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My apologies for not keeping in weekly contact with you over the past few weeks and not letting you know about the remote group healing. We’ve been dealing with some unforeseen issues which seem to be resolving themselves. I will notify you of the next remote healing session.

Back to the above book.  As I mentioned in my previous posting, I would write on subjects that held meaning for me. The topic today is social isolation for trauma survivors.

This isolation, usually coming in the later stages of a survivor’s response to severe trauma, occurs when “old defensive behaviors prove useless or counterproductive in response to new threats…” (p.69)

What happens then is that the survivor doesn’t understand why what’s worked in the past is failing  now, and the blame gets placed on external factors. This blame, when extended to those who are part of the survivor’s support group, further isolates him/her from those who are so crucial to the healing and recovery process.

Scaer further explains that the propensity towards isolation is a response towards exposure to “ambient environmental stimuli that are associated with social intercourse”.  (p.69) Stimuli that would be otherwise exciting and pleasurable, i.e., laughter, music conversation,  is often perceived by the trauma survivor as irritating.

As a survivor myself, I never understood why I hate crowds and loud noises. I could never go to something like Times Square for New Year’s Eve without feeling claustrophobic. Even a radio station that is turned on too loud physically hurts my ears. And, my own clients have told me that they feel overwhelmed, hemmed in, and that the noise level in crowds sounds violent.

Dr. Scaer comments, “These feelings are associated with more specific symptoms of constriction, low-grade fear, and profound physical exhaustion. The symptoms suggest that such people enter into a state of freeze/dissociation with exposure to very nonspecific but nevertheless threatening stimuli”. (p.69)

As a survivor as well as a practitioner, I reiterate that having a support system is crucial to healing. While I would prefer to be a hermit, I know that social interaction is critical to my mental and even physical well-being. The reason for this is because going through the trauma itself is isolating and forces us to turn inward, to have a deep distrust of others and external circumstances.

While, in the short-term, counting on ourselves may have helped us in the beginning. Over a long period of time, it perpetuates for the survivor a sense that no one can help us. It keeps us in a state of trauma.

Believe me, I had to learn to be a social being all over again. Even today, while others have told me that I seem outgoing and friendly, it takes a lot of conscious effort on my part to place myself in a social situation. It takes even more effort for me to trust another with my experiences.

Opening to a support group, even simple social interactions, have been the most difficult for me to do. Having done so, I know it’s helped me tremendously in my healing process.

And, because I’ve done so, I know other survivors can too.

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