Are you feeling emotionally numb and detached from both yourself and others? Perhaps you’ve not felt yourself for a while now, and you’re not sure why. And there are times when you just don’t feel connected at all with what’s going on around you. Or, you’ve been in therapy for years, but don’t seem to ever get great traction. You still struggle with symptoms.
What about your memory? You’ve been told that you lived through that hurricane last year, but you can’t remember anything about it. Plus, you struggle with stress every day, and that has taken a toll on your focus and behavior both at work and at home.
It might be that you’re experiencing dissociation due to trauma.
This happens when you experienced a traumatic event—such as a natural disaster, relationship trauma, etc.—and your brain copes through emotional detachment. And you don’t have to live through a series of events for this to happen; a single traumatic incident can do it.
Something You’d Rather Forget
We all have lived through experiences that we’d prefer not to remember. Maybe there was that very bad date you had in high school that was so embarrassing. Or the Thanksgiving dinner that was a catastrophe.
But what about when there really is something catastrophic or awful that happened to you? This traumatic experience put you truly in danger, or you were afraid that you would be in danger. A natural disaster, for example. It’s a singular event that involves risk as well as a loss (property, someone’s life, etc.).
To cope with having gone through something so tragic, your brain reacts by making it difficult to remember the incident. Why?
Your brain does this as a response to the trauma as a form of self-protection. It causes a disruption between yourself, the events you have lived through, your memories, and sometimes even with who you are as a person (identity). That’s because the memories you hold are so difficult that to recall them causes a lot of emotional distress.
And that’s where the dissociation comes in.
The Problem with Dissociation
Of course, feeling disconnected from your memories, and even yourself, can cause a lot of problems. For one thing, if you can’t remember what happened, then it’s harder to resolve that trauma. You also become disconnected from the world around you and other people. In turn, this makes it very hard to maintain relationships or to work. And that’s really hard to deal with.
Because of dissociation, you might get angry very quickly or have sudden outbursts. This disconnect can also be linked to other mental health problems, such as depression or anxiety. Worse, you might even have thoughts related to suicide.
What Can Be Done About Dissociation Due to Trauma
Trauma is treatable. So is one of its consequences—dissociation. But it requires professional support to deal with emotional detachment, memory loss, etc.
Even though you might not remember the traumatic event that occurred, it is still affecting you subconsciously. What you need is to be able to actually process the memories that you hold deep inside you. How can that be accomplished?
Resolving trauma and dissociation is treatment that you should do with an experienced trauma specialist. Why? Because while trauma and it’s effects are widespread, most mental health clinicians have little to no training at treating trauma. And when it comes to helping you with overcoming dissociation, if you ask, you’ll find it’s even rarer. Assessment and Treatment of trauma and dissociation should only be done by therapist who has the advanced training that is needed.
The good news is, there are several trauma treatment modalities that I have seen work very well. Therapy modalities are tools. And a tool is only as helpful as the person who is using it. So with trauma and dissociation, it’s important that you work with someone who knows what they are seeing.
There are specialized trauma and dissociation modalities, therapies that are informed by what we know happens in the brains and nervous systems of trauma survivors. Both Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and Neurofeedback therapy can help. Each treatment relies on your brain’s ability to adapt and change. Neurofeedback utilizes brainwave analysis to coach the brain towards new patterns. And the EMDR process has been compared to reorganizing the filing cabinet that is your brain. Neither treatment method requires medication. They are non-invasive approaches that can be done in the privacy of the therapists’ office.
It’s amazing how even just one traumatic event can cause emotional detachment. If you are struggling with trauma and dissociation, help is available. Please, feel free to contact me about trauma therapy and find out how it can help you regain clarity once again.