March 21, 2009

Fear of Remembering

A traumatized brain will construct defenses against remembering horrific memories, subdividing the mind into compartments, locking them away. When this has been done, emotions the most salient reminder of the traumatizing event, out of necessity will separate from the other five sensory memories. The bodily sensations, smells, images, taste, all of the senses recorded from environmental stimuli will also have been logged, but separated, wholly unrealized and dissociated from each other. Thus setting the stage for a never ending cycle of fear, avoidance, defenses and generating a transmutable spectrum of negative energy.

The recurring thought intrusions come to bear when the compartmentalized piece or pieces pierces through into our highly guarded and constructed reality. This incursion can be experienced as an all out assault on the person or a mildly disturbing and recurring thought.

Each of the compartmentalized parts represent unfinished or incomplete mental memory and energy, further complicating the survivors life. The split apart parts can have an energetic charge ranging from extremely low to explosively high. Fear of remembering, the "core phobia of traumatic memory" maintains a structurally dissociated memory imbued with a certain energetic level, which can manifest as a nervousness we naturally attach to defenses possibly giving rise to intrusive thoughts ranging from minor intrusions to acute dissociative flashbacks. In a flashback, for a moment all of the separated parts come together for an oppressive and harrowing reunion.

As the memories have not been fully realized and personalized can extrude into active recollection generating a unresolved alternate reality where the survivor relives the traumatizing event as it where happening again, in the here and now. Anger and rage can manifest from such an intrusion, but for the survivor this would be an inaccurate description of the palpable emotive infiltration. Much liked a flame attempting to escape from the grasp of its foundation, the survivor in a moment of dissociation extinguishes anger and rage as a fuel to fire a maladaptive defensive reflexive reaction.

Does the fire think about the source of the fuel firing the forge? The flames reach upward in a fervent and hopeless endeavor, a momentary expansion of bursting heated vapors channeling radiant energy in a quest of expending and consumption. The flame, having a preconditioned propensity for dissipation engages its primary purpose, a natural unrelenting predilection to push past all boundaries to maintain its periphery. There is only a surface connection felt by the survivor between the smoldering embers of the traumatizing event and the flame of raging emotions. Extreme defensive mechanisms upon engagement will now consume all rational thought and display its own surface charge blazing away until having been splayed and spent.


  1. The metaphor of the flame reaching upwards in the last paragraph is a beautiful way of describing the nature of a flashback. The flame doesn't consider the source, the sufferer cannot understand the trigger of the flashback in the moment of having a flashback, but is instead consumed by the present "predilection to push past all boundaries." Seeing this incredibly terrifying experience transformed into the metaphor you paint is comforting. Thank you.

  2. Sometimes I struggle with an explanation of how a combat veterans mind works. In writing this post I had no such trouble as the words flowed from the images of my inner perception. I am comforted that you have found a connection with my musings.


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