Peer support subsequent to trauma contributes to full recovery

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Addicted to Trauma?

Discussion in 'Discussion' started by ningamer, Jul 27, 2009.

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  1. ningamer

    ningamer New Member

    Has anyone felt like they were addicted to trauma or at least trauma related things?

    Sometimes I become so numb and emotionless that I'll trigger myself or wish that trauma would happen again. I guess it's because it makes me feel emotion. Being in pain seems to be better than feeling dead. I guess it just makes me feel alive. Maybe I'm just addicted to pain, both emotional and physical.
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  3. Manic11

    Manic11 Mystery Member

    Well I seem to bring myself to watch movies about sexual Abuse survivors and War victims. Things like that. People who have dealt with traumas. It triggers me and yet I still want to watch things like that.
    I believe its because I grew up being abused. From when I was a baby up until very recent. It's what I'm used to. I can't grasp people who have not be abused... I mean that's fantastic but it's like... that really happens? There are people who have parents who treat them well?
    It's what I'm used to. If I'm treated too well, its almost scary. I'm not used to it. That may be why I bring myself back to watching those movies. It also makes me feel understood.
    I don't know... I hope this helps hun...

  4. ningamer

    ningamer New Member

    Yes that's exactly what I mean!

    I don't know what it's like to be healthy, and I don't even know what you would consider healthy. I guess I'm so used to unhealthy and trauma-related behavior that it's always what I fall back on.

    I found an article ( that sums up what I'm talking about:

  5. Manic11

    Manic11 Mystery Member

    It's a vicious cycle.

  6. Perdido

    Perdido Active Member

    On Memorial Day, I watched "Born on the 4th of July" and just about drove myself crazy. I've seen the film several times, and knew it would spark emotion, Anxiety, etc. But I watched it anyway.

    About halfway through, after literally flinching several times during a scene that involved fireworks, I maxed out. I couldn't take it anymore. And I had to stop watching.

    Overall, I do find myself on occasion being magnetized toward trauma in film or otherwise. You're right -- it shatters the numbness and brings to the surface the raw emotion from the depths of the soul. And it makes one feel alive, even if it brings hell to your feet.

    It's as if I get tunnel vision during times when I identify with a person who has gone through or is going through a traumatic situation. The whole world seems to go out of focus beyond that which my attention is aimed, a person whose life, like mine, has been irrevocably changed by the firm grip of trauma and its aftereffects.

    I struggle with wanting to hold onto the pain, no matter how illogical that is. And because of this, I'm captivated by images and sequences, especially on film, with which I can identify emotionally as a result of a horrible summer day two decades ago.

    So yes, I can relate. And oddly, I wish I could take your pain; in my life, it has always seemed like it couldn't get any worse, so I would gladly take on more to help another.
  7. PerfectEmpire

    PerfectEmpire Well-Known Member

    I don't feel "addicted" but I do find myself chasing triggers for months at a time. I look for things that remind me and enshroud myself with them. I think I am subconsiously trying to bring forward my traumas so that I can treat them and evolve as a human being. Does that make sense?

    I will evolve but never quite get rid of my pain. And I am glad. Because I can't remember a time in my life without this hurt. I simply do not know how to exist for very long in lieu of it. I also feel like it helps me understand things that many people do not. I find that I have trouble connecting to people unless they too have been traumatized. I've met plenty of people who grew up happy without problems and I find that they are shallow and just don't "get" me.
  8. Blues in NYC

    Blues in NYC Active Member

    At this point in my recovery, I'm doing a lot of the heavy lifting of behavioral management stuff. Today during my session we talked a lot about the double edged survival and coping strategies I have employed and how as I recover I'd like to "play with these sources of fire" again: workaholism, perfectionism, obsessive thinking, dissociating into trance states, entertaining "muses" in mind while working in my studio, letting go emotionally, etc. We talked about the long term goal at this point in my recovery involves turning pain into power.

    But I would not recommend diving right in with both feet in any efforts to do that. It is important to first give plenty of time and energy over to your source of trauma and any deferred grieving you may still need to do. My sister told me that there is a book out there that approaches the later stages of trauma recovery from the angle of mystic gifts. In a similar fashion, I grew up on corny superhero comics. Most every hero suffers some sort of life and body altering trauma. From that comes great powers and talents. Some of those stories, as corny as they are, are kind of like our modern Greek tragedies. My doc and I have also framed some of the things I can do with my mind and imagination as super powers. But just like any juvenile hero, it's a good idea to seek a bit of training from someone else. Of course YMMV with this sort of self-mythologizing. (And no, I ain't talking about leaping off of roofs into flight... :rolleyes:)
  9. pandora

    pandora I'm a VIP

    When I first started therapy..I was reading, writing,everything was about the trauma. You have to start limiting the amout of time spent and do other things...I still go through periods when I do this...5 years later but it is not nearly as bad.That was the advice from my CBT worked.
  10. a3a2

    a3a2 I'm a VIP

    addicted to trauma

    Ningamer, You put into words something that I could not. Thank you. I've really been struggling with this.:eek:ccasion:
  11. sigh

    sigh Active Member

    Boy, I had to actually leave the apartment and go buy a coke before I could speak to this one. I am totally the person who seeks out books or people or movies that trigger me. The worst was a Danish movie about child abuse and it's like I want to go out and buy it. I remember it so well that it triggers me to remember it. And people. I'll pick out a man who intimidates me and then try and come into contact with him as much as possible. Things like the movie codify my feelings. They tell me that yes, this is real, yes, people really do feel angry and mean and suicidal after trauma. They remind me that people blame God. Because I'm not allowed to have these feelings. I must not lash out. I must not be angry. I must take in everything because it is my fault. The movies remind me that's not true and the relationships remind me it is. I'm less numb than I used to be and I'm starting to allow feelings in, but geez.

    I'm not into Pearl Jam, but they have that song with the line "don't call me daughter"... I want to scream that at my parents.
  12. mika

    mika New Member

    When I was at a residential trauma womens treatment program, I learned that I "test" myself. Meaning that I put myself in situations to see if I can manage the emotion. I too am very numb and I hate it because I went through a year of so much over-emotion and now I am numb. In the program, I realized that I watch shows such as Intervention, read books with trauma-specific material, listen to music with certain depressing messages, and put myself in situations where there is abusive situations (like being around a friend and her husband who get in raging fights and I latch on to older woman who have substance abuse problems, or with married men who make passes on me). It's almost like I put myself in these triggering situations to re-experience what has happened to me in order to feel "something".
    Obviously, it just makes things worse and makes me more sick. Are we testing ourselves? Are we are not used to "normal" (or I'm not at least) and addicted to abuse or traumatic situations? Do we want to feel pain?
  13. Selena

    Selena New Member

    I think some of these behaviors are examples of "repetition compulsion" and has something to do with "mastery", two terms that surfaced one day in my therapy. Unfortunately, I only heard these words from a dissociated distance as I was explaining some very shameful behaviors I engaged in at the time. I had a hard time being present that day.
  14. cragger65

    cragger65 I'm a VIP

    I understand this, yes. I believe I am attracted to people that I believe will judge me harshly. And if they don't, I seem to make it my mission to MAKE them look down on me to confirm my own feelings about myself.

    In a different vein, I crave the intensity of the car accident I was in where I broke my neck. I had never felt so focused and galvanized of purpose, or ALIVE, and I don't believe I ever will again.

    Strange phenomenon.
  15. shiraz

    shiraz Well-Known Member

    I have often wondered about this as I am also drawn to be triggered at times.

    My conclusion for myself is:

    I have no skill in identifying emotions and emotional changes within ... thus, the internal angst and stress rises and rises until it is unbearable and at the point of unbearable I become aware of it and I need to create some equilibrium quickly .... easiest way - get triggered; shake, sob, shout ..... let it all out .... basically create equilibrium. When I am more aware of my emotional state and talking about how I am doing every day, I find I have no need for this .... my theory, still testing it out.

    Another thought:

    In order to understand and make sense of our trauma, we must relive it .....or so we think.

    It is how we hope to come to some new conclusion, some new understanding or insight into out pain, how we hope to finally understand the actions of our abusers or how we hope to finally conclude that we deserve or do not deserve the pain. I used to allow triggers so that I could observe myself, my thought patterns, my advancing panic ... to try to put some words to it, or perhaps some emotions.

    I always hope that I will come up with solutions, some new answers ... guess what? ... nothing new .... it's just a thought habit to rethink everything, relive everything in hope that it ends differently the next time.
  16. Medic72

    Medic72 I'm a VIP

    I too found that I was sometimes trying to purposely find something to trigger me. It wasn't so much that I liked the symptoms, it was that I convinced myself that if I continued 'Exposure therapy' that the symptoms would eventually lose their power over me and I'd 'heal' quicker. I know better than to Live in trauma now, sometimes this can be more damaging, especially without the proper guidance.
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