Saturday, December 03, 2005

betrayal bonds: trauma reactions

trauma reaction: This aspect of a betrayal bond takes the form of PTSD. It includes things like intrusive thoughts or memories, sleeplesness, sudden vivid memories, extreme caution, an easily triggered startle response, nightmares, distress at anniversaries or other triggers, angry outbursts, irritability, distrust, physical reactions like cold sweats, shortness of breath, or flashbacks. Any number of things can trigger a ptsd response, which may be pretty severe in the case of a flashback, or somewhat milder but still yukky things like nightmares. I still struggle with sexual relations because they trigger really strong memories of abuse and I have a sort of automatic reaction and just kind of shut down. BTW, this really sucks. the sustained, overwhelming sense of fear that triggers bring on actually changes the neurology of the brain. The body is constantly on a state of high alert, which is wearing.

All the quotations and information not otherwise attributed above comes from Patrick J. Carnes, The Betrayal Bond: Breaking Free of Exploitive Relationships (Deerfield Beach, Fla.: Health Communications Inc., 1997), 6-9.


  1. ptsd_guy:
    I've done a lot of work on getting rid of hyper-arousal and triggers.

    For me, _before_ the trauma, hyper-arousal was a normal state of being and I never knew it!!!!!!

    Triggers will get stronger over time unless you consciously work on them.

    I've posted some stuff on Holly's site and my site. The Holly post is the meditation-free version which will work effectively.

    Your body and your mind have at this moment been re-programmed to be afraid of certain things. It is a survival response. It is irrational. It is real.

    What you need to do is slowly de-program this survival response - one trigger at a time.

    I started with the strongest trigger that I had and worked from there. I did this because it was a 'harmless' trigger and Malls are not dangerous places despite what "Dawn of the Dead" suggests. This is NOT what I would suggest for you.

    Hyper-arousal: By a combination of controlled breathing and self-talk you can crack this one. For me it took the best part of 18 months - because for the first 3 I had never realised that 'hyper-aroused' was my normal state....

    I cracked it by going repeatedly to 'safe' crowded places - bloody Malls and just acknowledging the feelings and repeatedly telling myself that I was safe and that there was no 'bad' or 'dangerous' people. After malls I moved onto outdoor shopping centres (no security detail) and then downtown at night - this one can still be an issue.

    I cannot quite describe the joy I felt when I one day realised that I was walking through a crowd and did not feel like a threat could come from any direction.

    I should also say, that despite all my work on triggers and things it is still very, very easy for me to go from relaxed to alert or over-alert in a place like a crowd. This is a relic of the survival response. The animal that reacts fastest stays alive. I am aware of it and I am aware when I transition. I can then choose whether or not to force myself to relax or leave it there for a while. I seem now to be able to spot 'suspicious' people very easily. Whether I am deluded or accurate doesn't matter unless I act on it.

  2. I cannot thank you enough for your BLOG! I am 26 and have just been diagnosed with cronic ptsd while i was feeling just plan crazy!
    Poeple have little tolerance fro the hyper alertness that is a constant for me and it just makes it worse. I am still not sure if I can ever be at a place where I am not affraid of everything unknowen or uncertan but you blog has helped me tremendisly.
    Thank you so very much and good to you all in your journeys.

  3. I am confused about my PTSD....I have these nightmares of what I don't know and I visually see shit >not haluccinatons< but my emagination makes it. I don't really remember anything it is just my life has been all fucked up.I had all the symptoms of sexual abuse in youth symptomatic area. I was in programs for 5 years because of BAD self-mutilation and depression. I was diagnosed with Borderline personality Disorder at the age if 16. The scary thing is you cant really be diagnosed with that untill you are a adult like the age of 18....My life has been VERY confusing for me...Like I think I said before is I don't really remember anything just my friends dad who molested me and like sexually herrased me for like 10 years.....There is DEFIANTLY more to it than I remember....I HATE men like i am soooo scared of them. When they come up behind me I jump and like I feel my heart LITTERALLY skips a beat. I live in terror. All growing up I NEVER slept over peoples houses because I was sooo scared to leave my mom or something like that.It was said to be severe seperation anxiety. That only started after I went on this boat with my dads old boss.I remember comming back I had like this feeling of fear that I don't remember having on the way there. My thoughts were like oh god he is going to touch me or do something I don't think I knew what but I was scared of it. I was a very "sexual" child. I definatly knew WAY more about sex than anyone I had met or like even talked to about that stuff....I always ate food I gained LOTS of weight because I ALWAYS had something to consume in my hands or in arms reach. It was a coping skill I guess....Then I turned to cutting and head banging...I dunno I have been scared all of my life....I am not physically a vergin never have been....That I remember....I am like a little hornball because I see adult men and I am sexually attracted to them but I think/dream about like them touching me and raping me...Like that is how I was growing up...When I would like walk in on my parents I would like FLIPP out and start cying and I would put my bed to my door turn my music up loud and I would go into this trance like I dunno what the hell goes on in them....I will say something like as a joke and my brother would say "oh yea she is sexually broken" I dunno what he means by it...I know I think of fucked up shit that like is out of this world like where the hell did that come from.....It bothers me and I don't like it at all. I hate how sexual I am on the phone or the internet I get sooo ashamed of myself and like beat myself up for it.... I can make out and do little shit to guys or even girls that I am not even really close to but when it comes to someine touching me I freak out....I like get all hot and tingly like a panick attack....I get light headed and It confuses me soo much because I hate it soo much....I want to like just have sex ya know....just cuz I am 18 er what ever I feel soo stupid about it... I just can't put to words exactly what I mean maybe someone can help me with this...My e-mail is .... I really wanna be able to uderstand this and what this means...None of the staff at any of the programs like made sence of this...I had to FAKE flashbacks to get a fucking staff to my room and get them to see HEY HERE I AM IN PAIN and like it is just no one listens to me and I feel so alone plus I have major depressive disorder reacurrant I dunno I am ALL sorts of screwed up in the head...I just wanna understand please help!

  4. I can so related to this, especially the sex problem. I was a passive "acter-inner" as how I responded to my various forms of child abuse. Between that, being a late grower, and some old tapes comments from not so dear old dad... I feel like I'm still 14 or so.

  5. I can relate to the way you describe the "hyper-alert" state as "wearing". You can actually deplete your adrenals by holding your body in fight-or-flight response mode for days, months... even years in a row without realizing it. In my case, I did this almost constantly, wondering why every day activities were draining and nearly killing me while others could tackle them and recover with one night's rest. I find it very angering that the pattern does repeat itself this way until it fatigues your body and mind, leaving you weak and often sick or in pain. In fact, I think that the stress and pain receptors in the brain can actually sort of fry themselves this way, from remaining "on" for so long, leaving people in this state for often a very long time... and likely confused about it, to top it off. Sigh.

  6. I just watched hotel Rwanda with my roommate's. A movie about mass murder. I just figured out it was a trigger which led me this site just now. I am aware I have ptsd. Starting some counseling this week. Im graced enough to make it through such movies.

    Considering watching... sorry this is hard... watching my father in his post Vietnam days, drug infested, mad as hell and unprogrammed ... hurt. His drug relations went sour ending in hit men after him. Well they lost the battle. Men were beat raped and murdered all under one roof with me in it.
    One victim was just a man who said he found Jesus and wanted out and with negative balances. I saw his life end and before his death I had a chance to peak around the corner and stare into his eyes. He was in and out of shock and was aware I was there, looking back at me with his eyes through the entanglement. I was in a trance (like) state and people.. If my 6 year old heart could only speak the compassion I had for him. There was a certain chemistry happening.

    Through this process I saw a vision of Jesus Christ face over his face and remember through his beating and interrogation screaming you can kill my body but you cant kill my spirit.

    I didn't know I witnessed such crimes until the age of 24 through the act of meditation for healing. Meditation made me aware of my programing. Like a computer infected with a virus my being had to be reprogrammed and deleted through awareness.People you can recreate and reframe these interaction youve had in life. seek REMD theropy.
    If I didn't stop my drinking by the age of 22 I could have gone down the same road as my father because I to was numb and a walking dead man(spiritually)headed for my own self destruction. (deep Breath) My main challenge now is engaging in a relationship that doesn't die out do to myself withdrawing or disengagement. There is a huge emptiness with my girlfriends and it implodes after 3 years do to ending up going through the motions. Its like eating chocolate without taste buds on some level. My search is to authenticly love someone and not just with actions but with my heart back. To a full capacity. Out of the walls! Its like Im always in a state of brokenness and Im a good actor. ptsd creates this falsness or blindness of the good treasurs that lie hidden in your body/ can over come fiends.

    To my witnesses of my testimony, I demand you to not stop plunging through your bondage. Seek higher help to fallow their lead. Exercise, eat well, take (vibe a liquid vitamin) and much B12's to regulate your glands and stress levels. Condider other addictive coping habits that you may rid of.Break the action of thought first and unbind your flesh for satisfaction. Continue therapy with people who can handle your experience. I find this to be true. Persevere, "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." (Romans 12:2)