I’d like to make u aware of a blog that apparently won’t permit re-blogging or coming to you in the Reader. My e-mail is usually running over and I miss quite a few posts (all of them on the social channel of my machine), but you may be interested in visiting Bradley’s “The Bipoar Bear” blog.
Back when I was researching my book I was surprised to learn that the definition of dissociation stretches all the way from “spacing out,” “reduced responsiveness,” “de-realization,” “de-personalization,” “disengagement,” “lost time” and “out-of-the-body-experiences”, all the way to what used to be called Multiple Personality Disorder, (now DID), and points in-between. What surprised me most was that even with this liberal definition of dissociation, Briere and Runtz (1988) were able to discriminate between college women who had been sexually abused and those who had not.
That’s when I began to look back over my life with new eyes, and recalled a missed opportunity for communication when my aunt asked me if I thought incest offenders should be put in prison. I realize I went inside myself and never answered her.
Briere describes spacing-out behavior and disengagement as withdrawal into a state of affective neutrality, “where thoughts and awareness of external events are, in a sense, put on hold. Most periods of disengagement are relatively brief, ranging from seconds to several minutes, and the depth of dissociation is usually quite shallow” (1992, 37-38).
Many years ago (as in 20) I was in a “dream group” with one other person, who would stop by my house to discuss our dreams. For some external reason it was to be our last session. I felt on a friendly basis with her, but recently I ran into her at a public gathering and while she nodded at me she avoided eye contact, and the greeting wasn’t nearly as friendly as I would have expected. I belong to a brown bag luncheon group now and as I was leaving the hostess asked if I knew ___ and I said yes and she replied that the woman had asked if I was going to be in attendance that day. Interesting, but the fact is that, possibly in response, she chose not to attend that day.
I can only guess that my mild dissociative tendencies had kicked in after she related a dream and my failure to respond was noticeable and interpreted as specious. It was a sensitive dream and I didn’t know what to say and I think I withdrew and she felt exposed. I can’t use my mild tendency to dissociate as an excuse because it’s so amorphous. I’m recalling another possible example when I called a friend who then told me her father had just died, and I went silent, reflecting, I think. But she didn’t let me off the hook and lit into me for not responding. I apologized and told her that if she could have seen my face she should would know that I was responding, but…
Has anyone else experienced this kind of difficulty?
I apologize. I failed to include one truth from my book Fallout: A Survivor Talks to Incest Offenders and Others. I was afraid one piece of truth I came across might be destructive to victims of severe sexual abuse in childhood, and I didn’t want to depress them even further. I have since realized that it may be important for those survivors to know and understand the full effects, which are reflected in the following:
“Child Sex Abuse Leaves Mark on the Brain,” by B. Bower, Science News of the Week, Vol. 147 June 3, 1995. “Two new brain-imaging studies, conducted independently, indicate that severe, repeated sexual abuse in childhood underlies damage to a brain structure that helps to orchestrate memory. This cerebral injury may predispose people to experience an altered state of consciousness known as dissociation and to develop symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)”….They had remarkably smaller hippocampal volume. Dr. Murray Stein’s brain-imaging studies at he Univ. of Cal. at San Diego was supported by J. Douglas Brenner of Yale University School of Medicine….Since I didn’t (don’t) consider myself an extreme case of incest, I overlooked the article. Later in my research I came across even more recent findings about this. I realize now that, with so much discounting of the effects of child sexual abuse, bringing this information forward, instead of depressing survivors, may be experienced as validation for their current feelings.
I lost the reference, but Jamie Talan in Newsday reported that physical, behavioral change can result from sexual abuse during childhood, as well as high testosterone and stress hormone cortisol and an adrenal hormone. Severely sexually abused young girls tend to reach puberty a year or two before their peers. The abused girls have fewer friends, are disliked by teachers and have high levels of depression and attention deficit disorder. (Of course this finding may reflect the attention deficit disorder, which would not endear them to teachers either.)
I apologize for leaving the above out of my book.
During therapy, accepting and grieving the loss of what might have been is an important step.