Shock, shame, doubt, and terrifying confusion
Trauma response and concomitant diseases of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Harald Haas, MD, Speaker at the Eurythmy4you Trauma Conference on January 29, February 12, March 12, 2023.
If we look at the internal and external, subjective and objective symptomatology that occurs in trauma (an initially incomprehensible or life-threatening situation of fright) a freezing, congealing and chilling first takes place. In the blood circulation a centralization takes place, the blood withdraws and one becomes pale or even white.
In consciousness, this reaction leads to dissociation, an inner confusion, or a feeling of powerlessness, of not being able to do anything, up to the fear of death.
Overcoming this state is only possible if an impulse of hatred and anger or an impulse to flee can occur. This requires that in the circulation there is a flow of blood to the periphery, which outwardly leads to blushing. At the same time, a feeling of shame or panic occurs.
This physiologically generated shame creates secondary feelings of guilt, and often leads to feeling ashamed of what has happened or even seeing oneself as guilty for it. This leads to an assumption of responsibility by the trauma victim that is usually not justified.
In the longer term, the stages just mentioned in the course of trauma reactions can lead to a fixation of single aspects. Thus, dissociation can develop into a dissociative disorder through repeated triggers, i.e. a loss of the ability to combine perceptions from a wide variety of qualities into a normal, comprehensive experience.
Fear of death may develop into a persistent avoidance attitude, a fear of situations in which there is supposedly no escape or help if something should happen, for example in large crowds, public transportation, or public places as in agoraphobia.
The development of feelings of shame and guilt may manifest in the longer term in a depressive disorder, or in compulsive thoughts or actions. The reaction of hatred and anger may trigger dissocial disorder or a tendency toward violent behavior in general.
The powerlessness associated with dissociation, where one is unable to react, is even more unpleasant than panic. That is why it happens that one does not even notice one's dissociation, but immediately reacts to a trigger situation with a panic, where one could escape from an inappropriate situation.*
What has been said can be summarized roughly like this:
Further references to the differentiation of anxiety and post-traumatic symptomatology can be found in the book by Harald Haas, Self-Doubt: Depression, Anxiety Disorders, Panic, and Fear, on which these remarks are based.**
Or come to the Trauma Conference and hear Harald Haas speaking.
* Reddemann L., Cornelia Dehner-Rau C. Trauma heilen, 2018, Chapter: Panic as protection against dissociation (German)
** Rudolf Steiner, Self-Doubt: Depression, Anxiety Disorders, Panic, and Fear, Ed. by Harald Haas, London: Rudolf Steiner Press, 2018