Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence--From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror
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like that any more.’ Then I thought, ‘How would I like to feel.’ I wanted to feel safe in the world. I wanted to feel powerful. And so I focused on what was working in my life, in the ways I was taking power in real-life situations.”2 LEARNING TO FIGHT Taking power in real-life situations often involves a conscious choice to face danger. By this stage of recovery, survivors understand that their post-traumatic symptoms represent a pathological exaggeration of the normal responses to danger.
that the trauma can be surmounted in active engagement with others; she is capable of being fully present in mutual relationships. Though she will still bear the indelible imprint of past experience, she also understands her limitations more broadly as part of the human condition. She recognizes that to some degree everyone is a prisoner of the past. As she deepens her understanding of the difficulties of all human relationships, she also learns to cherish her hard-won moments of intimacy.
Strachey (London: Hogarth Press, 1962), 203. 20.M. Bonaparte, A. Freud, and E. Kris, eds., The Origins of Psychoanalysis: Letters to Wilhelm Fliess, Drafts and Notes by Sigmund Freud (New York: Basic Books, 1954), 215–16. 21.S. Freud, Dora: An Analysis of a Case of Hysteria, ed. P. Rieff (New York: Collier, 1963), 13. For feminist criticism of the Dora case see H. B. Lewis, Psychic War in Men and Women (New York: New York University Press, 1976); C. Bernheimer, and C. Kahane, eds., In Dora’s
long periods of time, and they associate their only feelings of safety with particular hiding places rather than with people. Others describe their efforts to become as inconspicuous as possible and to avoid attracting attention to themselves by freezing in place, crouching, rolling up in a ball, or keeping their face expressionless. Thus, while in a constant state of autonomic hyperarousal, they must also be quiet and immobile, avoiding any physical display of their inner agitation. The result
survivors were contacted for follow-up interviews. Many of the men still carried in their wallets the fact sheet that they had been given on the day of their rescue, now tattered from many readings and rereadings.7 With survivors of prolonged, repeated trauma, it is particularly important to name the complex post-traumatic disorder and to explain the personality deformations that occur in captivity. While patients with simple posttraumatic stress disorder fear they may be losing their minds,