Psycho-Babble Psychology Thread 914155

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How much of our pain can our Ts tolerate?

Posted by antigua3 on August 26, 2009, at 8:43:14

I wanted to start a new thread on this because I felt like I was hijacking pweil's (so sorry). bsd, I hope you don't mind I cut and pasted this into the new thread. I hope that's not against the rules.

In any case, I find this a really interesting subject. With the blank slate technique my psychiatrist uses, I've always thought that it was just "ho, hum, another day at the office" for him, which it is really. But given the terrible things I've told him, I've always been floored by his lack of response, except, "You went throught a lot of terrible things as a child," which I thought was pretty lame. I've told him he can't say this anymore, but there isn't anything else he offers.

I like what bsd says, and I recognize those signs, but I wonder what other people think about this, too. For me, I know it's invalidating to get no response, but I'm lucky that my T does react more strongly when I tell her things.

"how much suffering they can tolerate being witness to."
>
> Do you think this is really true?
I do. Trauma psychologists burn out *real fast*, and often the first symptom of burnout is *turning away* from a patient's pain. I think this is generalizable -- trauma psychologists are not different from other kinds of helping professionals in the way we're talking about. They are not immune to pain.

A second reason: People in the helping professions are often themselves victims of abuse (Alice Miller talks about this in "The Drama of the Gifted Child"). To survive their childhoods, they have learned to tolerate a great deal of pain without doing the psychic equivalent of flinching. There is even something called "pain agnosia," a learned response that looks like coldness, or withdrawal, or sleepiness, but is actually what happens when a person is overwhelmed and their nervous system inhibits further responses to pain.

My T has this. He had a big argument on the phone with someone (his wife, I think) just before my session a few weeks ago, and when he opened the door for me, he looked like he was *half asleep*. Very walking dead, very zombie-like. I sat down and he sat down and he looked at me and he said, "I'm in crisis," and the session went from there. I was amazed until I'd read about "pain agnosia" and then I had an a-ha moment.

So, yes, Antigua, you're having an effect. Perhaps more of an effect than you think. Your sense that he is hiding his response tells me that the response *is* there. If he had no response, you would not feel he was hiding anything. Because there'd be nothing to hide. Does that make sense?

He's not helping you feel secure though - I'd be complaining about being made to feel paranoid and lied to.
- bsd

antigua

 

Re: How much of our pain can our Ts tolerate?

Posted by backseatdriver on August 26, 2009, at 14:39:54

In reply to How much of our pain can our Ts tolerate?, posted by antigua3 on August 26, 2009, at 8:43:14

thanks for moving the thread, antigua -- i hope others will join in

 

Re: How much of our pain can our Ts tolerate? antigua3

Posted by rskontos on August 27, 2009, at 0:00:28

In reply to How much of our pain can our Ts tolerate?, posted by antigua3 on August 26, 2009, at 8:43:14

Well for me when we talk about the trauma I remember as a child, I don't have actually memories, just flashbacks and those somatic, body memories and bad nightmare, He looks grief stricken but doesn't say much. Sometimes I am ok with it and sometimes I want to lash out, but I don't. I just clam up.

He made the comment I never tell him about my dreams. Some of them are just too embarassing and I am not sure I can ever go down dream memory lane with him. Or anyone. I barely think about it myself.

He is a blank slate sort of but not. Now I highly dissoicate and still do. I feel like I get the blank slate when I speak about it. This is a p-doc with loads of experience and most all his, I think all, have more on and are integrated. I don't know if he is frustrated that I try to sound better for him but I am really feeling flat and not connected to him or anyone really.

I am having loads of physical issues as well and he thinks it is because the stuff I have not been sharing wants out. I am having to see a specialist tomorrow because my gut is so out of whack I would love to be able to buy a new one. I can't eat without being in loads of pain. And then I must run fast to the nearest bathroom. Sorry if that is TMI. p-doc thinks it is because of our long absence, we went three weeks without seeing each other. and I pretended it a all ok. I guess my body is saying heck no is wasn't ok.

I don't know what the heck my t thinks. He seems sleepy too and I guess it is his age. Oh I don't know sometimes I just want to quit therapy but then how will I get the meds to cope for now.

I did tell him I think if people say what went on in my head they would place me in a hospital. His response is you'd be surprised at what others think too. WTF is that helpful. Maybe it is just us trying to reconnect but still it leaves me feeling, uggh is this all there is. Is this all you got.

Maybe my p-doc is suffering all he can. I don't know.

rsk

 

Re: How much of our pain can our Ts tolerate? rskontos

Posted by antigua3 on August 27, 2009, at 6:12:29

In reply to Re: How much of our pain can our Ts tolerate? antigua3, posted by rskontos on August 27, 2009, at 0:00:28

It's intersting that you say he is grief stricken by what you say, but he is also practices blank slate. Is he different for different types of things you tell him?

I know you're suffering. I hope you can learn to trust him and let those feelings, and dreams, out. You will feel so much better. Just giving voice to them is very freeing.

I'm sorry you're having such a bad time. Absences are so difficult--the anxiety about them leaving, the leaving itself, pretending we're OK while they're gone and then falling apart when they get back, when we thought we'd done pretty well without them.

Maybe you could just focus on the abandonment issues first? They seem to be a real trigger for you.

Sending you warm thoughts. Take care of yourself, too.
antigua

 

Re: How much of our pain can our Ts tolerate?

Posted by Daisym on August 28, 2009, at 1:12:23

In reply to Re: How much of our pain can our Ts tolerate? rskontos, posted by antigua3 on August 27, 2009, at 6:12:29

I think all humans are impacted by stories of trauma - unless they are sociopaths or something similar. I think therapists learn how to hide much of what they are feeling. But I think they still feel it.

I've seen my therapist get really, really angry at some of the things I've told him. Not at me - but at my dad. He scared me with his anger - and we talked about how it made me feel. And we talked about he felt. I think one of the things that he has tried to do for me is let me see his sadness, anger and his outrage because I'm not sure that what happened to me is "all that bad." I guess I know it is - but I can't hold on to that.

He told me he won't ever forget my stories, even when therapy is done. I believe him. But I think he modulates his reactions because when they are too "big" I retreat. Even when they are about something good. He says that my mom didn't do a good job of helping me learn to handle emotional responses, good or bad, when I was little. So it all feels overwhelming. I'm a very steady person - not given to huge expressions of emotions. Doesn't mean i don't feel deeply -- I'm just quiet about it.

There is a whole pile of literature about trauma fatigue. I worry about this happening but my therapist always reassures me that although it is hard to hear, he can handle it.


 

Re: How much of our pain can our Ts tolerate?

Posted by backseatdriver on August 28, 2009, at 14:29:14

In reply to Re: How much of our pain can our Ts tolerate? antigua3, posted by rskontos on August 27, 2009, at 0:00:28

> His response is you'd be surprised at what others think

My T said much the same to me, when I confessed to almost constant suicidal ideation. I thought long and hard about this disclosure. He doesn't ever disclose about other patients; he does disclose quite a lot about himself. I do believe that, when he said this to me, he was saying something like: "I too have days like that."

It was healing to come to this recognition. I wonder if your therapist is saying the same thing.

It can be very hard to admit these feelings, yet they do often seem to want to come out. I think this is true even if you're a therapist with these feelings. So if a therapist with these feelings met a fellow sufferer who was feeling alone in their specific hurt, he or she might naturally say something like this, to share the burden and relieve the isolation *on both sides* without losing face professionally.

just my two cents.

BSD


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