Feelings of Shame as a Response to Trauma Can Be Overwhelming. Trauma Therapy Can Help with the Healing Process

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Noel McDermott (2021, October 14). Feelings of shame in response to trauma can be overwhelming. Shockwave therapy can aid the healing process. Psychreg on psychotherapy. https://www.psychreg.org/feelings-shame-response-trauma-overwhelming-trauma-therapy/

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There were questions at the time about why Sarah Everard’s death had sparked such a strong influx of women across the UK, including public displays of solidarity by a member of the royal family who attended a vigil for her immediately after her death. . In similar ways, the disappearance and death of Gabi Pettito elicited strong resonances in women and strong defensive reactions in men. Aside from the overlapping concerns raised about issues of institutional racism in reporting the deaths of some women but not others, there are strong psychological factors involved in recognizing the issues of each of these young women about trauma responses to finding a voice. This also applies to responses to trauma that remain untreated and debilitating.

Later, a police officer discovers that it was this “strange” attack that lifted the identity as it then moved on to the dynamics of abuse of a position of trust. This is the most common experience of sexual violence and violence against women; That the offender be in a position of trust, either as a family member or as an intimate partner. Psychologically the effect is the same. Indeed, the victim-blaming associated with domestic violence, intimate partner violence, and/or women’s rape, occurred shortly after with a politician suggesting that Sarah should have challenged the arrest more forcefully.

Shame and shock

Trauma treatment of intimate partner sexual violence and intimate partner abuse (the main trauma experienced by women, girls, and children more broadly of all genders), has been challenging psychological therapies due to the presence of shame. Shame has long been a red flag in the use of gold standard trauma therapies such as EMDR. This means that in the case of significant disgrace, the use of shock therapy is ‘prescribed’, we as professionals are not supposed to use the therapy because of the risk that the patient will experience side effects from the treatment, such as an increased risk of self-harm or suicide, meaning that no treatment can be given treatment. Shame is often used as a weapon by the perpetrator as a means of control, and shame is culturally reinforced by victim-blaming.

It should also be noted that definitions of trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and clinical treatments have been framed mostly by men’s experience (largely) in jobs such as soldier or first responder. There are issues associated with this type of trauma that do not deal with the specific gender issues that women face. As is often the case, issues of gender for men and trauma are not seen as gender-specific but rather as trauma. Everything else is viewed through this hypothetical framework. It is often the case that gender-specific and child-specific trauma far outweigh male experiences due to the prevalence of sexual and intimate partner violence. Additionally, if you include the trauma experienced by sex workers who are predominantly female, the rates of specific trauma in women are significantly greater than those of men.

Shame and disgust

In my clinical practice with women and children victims of rape camps set up during the Balkan conflicts of the early 1990s and mid-1990s, we were at a loss for help because of the shame. Shame as a reaction is closely related to disgust. Disgust is a deep physical response that indicates that we should avoid something. We feel disgust and need to vomit in the face of spoiled food, see mutilated corpses in a car accident etc. These are normal reactions to disgust and shame to things and events that we should really avoid. Shame is the ultimate emotion to get away from feelings. All gold standard trauma treatments involve safely looking at the trauma and reprocessing it. So, PT asks the patient to do the opposite of what they feel ashamed of, to take action and experience what is described as toxic and emotionally disgusting and to reprocess the experience. Additionally, to do so while there is still a threat to the patient from a society that invests in keeping the patient in place for coercive control.

Making the victim responsible for the horrific things that happened to him through defamation is simply a form of control. In the rape camps, women were not killed, but released, often carrying a child from their rapists, as a message of control. The use of rape as a war tactic has been recorded in this way since the time we were recording war as an event. Boudica, the old British queen, was forced to view the public rape of her daughters as a means of political control by way of libel. Women released from rape camps in the Balkans faced ostracism, shame from their own culture, and in many cases the threat of honor killings for the shame they brought to their families for surviving rape.

Shame is a key component of sexual trauma and trauma from intimate partner abuse. It is part of the rapist and/or aggressor’s control dictionary. It is important to remember that attacks from strangers are an anomaly, not the norm in sexual violence. Wayne Cousins ​​used his position as a police officer to subdue, rape and murder Sarah Everard. He abused the psychic position of the authority figure (the parent) to kill. Psychologically, the father kills his daughter.

On a balance of probabilities, Gabi Pettito’s last chance to save her from her killer was in the iconic shots of her in the back of a police car as she is grateful to a male police officer for not arresting her or arresting the man who would likely end up. her life. Of course, this case did not take place in court, but given that more than three-quarters of deaths in intimate partner murders are women (current partner or former partner). Psychologically, the “father” – a male authority figure – returned her to the person who the statistics tell us was most likely her killer. Her response was to be thankful and blame herself for the problems with her OCD about the dirt in the truck she shares with him. Showed classic signs of traumatic injury. In addition to the classic signs of how the victim protects the perpetrator in any way. This is because the offender will act aggressively and violently against the victim if the victim indicates that the offender is in any way to blame. The authority figure in the form of a police officer bought the victim’s symptoms of shock at face value and, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, accepted the situation at ostensible value as a mental health problem. However, psychological treatments still struggle with women’s most common traumatic experiences—shame, self-blame, fear, isolation, and control (obsessive-compulsive disorder) to avoid assault by inducing the abuser into a state of anger.

trauma treatment

Shame leaves us afraid and alone. The women’s response to getting to know Sarah and Gabe is to say that I may feel ashamed, but that I won’t be alone. This is therapy in action. World-renowned trauma therapist, Bisel van de Kolk, argues that trauma therapy can only be considered beneficial if it enables the patient to go about life again. Clearly, the collective action that supports women in life (Sarah Everard’s vigil) is also trauma therapy. In my personal and professional life, I know very few women who have not experienced sexual or other forms of intimate partner violence, who do not bear the shame and self-harm from those experiences. As an adult survivor of intimate partner violence and abuse in my childhood, I can recognize this sense of shame, isolation, and self-blame.

Treatment is limited by parental assumptions and constraints. In the treatment of Bosnian rape camp victims, we have been hampered by a lack of legal protection. Victims of systematic rape that has been used as a method of warfare cannot claim refugee status at that point. It took collective political and clinical action by psychiatrists and other mental health professionals working with refugee rape victims, detailed in the essential book Rape as a Technique of Torture, to change the law to allow women and children victims of these legal atrocities. safety. They cannot be returned to rapists and murderers. Contrary to Gabby Petito’s saying for example that she was apparently brought back to her killer.

The Met must provide protection

Therefore, their feet should be firmly fixed on the fire in cases of rape and intimate partner violence. They should act as good authority (responsible parents), not as neglectful and often abusive parents (authority figures). Wayne Cousins ​​stands as a metaphor for the continued failure to provide protection. The lack of insight in observing Sarah Everard’s vigil as a matter of public protection rather than in response to coronavirus regulations is deeply distressing.

Ensuring a traumatized person does not feel shame or loneliness is the most important first step in recovery. We cannot heal without a safe place. It is the primary technology used in gold standard trauma therapies. Help the patient develop a safe psychological space where they can go when they feel fear.


Noel McDermott is a psychotherapist with over 25 years of experience in health, social care and education.


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