Archive for April 28, 2011

Struggling to Manage Flight, Fright and Freeze Responses?

If you were traumatized in childhood, you probably have trouble managing your fight, flight or freeze response, your body’s reflexive reaction to perceived threat. We share a limbic system with the rest of the animal kingdom and the racing heart of the panic attack is meant to help us survive physical danger. We are getting prepared to run or to fight. The animal strategy is not very effective management in the 21st century when we are seldom in physical danger. Read more

Your Personality Has Many Parts

Believe it or not, “you” are not a steady state. “You” are made up of many different ego states. Normal people, like nations, need their children, their creative types, their farmers, their business types and their organizers. You are different when you’re at work than when you’re at home. And you are different playing with little children, than with authority figures. You can be serious and, hopefully, playful. But you recognize all these states as being “you.” Read more

Bad Girls, Good Doctors

When I was a youngster, my mother often talked about those naughty girls who accused their doctor of fathering their child. Imagine the nerve of them. Poor men, etc., etc. That’s why doctors always had to pay an office nurse to stand by, to protect them from bad girls.

It wasn’t until my husband, Dr. Harvey Armstrong, served on the 1991 Special Task Force on Sexual Abuse of Patients by Physicians that I realized that my mother, like the rest of the world, refused to believe that physicians used their power to sexually abuse  vulnerable patients. Read more

Overworked Amygdala Triggers Panic in Abuse Victims

Have you ever had the experience of beginning to cross the road and suddenly finding you’ve jumped back onto the sidewalk without even knowing what you were doing? Then you notice. You almost got hit by a truck. Wheww! That was a close call.

How did you do that? It was automatic. You didn’t even register that your life was in danger.

That’s because the amygdala, the part of your brain’s limbic system takes over in such emergencies to assure your survival. There’s no time to think. To think would mean losing that precious second needed to jump free. Read more

Does Your Trauma Cause Triggers in You?

People who have suffered childhood trauma are usually bothered by what we call triggers. Triggers may be smells, sounds, sights or situations and although the stimuli are innocuous in the present, the brain remembers them as life threatening. These particular stimuli are associated with some terrifying event in the past.

The brain remembers them and our survival system goes into action. It’s the amygdala that sets off the alarm. It signals danger so that we can fight or run. Our hearts start pounding, sending a good blood supply to our arms and legs to help us run or fight. All ability to think would be wasted at such a time. We now act on reflex and are capable of feats we couldn’t imagine in a normal state. Read more