Posts Tagged ‘Pain’

Updated: THE PAIN PARADOX from “Trauma Sensitive Mindfulness”.

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There is one more idea in Buddhism and MBSR that shapes our orientation to mindfulness: the notion that our avoidance of suffering can exacerbate it.

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Mindfulness experts John Briere and Catherine Scott referred to this as the pain paradox—the observation that our natural tendency to escape, deny, or withdraw from pain only intensifies and prolongs the distress.

What we resist, the saying goes, persists.

This paradox was key to Kabat-Zinn’s introduction of MBSR to the medical community. (https://mbsrtraining.com/jon-kabat-zinn/)

When he originally approached doctors with the idea of having patients meditate, Kabat-Zinn was advocating for a fundamentally different approach to suffering—one that lay at the heart of the Buddhist tradition he’d trained in.


“From the perspective of mindfulness,” he wrote, “
nothing needs fixing.


Nothing needs to be forced to stop, or change, or go away.”

Perhaps not surprisingly, this idea raised eyebrows.

Western medicine was built largely on helping alleviate people’s pain, offering interventions such as medication or surgery.

Mindfulness ran completely counter to this paradigm. How could paying closer attention to one’s pain alleviate it?


Yet doctors were also open to the idea.
Each of them had patients they couldn’t cure and who were resistant to conventional treatment approaches. Doctors and their patients had little to lose.

The first MBSR studies thus began with those who were suffering from chronic pain.

Kabat-Zinn wanted to see whether they could mobilize their own internal responses to the suffering they were experiencing. “We invited them, paradoxically,” he said, “to put the welcome mat out for whatever sensations they were experiencing, just to see if they could attend to them moment by moment and ‘befriend’ the actuality of their experience, even briefly.”

The results were successful. Patients found that their relationship to pain shifted positively when they practiced mindfulness.

At times, their pain even disappeared. Patients also reported discovering that the vexing sensations that lived inside them were transient and shifting.

Rather than being constant throughout their day, the pain was shifting over time—a huge realization for those who felt perpetually burdened by their bodies.


Mindfulness was helping people relate to their pain differently.


For some, it was even opening a door to a freedom they had forgotten or had previously not known.
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I favor Ptsd over Depression

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PTSD has energy, cortisol and adrenaline, fear and danger, it’s much more exciting and enjoyable than deep depression.

Depression sucks the life out of you, for abused kids it is devastating.

My legs have stopped moving while hiking from depressive thoughts and emotions.

PTSD, I can engage and battle, calm my fight or flight mechanism while observing my trauma.

Depression, I have no answer for the shame it carries.

It is an awful mental disorder, it drained the little peace of mind my life enjoyed.

Seriously abused kids get crushed by betrayal.

We fear the outside world, when we get betrayed from inside our circle, life collapses.

We will never understand how a mate betrays us, a permanent scar will make trusting another impossible.

It’s such a narrow and risky existence, death does not scare me, being ridiculed or betrayed scares me.

Death before dishonor rings true in my world, my father drilled that into me.

I have experienced a betrayal that bad, publicly shamed for a mate’s actions.

What is your worst betrayal since childhood?

Is depression or PTSD harder for you?
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Emotional Regulation: Yikes!!!!!!

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Excerpt: From Bessel A. van der Kolk, MD

“The Body Keeps the Score”

“When trauma emanates from within the family, children experience a crisis of loyalty and organize their behavior to survive within their families. Being prevented from articulating what they observe and experience, traumatized children will organize their behavior around keeping the secret, deal with their helplessness with compliance or defiance, and acclimate in any way they can to entrapment in abusive or neglectful situations.

Being left to their own devices leaves chronically traumatized children with deficits in emotional self-regulation. This results in problems with self-definition as reflected by a lack of a continuous sense of self, poorly modulated affect and impulse control, including aggression against self and others, and uncertainty about the reliability and predictability of others, expressed as distrust, suspiciousness, and problems with intimacy, resulting in social isolation.

Chronically traumatized children tend to suffer from distinct alterations in states of consciousness, including amnesia, hypermnesia, dissociation, depersonalization and derealization, flashbacks and nightmares of specific events, school problems, difficulties in attention regulation, disorientation in time and space, and sensorimotor developmental disorders. The children often are literally are “out of touch” with their feelings, and often have no language to describe internal states.

When a child lacks a sense of predictability, he or she may experience difficulty developing of object constancy and inner representations of their own inner world or their surroundings. As a result, they lack a good sense of cause and effect and of their own contributions to what happens to them.

Without internal maps to guide them, they act, instead of plan, and show their wishes in their behaviors, rather than discussing what they want. Unable to appreciate clearly who they or others are, they have problems enlisting other people as allies on their behalf. Other people are sources of terror or pleasure but are rarely fellow human beings with their own sets of needs and desires.

These children also have difficulty appreciating novelty. Without a map to compare and contrast, anything new is potentially threatening. What is familiar tends to be experienced as safer, even if it is a predictable source of terror.

Traumatized children rarely discuss their fears and traumas spontaneously. They also have little insight into the relationship between what they do, what they feel, and what has happened to them. They tend to communicate the nature of their traumatic past by repeating it in the form of interpersonal en- actments, both in their play and in their fantasy lives.

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Waking up in the Morning with PTSD

I wish it would stay dark, morning would not arrive, prolonging my avoidance of the world


Laying in bed early in the morning, a new day greets me with Ptsd symptoms, anxiety, depression, fear, worry, and a foreboding sense of shame.

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Danger, violence, and betrayal surround me, knowing it is irrational does not stop that snowball from rolling down that hill.

The symptoms and damage are real. The thoughts are irrational and biased, called implicit memory (stored trauma).

Abused kids’ brains are wired differently, altered to survive childhood, sensitive to danger, and proficient at surviving and avoiding.

Life is reactionary and premeditated, we feel vulnerable around people, taking risks is dangerous.

My symptoms and thoughts tell one side of the story, the way I live my life shines a light on the damage done.

I avoid people when possible, limit my contact and chances for betrayal.

Ptsd brings enough fear that it destroys desire, it diminishes the little pleasure I enjoy.

Ptsd has made me a loner of the highest degree.

I would be content if my suffering and isolation would calm.

My PTSD has exploded again, trying to stop the pain has become a mission.

My mind has become the enemy, abuse has overwhelmed my sense of value.

Weakening as I age has made my PTSD more powerful.

It is not the explosion of my fight or flight mechanism, the dumping of cortisol and adrenaline anymore, it is a deep depression, worthlessness, and harsh betrayal that haunts my waking thoughts.

Pain and suffering are daily companions, feeling worthy, feeling attached and calm are foreign emotions.

I can not find the door out this time.

The escape route is hidden in the confusion of latent trauma.

My life is highly irrational, I search for the key to enter a calmer existence.

Will I ever trust or feel a little contentment?
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Ho Ho Ho: Christmas brings unresolved shame,

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Holidays bring depression and reminders of unresolved shame for me.

My trauma memories cancel this false celebration of family, Christmas.

I would rather not be involved in Christmas, in the celebration of how great family is supposed to be.

To the outside world, I smile and play the shallow role of a normal person.

On the inside, I resent what people have done to me!

I was born into the prison of a violent abusive narcissist.

There was no escape, no way to survive the damage, emotional and physical.

Fear, anxiety, and shame were my dominant emotions.

Critical violence was my father’s favorite game with me.

Life always came at me too fast, I was fighting a separate battle of abuse besides trying to be a kid.

I worried so much I puked often.

My nervous system was always on high alert, that little boy feared for his life.

I did not attach to another human being, my dad isolated me for total control.

Now, I am the consummate loner, I avoid people, contact except for necessities.

I lost the ability to trust, to desire attachment, to be vulnerable to betrayal.

It pains me to see the damage.

Feeling worthy is something I will never experience.

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Are normal people proud of their lives?

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Can therapy fix my life?

Will I ever feel normal, have warm emotions and attachments like normal people?

Will I ever feel safe in public, around strangers, or in a relationship?

Can you show me what love is?

How does it work, feel? How can you trust, how can you feel safe?

What is it? I experienced public shame when I tried to love.

I only know abuse and betrayal, I have no idea what love is, or how it works.

How do you trust another human being?

My childhood was brutal, dad beat me with a special paddle, screaming shame-filled words as he abused me.

That son of a bitch enjoyed brutalizing me.

It would take me into adulthood before I threatened him.

He was a coward facing a grown man, but the damage was done.

A coward, my father could only bully a kid.

Love does not flow from violent childhood abuse.

How do I handle the shame from childhood, from college?

Normal kids got love, abused kids received a heavy dose of shame.

Are normal people proud of their lives?

I am ashamed of my life and do not want to be reincarnated or born again.

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Ptsd, our emotional pain and shame

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I handle my chronic pain with a jocks attitude, one person out of my chronic pain group followed me and regained his life.

Childhood abuse is different, betrayal in college altered ever trusting a human again.

I should have left this planet back then, the rest of my life would be filled with suffering.

My suffering is not greater than other abused kids, I am not special.

My childhood abuse and betrayal in college devastated my spirit.

My attitude, I was scared to death, anxious and humiliated, criticism and violence would be my daily companions.

Physical pain did not dent my armor, emotional abuse rocked my very core.

It’s hard to write in words the impact violent abuse has on a child’s brain.

It’s impossible to describe in words what a caregiver’s shaming does to a kid.

I hate what some people have done to me.

I will never understand how or why I was abused so severely.

Now, my life is lived in my room, it is one of the only safe places.

Is complex PTSD isolating?

I do not know, but I have lost the desire for being around people altogether.

You will never find me in a crowd or rarely out in public.

My thoughts are the terrible invisible prison I occupy every morning.

Since college, I have tried to isolate myself as much as I could.

I do not feel safe around people, I fear betrayal.

I have found no silver lining, no gift from my childhood, nothing positive out of betrayal.

Life is more painful than it is worth.

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Two great Pains: one physical, one emotional or mental

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Physical and emotional pain (abuse) started in early childhood, funny how both simmered for decades then exploded later in life.

Let’s deal with the physical pain in this post. Early childhood was filled with physical abuse from my father.

Sports injuries added pain until 30.

Two car wrecks finished the job, the latter a triple rollover.

After fusions and a couple of rounds of nerve killings, my peers were a chronic pain group of serious spinal injuries.

High intensity chronic pain is debilitating.

Out of 15 in that group two of us, were the only ones who could challenge their pain doing exercise.

The rest were numb, afraid, and jacked up with way too many meds. The average intake of meds was 20 to 45 pills plus a morphine pump.

Our lives rotated around our pain cycle, as they say chronic pain is not life-threatening, it is lifestyle-threatening.

Most mates left, we could not do the things we did before our injuries.

Depression visited each one of us, the loss was real and it hurt like hell.

A discussion one day about meeting a mate brought curious ideas.

For me, I did not want anyone to see how bad my daily life had become.

I was in constant pain for a couple of years, sleeping, eating, exercising took all my energy and time.

No way I wanted anyone to see how sad my life had become.

I have to understand my isolation is not only from PTSD.

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We respond to differences, not absolutes

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Excerpt from “The Sweet Spot” the pleasures of suffering and the search for meaning

We respond to differences, not absolutes, and this means that something can become pleasurable not because of any stand-alone properties it has, but rather in contrast to the experience of the past.

As one neuroscientist put it, “Because the brain grades on a curve, endlessly comparing the present with what came just before, the secret to happiness may be unhappiness . . .

the transient chill that lets us feel warmth, the sensation of hunger that makes satiety so welcome, the period of near despair that catapults us into the astonishing experience of triumph.”

If this all seems vague, consider the research of my colleague Robb Rutledge and his collaborators.

In laboratory studies, they asked people to go through a series of financial choices that were either certain or risky, and every few trials they were asked,

“How happy are you right now?”

The main predictor of reported short-term happiness wasn’t how much the subjects were making;

it was how much they were making relative to their expectations.

Momentary pleasure and pain are, at least in part, relative experiences.

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Two types of chosen pain and suffering

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Pain does not always bring suffering.

Can pain bring pleasure?

Is there a purpose for some pain?

Excerpt from “The Sweet Spot” the pleasures of suffering and the search for meaning

“THIS BOOK WILL explore two different sorts of chosen suffering.

The first involves spicy food, hot baths, frightening movies, rough sex, intense exercise, and the like.

We’ll see that such experiences can give pleasure. They can increase the joy of future experiences, provide an escape from consciousness, satisfy curiosity, and enhance social status.

The second is the sort involved in climbing mountains and having children. Such activities are effortful and often unpleasant.

But they are part of a life well lived.

“These two sorts of chosen pain and suffering –for pleasure and for meaning—differ in many ways.

The discomfort of hot baths and BDSM and spicy curries is actively pursued; we look forward to it—the activity wouldn’t be complete without it.

The other form of suffering isn’t quite like that.

When training for a marathon, nobody courts injury and disappointment.

And yet the possibility of failure has to exist.

When you start a game, you don’t want to lose, but if you know you will win every time, you’re never going to have any fun.

So, too, with life more generally.”

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