What Contributes to the Inability to Resolve Complex Trauma and PTSD?
We have different levels of being from which we act, react or interact. There are the more dense states such as fear, sorrow, seeking gratification, insecurity, and depression; and “higher” vibration states like attunement, affection, compassion, autonomy, love, and clarity.
Leaving aside for the moment the question “Which state is more or less ‘in balance’?” what I would like to discuss is which “angles of approach” give the impression that they are effective, but in reality fail miserably.
Catharsis means a strong emotional release. In many modalities of psychotherapy, it is an encouraged practice to bring the person to a point of emotional releasement, in the hope that the shift will be lasting and not just temporary. While emotional releasement can be very beneficial, there are some pitfalls to be wary of.
For someone who is not “in touch” with their felt sense, a catharsis can lead to overwhelming feelings of being in danger. This may also involve a sense of shame towards the self for losing “control” through angry words of rejection toward the therapist. This thereby overrides the desired effect of emotional integration and reorganization.
For someone who is more “emotionally” rather than intellectually “wired”, a catharsis will be fully embraced and even indulged in. The release provides a high, which is the desired outcome. At first sight this type of release is deceptive, as it appears that there is a shift towards emotional integration and reorganization. The reality, however, is that a release of this kind may often lead to a rebuilding of the original emotional charge. This, in turn, can lead to addiction, attachment and emotional instability in which there is a constant desire for releasement and consequent reconstruction of the emotional charge.
Unfortunately, “to overcome” is one of those expressions misused in a well-meaning way in addressing problems such as addiction or emotional issues. The assumption is that when an emotional state has been overcome, that the recovery will last. To overcome effectively means that you generate enough energy to temporarily cancel out a certain state of mind or to be in a “higher” vibratory state of mind altogether in which a “lower” state is no longer perceptible.
For example, feelings of fear and depression can be canceled out or suppressed by vigorous exercise, spiritual practices, meditation or yoga; however, these outlets merely serve as a prop. The moment there are stresses and a drop in energy level, the issues of fear and depression resurface.
Someone who suffers dejection and low self-esteem might, in an attempt to overcome, try to please and interact with others in order to be accepted. When expectations are not met – for example someone sees the falseness in this kind of behavior and refuses to budge or be flattered – feelings of low self-esteem and dejection will resurface.
Similarly, bodywork and massage can give someone the impression of having overcome an emotional issue, whereas once the person comes back to their senses, the old habitual patterns seem to come back.
Lastly certain psycho-therapeutic modalities that move very quickly through denser states and bring the person into a “higher” vibratory state can give the impression that there has been a shift, but when the energy levels drop, emotional issues resurface.
Focusing, in a sense, is still part of the mindset that tries to overcome. I am emphasizing focusing here as I want to make a distinction between awareness, which is non-dual, and focusing or concentrating.
Focusing on an emotional issue is a mindset which carries the intention to get rid of an undesired emotional state which is accompanied by body sensation.
The current emotional state accompanied by body sensation is perceived as negative, hence the desire to overcome it through the focused effort of trying to understand and solve the issue. This angle of vision does not bring about any fundamental change as its nature is reactive. In reality, it perpetuates and actually aggravates the emotional issue at hand.
To illustrate this, Jane, who is been abused as a child, is often overcome by feelings of incompetence and anxiety. The accompanying physical sensations are shallow breathing, tightness in the chest and a fidgety nervousness all over. When she is overcome by these feelings, her mind, unconsciously I might add, focuses on the turmoil which makes her dwell in those feelings rather then move through them.