Archive for July 2011
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We all know and many of us are close to people who have survived child sexual abuse or rape. Chances are, many of you reading this are survivors yourself. We often encourage survivors to speak about their experiences, to get it out. It’s cathartic, it helps us to move through the pain, it helps us see that we’re not alone and that it wasn’t our fault.
We might not think as much about how to be on the receiving end of the story. What should we say? How do we talk with a survivor in a way that helps him or her heal a little bit more and feel okay about having told someone?Keep Reading »
The more I think about it, the more I marvel at the skill of the psychiatrist who helped me heal from Dissociative Identity Disorder. As I look back on our work together, I can spot a number of creative strategies that he used.
Let’s call him Dr. Summer.
I don’t know whether Dr. Summer drew upon his experience working with other survivors of abuse or spontaneously invented some tools in his work with me. Some of these techniques must have been specific to my circumstances, and should be understood in that context before adapted to others. Here are the tools I found most helpful.
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In order for me to learn how to stop dissociating, I first had to figure out when I was doing it. I had to recognize how it felt and learn to see the difference in how I felt when I wasn’t dissociating.
My psychiatrist gently guided me through this process. He often stopped me whenever he saw that spaced-out look on my face. “How do you feel?” he would ask. I described to him the numbness and fog that had overtaken my thinking, a sensation like having cotton in my head. “That’s what dissociation feels like. Try and remember that feeling,” he instructed me. After several months of stopping and noticing, I eventually got the distinction. It’s like the difference between looking at life from 50 feet up versus living life at ground level, with all its vivid emotions and bumpy reality.
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