Recovering From A Polarized Freeze Response

Pixabay: geralt

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“Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving”

Recovery for freeze types involves three key challenges. First, their positive relational experiences are few if any. They are therefore extremely reluctant to enter into the type of intimate relationship that can be transformative.

They are even less likely to seek the aid of therapy. Moreover, those who manage to overcome this reluctance often spook easily and quickly terminate.

Second, freeze types have two commonalities with fight types. They are less motivated to try to understand the effects of their childhood traumatization. Many are unaware that they have a troublesome inner critic or that they are in emotional pain.

Furthermore, they tend to project the perfectionistic demands of the critic onto others rather than onto themselves. This survival mechanism helped them as children to use the imperfections of others as justification for isolation. In the past, isolation was smart, safety-seeking behavior.

Third, even more than workaholic flight types, freeze types are in denial about the life narrowing consequences of their singular adaptation. Some freeze types that I have worked with seem to have significant periods of contentment with their isolation.

I think they may be able to self-medicate by releasing the internal opioids that the animal brain is programmed to release when danger is so great that death seems imminent.

Internal opioid release is more accessible to freeze types because the freeze response has its own continuum that culminates with the collapse response. The collapse response is an extreme abandonment of consciousness.

It appears to be an out-of-body experience that is the ultimate dissociation. It can sometimes be seen in prey animals that are about to be killed. I have seen nature films of small animals in the jaws of a predator that show it letting go so thoroughly that its death appears to be painless.

However, the opioid production that some freeze types have access to, only takes the survivor so far before its analgesic properties no longer function. Numbed out contentment then morphs into serious depression. This in turn can lead to addictive self-medicating with substances like alcohol, marijuana and narcotics.

Alternatively, the freeze type can gravitate toward ever escalating regimens of anti-depressants and anxiolytics (anti-anxiety drugs). I also suspect that some schizophrenics are extremely traumatized freeze types who dissociate so thoroughly that they cannot find their way back to reality.

Several of my freeze type respondents highly recommend a self-help book by Suzette Boon, entitled Coping with Trauma-related Dissociation. This book is filled with very helpful work sheets that are powerful tools for recovering. More than any other type, the freeze type usually requires a therapeutic relationship, because their isolation prevents them from discovering relational healing through a friendship.

That said, I know of some instances where good enough relational healing has come through pets and the safer distant type of human healing that can be found in books and online internet groups.

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