnβ€˜t mean, however, that our maps canβ€˜t be modified by experience. A deep love relationship, particularly during adolescence, when the brain once again goes through a period of exponential change, truly can transform us. So can the birth of a child, as our babies often teach us how to love. Adults who were abused or neglected as children can still learn the beauty of intimacy and mutual trust or have a deep spiritual experience that opens them to a larger universe. In contrast, previously uncontaminated childhood maps can become so distorted by an adult rape or assault that all roads are rerouted into terror or despair. These responses are not reasonable and therefore cannot be changed simply by reframing irrational beliefs.
”
”
Bessel van der Kolk (The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma)
β€œ
However, when we thoroughly vent our angry feelings about the past, feelings of forgiveness become more accessible. When we learn how to grieve ourselves out of abandonment flashbacks, we reemerge into a feeling of belonging to and loving the world.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
β€œ
The term dissociation is ordinarily used to describe the phenomenon of compartmentalization or fragmentation of mental contents. It does not ascribe any particular mechanism by which the dissociative process occurs. Does dissociation occur as a result of automatic, nonconscious processes, or are there other specific mechanisms by which it occurs? Especially in the context of describing amnesia, the term repression is widely used in connection with several different mechanisms. As it is commonly used, it often implies how individuals may block our memories of uncomfortable or conflictual experiences. If done consciously, the mechanism is more accurately called suppression, which results from actively trying not to think about negative experiences.
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James A. Chu (Rebuilding Shattered Lives: Treating Complex PTSD and Dissociative Disorders)
β€œ
Secondary structural dissociation involves one ANP and more than one EP. Examples of secondary structural dissociation are complex PTSD, complex forms of acute stress disorder, complex dissociative amnesia, complex somatoform disorders, some forms of trauma-relayed personality disorders, such as borderline personality disorder, and dissociative disorder not otherwise specified (DDNOS).. Secondary structural dissociation is characterized by divideness of two or more defensive subsystems. For example, there may be different EPs that are devoted to flight, fight or freeze, total submission, and so on. (Van der Hart et al., 2004). Gail, a patient of mine, does not have a personality disorder, but describes herself as a "changed person." She survived a horrific car accident that killed several others, and in which she was the driver. Someone not knowing her history might see her as a relatively normal, somewhat anxious and stiff person (ANP). It would not occur to this observer that only a year before, Gail had been a different person: fun-loving, spontaneous, flexible, and untroubled by frightening nightmares and constant anxiety. Fortunately, Gail has been willing to pay attention to her EPs; she has been able to put the process of integration in motion; and she has been able to heal. p134
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Elizabeth F. Howell (The Dissociative Mind)
β€œ
...the vast majority of these [dissociative identity disorder] patients have subtle presentations characterized by a mixture of dissociative and PTSD symptoms embedded with other symptoms, such as posttraumatic depression, substance abuse, somatoform symptoms, eating disorders, and self-destructive and impulsive behaviors.2,10 A history of multiple treatment providers, hospitalizations, and good medication trials, many of which result in only partial or no benefit, is often an indicator of dissociative identity disorder or another form of complex PTSD.
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Bethany L. Brand
β€œ
I become almost wild and shout at them: - To whom are you reciting Kaddish? Do you still believe? And what do you believe, whom are you thinking? Are you thanking the Lord for his mercy and taking away our brothers and sisters, our fathers and mothers? No, no! It is not true; there is no God. If there were a God, he would not allow such misfortune, such transgression, where innocent small children, only just born, or killed, by people who want only to to honest work and make themselves useful to the world are killed! and you, living witnesses of the great misfortune, remain thankful. Whom are you thanking?
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Chil Rajchman (The Last Jew of Treblinka)
β€œ
In my personal recovery, mindfulness has helped me to become aware of my trauma responses and given me an anchor to stay present when I have been triggered. Being able to feel my triggers without reacting must be largely credited to learning to anchor myself in my body through mindful body scan meditation.
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Christopher Dines (Drug Addiction Recovery: The Mindful Way)
β€œ
When we are chronically stressed out [stuck in sympathetic nervous system activation], detrimental somatic changes become ingrained in our bodies. Here are some of the most common examples of body-harming reactions to Cptsd stress: Hypervigilance Shallow and Incomplete Breathing Constant Adrenalization Armoring, i.e., Chronic muscle tightness Wear and tear from rushing and armoring Inability to be fully present, relaxed and grounded in our bodies Sleep problems from being over-activated Digestive disorders from a tightened digestive tract Physiological damage from excessive self-medication with alcohol, food or drugs
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
β€œ
Self-mothering is a resolute refusal to indulge in self-hatred and self-abandonment. It proceeds from the realization that self-punishment is counterproductive. It is enhanced by the understanding that patience and self-encouragement are more effective than self-judgment and self-rejection in achieving recovery.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
β€œ
I was appalled at how much pressure my clients were getting to just forgive and forget. Consequently, many of them were diving right back into denial, and minimizing all the trauma that they had endured. Their recovery processes then, screeched to a halt as their inner critics denigrated them for being so unforgiving.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
β€œ
If an adult does not protest when a child is being attacked with destructive criticism, she is in an unspoken alliance with the critic. The child is forced to assume contempt is normal and acceptable. The witnessing adult has forsaken her/his tribal responsibility to protect the child from parents who perpetrate child abuse.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
β€œ
I was just thinking that I started off OK," Jo said. "There wasn't anything different or wrong with me when I was born. I wasn't inherently bad or freakish." That's right, Jo," Lynn said. "Other peopleβ€”my mother and fatherβ€”did things to me that made me feel all wrong about myself," Jo said, another warm wave of new, sure knowledge washing over her.
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Joan Frances Casey (The Flock: The Autobiography of a Multiple Personality)
β€œ
As connection to the therapist is established, the therapeutic relationship offers an opportunity for the client to experience a present attachment, but it also brings up transferential tendencies associated with past attach ment relationships (Sable, 2000). Informed by the experience of interperesonal trauma and betrayal, posttraumatic transferential relationships can be exceptionally potent and volatile. In response to the therapist, clients experience fear, anger, mistrust, and suspicion, as well as hope, vulnerability, and yearning, and they are acutely attuned to subtle signals of disinterest or interest, compassion or judgment, abandonment or consistency (Herman 1992; Pearlman & Saakvitne, 1995).
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Pat Ogden (Trauma and the Body: A Sensorimotor Approach to Psychotherapy)
β€œ
This is especially good news because what is learned can be unlearned and vice versa.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
β€œ
I was just thinking that I started off OK," Jo said. "There wasn't anything different or wrong with me when I was born. I wasn't inherently bad or freakish.
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Joan Frances Casey (The Flock: The Autobiography of a Multiple Personality)
β€œ
grieving the losses of childhood, and understanding how abusive and negligent parenting is at the root of our problems.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
β€œ
Toxic shame can also be created by constant parental neglect and rejection.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
β€œ
Pain is excess energy crying out for release.” – Gerald Heard
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
β€œ
Extensive childhood abuse installs a powerful people-are-dangerous program.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
β€œ
person injures and exhausts himself in compulsive attempts to avoid a disavowed feeling, and actually becomes more stuck
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
β€œ
repression of one end of the emotional continuum often leads to a repression of the whole continuum, and the person becomes emotionally deadened.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
β€œ
Neuroplasticity means that the brain can grow and change throughout our life. Old self-destructive neural pathways can be diminished and new healthier ones can replace them.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
β€œ
The most essential of these are the deaths of our self-compassion and our self-esteem, as well as our abilities to protect ourselves and fully express ourselves.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
β€œ
She never learns that real intimacy grows out of sharing all of her experience.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
β€œ
12. Time Urgency. I am not in danger. I do not need to rush. I will not hurry unless it is a true emergency. I am learning to enjoy doing my daily activities at a relaxed pace.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
β€œ
A great loss brings up an emotional storm that opens up a hidden reservoir of childhood pain
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
β€œ
Food offers us our first outside source of self-soothing, and when a child is starving for love, he frequently makes food his love object.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
β€œ
I weep for my fate, for what I have left to see.
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Chil Rajchman (The Last Jew of Treblinka)
β€œ
THE RETURN OF THE REPRESSED: RELIVING DISSOCIATED EXPERIENCES The reexperiencing of previously dissociated traumatic events presents in a variety of complex ways. The central principle is that dissociated experiences often do not remain dormant. Freud's concept of the β€œrepetition compulsion” is enormously helpful in understanding how dissociated events are later reexperienced. In his paper, "Beyond the Pleasure Principle," Freud (1920/ 1955) described how repressed (and dissociated) trauma and instinctual conflicts can become superimposed on current reality. He wrote: The patient cannot remember the whole of what is repressed in him, and what he cannot remember may be precisely the essential part of it. .. . He is obliged to repeat the repressed material as a contemporary experience instead of remembering it as something in the past. (p. 18) If one understands repression as the process in which overwhelming experiences are forgotten, distanced, and dissociated, Freud posited that these experiences are likely to recur in the mind and to be reexperienced. He theorized that this "compulsion to repeat" served a need to rework and achieve mastery over the experience and that it perhaps had an underlying biologic basis as well. The most perceptive tenet of Freud’s theory is that previously dissociated events are actually reexperienced as current reality rather than remembered as occurring in the past. Although Freud was discussing the trauma produced by intense intrapsychic conflict, clinical experience has shown that actual traumatic events that have been dissociated are often repeated and reexperienced.
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James A. Chu (Rebuilding Shattered Lives: Treating Complex PTSD and Dissociative Disorders)
β€œ
Right-brain dissociation can be seen as classical dissociation and as the defense most common to freeze types. It is the right-brain process of numbing out against intense feeling or incessant inner critic attack. Dissociation is once again a process of distraction. Survivors commonly experience it as getting lost in fantasy, fogginess, TV, tiredness or sleep.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
β€œ
She could see that the outer critic typically triggered her into a very old feeling and belief that β€œPeople are so unreliable – they always let you down –they just can’t be trusted!
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
β€œ
Chronic emotional abandonment devastates a child. It naturally makes her feel and appear deadened and depressed. Functional parents respond to a child’s depression with concern and comfort. Abandoning parents respond to the child with anger, disgust and/or further abandonment, which in turn exacerbate the fear, shame and despair that become the abandonment mΓ©lange.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
β€œ
Feelings of abandonment commonly masquerade as the physiological sensations of hunger. Hunger pain soon after a big meal is rarely truly about food. Typically it is camouflaged emotional hunger and the longing for safe, nurturing connection. Food cannot satiate the hunger pain of abandonment. Only loving support can. Geneen Roth’s book offers powerful self-help book on this subject.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
β€œ
Unrelenting criticism, especially when it is ground in with parental rage and scorn, is so injurious that it changes the structure of the child’s brain. Repeated messages of disdain are internalized and adopted by the child, who eventually repeats them over and over to himself. Incessant repetitions result in the construction of thick neural pathways of self-hate and self-disgust. Over time a self-hate response attaches to more and more of the child’s thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Eventually, any inclination toward authentic or vulnerable self-expression activates internal neural networks of self-loathing. The child is forced to exist in a crippling state of self-attack, which eventually becomes the equivalent of full-fledged self-abandonment. The ability to support himself or take his own side in any way is decimated. With ongoing parental reinforcement, these neural pathways expand into a large complex network that becomes an Inner Critic that dominates mental activity. The inner critic’s negative perspective creates many programs of self-rejecting perfectionism. At the same time, it obsesses about danger and catastrophizes incessantly.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
β€œ
Toxic shame also inhibits us from seeking comfort and support. In a reenactment of the childhood abandonment we are flashing back to, we often isolate ourselves and helplessly surrender to an overwhelming feeling of humiliation. If you are stuck viewing yourself as worthless, defective, or despicable, you are probably in an emotional flashback. This is typically also true when you are lost in self-hate and virulent self-criticism. Immediate help for managing emotional flashbacks can be found at the beginning of chapter 8 which lists 13 practical steps for resolving flashbacks.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
β€œ
The Drama of the Gifted Child. Sean’s inborn gift coming into this life was his compassion and his sense that if he studied his mother enough and figured out what she needed, he could provide for her needs.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
β€œ
To the degree that our caretakers attack or abandon us for showing vulnerability, to that degree do we later avoid the authentic self-expression that is fundamental to intimacy. The outer critic forms to remind us that everyone else is surely as dangerous as our original caretakers. Subliminal memories of being scorned for seeking our parents’ support then short-circuit our inclinations to share our troubles and ask for help.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
β€œ
4. Micromanagement/Worrying/Obsessing/Looping/Over-Futurizing. I will not repetitively examine details over and over. I will not jump to negative conclusions. I will not endlessly second-guess myself. I cannot change the past. I forgive all my past mistakes. I cannot make the future perfectly safe. I will stop hunting for what could go wrong. I will not try to control the uncontrollable. I will not micromanage myself or others.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
β€œ
For many survivors, authority figures are the ultimate triggers. I have known several survivors, who have never gotten so much as a parking ticket, who cringe in anxiety whenever they come across a policeman or a police car.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
β€œ
Do I really agree with this thought, or have I been pressured into believing it? How do I want to respond to this feeling – distract myself from it, repress it, express it or just feel it until it changes into something else?
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
β€œ
Until all of the emotions are accepted indiscriminately (and acceptance does not imply license to dump emotions irresponsibly or abusively), there can be no wholeness, no real sense of well being, and no solid sense of self esteem.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
β€œ
Where there had been only fearful emptiness or equally frightening grandiose fantasies, an unexpected wealth of vitality is now discovered. This is not a homecoming, since this home has never before existed. It is the creation of home.
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Arielle Schwartz (The Complex PTSD Workbook: A Mind-Body Approach to Regaining Emotional Control and Becoming Whole)
β€œ
it is unrealistic to expect that people who have been violated by relationships will expose their vulnerabilities to a total stranger without repercussions. Under these circumstances, traumatic reenactments are practically unavoidable.
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Frank Anderson (Transcending Trauma: Healing Complex PTSD with Internal Family Systems)
β€œ
While scaring us out of trusting others, the outer critic also pushes us to over-control them to make them safer. Over-controlling behaviors include shaming, excessive criticism, monologing [conversational control] and overall bossiness.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
β€œ
One common sign of being flashed-back is that we feel small, helpless, and hopeless. In intense flashbacks this magnifies into feeling so ashamed that we are loath to go out or show our face anywhere. Feeling fragile, on edge, delicate and easily crushable is another aspect of this. The survivor may also notice an evaporation of whatever self-esteem he has earned since he left home. This is a flashback to the childhood years where implicit family rules forbade any self-esteem at all.
”
”
Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
β€œ
They do this by shaming or intimidating you whenever you have a natural impulse to have sympathy for yourself, or stand up for yourself. The instinct to care for yourself and to protect yourself against unfairness is then forced to become dormant.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
β€œ
10. Drasticizing/Catastrophizing/Hypochondriasizing. I feel afraid but I am not in danger. I am not β€œin trouble” with my parents. I will not blow things out of proportion. I refuse to scare myself with thoughts and pictures of my life deteriorating.
”
”
Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
β€œ
Many psychologists use the term existential to describe the fact that all human beings are subject to painful events. These are the normal recurring afflictions that everyone suffers from time to time. Horrible world events, difficult choices, illnesses and periodic feelings go abject loneliness are common examples of existential pain. Existential calamities can be especially triggering for survivors, because we typically have so much family-of-origin calamity for them to trigger us into reliving.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
β€œ
Verbal ventilation is the key way that people make friends. It parallels the way tender touch, soothing voice, and welcoming facial expressions helps infants and toddlers establish bonding and attachment. When we practice the emotionally based communication of verbal ventilation in a safe environment, we repair the damage of not having had this need met in childhood. This in turn opens up the possibility of finally attaining the verbal-emotional intimacy that is an essential lifelong need for all human beings.
”
”
Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
β€œ
A child who grows up with no reliable human source of love, support and protection typically falls into a great deal of social unease. He β€œnaturally” becomes reluctant to seek support from anyone, and he is forced to adopt self-sufficiency as a survival strategy.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
β€œ
Hypervigilance is a fixation on looking for danger that comes from excessive exposure to real danger. In an effort to recognize, predict and avoid danger, hypervigilance is ingrained in your approach to being in the world. Hypervigilance narrows your attention into an incessant, on-guard scanning of the people around you. It also frequently projects you into the future, imagining danger in upcoming social events. Moreover, hypervigilance typically devolves into intense performance anxiety on every level of self-expression.
”
”
Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
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Many survivors of relational and other forms of early life trauma are deeply troubled and often struggle with feelings of anger, grief, alienation, distrust, confusion, low self-esteem, loneliness, shame, and self-loathing. They seem to be prisoners of their emotions, alternating between being flooded by intense emotional and physiological distress related to the trauma or its consequences and being detached and unable to express or feel any emotion at all - alternations that are the signature posttraumatic pattern. These occur alongside or in conjunction with other common reactions and symptoms (e.g., depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem) and their secondary manifestations. Those with complex trauma histories often have diffuse identity issues and feel like outsiders, different from other people, whom they somehow can't seem to get along with, fit in with, or get close to, even when they try. Moreover, they often feel a sense of personal contamination and that no one understands or can help them. Quite frequently and unfortunately, both they and other people (including the professionals they turn to for help) do misunderstand them, devalue their strengths, or view their survival adaptations through a lens of pathology (e.g., seeing them as "demanding", "overdependent and needy", "aggressive", or as having borderline personality). Yet, despite all, many individuals with these histories display a remarkable capacity for resilience, a sense of morality and empathy for others, spirituality, and perseverance that are highly admirable under the circumstances and that create a strong capacity for survival. Three broad categories of survivorship, with much overlap between them, can be discerned: 1. Those who have successfully overcome their past and whose lives are healthy and satisfying. Often, individuals in this group have had reparative experiences within relationships that helped them to cope successfully. 2. Those whose lives are interrupted by recurring posttraumatic reactions (often in response to life events and experiences) that periodically hijack them and their functioning for various periods of time. 3. Those whose lives are impaired on an ongoing basis and who live in a condition of posttraumatic decline, even to the point of death, due to compromised medical and mental health status or as victims of suicide of community violence, including homicide.
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Christine A. Courtois (Treatment of Complex Trauma: A Sequenced, Relationship-Based Approach)
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Many of the clients who come through my door have never had a safe enough relationship. Repetition compulsion drives them to unconsciously seek out relationships in adulthood that traumatically reenact the abusive and/or abandoning dynamics of their childhood caretakers
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
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... every therapist must develop enough personal maturity, clinical wisdom, and capacity for good judgment to effectively and safely conduct psychotherapy, an imperative that is especially important in the treatment of this population. The emotion dysregulation and insecure and disorganized attachment of complex trauma clients elicit strong emotional reactions from others, even those in their support network, including therapists. Reactions can range from sympathy, sorrow, fear, and guilt to frustration, impatience, anger/rage, hostility, and disgust or contempt.
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Christine A. Courtois (Treatment of Complex Trauma: A Sequenced, Relationship-Based Approach)
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Sibling rivalry is further reinforced in dysfunctional families by the fact that all the children are subsisting on minimal nurturance, and are therefore without resources to give to each other. Moreover, competition for the little their parents have to give creates even fiercer rivalries.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
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It appears that children are hard-wired to release fear through angering and crying. The newborn baby, mourning the death of living safely and fully contained inside the mother, utters the first of many angry cries not only to call for nurturance and attention, but also to release her fear.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
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Here then are some useful messages for nurturing the growth of your self-compassion and self-esteem. I recommend that you imagine speaking them to your inner child, especially when you are suffering with a flashback. Reparenting Affirmations I am so glad you were born. You are a good person.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
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Premature forgiveness will prohibit us from showing the inner child that she had the right to be angry about her parents’ cold-hearted abandonment of her. It will stop us from helping her to express and release those old angry feelings. Premature forgiveness will also inhibit the survivor from reconnecting with his instinctual self-protectiveness. He may never learn that he can now use his anger, if necessary, to stop present day unfairness. As real forgiveness is primarily a feeling, it is - like all other feelings - ephemeral. It is never complete, never permanent, and never a done deal.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
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You can comfort her/him verbally: β€œI feel such sorrow that you were so abandoned and that you felt so alone so much of the time. I love you even more when you are stuck in this abandonment pain – especially because you had to endure it for so long with no one to comfort you. That shouldn’t have happened to you. It shouldn’t happen to any child. Let me comfort and hold you. You don’t have to rush to get over it. It is not your fault. You didn’t cause it and you’re not to blame. You don’t have to do anything. Just let me hold you. Take your time. I love you always and care about you no matter what.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
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Men as Victims: Challenging Cultural Myths Judith Herman’s recent treatise on β€œcomplex PTSD" (Herman, 1992) is an extremely articulate and compelling analysis of some of the failings of the current PTSD diagnosis, and of some of the psychological legacies of prolonged, repeated trauma. However, there was one aspect of the article which concerned me and which I wish to address. Throughout the article, "Complex PTSD: A Syndrome in Survivors of Prolonged and Repeated Trauma," whenever reference is made by pronoun to perpetrators or "captors," the pronoun "he" or "him' is used. There are four such references. Whenever reference is made by pronoun to victims or survivors, the pronoun "her" or "she" is used. There are 11 such references. This is not simply an issue of the use of sexist language, which it is. By uniformly linking perpetration with males and victimhood with females, a misconception is perpetuated, one that is shared by the public and by mental health professionals. While there is evidence that most perpetrators of sexual abuse are male, and that there are more female victims of sexual abuse than male victims, it is not true that all perpetrators are male and all victims are female. In fact, in the article, some of the traumas from which Dr. Herman was deriving her argumentβ€”political torture, concentration camp survivors, for exampleβ€”affect as many males as females. Even in the case of sexual abuse, there is increasing evidence that the sexual abuse of males is far more prevalent than has heretofore been believed. Research on male sexual victimization lags more than a decade behind that of female victimization, but several recent studies have reported prevalence rates near or above 20% (Finkelhor et at, 1990; Urquiza, 1988, cited in Urquiza and Keating, 1990; Lisak and Luster, 1992).
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David Lisak
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Freeze types sometimes have or appear to have Attention Deficit Disorder [ADD]. They often master the art of changing the internal channel whenever inner experience becomes uncomfortable. When they are especially traumatized or triggered, they may exhibit a schizoid-like detachment from ordinary reality.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
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Emotional flashbacks are sudden and often prolonged regressions to the overwhelming feeling-states of being an abused/abandoned child. These feeling states can include overwhelming fear, shame, alienation, rage, grief and depression. They also include unnecessary triggering of our fight/flight instincts.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
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Traumatized children often over-gravitate to one of these response patterns to survive, and as time passes these four modes become elaborated into entrenched defensive structures that are similar to narcissistic [fight], obsessive/compulsive [flight], dissociative [freeze] or codependent [fawn] defenses.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
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Trust of others is in short supply for many adult survivors, as complex trauma generally involves major relational betrayal. It is, therefore, expectable (although paradoxical) that clients with these histories are predisposed to be mistrustful at the outset of therapy, precisely because of (and in proportion to) the actual trustworthiness of the therapist. When past experiences have thought hard lessons, namely, that one can least afford to trust the people who should be most trustworthy, it stands to reason that confusion about trust results. The therapist must understand and not take offense either personally or professionally and not react judgmentally or defensively. Practically speaking, this involves the therapist being prepared to patiently and empathically respond to active or passive tests or challenges to trustworthiness as legitimate and meaningful communication that deserves a respectful reply in action as well as in words.
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Christine A. Courtois (Treatment of Complex Trauma: A Sequenced, Relationship-Based Approach)
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Jo tried to think about her suspicion that Lynn liked her. She figured that Lynn was nice to her because she was a patient. Jo's mother had shown her what it meant to have a professional mask. The times Jo saw her mother at work in the lab, busy and efficient as she drew blood and marked vials. Nancy smiled warmly at the patients, ready with a sympathetic comment. If a patient or a doctor called Nancy at home, she immediately became the caring professional, no matter what had been happening before the phone rang. When Lynn hung up after an evening phone call from Missy, Jo suspected that Lynn resumed screaming at her husband or kids.
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Joan Frances Casey (The Flock: The Autobiography of a Multiple Personality)
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Thus, grieving is especially profound when we can fluidly shift between feeling and emoting. Sometimes we will only need to fully feel and accept the sensations of our pain. Other times we will want to verbally ventilate about our pain with someone who gives us full permission to color our words with angering and tears.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
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Moreover, most of the diagnoses mentioned above are typically treated as innate characterological defects rather than as learned maladaptations to stress – adaptations that survivors were forced to learn as traumatized children. And, most importantly, because these adaptations were learned, they can often be extinguished
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
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Healing is comparable to a garden. It needs tended to on a consistent basis. For weeds to be pulled out. The garden needs water and sunshine in effort to grow. Like a lotus flower, you will sprout through the soil, reaching up through the dark water towards the sunlight, stretching to the surface where you will beautifully bloom.
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Dana Arcuri (Soul Cry: Releasing & Healing the Wounds of Trauma)
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Mindfulness is a perspective of benign curiosity about all of your inner experience. Recovery is enhanced immeasurably by developing this helpful process of introspection. As it becomes more developed, mindfulness can be used to recognize and dis-identify from beliefs and viewpoints that you acquired from your traumatizing family.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
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A reluctance to participate in such a fundamental realm of the human experience results in much unnecessary loss. For just as without night there is no day, without work there is no play, without hunger there is no satiation, without fear there is no courage, without tears there is no joy, and without anger, there is no real love.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
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I believe this type of emotional hunger is at the core of most food addictions. One of the reasons food addictions are so difficult to manage is that food was the first source of self-comforting that was available to us. With the dearth of any other comfort, there is little wonder that we came to over-rely on eating for nurturance
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
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Cptsd typically includes an attachment disorder that comes from the absence of a sympathetic caregiver in childhood. When the developing child lacks a supportive parental refuge, she never learns that other people can soothe loneliness and emotional pain. She never learns that real intimacy grows out of sharing all of her experience.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
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When contempt replaces the milk of human kindness at an early age, the child feels humiliated and overwhelmed. Too helpless to protest or even understand the unfairness of being abused, the child eventually becomes convinced that she is defective and fatally flawed. Frequently she comes to believe that she deserves her parents’ persecution.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
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14. Perseverating About Being Attacked. Unless there are clear signs of danger, I will thought-stop my projection of past bullies/critics onto others. The majority of my fellow human beings are peaceful people. I have legal authorities to aid in my protection if threatened by the few who aren’t. I invoke thoughts and images of my friends’ love and support.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
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Grieving is the key process for reconnecting with our repressed emotional intelligence. Grieving reconnects us with our full complement of feelings. Grieving is necessary to help us release and work through our pain about the terrible losses of our childhoods. These losses are like deaths of parts of our selves, and grieving can often initiate their rebirth.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
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Emoting is when we cry, anger out, or verbally ventilate the energy of an inner emotional experience. Feeling, on the other hand, is the inactive process of staying present to internal emotional experience without reacting. In recovery then, feeling is surrendering to our internal experiences of pain without judging or resisting them, and without emoting them out.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
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survivors attempt to negotiate adult relationships, the psychological defenses formed in childhood become increasingly maladaptive. The survivor’s intimate relationships are driven by a desperate longing for protection and love, and simultaneously fueled by fears of abandonment and exploitation. From this place, safe and appropriate boundaries cannot be established. As a
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Sheri Heller (A Clinician's Journey from Complex Trauma to Thriving: Reflections on Abuse, C-PTSD and Reclamation)
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An especially tragic developmental arrest that afflicts many survivors is the loss of their will power and self-motivation. Many dysfunctional parents react destructively to their child’s budding sense of initiative. If this occurs throughout his childhood, the survivor may feel lost and purposeless in his life. He may drift through his whole life rudderless and without a motor.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
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When we become lost in this process, we miss out on our crucial emotional need to experience a sense of belonging. We live in permanent estrangement oscillating between the extremes of too good for others or too unlikeable to be included. This is the excruciating social perfectionism of the Janus-faced critic: others are too flawed to love and we are too defective to be lovable.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
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Retraumatized by her own inner voice, she then launches into her most habitual 4F behavior. She either lashes out domineeringly at the nearest person [Fight] – or she launches busily into anxious productivity [Flight] – or she flips on the TV and foggily tunes out or dozes off again [Freeze] – or she self-abandoningly redirects her attention to figuring out how to fix a friend’s problem [Fawn].
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
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I sometimes feel the most for my clients who were β€œonly” neglected, because it is so difficult to see neglect as hard core evidence. Most people remember little before they were four years old. And by that time, much of this kind of damage is done. It typically takes some very deep introspective work, to realize that current time flashback pain is a re-creation of how bad it felt to be emotionally abandoned.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
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As much as I can forgive myself, that much can I forgive others. What I often forgive in others is an old pain of mine, released from the disgust of self-hate. It is an old vulnerability of mine that I now love and welcome like a bird with a broken wing. Shame and self-hate did not start with me, but with all my heart, I deign that they will stop with me. I will do unto myself as I would have others do unto me.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
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in a parellel with false hunger, feeling tired is sometimes unrelated to sleep deprivation, it's instead an emotional experience of the abandonment depression. I believe that emotional tiredness comes from not resting enough in a safe relationship with yourself or another. this emotional exhaustion often masquerades as physiological tiredness. unfortunately, over time the two can become confusingly intertwined.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
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We need to understand exactly how appalling parenting created the now self-perpetuating trauma that we live in. We can learn to do this in a way that takes the mountain of unfair self-blame off ourselves. We can redirect this blame to our parents’ dreadful child-rearing practices. And we can also do this in a way that motivates us to reject their influence so that we can freely orchestrate our journey of recovering.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
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HUMAN BILL OF RIGHTS [GUIDELINES FOR FAIRNESS AND INTIMACY] I have the right to be treated with respect. I have the right to say no. I have the right to make mistakes. I have the right to reject unsolicited advice or feedback. I have the right to negotiate for change. I have the right to change my mind or my plans. I have a right to change my circumstances or course of action. I have the right to have my own feelings, beliefs, opinions, preferences, etc. I have the right to protest sarcasm, destructive criticism, or unfair treatment. I have a right to feel angry and to express it non-abusively. I have a right to refuse to take responsibility for anyone else’s problems. I have a right to refuse to take responsibility for anyone’s bad behavior. I have a right to feel ambivalent and to occasionally be inconsistent. I have a right to play, waste time and not always be productive. I have a right to occasionally be childlike and immature. I have a right to complain about life’s unfairness and injustices. I have a right to occasionally be irrational in safe ways. I have a right to seek healthy and mutually supportive relationships. I have a right to ask friends for a modicum of help and emotional support. I have a right to complain and verbally ventilate in moderation. I have a right to grow, evolve and prosper.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
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Through such neglect the child’s consciousness eventually becomes overwhelmed with the processes of drasticizing and catastrophizing. Drasticizing and catastrophizing are critic processes that lead the child to constantly rehearse fearful scenarios in a vain attempt to prepare himself for the worst. This is the process by which Cptsd with its overdeveloped stress and toxic shame programs sets in and becomes triggerable by a plethora of normally innocuous stimuli.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
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Self-criticism, then, runs non-stop in a desperate attempt to avoid rejection-inducing mistakes. Drasticizing becomes obsessive to help the child foresee and avoid punishment and worsening abandonment. At the same time, it continuously fills her psyche with stories and images of catastrophe. The survivor becomes imprisoned by a jailer who will accept nothing but perfection. He is chauffeured by a hysterical driver who sees nothing but danger in every turn of the road.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
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UNDERSTANDING DISSOCIATION Dissociation, like all other symptoms of C-PTSD, is a learned behavior that initially helped you cope with a threatening environment. A neglected or abused child will rely upon built-in, biological protection mechanisms for survival to β€œtune out” threatening experiences. In adulthood, dissociation becomes a well-maintained division between the part of you involved in keeping up with daily tasks of living and the part of you that is holding emotions of fear, shame, or anger.
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Arielle Schwartz (The Complex PTSD Workbook: A Mind-Body Approach to Regaining Emotional Control and Becoming Whole)
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Extended withdrawal however, reawakens our relational hunger and our impulses to connect. This simultaneously reverses the critic from outer to inner mode. The critic then laundry lists our inadequacies, convincing us that we are too odious to others to socialize. This then generates self-pitying persecution fantasies, which eventually re-invites the outer critic to build a case about how awful people are…ad infinitum…ad nauseam. This looping then keeps us β€œsafe” in the hiding of silent disengagement.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
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The overarching principle of a therapeutic relationship is that therapists should be ever mindful of a variant of the Hippocratic oath and, to the degree possible, strive to "do no more harm" (Courtois, 2010). Complex trauma clients have already experienced considerable harm, much of it at the hands of other human beings. As a result of the ubiquitous processes of transference, attachment styles, and IWM [Internal working models], these clients often view the therapist's behavior and their relationship through the lens of their trauma-related negative interpersonal expectancies and unhealed emotional wounds and injuries. Therapists should not be surprised to be "guilty until proven innocent", not because clients with complex trauma histories are "unfair" or "unreasonable" but precisely the opposite - because the most realistic self-protective stance for them (given the fact that betrayal and harm have been more the rule than the exception) is to "distrust first and verify" (or to be hypervigilant) rather than to start with an expectation of safety and trustworthiness.
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Christine A. Courtois (Treatment of Complex Trauma: A Sequenced, Relationship-Based Approach)
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even when our shrinking work is effective, progress usually feels disappointingly slow and gradual. This is especially true during a flashback, when the critic can seem to be as strong as ever. As stated earlier, the critic grew carcinogenically in childhood. It is like a pervasive cancer that requires many uncomfortable operations to remove. Nonetheless, we can choose to face the acute pain of critic-shrinking work because we want to end the chronic pain of having the critic destroy our enjoyment of life. It is the fight of a lifetime.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
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The human feeling experience, much like the weather, is often unpredictably changeable. No β€œpositive” feeling can be induced to persist as a permanent experience, no matter what Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy tells us. As disappointing as this may be, as much as we might like to deny it, as much as it causes each of us ongoing life frustration, and as much as we were raised and continue to be reinforced for trying to control and pick our feelings, they are still by definition of the human condition, largely outside the province of our wills.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
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Taboos about depression even emanate from the psychological establishment, where some schools strip it of its status as a legitimate feeling. For them, depression is nothing more than a waste product of negative thinking. Other schools reduce it simplistically to a dysfunctional state that results from the repression of somewhat less taboo emotions like sadness and anger. This is not to say that these factors cannot cause depression. It is to say that depression is a legitimate feeling that often contains the helpful and important information described below.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
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Over time this practice will build his ability to stay passively present to the sensations of his deeper feelings – to his fear, shame and depression. But in early stages, this awareness will often morph into the need to actively emote them out – to grieve himself out of the abandonment mΓ©lange. Eventually, however, his abandonment mΓ©lange feelings will also be digested and worked through purely with the solvent of awareness. This also applies to anxiety which is often fear just below the level of awareness. With sufficient practice, anxiety can often be felt through passively
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
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The repression of the so-called negative polarities of emotion causes much unnecessary pain, as well as the loss of many essential aspects of the feeling nature. In fact, much of the plethora of loneliness, alienation, and addictive distraction that plagues modern industrial societies is a result of people being taught and forced to reject, pathologize or punish so many of their own and others’ normal feeling states. Nowhere, not in the deepest recesses of the self, or in the presence of his closest friends, is the average person allowed to have and explore any number of normal emotional states. Anger, depression, envy, sadness, fear, distrust, etc., are all as normal a part of life as bread and flowers and streets. Yet, they have become ubiquitously avoided and shameful human experiences. How tragic this is, for all of these emotions have enormously important and healthy functions in a wholly integrated psyche. One dimension where this is most true is in the arena of healthy self-protection. For without access to our uncomfortable or painful feelings, we are deprived of the most fundamental part of our ability to notice when something is unfair, abusive, or neglectful in our environments.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
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We must commit to pulling our brothers and sisters out of the river and also commit to going upstream to identify, confront, and hold accountable those who are pushing them in. We help parents bury their babies who were victims of gun violence. And we go upstream to fight the gun manufacturers and politicians who profit from their children’s deaths. We step into the gap to sustain moms who are raising families with imprisoned dads. And we go upstream to dismantle the injustice of mass incarceration. We fund recovery programs for those suffering from opioid addiction. And we go upstream to rail against the system that enables Big Pharma and corrupt doctors to get richer every time another kid gets hooked. We provide shelter and mentoring for LGBTQ homeless kids. And we go upstream to renounce the religious-based bigotry, family rejection, and homophobic policies that make LGBTQ kids more than twice as likely as their straight or cis-gender peers to experience homelessness. We help struggling veterans get the PTSD treatment they need and deserve, and we go upstream to confront the military-industrial complex, which is so zealous to send our soldiers to war and so willing to abandon them when they return.
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Glennon Doyle (Untamed: Stop Pleasing, Start Living)
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Giving control of our social interactions to the outer critic prohibits the cultivation of the vulnerable communication that makes intimacy possible. We must renounce unconscious outer critic strategies such as: [1] β€œI will use angry criticism to make you afraid of me, so I can be safe from you”; [2] β€œWhy should I bother with people when everyone is so selfish and corrupt” [all-or-none thinking]; [3] β€œI will perfectionistically micromanage you to prevent you from betraying or abandoning me”; [4] β€œI will rant and rave or leave at the first sign of a lonely feeling, because β€˜if you really loved me, I would never feel lonely’”.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
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As a traumatized child, your over-aroused sympathetic nervous system also drives you to become increasingly hypervigilant. Hypervigilance is a fixation on looking for danger that comes from excessive exposure to real danger. In an effort to recognize, predict and avoid danger, hypervigilance is ingrained in your approach to being in the world. Hypervigilance narrows your attention into an incessant, on-guard scanning of the people around you. It also frequently projects you into the future, imagining danger in upcoming social events. Moreover, hypervigilance typically devolves into intense performance anxiety on every level of self-expression
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
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... as Herman (1992b) cogently noted two decades ago, these personality disorders can be iatrogenic, causing harm to individuals as an inadvertent result of the social stigma they carry and the widespread (but not entirely accurate) belief among professionals and insurers that those with Cluster B personality disorders (especially borderline personality disorder[BPD]) cannot be treated successfully, cannot recover, and are a headache to practitioners. For example, the BPD diagnosis continues to be applied predominantly to women often, but not always, in a negative way, usually signifying that they are irrational and beyond help. Describing posttraumatic symptoms as a personality disorder not only can be demoralizing for the client due to its connotation that something is defective with his or her core self (i.e., personality) but also may misdirect the therapist by implying that the patient's core personality should be the focus of treatment rather than trauma-related adaptations that affect but are distinct from the core self. In this way, both therapists and their clients may overlook personality strengths and capacities that are healthy and sources of resilience that can be a basis for building on and enhancing (rather than "fixing" or remaking) the patient's core self and personality.
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Christine A. Courtois (Treatment of Complex Trauma: A Sequenced, Relationship-Based Approach)
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I love who you are and am doing my best to always be on your side. You can come to me whenever you’re feeling hurt or bad. You do not have to be perfect to get my love and protection. All of your feelings are okay with me. I am always glad to see you. It is okay for you to be angry and I won’t let you hurt yourself or others when you are. You can make mistakes - they are your teachers. You can know what you need and ask for help. You can have your own preferences and tastes. You are a delight to my eyes. You can choose your own values. You can pick your own friends, and you don’t have to like everyone. You can sometimes feel confused and ambivalent, and not know all the answers. I am very proud of you.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
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When we regress into the outer critic, we obsess about the unworthiness [imperfection] and treacherousness [dangerousness] of others. Unconsciously, we do this to avoid emotional investment in relationships. The outer critic developed in reaction to parents who were too dangerous to trust. The outer critic helped us to be hyperaware of the subtlest signal that our parents were deteriorating into their most dangerous behaviors. Over time the outer critic grew to believe that anyone and everyone would inevitably turn out to be as untrustworthy as our parents. Now, in situations where we no longer need it, the outer critic alienates us from others. It attacks others and scares them away, or it builds fortresses of isolation whose walls are laundry lists of their exaggerated shortcomings. In an awful irony, the critic attempts to protect us from abandonment by scaring us further into it. If we are ever to discover the comfort of soothing connection with others, the critic’s dictatorship of the mind must be broken. The outer critic’s arsenal of intimacy-spoiling dynamics must be consciously identified and gradually deactivated.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
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A child, with parents who are unable or unwilling to provide safe enough attachment, has no one to whom she can bring her whole developing self. No one is there for reflection, validation and guidance. No one is safe enough to go to for comfort or help in times of trouble. There is no one to cry to, to protest unfairness to, and to seek compassion from for hurts, mistakes, accidents, and betrayals. No one is safe enough to shine with, to do β€œshow and tell” with, and to be reflected as a subject of pride. There is no one to even practice the all-important intimacy-building skills of conversation. In the paraphrased words of more than one of my clients: β€œTalking to Mom was like giving ammunition to the enemy. Anything I said could and would be used against me. No wonder, people always tell me that I don’t seem to have much to say for myself.” Those with Cptsd-spawned attachment disorders never learn the communication skills that engender closeness and a sense of belonging. When it comes to relating, they are often plagued by debilitating social anxiety - and social phobia when they are at the severe end of the continuum of Cptsd.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
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With regard to complex trauma survivors, self-determination and autonomy require that the therapist treat each client as the "authority" in determining the meaning and interpretation of his or her personal life history, including (but not limited to) traumatic experiences (Harvey, 1996). Therapists can inadvertently misappropriate the client's authority over the meaning and significance of her or his memories (and associated symptoms, such as intrusive reexperiencing or dissociative flashbacks) by suggesting specific "expert" interpretations of the memories or symptoms. Clients who feel profoundly abandoned by key caregivers may appear deeply grateful for such interpretations and pronouncements by their therapists, because they can fulfill a deep longing for a substitute parent who makes sense of the world or takes care of them. However, this delegation of authority to the therapist can backfire if the client cannot, or does not, take ownership of her or his own memories or life story by determining their personal meaning.Moreover, the client can be trapped in a stance of avoidance because trauma memories are never experienced, processed, and put to rest. Helping a client to develop a core sense of relational security and the capacity to regulate (and recover from) extreme hyper- or hypoarousal is essential if the client is to achieve a self-determined and autonomous approach to defining the meaning and impact of trauma memories, a crucial goal of posttraumatic therapy.
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Christine A. Courtois (Treatment of Complex Trauma: A Sequenced, Relationship-Based Approach)
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Most people, who choose or are coerced into only identifying with β€œpositive” feelings, usually wind up in an emotionally lifeless middle ground – bland, deadened, and dissociated in an unemotional β€œno-man’s-land.” Moreover, when a person tries to hold onto a preferred feeling for longer than its actual tenure, she often appears as unnatural and phony as ersatz grass or plastic flowers. If instead, she learns to surrender willingly to the normal human experience that good feelings always ebb and flow, she will eventually be graced with a growing ability to renew herself in the vital waters of emotional flexibility. The repression of the so-called negative polarities of emotion causes much unnecessary pain, as well as the loss of many essential aspects of the feeling nature. In fact, much of the plethora of loneliness, alienation, and addictive distraction that plagues modern industrial societies is a result of people being taught and forced to reject, pathologize or punish so many of their own and others’ normal feeling states. Nowhere, not in the deepest recesses of the self, or in the presence of his closest friends, is the average person allowed to have and explore any number of normal emotional states. Anger, depression, envy, sadness, fear, distrust, etc., are all as normal a part of life as bread and flowers and streets. Yet, they have become ubiquitously avoided and shameful human experiences. How tragic this is, for all of these emotions have enormously important and healthy functions in a wholly integrated psyche. One dimension where this is most true is in the arena of healthy self-protection. For without access to our uncomfortable or painful feelings, we are deprived of the most fundamental part of our ability to notice when something is unfair, abusive, or neglectful in our environments. Those who cannot feel their sadness often do not know when they are being unfairly excluded, and those who cannot feel their normal angry or fearful responses to abuse, are often in danger of putting up with it without protest. Perhaps never before has humankind been so alienated from so many of its normal feeling states, as it is in the twenty-first century. Never before have so many human beings been so emotionally deadened and impoverished. The disease of emotional emaciation is epidemic. Its effects on health are often euphemistically labeled as stress, and like the emotions, stress is often treated like some unwanted waste that must be removed.
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)
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Thus polyvictimization or complex trauma are "developmentally adverse interpersonal traumas" (Ford, 2005) because they place the victim at risk not only for recurrent stress and psychophysiological arousal (e.g., PTSD, other anxiety disorders, depression) but also for interruptions and breakdowns in healthy psychobiological, psychological, and social development. Complex trauma not only involves shock, fear, terror, or powerlessness (either short or long term) but also, more fundamentally, constitutes a violation of the immature self and the challenge to the development of a positive and secure self, as major psychic energy is directed toward survival and defense rather than toward learning and personal development (Ford, 2009b, 2009c). Moreover, it may influence the brain's very development, structure, and functioning in both the short and long term (Lanius et al., 2010; Schore, 2009). Complex trauma often forces the child victim to substitute automatic survival tactics for adaptive self-regulation, starting at the most basic level of physical reactions (e.g., intense states of hyperarousal/agitation or hypoarousal/immobility) and behavioral (e.g., aggressive or passive/avoidant responses) that can become so automatic and habitual that the child's emotional and cognitive development are derailed or distorted. What is more, self-integrity is profoundly shaken, as the child victim incorporates the "lessons of abuse" into a view of him or herself as bad, inadequate, disgusting, contaminated and deserving of mistreatment and neglect. Such misattributions and related schema about self and others are some of the most common and robust cognitive and assumptive consequences of chronic childhood abuse (as well as other forms of interpersonal trauma) and are especially debilitating to healthy development and relationships (Cole & Putnam, 1992; McCann & Pearlman, 1992). Because the violation occurs in an interpersonal context that carries profound significance for personal development, relationships become suspect and a source of threat and fear rather than of safety and nurturance. In vulnerable children, complex trauma causes compromised attachment security, self-integrity and ultimately self-regulation. Thus it constitutes a threat not only to physical but also to psychological survival - to the development of the self and the capacity to regulate emotions (Arnold & Fisch, 2011). For example, emotional abuse by an adult caregiver that involves systematic disparagement, blame and shame of a child ("You worthless piece of s-t"; "You shouldn't have been born"; "You are the source of all of my problems"; "I should have aborted you"; "If you don't like what I tell you, you can go hang yourself") but does not involve sexual or physical violation or life threat is nevertheless psychologically damaging. Such bullying and antipathy on the part of a primary caregiver or other family members, in addition to maltreatment and role reversals that are found in many dysfunctional families, lead to severe psychobiological dysregulation and reactivity (Teicher, Samson, Polcari, & McGreenery, 2006).
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Christine A. Courtois (Treatment of Complex Trauma: A Sequenced, Relationship-Based Approach)
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The Unexamined Life Is Not Worth Living
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Pete Walker (Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)