October 22, 2009

The Combat Veteran, Detachment and Dissociation

Absence of Prescence and Intimacy

You may or may not know that I am serving an internship in a legal setting. I have been struggling with the opening up and closing down myself along with keeping this separate from my interviews with clients, psychosocial reports and recommendations. Many of the clients I serve have similar backgrounds as myself, that being of course traumatization and retraumatization. The chronically traumatized person can become caught in a whirlwind of triggers, negative emotions and behavior while remaining detached from the environment and the reality of the situation.

When a survivor exhibits detachment from external stimulus and interactions, they have checked out and can remain in this state of mind for long lengths of time. Stressors within the environment that causes distress to the traumatized brain and can trigger the survivors disenfranchised memories, experiences and especially emotions. When this happens we lose a pivotal inner connection with ourselves and significant others. The loved one of a combat veteran can witness this disconnection in them by his or her facial expressions, body language and the absence of presence and intimacy.

Imagine the loss of this connection within yourself, the folding of the self inside out with this other self falling into an abyss. Continuously witnessing your central core falling and never losing site but knowing that, it, will fall forever. While doing this try and pay attention to someone in front of you when your perspective comes from a million miles away.

So, this what I am talking about. I started to write with the intention of explaining the process of opening up of the self to present during interviews and my work as a social work intern. I have trouble with the process of opening up concerning trauma, mine or others; its importance, where, how, when and the emotionality of the process, how to open up and close down. A disconcerted disconnection.