Posts Tagged ‘Shame’

PTSD: Shame

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from The Complex PTSD Workbook

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“Shame is often hidden underneath perfectionism.

As a child, you may have internalized the belief that you had to act perfect because your parents couldn’t handle your authentic feelings.

Or perhaps you believed acting “good” would stop the bad things from happening.

In either situation, you may have had to hide your true feelings to avoid rocking the boat.

Perfectionism is maintained by critical self-talk that attempts to push down painful feelings.

When the inner critic berates you for being lazy, stupid, or useless, you are again confronted with your shame.
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PTSD: Does it have a sexual component?

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From my experience, PTSD takes a dark turn when sex is part of the abuse.

Whether it be rape, sexual assault or betrayal, this type of PTSD is damaging.

Except for war, females are twice as likely to have PTSD.

PTSD discussion boards are full of women who had been sexually assaulted as little girls.

How does this impact intimacy and trust?

They never go back to normal or the way things were before the rape.

Some are trapped and suffer, it is sad to witness their hopelessness.

Does your PTSD have a sexual component?

How much does it impact today?
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Figuring out traumas impact

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Why is our inner critic so powerful, so loud, so abusive?

My mom got pregnant at 16 in 1950’s America, dad was resentful of the burden I brought into his life. Kids raising a kid, add in one of those 16-year-olds is a violent narcissist, a recipe for failure.

Constant criticism and violence wired my brain to spot danger above all else, any other desire or need only received intermittent attention.

Spotting danger powered my PTSD symptoms: hypervigilance, isolation, avoidance, fight or flight firing, and depression grew stronger.

Calm, confident, relaxed never happened.

It’s a vicious cycle, power the symptoms and suffering expands.

How many seriously abused kids rewire their brains enough to escape PTSD’s damage?

Very, very, very few, I believe.

Many abused girls become drug addicts and prostitutes, boys become alcoholics, drug addicts, then commit violent crimes.

Child abuse and betrayal changes lives.

Looking back, I have had things done to me that I would rather have died instead of being shamed and betrayed. The damage done made life miserable.

A normal person would commit suicide if they inherited my brain, my childhood, my betrayal.

My intrusive thoughts would fry their brains.

I wish others could experience my mind for a day.

Yeah, they would feel intense fear, heightened anxiety, and worthlessness.

People, crowds, and strangers would feel dangerous and manipulative.

You would isolate yourself just like me and avoid triggers exploding.

Spotting danger would dominate every waking minute.

How exhausting!

Calm and confident would be strangers.
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Trauma: Sexual Assault

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Brene Brown:

When women talk about the shame of being sexually abused or raped, they associate most of the shame with the pain of being defined by their trauma.

The events are, of course, horrific and can have a lasting effect.

But the social-community reaction to their experience—and the attendant loss of identity and the right to “be normal”—is just as painful, and often produces the more enduring shame.

• If she has a father who could do that do her, what does that mean about her?

• She’ll never be the same—she’s damaged.

• She’ll never be whole after that.

• I don’t see how she’ll ever be a good__________(fill in the blank: mother, partner, vice president).”
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My two cents: How do we construct our self-image after trauma?

Is the “She will never be the same” accurate?

How do our family, our peers, our friends treat us after shameful trauma?

Are we defined by this experience?

I know my college girlfriend being gang raped was never the same.

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Do we ever break free of childhood abuse and habits?

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I find the isolation and lack of autonomy the most damaging scars from my childhood.

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My father was a puppetmaster, he told me who I would be, what I would believe in, and who I could be or could not be friends with.

He controlled the depth of all friendships, and others he did not like.

All the stats say community, having support is excellent for healing.

I have no history of community except for team sports and I guess work.

My dad isolated me for greater control, whether it damaged me or not, a narcissist does not give a shit.

I could not function inside my house, how would I survive the outside world.

My dad assumed part of my being, autonomy was too risky for him.

No way he would even let a thought of going against his will survive.

His hair-trigger volatility and penchant for violence against me were always loaded.

To this day I struggle to know who I am or repair my damaged ego.

Abused kids are rarely trusting or open to others, many warm feelings are unknown to us.

What a dilemma!

As an old retired guy, reaching out has become much harder, my trauma erupting has brought suffering and fear.
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For abused kids: Why are we on this Planet?

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I have questions that will never be answered, so many of us out there.

Why am I on this planet? Am I paying for a bad past life? Abused kids do not understand why we were born into violence and abuse?

Old age seems as unwelcoming as birth for this abused kid.

As my body deteriorates, my mind slows, becomes forgetful and weaker, my chronic pain increases.

My emotional and physical pain are out of control.

Childhood trauma has an encore for me, the most damaging experiences return with a vengeance.

I do not understand why I suffer, why my mind will not let go of its most painful event, why nothing helps.

Abuse has robbed my brain of wiring in a supportive and safe environment.

Life carries far less value for abused kids.

I do not feel good about life, what has happened to me, how I have been treated, how I have suffered because of others.

When we experience loss, our being is wounded, we sink, recoil, isolate and try to numb the pain.

We have difficulty enjoying life, trauma fills our being with danger and shame.

People have done things to me I will never forget, a mate shaming me publicly has left a permanent stain.

After a horrendous childhood, we are vulnerable to being used by people.

It happened to me in a way that brought suicidal thoughts, feelings of not wanting to be alive.

Who understands?

Why am I on this planet?

My hopelessness embarrasses me but I share anyway.

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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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What are the social-community expectations of appearance?

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“First, what are the social-community expectations of appearance?


Brene Brown:

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From a societal level, appearance includes everything from hair, skin, makeup, weight, clothing, shoes and nails to attitude, confidence, age and wealth.

If you pile on community-specific expectations, you might have to add things like hair texture, hair length, skin color, face and body hair, teeth, looking “done-up,” not looking “done-up,” clothing and jewelry.

Why do appearance expectations exist?

I would say they exist to keep us spending our valuable resources—money, time and energy—on trying to meet some ideal that is not achievable.

Think about this: Americans spend more each year on beauty than we do on education.

How does it work? I think the expectations are both obvious and subtle—they are everything we see and everything we don’t see.

If you read fashion magazines or watch TV, you know what you are “supposed to” look like and how you are “supposed to” dress and act.

If you look hard enough, you also see everything that’s missing—the images of real people.

If you combine what’s there and what’s missing, you quickly come to believe that if you don’t look a certain way, you become invisible; you don’t matter.

What is the impact of these expectations? Well, let’s see. . . .

• About eighty million Americans are obese.

• Approximately seven million girls and women suffer from an eating disorder.

• Up to nineteen percent of college-aged women are bulimic.

• Eating disorders are the third most common chronic illness among females.

• The latest surveys show very young girls are going on diets because they think they are fat and unattractive. In one American survey, eighty-one percent of ten-year-old girls had already dieted at least once.

• A research survey found that the single largest group of high-school students considering or attempting suicide are girls who feel they are overweight.

• Twenty-five years ago, top models and beauty queens weighed only eight percent less than the average woman; now they weigh twenty-three percent less.

The current media ideal for women is achievable by less than five percent of the female population—and that’s just in terms of weight and size.

• Among women over eighteen looking at themselves in the mirror, research indicates that at least eighty percent are unhappy with what they see.

Many will not even be seeing an accurate reflection.

Most of us have heard that people with anorexia see themselves as larger than they really are, but some recent research indicates that this kind of distorted body image is by no means confined to those suffering from eating disorders—in some studies up to eighty percent of women overestimated their size.

Increasing numbers of women with no weight problems or clinical psychological disorders look at themselves in the mirror and see ugliness and fat.

• According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, since 1997, there has been a 465 percent increase in the total number of cosmetic procedures.

• Women had nearly 10.7 million cosmetic procedures, ninety percent of the total. The number of cosmetic procedures for women has increased forty-nine percent since 2003.

• The top five surgical procedures for women were: liposuction, breast augmentation, eyelid surgery, tummy tuck and facelift.

• Americans spent just under $12.5 billion on cosmetic procedures in 2004.”
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The Shame Trigger Questions


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Brene Brown:

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“How do we start to recognize our shame triggers?

What do we need to do to start acknowledging our vulnerabilities?

I think we begin by examining each of the shame categories and trying to unearth the unwanted identities that cause us shame.

As I was interviewing both men and women, many of the same phrases kept coming up in the interviews—the ones that I heard over and over were “I don’t want to be seen as . . .” and “I don’t want people to think I’m . . .”

There were many variations on this including, “I would die if people thought I was . . .” or “I couldn’t stand people thinking I’m . . .”

As these phrases indicate, shame is about perception.

Shame is how we see ourselves through other people’s eyes.

When I interviewed women about shame experiences, it was always about “how others see me” or “what others think.”

And often, there is even a disconnect between who we want to be and how we want to be perceived.

For example, one woman in her seventies told me, “I’m OK when I’m alone.

I know I’m changing. I know things are slowing down and everything is not what it used to be.

I just can’t stand the thought of others seeing it and dismissing me as a person.

Being dismissed is shameful.

To help us begin to recognize some of our shame triggers, let’s look at the questions I use in my workshop sessions. We start with these fill-in-the-blank statements, which should be answered separately for each of the shame categories:

I want to be perceived as __, _____, _________________, ___________ and __________. I do NOT want to be perceived as ______, ____, ___, ______ or ___.

These are fairly simple statements; however, when you start to think about these questions in relation to the twelve shame categories, this can be a probing and powerful start to the process.

But it’s important to remember that it is only a start.

As I’ve said throughout the book, there are no easy answers or quick fixes.”
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