Posts Tagged ‘Dissociation’

Thoughts: Let’s be Prepared!

Of the 60,000 thoughts that cross our consciousness daily, nearly all are unknown to anyone but us. Without our attention and then sharing with others these thoughts do not exist.

These thoughts have the power to haunt us, to power depression, anxiety, PTSD and other disorders.

Lost in thought our fears can grow to monstrous levels inside our brains.
Thoughts can stop us from taking action, from living fully or sentence us to a lifetime of suffering.

Thoughts are just air, transparent and harmless without attention, the power we bestow upon them.


Meditation/Mindfulness is a focus practice that allows us to let the 60,000 thoughts pass on through unnoticed.


A seasoned meditator trains his/her mind to stay in the present moment, observing without judgment what our senses perceive.


It takes the wisdom to know nothing more exists at this moment, as mundane as most moments of life currently unfold.


My recommendation is to have a plan when negativity arrives from these bombardments of endless thought.


Have a list of countermeasures:

An affirmation, “In this moment, right now, I accept all of me. Insert this sentence in place of any negative thought. Thoughts need time in our consciousness to influence our behavior.  The longer we spend lost in thought the more powerful they become.


Refuse to entertain any of these thoughts.

A gratitude list to say out loud. I am grateful for my health, my opportunity to heal, the air we breathe, nature, sustenance, friends, my ability to give and have compassion, etc.


A giving list of those we help. Review the ways you help others in need, the way you volunteer and bring kindness to those you meet. The small gifts of a smile and kind words.


Action list we undertake to keep busy. Could be aerobic exercise, gardening, or a daily chore. My kitchen has been under repair for a week. No water with three little kids has been a pain in the ass.

My thought was the gratitude I have for running water, that I took for granted until now. A negative can be a positive when looked at through giving and gratitude.


Life is not easy, let your actions determine who you are, not your thoughts. Be prepared.


Upon awakening this morning, I felt overwhelmed, anxious, and vulnerable.

Following these feelings and emotions backward, worry, doubt and fear were present.

These judgments projected danger for me. Complex PTSD highlights dangers that it creates.

My mind seemed confused, wanting to avoid or eliminate my predicament.


You could label this catastrophizing, predicting gloom and doom. It stems from my abuse, my critical upbringing. Never safe, never calm.

What can we do?


A couple deep breaths, intently focusing on this moment, cleared this cognitive mess.


I am fine taking this breath, collecting data from all my senses intently.


Awareness returns to this moment.


Reminding myself, life is not lived predicting anything in the future. 


Remember, happiness visits only one time zone, now.


You can not be happy in the past or future.


My healing has not eliminated these overwhelming thoughts,  but I do have tools to handle these fears.

Healing the Fragmented Selves of Trauma Survivors: Alienation from Self: part one

Vincent Van Gogh

How We Survive Overwhelming Experience, sets the stage by describing dissociative splitting and fragmentation as an adaptive response to abnormal experience.



To create distance from overwhelming events and preserve a sense of “a good me,” individuals must disown the self-states of which they are ashamed, intimidated, or experience as “not-me,” allowing them to also disown the trauma (Bromberg, 2011).



The ability to encode two parallel sets of experiences in one brain and body is supported by the “split-brain research” in the 1970s and 1980s (Gazzaniga, 1985) and by the neuroscience brain scan research in the late 1990s and 2000s demonstrating how traumatic events come to be encoded as implicit emotional and physical states, rather than being encoded in the form of chronological narrative.
My Two cents: The new therapies address trauma by looking at the different parts of us and which hemisphere the parts originate from.


Some of our behavior are an adaptive response to survive.


We need to learn to discount these traumatized parts as a response, not who we are.


That confusing fight happening internally can be explained and integrated with daily work.


We need not fix our old trauma, but make healthy new experiences to replace the old.


It comes down to awareness, then acceptance without judgment to move forward.

People who enjoy the most wellbeing _______ ?

People who enjoy the most wellbeing let the constant flow of thoughts pass on through, unattended.

Some have done this with no meditation practice, just an innate knowing life is most vibrant right now, empty of thought.


We travel to exotic places at the ends of the earth on vacation to see the sights, not think about them.


We could stay at home and think about the places in outer space we can not reach.


For the majority of us, a daily meditation practice, is the tool we use to release thought and stay focused on now.


Twenty focused minutes a day can bring change.


We have to work, take daily action to train our mind.


Depends if you desire thought to rule your mind or you would rather captain this ship.

“Fragmentation and Internal Struggles”. Part 2

The theoretical model that best explained the phenomena they described was the Structural Dissociation model of Onno van der Hart, Ellert Nijenhuis, and Kathy Steele (2004).


Rooted in a neuroscience perspective and well-accepted throughout Europe as a trauma model, it was a good fit for me as a firm believer and spokesperson for a neurobiologically informed approach to trauma and trauma treatment.


The theory describes (Van der Hart, Nijenhuis & Steele, 2006) how the brain’s innate physical structure and two separate, specialized hemispheres facilitate left brain-right brain disconnection under conditions of threat.


Capitalizing on the tendency of the left brain to remain positive, task-oriented, and logical under stress, these writers hypothesized that the disconnected left brain side of the personality stays focused on the tasks of daily living, while the other hemisphere fosters an implicit right brain self that remains in survival mode, braced for danger, ready to run, frozen in fear, praying for rescue, or too ashamed to do anything but submit.



In each individual client, I could see that some parts were easier to identify with or “own” and some parts were easier to ignore or dismiss as “not me.”
Internally, the parts were also in conflict: was it safer to freeze or fight? To cry for help? Or to be seen and not heard?


What I also noticed was that the internal relationships between these fragmented aspects of self reflected the traumatic environments for which they had once been solutions.


The left-brain-dominant present-oriented self avoids the right-brain-dominant survival-oriented parts or judges them as bad qualities to be modified, while the right brain implicit selves of the parts are equally alienated from what they perceive as a “weak” or absent other half.


The functioning self carries on, trying desperately to be “normal”—at the cost of feeling alienated from or invaded by the intrusive communications of the parts.



A great explanation of our inner world: Part 1; “Fragmentation and Internal Struggles”.

“Healing the fragmented selves of trauma survivors”
Ten years ago, in the context of consulting with traumatized clients who came to me as an “expert,” seeking to understand why they were not making progress in treatment, I began to observe a very characteristic pattern: these clients had something unique in common.


Each was superficially an integrated whole person but also manifested clear-cut signs of being internally fragmented.


They experienced intense conflicts between trauma-related perceptions and impulses (for example, “the worst is going to happen,” “I will be abandoned if I don’t get out first”) versus here-and-now assessments of danger: “I know I’m safe here.


I wouldn’t let my children live in this house if it were not safe.” They suffered from paradoxical symptoms: the desire to be kind and compassionate toward others or to live a spiritual life, on the one hand, and intense rage or even impulses to violence, on the other.


Once their conflicts were described, the patterns became more easily observable and meaningful.


Each side of the conflict spoke to a different way of surviving the unsurvivable, of reconciling the opposites that are so often part and parcel of traumatic experience.


With an explanatory model that described each reaction as logical and necessary in the face of threat or abandonment and that reframed them as the survival responses of different parts of the self, to which the individual could relate, each client started to make faster, more sustainable progress.


The theoretical model that best explained the phenomena they described was the Structural Dissociation model of Onno van der Hart, Ellert Nijenhuis, and Kathy Steele (2004).

PTSD, Depression, and Anxiety

What behavior makes it worse and what helps improve our condition.


First, we must realize that our trauma thoughts are irrational. No real danger exists from past trauma.

Second, dissociation is the one behavior that controls our destiny!


Leaving this present moment to ruminate in past trauma or projecting worry into the future is jet fuel for PTSD, depression and many other disorders.


We can spend days ruminating in trauma thought, trying to figure out how to make it stop or avoid it all together.


Each time we handle our trauma or trauma thoughts without integrating them, PTSD grows.



Spending hours or days ruminating gives PTSD tremendous power and energy.



Dissociation can become habit.


Healing will not happen until we break our incessant need to think and avoid.


Takes daily action to make our tools (mindfulness, affirmations, aerobic exercise, meditation, taking calculated chances, therapy) habit.

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