Trauma Quotes

Avoiding the Pain

“When you have a persistent sense of heartbreak and gutwrench, the physical sensations become intolerable and we will do anything to make those feelings disappear. And that is really the origin of what happens in human pathology. People take drugs to make it disappear, and they cut themselves to make it disappear, and they starve themselves to make it disappear, and they have sex with anyone who comes along to make it disappear and once you have these horrible sensations in your body, you’ll do anything to make it go away.”   Bessel A. van der Kolk

“The essence of trauma is that, as a result of the overt abuse or neglect, or because of the relational trauma, we lose the connection to our essence. That’s what the trauma is. The trauma is not what happened; the trauma is not that I was raped, the trauma is not that I was abandoned, the trauma is not that I was hit, the trauma is not that my parents didn’t know how to listen to me.

That’s not the trauma; the trauma is that, as a result of that, I lost the connection to myself. Hence, I lost the connection to my essential qualities: my joy, my vitality, my clarity, my wisdom, my power, my strength, my courage. That’s the trauma!

The good news is, THAT can be healed, because if the trauma is the loss of connection to myself then that loss of connection to myself can be healed. What happened 50 years ago, or 20 years ago, or 15 years ago, or 3 years ago can’t be healed. If you were raped when you were five years old by your grandfather, that’s never going to change. But if the effect of that was that you lost the connection to yourself, that can be changed.  Gabor Mate

“As the survivor struggles with the tasks of adult life, the legacy of their childhood becomes increasingly burdensome. Eventually, often in the fourth or fifth decade of life, the defensive structure may begin to break down. Often the precipitant is a change in the equilibrium of close relationships: The failure of a marriage, the illness or death of a parent. The facade can hold no longer, and the underlying fragmentation becomes manifest. When and if a breakdown occurs, it can take symptomatic forms that mimic virtually every form of psychiatric disorder. Survivors fear that they are going insane or will have to die “    Judith Herman

“Carla’s description was typical of survivors of chronic childhood abuse. Almost always, they deny or minimize the abusive memories. They have to: it’s too painful to believe that their parents would do such a thing. So they fragment the memories into hundreds of shards, leaving only acceptable traces in their conscious minds. Rationalizations like “my childhood was rough,” “he only did it to me once or twice,” and “it wasn’t so bad” are common, masking the fact that the abuse was devastating and chronic. But while the knowledge, body sensations, and feelings are shattered, they are not forgotten. They intrude in unexpected ways: through panic attacks and insomnia, through dreams and artwork, through seemingly inexplicable compulsions, and through the shadowy dread of the abusive parent. They live just outside of consciousness like noisy neighbors who bang on the pipes and occasionally show up at the door.”      David L. Calof