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Trauma Leaves Survivor Empowered by “Acquired Skills” at Dissociation

01 Mar

In her blog, a trauma survivor credits a paragraph in Invisible Heroes as her impetus for using her “acquired skills” at dissociation to consciously help herself cope.  She refers to a woman from the book named Frannie who was assaulted in a hospital parking lot, quoting this excerpt: 

“Although Frannie was disabled by her traumatic experiences, she was also, in certain ways, empowered by them. Frannie was a natural at using imagery and the altered state to help herself heal. The trance state was her powerful ally, and she was adept at achieving it, rapidly and deeply, thanks to a trauma-induced intensification in her brain’s visual, sensorimotor, and emotional centers.” *

In other words, use your skills at dissociation to get you out of a bad place.

After reading that, when a memory started to interrupt, I tried this technique, and found I can literally jump my thoughts and feelings deep into a piece of music, or a beautiful picture nearby, or just look up and dive into cloud formations in the sky and marvel at the beauty.

It is so easy for me to just dissociate myself away from the memory that is bothering me, BECAUSE I’ve learned to dissociate BECAUSE of the memories. It’s hard to explain, but here’s another place where I'm using this technique.

Since September the PTSD induced pain that some people call fibromyalgia has gotten so bad in my legs, I can go weeks without being able to walk. I live up two flights of stairs, so I end up being stranded up here for days, sometimes weeks.

For the first two months or so all I could focus on was how isolated I was. I kept getting angrier and angrier and it wasn’t making the situation any better. So I applied my invisible hero, the imagination that I probably developed because of the hours of dissociation in my life when I was so young.

Now I play Space Station.

Now I have a game I play called Space Station, where I'm no longer stranded in my apartment, I am on duty out in Earth orbit.

Once a day a Space Shuttle brings provisions - the Meals on Wheels hot lunch delivery. I spend hours each day at my work as an astronaut, probing expanses in space where almost no man has gone before - reading through clergy case lawsuit documents to find new stories to write here at City of Angels.

Occasionally I hear from mission control - my daughter or a friend calls or emails.

The very ability to adopt personae that got me through my weird childhood, is now a skill I’ve developed, and I can use and manipulate the dissociation, it is me at the terminal typing in commands. I may end up having a better aging life than a lot of people who never went through enough trauma to learn how to totally take themselves out of a bad experience.


We love this woman’s attitude, resilience and creativity!!
 

Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award