Posts Tagged ‘freeze’

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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The Freeze type and dissociative defense

Pixabay: STAANGHERLIN

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Complex PTSD: From surviving to thriving.

Of all the 4F’s, freeze types seem to have the deepest unconscious belief that people and danger are synonymous. While all 4F types commonly suffer from social anxiety as well, freeze types typically take a great deal more refuge in solitude.

Some freeze types completely give up on relating to others and become extremely isolated. Outside of fantasy, many also give up entirely on the possibility of love.

Right-Brain Dissociation: It is often the scapegoat or the most profoundly abandoned child, “the lost child”, who is forced to habituate to the freeze response. Not allowed to successfully employ fight, flight or fawn responses, the freeze type’s defenses develop around classical or right-brain dissociation.

Dissociation allows the freeze type to disconnect from experiencing his abandonment pain, and protects him from risky social interactions-any of which might trigger feelings of being retraumatized.

If you are a freeze type, you may seek refuge and comfort by dissociating in prolonged bouts of sleep, daydreaming, wishing and right-brain-dominant activities like TV, online browsing and video games.

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. And in worst case scenarios, they can decompensate into a schizophrenic experience like the main character in the book, I Never Promised You a Rose Garden.

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