welcome to feeling emotionally, more!


helpful / helpless
hopeful / hopeless
humble / humility

click here:  back home @feeling emotional, four! the "isolated" page!

visit my new personal blog by clicking the link below!



NOVEMBER 30, 1999

Thank you. It’s wonderful to be here in New York City. I feel a close connection to all of you, since one of the youngest New Yorkers happens to be my four-month-old grandson Wyatt. Already, I can tell that he is a true New Yorker; when he wants something, he doesn’t want it now – he wants it yesterday.

I want to recognize & thank Brooke & Daniel Neidich for their tireless work & thank you Brooke for your kind introduction. Jon & JoAnne Corzine, thank you for being such good friends. Tom Lee & Ann Tennenbaum, thank you for your contributions to the Child Study Center.

Also to Dr. Harold Koplewicz & the board & staff of the Child Study Center for the Child Advocacy Award, I'm deeply honored & touched. But, it's really all of you who are truly deserving of this award for your passion & advocacy for the millions affected by a mental illness & for your very hard work to put into practice the ideals that this country was founded on - fairness & inclusion.

Your work is truly inspiring to both the Vice President & me. And that is why for so many years we've fought so hard to keep mental health issues at the forefront of our nation’s public policy agenda.

I think Dr. Koplewicz’s scholarship, advocacy & organization are remarkable. He was such a wonderful & insightful guest at the White House Conference on Mental Illness last June.

36 years ago, America began grieving for an assassinated President. That same year, before his untimely death, that President said we had to return mental health to the mainstream of American medicine.

36 years ago John F. Kennedy said it & today we're still fighting to meet his challenge. With your continued help, we can take the necessary steps to return Americans with mental illnesses to the mainstream of American life.

I began studying these issues many years ago when I was a student at Boston University. What struck me most was how hard it is to talk, either publicly or privately, about mental health issues to people. And that’s because of one thing; the stigma - the stigma & the shame that is attached to mental illness.

If you'll think back with me, we can remember a day when we could not talk about cancer. That was a secret in everybody’s families. And how many people suffered, or didn’t come forward for treatment, because that kind of cultural climate existed?

Today, we all know what a pink ribbon symbolizes. The winner of the Tour de France bicycling race can freely & openly talk about his testicular cancer on the David Letterman show. We've made such progress, but one should be able to speak candidly, openly & freely about mental illness on late night talk shows as well, without it being part of 20 minute stand-up monologue.

I believe mental illness is the last great stigma of the 20th Century. We need to make sure it ends here & now.

Your work & dedication, the Child Study Center’s research & programs & the Administration’s efforts are working. More of those who need care can get it. But, to break down the silence we must break down the myths & the illusions & the misperceptions that are associated with mental health issues.

We must talk about mental illness in our homes, in our workplaces, in our communities & with our colleagues. And we need & want to encourage more Americans to get the help that they need, because when they get the help that they need & it’s the right help, they can lead productive lives in their communities, in our society.

This is especially why we need to focus on children. If children feel they can't ask for help because they're ashamed, they probably won’t.

In our country today: 10 million children & adolescents have a mental health problem, 2 million adolescents suffer from depression, 2 to 5% of children in this country have a diagnosable learning problem & 1 in 100 children are diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder or Schizophrenia.

These are serious illnesses with long term, negative consequences for children & families.

To this end, we are working hard & heading in the right direction. We've made progress in matching our desire to help those with mental illnesses with the resources we have.

Funding for mental health block grant increased 23% this year. $67 million more than last year. That’s the largest increase ever. The Children's Mental Health Services block grants were funded at $83 million for this fiscal year. That’s a $6 million increase.

And we have doubled funding to combat school violence by developing programs to monitor, assess & improve children’s mental health.

In 1997, the President Clinton signed into law the CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL INSURANCE PROGRAM, otherwise known as “CHIP.” This is an excellent program. But still, more than 4 million children are eligible for Medicaid but not enrolled.

That’s why we need a policy of “Presumptive Eligibility,” which is a fancy way of saying “Act now, ask questions later.” In other words, if school administrators or community health officials see a child & know this child doesn't have health insurance, they can automatically enroll him or her in Medicaid.

Medicaid, combined with presumptive eligibility, can save lives. If we can get a child who is feeling isolated or hateful or melancholy to a doctor sooner than later, we can prevent future tragedies.

On a larger note, this is why the Medicaid program is so critical to children. I believe we have a moral obligation to provide health insurance coverage & care to all children, including mental health benefits.

We need to do more. Indeed, we can do more. Today, an estimated 2/3 of all young people with mental health problems don’t get treatment. Many of the kinds of comprehensive, family-involved services that could help them are just not there.

Child psychiatric illness is real. It's the equivalent to physical illness. Early detection & treatment are both possible & necessary. I know the work of the NYU Child Study Center already makes & will continue to make a difference in the lives of children & families across America - whether or not they suffer from a psychiatric illness.

I've been traveling around the country these past few months talking to young people about their lives & concerns. Almost all of them say that they know kids who are troubled. Most know kids who are depressed, or had attempted suicide.

Some knew kids who were openly discussing violence. And one student said to me recently, “my friends know they need help & we know they need help – but they're ashamed to come forward because they fear being labeled.”

If we're serious about stopping the violence & helping our children, I believe we need to erase the stigma that prevents our kids from getting the mental health help they need.

If a child has a broken arm, we would take that child to an emergency room. And if we know a child is depressed or alienated, we need to take action - emergency action - as well.

All of us know how hard it has become to balance work & family, to raise children & care for elderly parents & at the same time, to monitor your own health, we need a comprehensive system of care so that children don't fall through the cracks.

We know that kids want parents to bring less stress home from the office, focus more on them when the family is together. We need to work to make sure that our children’s mental health needs don't go unnoticed.

We know that government can help, but it doesn’t have all the answers. It takes communities, churches & temples & mosques, schools & neighbors. And surely, a start is being made…right here.

The Child Study Center is a tremendous leap forward in our nation’s efforts to help children & families, whether or not they suffer from psychiatric illnesses. Soon, I understand you'll be using the Internet to connect communities & schools & families.

I want to commend the NYU Child Study Center & its professionals who are advancing the field of mental health for children & their families by providing education & information, by helping health professionals do a better job at delivering care to those in need & influencing public policy.

Opening a new facility. Setting up a web site. Editing a book. I can’t think of an organization that has done as much in as short a period of time to help children & families suffering from mental illnesses.

So, thank you so much for this award. I'm deeply touched by your effort & contributions & I wish you the best of luck.

source: The White House


"10 Smart Things Gay Men Can Do To Improve Their Lives" Excerpt
By Joe Kort, MSW
This empowering book provides 10 positive steps gay men can take to identify & overcome self-defeating behaviors & move toward a healthier & more rewarding life.
These steps have proved invaluable to the hundreds of gay men Joe Kort has helped in his 16 years of individual, couples & group therapy. You’ll identify with & be inspired by the stories of the men who’ve followed this path to achieve emotional, sexual & personal fulfillment.

Who Should Read This Book? Gay Men & Their Families / Counselors / Psychologists / Psychiatrists / Social Workers / Educators School Counselors / Clergy / Physicians / Psychiatric Nurses / Other Human Service Professionals

An Excerpt from the Book . . .

What Works? And What Doesn’t
Alan was a 34-year-old consultant for one of the car companies in Detroit. He came to see me after experiencing depression over his gayness & his relationship with his partner of 5 years.
He’d been seeing a heterosexual male therapist in town but felt he wasn’t getting anywhere - either with accepting his homosexuality or resolving the conflicts in his relationship. His therapist referred him to me, telling him that I was gay as well.

Alan was handsome, with boyish looks & tightly cropped hair. His body testified that he was involved with sports - he played soccer & baseball on a regular basis. For his first session, he came to my office dressed in his work attire - tie, white shirt & wing tip shoes.

“Look at me!” he said. “I don’t look gay. You don’t either. Maybe we’re fooling ourselves. This is just wrong! This isn’t how I envisioned my life. I wanted to be straight, with a wife & kids by now!”

Alan filled me in. 6 years before, he'd been engaged to a woman - then broke up with her. Secretly, he’d promised himself that if their relationship didn’t work out, he’d act on his gay feelings & come out of the closet. He didn’t want to make any other woman suffer with his inability to commit to her. He knew why he couldn't commit - he was gay. He could have sex with women, but found it unfulfilling.

On the other hand, Alan didn’t like being gay. He felt he was giving into urges he was supposed to repress. He was horrified at the idea of being out & open with others - particularly his family - knowing he was gay.

Alan came from a rural town in Michigan, where his family still lived in the house he grew up in. Nothing had been painted. The furniture never changed.
Appliances from his childhood, aside from ones that absolutely had to be replaced, were still there. It was as if time stood still. His parents had stagnated, plugging away in the same jobs they’d had their whole adult lives & drinking at a local pub they frequented every weekend.
On a few occasions when he was a child, Alan recalled, his parents took him along & left him & his siblings in the smoky pinball game room while they went to drink in the bar.

Alan couldn’t conceive of admitting to his parents that he was gay. “That will never happen,” he told me. “They would die! I can’t do this to them.”

Soon after Alan came out at a local gay bar he met his partner, Matthew. Alan had done little or no dating before Matthew. Being with Matthew was fun & exciting at first, but after the 2nd year Alan felt unhappy because their relationship was in a rut. Alan wanted to integrate his life more closely with Matthew’s - he wanted the two of them to live together.

Matthew initially agreed to their living together, but whenever it came time for either of them to move in with the other, or to sell both houses & buy a new home together, Matthew came up with some reason why it wouldn’t work out. This conflict simmered for 3 years.

In addition, Alan was angry at Matthew for not wanting to spend more time together. They saw each other once during the week and once over the weekend. Matthew claimed that with Alan in his bed, he couldn’t get a good night’s sleep & couldn’t function well at work.
When Matthew resisted making any move or changing his behavior, Alan would lash out. They would argue & Alan would become enraged, shout & slam doors.

Alan admitted that part of the problem was his worry about what other people might think if they knew he was gay.
If he went out to dinner, he didn’t feel people were staring if he went with a male coworker, but he admitted feeling that if he & Matthew went to dinner, everyone would know they were gay - much to his embarrassment.

Though Alan complained about Matthew’s avoidance, he was stuck in a pattern of unhelpful behavior too - with a large amount of internalized homophobia about being gay. He blamed his difficulties on the closet & on living in Michigan & he resented Matthew for not participating more actively in their relationship.

In our work together, I tried to help Alan focus on his childhood, because he seemed to be replaying exactly what had happened to him then, back when his parents neglected him. Now he found himself with a partner who, he felt, also neglected him. His frustration with Matthew was understandable, but his high level of anger was an overreaction. It belonged to his parents.

He said that my making the connection to his childhood made logical sense, but he wasn’t experiencing any angry or hurt emotions toward his parents. “They did the best they could & it makes me feel bad to think they did anything negative.”

No matter how much work Alan did, in both individual & group therapy, he couldn’t reach his true feelings about his parents. He came to my workshops for helping gay men heal & rid themselves of self-hatred & homophobia, went to gay events around the community - & still felt bad about being gay.
He stayed closeted at work & to other members of his sporting teams. His relationship with Matthew stayed the same, even though many times Alan threatened to end it.

Finally, though, it was Matthew who broke it off. One night at Matthew’s house, Alan became so angry he threw something across the room & broke a window. Matthew told him he’d had enough & ended the relationship.

Now Alan found himself in a bind. Not seeing any progress, he’d dropped out of the gay men’s group the year before & he had no network to support him. His symptoms of depression grew worse. He couldn’t tell his family what was going on & he had no one else to talk to but me.

Isolated & alone, Alan was back where he was as a child, but he continued to deny that his childhood was at all related to his current situation or that his overreaction to Matthew’s distancing relationship was really a replay of how he’d felt as a child.

I didn’t think Alan could make much progress until he decided to live more openly & I told him so. I felt that he’d find, stored away in his closet, many other feelings & memories about his childhood. But he wasn’t ready to deal with it all. I expressed concern that he’d keep feeling isolated, lonely & abandoned - unless he addressed the issues of his parents’ neglect when he was a child.

Many of us find ourselves in a place like this. I’m a psychotherapist who specializes in Gay & Lesbian Affirmative Psychotherapy & Imago Relationship Therapy, which is a specialized program in helping people with relationship issues, men’s issues, childhood sexual abuse & sexual addiction / compulsion.
Over the past ?? years, I’ve treated literally thousands of gay men in the Detroit area - in one-on-one individual therapy, ongoing group therapy, in workshops for singles & for partnered couples.

Again & again, I see clients make the same mistakes. And inevitably, I find myself giving dozens of clients the exact same advice.

Reading this book, I hope you’ll recognize the stumbling blocks, both internal & external, that have held you back from living an effective, totally fulfilled gay life. Each of these 10 smart things is an antidote to a specific problem that clients have brought to my office time & again.

Thru my work with clients over the years, I’ve seen what works & what doesn’t work. Now I’d like to make these “prescriptions” available, in book form, for every gay man to use.

These 10 smart things constitute a kind of checklist - answers to the challenges any gay man may face, at one time or another, throughout his life. Yes, every gay man can score 10 out of 10 if he wants to. But none of these chapters is a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all prescription. Throughout, I’ll give you real-life examples based on my work with clients who put these basic principles to work in their own way - almost always with considerable success & satisfaction.

I ask every one of my clients (& everyone who reads this book) to recognize that he’s a unique individual. Health & happiness are your birthrights. And yes, you happen to be gay. So to live a rewarding life as a gay man, you must tailor anybody’s advice - mine included - to fit your own particular goals & circumstances, always keeping your own values, lifestyle & personal strengths in mind.

In upcoming chapters, I’ll introduce you to gay men who’ve crippled themselves emotionally (& often sabotaged their romantic relationships as well) by not coming out to anyone except themselves, their partners & a few close friends. In most cases, their self-protective impulse only serves to keep them isolated.
You’ll also meet heterosexually married men who in their 40's & 50's came out of denial & admitted they were gay all along. They experience a profound sense of liberation when they find the courage to come out, being honest with themselves & their families.

You’ll read how coming out to your family can reawaken - even worsen - the dysfunctional problems that have lain dormant in the closet. But you’ll also learn how men from 15 to 57 have forged deeper, warmer bonds with their parents, siblings, former in-laws & in some cases, their children.

I’ll explain why gay men are so often criticized for being “childish” or “immature” & how to avoid succumbing to gay culture’s overemphasis on looks, youth & glamour. Afraid of growing old?
I’ll offer you numerous remedies, including meaningful involvement in your local gay community serving as a mentor & giving other gay men (both younger & older) the benefits of your own hard-won experience.

I'll explore with you the specific ways that sexual addiction manifests in the gay male community. Most cases of sexual addiction are rooted in childhood sexual abuse & often respond to a combination of individual & group therapy.
You’ll learn why so-called reparative therapies - to “cure” our homosexuality - can’t possibly work. At the same time, you’ll learn about the genuinely helpful “therapy workout” opportunities available to every gay man. Is the best therapist for you male or female, gay or straight? Stay tuned!

Perhaps most important, I’ll show you how to keep your romantic relationship with another man alive & evolving as you both pass beyond the first stages of infatuation, thru the inevitable power struggle & on to deep & abiding love.
Believe it or not, your most serious quarrels & disagreements are potentially healthy & can lead to tremendous personal growth for you both, as partners and as individuals.

Even if a wedding or commitment ceremony doesn’t feel appropriate for the two of you, you’ll want to read about other gay couples who have taken that courageous step - with all the frustrations, surprises & joys that went with it.

You don’t need to be a Mensa member to do smart things & to start reaping the benefits. Hundreds of my clients have already proven to my satisfaction (& more important, to their own) that these choices work.

Psychology can seem dauntingly complex & sometimes a bit scary. Might there be some things lurking down in your subconscious you’d rather not hear about?
No need for timidity. I will work to keep things as clear, accessible & practical as I can. My clients - from their early teens to their 70s, from every walk of life - help dramatize the issues & hassles that every gay man must face.
Armed with their wisdom, clarity & understanding, you can continued from previous page make personal breakthroughs while still enjoying the special advantages that gay culture has to offer.

You need not agree with every word I say. While reading about the dozens of gay men who came to me for help, however, you’re sure to recognize many of the challenges you’re facing right now.

Every one of these 10 smart things has the same goal: to help you live happily, confidently & successfully as a gay man - inside & outside the gay community.

source: selfgrowth.com

What are the Symptoms of Abuse?
Below are the most common symptoms / problems faced by adults who were abused during childhood. This isn't a complete list, just the most common problems. The response to abuse varies & people will generally have many of these difficulties.
These symptoms/problems all stem from the mistaken / limiting beliefs each person developed as a result of childhood abuse. With each symptom are listed possible mistaken beliefs that might match up.
However, never assume that any belief you have in mind is accurate until you present it to your client & see that their response / recognition is congruent.

Also, remember that some of these mistaken beliefs will be so familiar that they're invisible to your client. Although they may even be using the exact wording of the belief as they speak to you, (i.e. "It's all my fault, everything is always my fault."), it may still come as a shock to them when you put it into the same words & reflect it back.

Seldom are people consciously aware of the mistaken beliefs that operate their behavior & life.

Lack of confidence:
This is the most common symptom & it stems from mistaken beliefs, developed in childhood, of guilt & an innate sense of 'badness' or feeling defective. (Mistaken beliefs may be: I'm not good enough. I'm ruined. I'm bad. It's all my fault.)

Low self esteem:
This feeling is often associated with the person's outward appearance, believing they are ugly & repulsive, regardless of what they actually look like or positive input they may receive, but is also associated with their inner feelings of not being 'enough'. (Mistaken beliefs may be: I'm not good enough. I'm ruined. I'm contaminated. I'm bad. I'm ugly, repulsive)

Strong feelings of inadequacy:
A belief of innate 'badness', guilt & blame prohibits personal achievement, that in turn is followed by self sabotage. This person's vocabulary will be full of 'I can't' statements. (Mistaken beliefs may be: I'm bad. I ruin everything. I can't win. I don't deserve happiness. It's always my fault.)

Inability to trust:
When trust in a respected & trusted adult, particularly a parent, is broken at an early age, the child quickly learns to believe that no one can be trusted.

As an adult they'll be unconsciously responding to the belief that others will let them down. Often victims of abuse will sabotage friendships & intimate relationships by initiating a cut off from the person they care about.

It seems easier to cut off & hurt yourself before others have a chance, particularly when you believe the hurt is inevitable. This cutting off is often done by setting unrealistic tests for the person cared for, when the test is failed, the person's belief that no one can be trusted is strengthened.

That in turn strengthens the feeling / belief that it's safer to stay behind emotional walls.

Others believe that they'll not be accepted if others know about the abuse. Although most are crying out for love & acceptance, their fear & erroneous belief system keeps them trapped within themselves, feeling isolated & hopeless. (Mistaken beliefs may be: No one can be trusted. I can't trust myself. People will hurt me. There is no safety. To feel is to be unsafe/vulnerable. I can never tell. I can never be known. I'll always be trapped with hurt ? there is no way out.)

Problem relationships:
Many symptoms on our list (sexual dysfunction, inability to touch, inability to trust, etc.) cause serious relationship problems.

Victims of abuse often choose an abusive or inadequate partner because damaged personalities feel more familiar & 'normal' to them. This is because the experience of growing up in a dysfunctional family causes dysfunctional people to seem familiar & it's natural to be drawn to what is familiar.

Some people choose an inadequate partner as a result of believing that their own 'unworthiness' prohibits a partnership with a 'nice' person. (Mistaken beliefs may be: I'm bad. I'm ruined. I don't deserve happiness. I should be punished. I don't count. I'm not good enough. No one can be trusted. I'm unlovable. I'm useless.)

Sexual dysfunction:
Approximately 2/3 of people who are sexually abuses as children are sexually repressed, while the remainder are often promiscuous. Many lack accurate sexual knowledge & therefore don't have proper information of their body functions or sexual organs. Many have become frightened of their sexuality, believing that their bodies are dirty or shameful. Some have had many sexual experiences but haven't shared love with those partners. Others may use sex as a way of gaining acceptance or as a manipulative tool (learned behaviour). Still others put up a mental block concerning their sexuality, sex no longer matters.

There are some who enjoy a full sex life, however these are usually people who were given some support & proper information at the time of (or since) the abuse & who have a supportive, emotionally healthy & loving partner. (Mistaken beliefs may be: I'm bad, dirty, ruined. I'm defective. I don't count. I'm contaminated. I'm not important. I don't deserve happiness.)

Food/drug/alcohol abuse:
Food abuse can be manifested by either anorexia or bulimia. Some people who have experienced abuse sometimes hold the erroneous belief that they'll not have to face their sexuality if they're unattractive.

It's also another form of self punishment. Those who are obese can also use food as a form of comfort & their excess weight as a defense against feeling small & vulnerable.

Drug or alcohol abuse can be used as a form of self punishment, a dulling buffer, a comfort / crutch or a memory blocking devise. American statistics substantiate that a large number of drug & alcohol abusers were sexual abuse victims during childhood.

(Mistaken beliefs may be: I'm bad. I don't count. To be ugly (or fat) is to be safe. I deserve to be hurt/punished. I'm not important.)

Low or over emotional control:
Some people will perceive ordinary stressful situations as a crisis, resulting in that person going into shock or emotional shutdown. They're often termed 'dramatic or hysterical types'. Others are in a fairly consistent state of emotional & physical numbness, not much really 'gets' to them.

Those people who have low emotional control are generally seen to over react very quickly, easily bursting into tears, having outbursts of anger, pacing agitatedly, laughing loudly / inappropriately & generally appearing demanding & vulnerable.

This behavior may temporarily give a sense of comfort from the attention received, but comfort is short lived because the attention is usually negative. Surprisingly enough, a connection is seldom made by this person between their behavior & the response people give them.

Their inappropriate behavior has become a second skin & to them, it feels right. In their point of view, the other person is wrong.

Some people are extremely over controlled emotionally, almost robot-like. They are often terrified of their anger, believing that to show any strong emotion could cause them to lose control & give into the violent rage they fear. At other times over control stems from the misguided childhood belief that the less emotion displayed, the less chance of being noticed; a hope that this control would lessen the risk of further abuse - it's an illusion of safety.

Some children learned that they had no rights to emotion, therefore finding it difficult to laugh, cry, complain or even express an opinion. Parents or carers may well have crushed any sign of emotion from these children from an early age.

As adults they often build an invisible wall around their feelings, promising themselves that no one will ever see the pain they've suffered, no one will be allowed in to hurt them again. (Mistaken beliefs may be: I don't count. It's not safe to have feelings. I can't be known. No one can be trusted. Hurt other people first. People will always hurt me. I'm bad. I'm not important.)

Panic attacks:
Panic attacks
can include the following physical symptoms: Difficulty breathing, throat closing up, heart racing, vision changes, sweating, shaking, nausea, desire to run, feeling out of control, feeling trapped, desire to scream, feeling like you're going to pass out, feeling like your body will explode & a fear that you're going crazy or will die.

A full blown panic attack is terribly frightening. Panic attacks are triggered by some thought, smell, taste, sound, feeling or action that somehow reflects the abuse suffered in childhood & most of the time the victim doesn't have a clue what that trigger might have been.

Some people who haven't yet remembered abuse suffer from panic attacks & are understandably very confused about the cause. Panic attacks seem like they come from nowhere, but there's always a trigger. (Mistaken beliefs may be: I have no control. I'll always be unsafe. There is no safety.)

can be a form of self sabotage, self punishment, an underlying feeling that; I'm not worthy to enjoy life, therefore if I can't function properly then I will not enjoy life.

It can also take the form of a distraction. When a person has a serious phobia or illness to deal with then the fear of facing the deep emotional scarring of childhood abuse can be put off. (Mistaken beliefs may be: I deserve punishment. I don't count. I'm bad, dirty, contaminated, ruined.)

Emotional trauma that has never been resolved can produce physical illness. Migraines, stomach disorders, asthma, skin disorders, bowel disorders, back problems, gynaecological problems & general aches & pains are the most common. (Mistaken beliefs may be: I'm bad, dirty, contaminated, ruined. I deserve punishment. I don't count. My body is bad.)

Common examples are: biting or clawing limbs, cutting body with razor blades or knives, burning body with cigarettes, repeated bruising injuries or banging head on the wall or with an object, but self-harm can be as inventive as a person's imagination makes it.

Self-harm is sometimes used by victims of abuse to control their experience of pain. It can also provide an intense feeling of relief & release that is often craved. It can be an attempt to control something in one's life; a type of self punishment; a means of expressing anger or a way to have feelings.

It can be a futile attempt to call for help or needed attention . It can be manifested in both children & adults.

Sometimes the physical pain can be a distraction from the more feared emotional pain or it can be an attempt to indicate to others just how strong the emotional pain is or a place to express anger - on the only one safe to vent it towards - self. (Mistaken beliefs may be: I'm bad, dirty, contaminated, ruined. I can't be angry. I'm defective. It's all my fault. I deserve to be punished. I can't let the pain out.)

Sleep disturbances:
Reoccurring nightmares is the most common sleep disturbance. Insomnia is also a frequent experience, but others may use excessive sleep as a form of escape, a method of coping. (Mistaken beliefs may be: I'm bad, dirty, ruined, contaminated. It's all my fault. I'll never have peace. It's unsafe to be still.)

Flashbacks can be in the form of quick visual pictures, like a slide compared to a film, or in the form of feelings (emotional or physical). These often take place during intimacy, but can also accompany everyday activities or perhaps reading or hearing about other victim's abuse experience.

They're triggered by some connection with the abuse thru visual, auditory (a partners heavy breathing during intimacy is a common one), kinesthetic, gustatory or olfactory sources.

Flashbacks are usually fragmented views of the abuse & can offer a 'way in' to a more complete memory. On rare occasions a flashback can take a video form & go on for quite a while with the client associated in the event.

One was reported to have lasted 4 days & for her safety, the woman was placed in a psychiatric unit for that period. (Mistaken beliefs may be: I have no control. I will never be safe. There is no safety. I'm trapped with the pain.)

Inability to touch or be touched:
This problem can be triggered by feelings of dirtiness (a fear that the other person will somehow know of the abuse & be rejecting); fear of contaminating others (an irrational thought stemming from feeling dirty & bad); low self esteem (not worthy, self punishment) & the fear that in some way, by allowing physical contact one is at risk of further abuse (loss of control, being at another's mercy).

Touch may bring back memories of unwanted touch from childhood or touch which produced some pleasurable feeling but now brings shame & self disgust. It can also reflect a fear of one's sexuality. (Mistaken belief may be: I am bad, dirty, ruined, contaminated. I have no control. My feelings are bad. I don't count. I deserve to be punished.)

with abusive childhood backgrounds will experience depression because they believe they'll never change, their environment or relatives will never change, they're so bad & dirty that they don't belong with 'nice' people, no one understands them, etc.

If a person has no memory of abuse, depression will result because there's no logical reason for the symptoms s/he is experiencing. Having said that, many people don't associate the symptoms they have with the experience of abuse, even when they do remember it. (Mistaken beliefs may be: I am bad, dirty, ruined, contaminated. I am trapped with the pain. There is no escape. I will never be safe.)

Suicide attempts:
People who have suffered abuse may see suicide as their only way out of the pain. Until recent years there was very little help offered to adults who were victims of childhood abuse in this country. Some of those who have displayed acute symptoms of abuse have been judged mentally ill & sent for psychiatric treatment.

As a result of not being understood, little help was forthcoming & the client often left sessions with ill-informed psychiatrists / therapists feeling more suicidal than upon arrival.

Typical advice given (as reported by clients) was "Well, that's all in the past. Do you feel that you will abuse? No? Well then, go home & concentrate on your partner & family, find yourself something else to think about. Take your mind off it & stop dwelling on it."

The inference taken was often, "I think you're wasting my time, it's a lot about nothing." With the person's last hope shattered of finding someone to help & understand, suicide may have seemed the only way left to stop the pain.

This is particularly true for the person who has struggled with symptoms for a long time & feel they're in a losing battle. (Mistaken beliefs may be: I can never escape. I am bad, dirty, ruined, contaminated. There is no way out.)

quick note: feeling isolated is a symptom of depression & suicidal thoughts!

High/Low Risk Taking:
Some people
find they almost have a compulsion for "daring the fates". Their work or social life can be a series of very high risk taking events. On the flip side of that, there will be other people who go the opposite direction & find it impossible to take even the smallest risk. (Mistaken beliefs may be: I don't count. I'm not important. I can never be safe. There's no safety.)

Security seeking:
In stressful situations this person may actually hide or cower in a corner. Nervousness is evident when this person feels they're being watched & often they report feeling watched when no one is actually around. They're usually hypervigilant & have a strong startle response to surprise situations, which may be followed by anger or nervousness.

Often there's a need to be invisible. (Mistaken beliefs may be: I have no control. I can't be safe. There's no safety. No one can be trusted. I can't trust myself.)

Alienation from body:
This person isn't at home in their own body, there's often a failure to heed body signals (pain, fatigue, hunger, thirst) & a lack of care for their body in either fitness or health areas.

There's usually a poor body image & sometimes a manipulation of body size to avoid sexual attention. (Dovetailing with food/drug/alcohol abuse & low self esteem listed above.)

Many times this person spends much of their time in a disassociated state, i.e. 'watching' their life happen rather than experiencing it. (Mistaken beliefs may be: I don't count. I'm not important. I'm bad, dirty, ruined, contaminated. My body is bad, dirty, etc.. I'm not safe.)

Aversion to making noise:
his includes sex, crying, laughing or body functions. This person is often soft spoken & may pause a lot while speaking as they monitor their words. (Mistaken beliefs may be: I don't count. I'm not important. I'm not safe. Feelings are unsafe.)

Memory blanks:
People who have memory blanks of a year or several years during their childhood & have several of the above symptoms are typical examples of people who've repressed abuse memories. This usually happens when trauma experienced during childhood is so threatening the child shuts off all memory of it as a coping mechanism.

May I also point out here, if someone has memory blanks but shows no symptoms of abuse, please don't feel obligated to diligently search for abuse or announce with the flair of Sherlock Holmes, "Aha! Memory blanks, just as I suspected, childhood abuse!."

If there are no symptoms, it's probably just a case of fairly uneventful events blurring into each other & appearing as a blank.

One common experience for those with repressed abuse memories is that they'll have strong emotional reactions to information concerning anything they actually experienced.

Often a client will hear about some horrible experience someone else has had & be moved & upset by it - that's natural. However, when they have an over the top reaction (as though they're experiencing it) it isn't natural UNLESS THEY'VE EXPERIENCED IT AT SOME TIME.

There will sometimes be certain words they don't want to say & don't want to hear although they don't know why. Certain behaviors they can't do or watch (often sexual in nature if it was sexual abuse) but don't know why.

Sometimes there will be ordinary, everyday events that they can't bear but don't know why. All of these will more than likely be connected with the abuse experience they're blocking off.

thanks for visiting feeling emotionally, more!
thank you for visiting feel emotionally, more - part of the emotional feelings network of sites!