Wow...thank you so much Anne for all the resources!! I found it so confusing after a handful of what I considered to be minor conflicts between my avoidant ex and me that he gave up on us and shut down, but I see in the literature that conflicts are a trigger. At the time I thought he was being unrealistic in his expectations, but I can see now how it ties in to his attachment trauma. Lots to read! Thx!
Freeze sympathetic nerveussystem wants to act strongly and defencevly and the parasympatheic nerveussystem is trying to put the brakes on.
The freeze respons might look stationary and passive but underneath there is a incredible arousel. IT is an extreme state of being stuck thats typacily fraught in fear, dissociation and immobility - even paralysis.
Some People can loose their ability to speak or hear. The cranial nerve that activates the voice box and/or the inner ear, can shut down. People living in This state can have difficulty communicating their distress and staying precent when IT happens. For people with desorganised attatchment style or other kinds of trauma, IT can occour when a person feels overwhelmed. When we are being confronted with a threat we can become immobiliasied. IT is not healthy to stay in This state for Long. Our intake of oxytocyn level drops, and we can not breath correctly.
You can take deeps breaths, but even Better if you can find some sence of safety. In This state You can also feel Cold sensations, lethargy, depression, and dissociation. When any of these symptoms occour, IT is a good idea to move the Body around. Even the smallest physical movement can help you. IT is important that you can feel, that you can have a sence of safe boundaries.
Exercise: Choose your right or left arm and extend IT out in front of you. Hold This arm out as if you are reaching out to connect with someone or you are recieving a gift. How does IT make you feel ? Does IT feel okay and safe or maybe voulnarble and frightening ? Now try the other arm. How does This feel ? Now try to reach out with both arms. With your arms side open and then with a gesture in wich your arms are closer together. How does This feel ? Are you relaxed or are you feeling tence in your Body ? Now place your right hand out infront of you as if to defend yourself. This gives a sence of "stop, go away, back off". The Words can come later Now let your left hand come in as if you were making a space of boundarie infront of you. Imagine you are in a protective sfere. Feel around you where your energetic boundaries are. Do this in front of you, to the side, abowe you and behind you. Get a sence of what This space is like. How does IT feel in your Body ? Do you notise any sence of empowerment ? Does one direction feel safer than the others ? If one direction feel less safe you can bring in a competent protector. Imagine Them of the Edge of your spfere. See if that helps your spfere expand.
This exercise can bring Up some boundary rupture that you dident know about. This is normal. Try to Say No, leave med alone, stay away. Any Words that comes to you are fine. You can Say Them out loud or Imagine your competent protector saying Them. Feel what happens in your Body and in your spfere of safety. Do you feel stronger, more secure ? Does the spfere Seem to expand ? If you get overwhelmed try Them out with someone you trust who can support you, someone who has your back. If you want to you can let the person put a suupportive hand on your back.
Communicate simply and clearly when the person is stuck in confusion or indecicion or when you have to give instruktion or directions. Give the person as few options as possible..
Be mindfull of your tone of voice: Use a melodic voice and not a robotic one.
Practise safe touch: You have to be regulated yourself. A handshake, a gentle touch between the persons shoulderblades or a gentle touch on the persons arm ect.
Look at them and use facical expression with kindness: Use a Beam gleam but check out if they are dealing with shame signaled by gaze aversion. Wait until their shame has been prosessed a bit. As people we read facical expressions All the time even when we are not concious of IT. Look at the person - is the person angry or are the person happy to be with you
Main feeling/state for the desorganised/a person with chock-trauma is: SHAME.
IT is not always that they can feel their shame, and therefore they can sometimes overstep other peoples boundaries.
You always have to Work with the trauma energy first and when the trauma is healed, the breake can be released, and you can then Work with the ambivalent or avoidant part of your attatchment style.
1) definition by Peter Levine as a neurobiologialy process. Therefore IT is good to Work with the nerveussystem.
2) A persons/a childs feeling of being wrong.
How to tell: Boundaries are often Missing. They do not right away feel their own boundaries or they feel them overstepped - but not in the situation - but later. They can also overstep other peoples boundaries.
Or they can feel their boundaries, but they are in doubt if they are allowed to have that type of boundarie.
If feeling shame IT can be difficult to set boundaries. IT is so important working with the shame first in therapy. Also using titrating, ressources and xxx
Notise their communication style (when they are telling about their story to the therapist). Ex. They can talk about a partner, who they left 15 years ago, but then they can begin to talk about what happend like IT is happening now.
In their lovelife: When the contact with a potential partner starts to get closer, their trigger fight/flight responce can start to make noise. IT is a nerveussystem responce. They want their partner to be there and not to be there at the same time.
Long distance relationships can sometimes be ideal for a person with desorganised attatchment style - but the problem can show up when they have to be in intence contact for several Days.
They can use sex as a way to release their nerveussystem.
There is a lot of energy in their Body from the stomac and Up in the upper Body. They can stiffen in their upper body and they can feel very tired. They are used to being alert. . The disorganised can suddenly jump back when in contact, vs the avoidant who "just" pulls back from the contact. The dismissive can Be in the same room checking out of the contact.
When you have to meet them, IT is Better to give them the exact adress and direction. They can also be late, when you have to meet Them, because of their confusion (they maybe can not find their way in the car or they can take the wrong train ect).
They can have problems remembering their childhood because of All their feelings and instinktive reactions that overwhelms Them. They can often only remember fractions from the past. They use dissociation. Vs. the avoidant is just closed off from their feelings from their neck and down, and that's the reason, why they don't remember.
The FA can fall in love in a very quick way and can be very intence in lovelife. They can make a new loveinterest feel very special, like they have never felt like This incredible love before.
They often go way off out of their tolerance window. Vs the ambivalent can also go out of their Window of tolerance, but not as much as the desorganised. They can cry a lot and can be very intence They can warn out their partner with their intence reactions.
Their mood can change a Lot. From being happy to suddenly being sad or angry ect. That's because they go into their trauma whirlwind.
They often like activities with a lot of action. They like adventures.
Be aware, when they disociate in therapy, there Will be No healing. Tritating can be helpfull in regulation of the nerveussystem. Small steps are important. Talking about their history can be very triggering for their nerveussystem. Regulation of the nerveussystem can give some safety in the body for the desorganised person.
In therapy IT is more important to talk about Body sensations and not so much about their anxiety, their anger ect.
Do you panic when dating or do you flip out in front of your children ?
If In high arousel in the situation, they are not able to think .
IT is a good thing to have selfcompassion in theese kinds of situations and understanding of where the pattern stems from. Working with SE and the watertank exercise is helpfull to be able to heal. A quite and secure relationship with a partner with a Lot of patients and understanding can also help the desorganised attatched.
In therapy the desorganised dont have to Work through all their trauma. Sometimes when they heal one trauma more trumahealing in other areas Will follw.
A boundarie exercise in therapy with a chair, a Ball ex is important.
Why do we choose the same kind of partner again and again: our old part of our brain is used to choose the same enviroment as the enviroment we crew Up in. IT is also about the tribe belonging feeling and that we often think that it is safe.
Imago says, that the other persons ability to trigger the negative story from our childhood is very Strong and gives a Lot of passion and the right kind of sparks. This is Stronger than choosing the positive choise.
Healing the old story and getting into the now is important to be able to choose differently in lovelife.
When we are in love, we see more All the positive aspects about the other person and not the negative. When the relationship is more estabilished, we begin to see the negative about the other person. (This can also be very typical for the ambivalent)
With alcohol we can think, that the other person is very social, outgoing and fun to be with. But Then things turn and we can also see the reality - that the person has a serious problem with alkohol. A person who has been reaised in a home with alkohol will often always have some desorganised attatchment style. What the person can do is to try to look for a different type of partner. In situations where you react even if you do not remember/know what have happend, you often can have some desorganised attatchmentstyle.
Alcoholics, drug addicts, sexaddicts ect. often has some desorganised attatchmentstyle. People who tries to commit suicide, IT is often because they are angry, but they have turned their anger inward towards themselfes, so that that the anger becomes selfdestructive. Also they can feel a Lot of despair so that they just want to get pease. IT is therefore important giving the anger space and to Work with the nerveussystem.
The disorganised often can have exstreme Sex: being promisquious, bsdm, S/M, over/underdog, use prostitutes ect.
How can we start to shift that pattern in our nervous system?
Here are a few ideas ...:
- We can bring more awareness to our pattern of Fawning, while simultaneously holding ourselves with as much gentleness and compassion as we can muster. - We can acknowledge that it isn’t our fault, that it is a response of our nervous system trying to protect us (even if it is based on “out-dated” information) - In the moment, we can be silently honest with ourselves about it and try to sense into our authentic experience, “I notice that I'm Fawning. How I’m really feeling right now is …” - We can explore and “feel” into the Fawning state, witnessing how it has us sensing in our body, feeling emotionally, thinking, as well as how it affects our facial expression, tone of voice, and body language - If it is safe/appropriate to do so (e.g. with a trusted partner), we can share these things with the other person in the moment, and even check out thoughts/fears with them - We can make it a new habit to give ourselves the time and space to explore our authentic selves, what we're feeling, what our preferences are, and what we need - We can start by choosing one small thing each day where make ourselves a priority, doing something that we want or need for our health, happiness, and wellbeing - When we are feeling calm and in connection with ourselves, we can practice sensing into what a true “yes” feels like in our body, and also a true “no” and a “don’t know” - If there is a particular situation in which we know we’re likely to be Fawning (e.g. work, school, family of origin), we can set aside time afterwards to regulate our nervous system back towards a more calm and connected state - We can get compassionate support for ourselves, and learn other ways to experience more safety in our nervous system
How to Work with a new experience that could become a (small) trauma:
"You are walking down the street and you stub your toe badly and go sprawling. Instead of immediately picking yourself up in embarrassment and continuing on as if all is fine, you pause.
It’s not a busy sidewalk so it is safe just to lay there for a moment and feel yourself. You notice that your toe hurts quite a lot but other than that you seem to be ok. You roll over and crawl to the side of the sidewalk where there is some grass and sit down there.
You let yourself orient to the surroundings – the cars driving by, some people on the other side of the street walking, the sky, the clouds, the grass underneath you, the feeling of the ground supporting you. As you do this you let go of a breath you didn’t realize you were holding and a deeper breath comes in. You notice how your breath is returning to normal.
You let yourself really see the crack that took you down – really stare at it and notice if you have any anger towards that crack, if so you let yourself feel it – the energy, the heat – maybe you clench your hands into fists or grip the grass and you let that energy move! Maybe be you cuss out the stupid f*%&$ing crack for tripping you.
Or maybe you feel a wave of self-recrimination and embarrassment, so you notice that and you put your hand on your heart - holding space for both self-recrimination and self-compassion to exist in that heart space and this lets a few tears flow and allows the grief that is under that self-recrimination to emerge.
You notice that your toe still hurts but that you are basically ok so you stand up and orient again – to the crack, to the street, the sky, the grass, to the weight of your feet on the ground and the ground coming up to support your feet. You have another bit of shakiness, which you allow, and you wait, and then another spontaneous deeper breath comes in and you feel ok again.
You continue on your way with a sore toe, but no internalized and stuck survival response.
Now – what if it’s not safe? What if you are hiking alone and have no friend to support you, or what if the sidewalk is really busy and you actually need to pick yourself up right away in order to avoid tripping others and getting more hurt yourself?
In these cases you still need to do all the basic things I just described, but you need to do them later when you get to a safe place. Remember that, as a trauma survivor, you know very well how to hold this stuff in!
So you consciously and deliberately say to yourself – “I can’t process this now but I know how to hold it until I get to a safe place. I will get to a safe place as soon as I can and then I will work with processing this experience.” If you know when and where that will be, say that as well, “I will be able to work on this in an hour when I’m back home again.”
Then…. you have to actually DO that.
If you have a safe person to support you in that work, someone who knows how to simply hold space and be present, that is always a bonus! If you have no other person but you do have a pet, that can work well too. If you have no safe person and no pet you can turn on some music, or listen to the radio or tv in the background – even the sound of a human voice coming through speakers, or soothing strains of music, can spark up those good social engagement wirings.
Obviously you will have to use your memory and imagination to recontact what happened, and what the surroundings were, and you will be alternating between that and the current safe environment around you, so it’s slightly different work, but the same basics apply. All the emotion is still there and available, it just takes willingness and a little courage to call it forth."
"Basic steps of what to do when triggered into a trauma respons or you get injuried:
The basic steps of what to do when you get triggered into a trauma response, or if you get injured or otherwise overwhelmed in some way that could become a trauma if not processed.
If it is safe to do so, stop! Don’t just continue on your way as if nothing has happened.
Orient to safety in the environment and connection with others if possible. Bring yourself into the present by orienting to safety in the present. Notice any changes in the body and breath as you do this.
See that the threat or trigger is gone, or over. Notice your reaction to that in your body.
Or, allow yourself to see the thing that caused you to stumble, or become injured or overwhelmed (unless that thing is an actual danger that you need to get away from). Notice your reaction to that in your body.
Allow the sensations and emotions of what happens next to occur, and allow them to be expressed in whatever way they need to be – usually there will be some kind of combination of terror, grief and/or rage. Stay with the physical, felt experience of these energies and use your imagination as necessary.
Be with the physical changes in your body as you do this – notice how the sensations change, and how the breath changes.
Orient to the present environment again.
Notice your body again.
When you actually feel settled again (or possibly even better!) continue on with your day.."
SE worker ______________
Coupling Dynamics can show up in how specific traumas and events are associated with each other, or not, and they can also show up in between different aspects of the human experience.
Peter Levine has a model he uses to explain these different aspects which he calls SIBAM, it goes like this:
S – Sensation I – Image B – Behaviour A – Affect (emotion and it’s facial expressions) M – Meaning
Someone could be working through a trauma and be stuck because the memory (image) is overcoupled with the affect; so they see the image and are flooded with the emotion, but stay stuck in that loop because those elements of SIBAM are overcoupled – this is essentially what a PTSD flashback is. By bringing in other elements of experience – the physical sensations, the behaviour that may want to emerge (like a movement that wants to happen, or a sound, or words), we can start to uncouple the overcoupled elements and arrive at meaning and a holistic, more present experience that allows the trauma to resolve.
If you have some trauma/some desorganizedattatchmentstyle you can have a tendency to live intence.
You can have accidents, win a Lot of money and loose them again, loose your job, you can jump into relationships VERY fast and in a VERY intense way , you can be VERY intense on a first date and you can suddenly jump back with no warning.
You can sometimes feel like you want to throw up when you are close to your loved one.
Coming out of a relationship with emotionel or physical violence, unfaithfullness, This can push you into some desorganised attatchment
The AP likes to spend money. They often want to enjoy life. They like to make a nice dinner and spoil their guests at home or to spoil their partner, they like to "spoil" others. Sometimes they can forget to use money on themselves
The avoidant likes to save money, they do not like to share, they can be affraid that they Will loose their safety and money. On a date they can forget to offer you a drink, a café latte, to pay for the dinner out ect. They can do This even if they have a Lot of money. If they already own a house, they often do not want you to Invest and bye maybe 20% of the house when you are moving in together
The desorganised can loose their money easely, they can Get their wallet stolen ect. They are in survivel mode and they can therefore have trouble Looking ahead and plan their future econemy. Like the ap
The desorganised can fall in love in a nano second. Shame, drama and crossed boundaries are some of the topics. IT can be confusing for the desorganised to fall in love. They can panic just by thinking about getting to know the other person they are dating. Maybe sex is easy for Them Early on, but Thats because they are good at overruling their own boundaries. They can look out for smal cues - more than the ambivalent.They want to be close and not to Be close at the same time They can have problems with intimacy. They can Shift very quick. They can Get pregnant fast and Get married fast, and after a year they can Get devorsed The AP can be in doubt if the other person wants Them, looking out for small cues. The desorganised can be even worse looking out for small cues, and they can suddenly push the other away, give Up and think "This Will never Work and IT dosent even matter anyway
On the unconscious level the desorganized can date and think about the purpose of a relationship: Can the other person cope with me, make me feel safe and loved, help me protect me from feeling crazy even if he/she has to cope with all my drama /even if I can create a lot of drama in the relationship.
The desorganised can go into panicmode when they are getting to know someone. Even if they feel they have to get away, they are still interested. They have to be aware of any over/underdog dynamics.
They also have to be aware of boundaries.(their own and the other persons boundaries)
Titrating in dating can Be usefull
Look at the examble with the dog Valdemar with desorganised trauma. Remember the desorganised like to Be in control. So in the dating fase try to let the desorganised take the initiative.
One of my friends has a dog called Valdemar. It has trauma and acts nerve-wracking to anyone other than my friend. Even she had to treat him carefully so as not to scare him away. We went for a walk in the park and I pretended that Valdemar was not there, otherwise he would die of fear. At one point my friend would give me a treat I could give to the dog. I went there and held my hand as I walked, pretendend that the dog wasent there. After a while the dog came gently to me and took the treat. And I could also pat him.
I wanted to give the dog another treat and forgot to move carefully. I turned around and saw the dog into its eyes as I stretched out my hand with a treat. The dog was getting a heart attack, so scared it became. The dog jumped away with a kneejerk reaction. It was too dangerous with my direct way.
This was also how it worked with my boyfriend. Every time I reached out to him, he jumped away. My method was to let my boyfriend come quietly to me.
My friend claimed that this method worked for most people. The method was to be there without making demands. Neither inside my head. The method was to rest in myself, just to be me.
I was curious about, what my boyfriend did without me having any projects on his behalf about what to do or not to do. The more I practiced this method, the more it looked like love. Wanting his best and my own best at the same time and giving freedom.
There was no sacrifice in this method and it did not require a lot of energy. It was just different from my auto pilot, that would be at the forefront of everything and have control.
My boyfriend became more attentive and he gave everything that I had longed for: closeness, enthusiasm, ease. Laughing together and having fun together at all