ABREACTIONS, understanding MEMORY FLASHBACKS. A review of history will show that victims of torture/trauma can potentially get memory flashbacks for the rest of their life. These memory flashbacks can be triggered in a number of ways, and the memories may lay dormant and hidden for any length of time. The disadvantage of having memories is that they often bring fear, body pain, and loss of sleep. They are like nightmares--although technically memories are different than nightmares in that they are more closely rooted to an actual torture/trauma. The person experiencing these flashbacks typically thinks they are going crazy. It is important for you to realize that millions of people who have been tortured have also thought they were going crazy, but that what was really happening is that they were having just like you a normal reaction to some very frightening events. To get flashbacks means that the mind is again trying to overcome a bad experience. Flashbacks are not a reason to panic---they are normal---and if a person can remind him/herself to stay calm as possible, one will get through them better. It maybe difficult to stay calm during a difficult memory. But staying calm is one of the goals which can be worked toward and achieved. One reason that flashback occur during sleep is that the mind’s defenses are weaker during sleep so the resistance to the memory coming is reduced. There area number of positive things that can be done in response to memory flashbacks. Although the memory flashbacks on the surface appear to be negative experiences--there also can be some positive benefits. If the memories are correctly handled they can breakdown the dissociation. The memories can be used to protect the person from future danger. What I suggest as a plan of action is that you accomplish several goals. reduced and eliminate the feeling of passive helplessness that comes from not being able to control memory. I will suggest ways to control memory. take measures during the memory to restore your contact with present reality. continue to breakdown dissociation. There area list of things a person can try when flashbacks
occur. Some will work and others wont. One may try these in the order listed: a. Try to think of something that is opposite of what the memory is about or something that is incompatible with the event. If the event is centered around hate, think of an event that is centered in love. b. Next, one might try to think of the negative consequences of going through the memory. This might encourage action to sidestep it. c. Try an activity that will distract the mind. d. Find out what triggered the memory flashback and then try to remove the flashback via the memory-on-a-movie-screen method or the memory-locked-in-a-safe-box method. e. If nothing else try pushing it back from the mind--see if clenching your teeth and pushing your tongue hard against your palate will help. To gain control of the flashback when it occurs here are some suggestions: a. Learn and know of what situations cause certain flashbacks. This will give you a greater sense of control and lessen the panic that comes from certain flashbacks. Gaining control over flashbacks can seem like one step forward and one step back but eventually control is gained--sometimes without the person realizing the progress they have made. b. When in a memory--first move a finger then bit by bit the rest of the body. Then start controlling your breathing (this can all be practiced anytime. Then getup and lookout the window to prove to yourself that you are at home and not in the memory. Then write down the memory. This will help in several ways including the dissociation. If it gets difficult to write the memory--then interrupt yourself with Page 404 quiet deep breathing. After writing down the memory--don’t reread--but go get something to drink which will becalming such as a cup of coffee. If the relaxation is practiced and can be achieved in response to bad memories it will give you a sense of control over the memories. c. The victim can talk with their support person about what the trauma was and what it meant to you at the time it happened. This will allow you to achieve an
assimilation of the experience into yourself. If you can discuss the event in full and the personal meaning you have a greater chance of conquering and controlling the flashback. It has been reported that memories that are too difficult for people to talk out because they have contradictory feelings, embarrassment etc. regarding them, will repeat themselves and the mind will often become obsessed with those difficult flashbacks. Talking them out can be healing. Why deal with memory flashbacks? One reason is that flashbacks intrude into the present and mean that you are pulled away from enjoying the present reality into reliving something in the past. Relief from flashbacks will help you, the healing victim, to concentrate better, get more pleasure out of being with others, and make life more enjoyable. Bear in mind also, that everyone who has been tortured goes through periods in time when they disconnect from others. This has been called different names such as "emotional anesthesia" and "psychic numbing" so don’t be hard on yourself if you temporarily lose the ability to feel close to others. The torture was aimed at breaking the victim’s personality. Accepting that that was a goal of the perpetrators of the mind-control programming is a step in restoring the identity that could have been there. This leads to the next area of concern the dehumanization. DEHUMANIZATION. Because devaluation of another person makes it easier to torture them, devaluation normally occurs in the minds of torturers. They dehumanized not only to control you--but to buildup their own image enough to partially justify torturing you. They most likely were also devalued and dehumanized in their own lives and passed on that devaluation. Realizing the reasons why dehumanization was carried out may help a person overcome the process. Another help is to set yourself up in situations where you have positive experiences using your talents and skills will help you overcome the negatives of dehumanization.