Thursday, December 30, 2010
We are just about to enter the new year of 2011. How are you feeling??????
Feelings have been sorely neglected and never invited to a civilised dinner by some theorists who write about trauma. They suggest, “We do know we have some poor relations called the affective variables but we don’t know where to seat them because they are often so uncouth. We do know they have primitive origins and are clearly beneath us”!
Feelings have often been simplified into models that assume that the traumatised person’s present and future is determined by their biology and/or their psychology. Such viewpoints leave little hope for lasting and fundamental change by adults who have survived traumatising events. Unfortunately, feelings have often been disembodied, dehumanised, depersonalised, and permanently demoted to the status of blue collar cues, responses, and unmanageable fear networks which refuse to be wrestled to the ground.
Feelings have also been reduced to chemical imbalances and transmissions requiring control and very careful management with drugs in case they burst out and frighten someone. This is a very real problem in cases where the person who is frightened is the treating professional who has, “done a lot to help”. Feelings have even been sent on anthropological expeditions, possibly “never to return”, because they are just so frustratingly subjective, complex, and universal.
In fact, feelings are very good news, even when they are very painful, because they tell us that we are alive and also a whole lot about what is going on with us. Sometimes it is very difficult to know whether current feelings are about now or whether the intensity is tied to disconnected traumatic experiences. Feelings of profound vulnerability, terror despair, rage, disgust and shame can be especially difficult for traumatised people and their supporters because they are excruciating and often associated with experiences involving a profound lack of safety and any authentic sense of power.
Constructive, selective, and safe expression of extremely uncomfortable feelings is one essential part of ongoing psychological development or evolution following any distressing life event, especially events that involve life and death, impossible moral dilemmas, and complete helplessness under threat of psychological and physical annihilation. Such discerning expression of feelings when combined with deep compassion and containment for the entire self can allow the opportunity to eventually develop new ways of understanding and responding to such life events. These new and evolving personal theories are reflected in changes in the neural processes and structures that underpin the ways we function in the world.