Why Would Zombies Want Brains?
The mind is a funny thing. We go about with our minds in our everyday lives, ordinary, functional “cognitive” and yet we can do some much more with it. We create with it, build motivation, expectation, create our experience of being in the world. It has chemicals that let us feel love, connection, we use it to sense and enjoy our world and yet there are times where our minds seem to work against us.
In reading the beginning of The Body Keeps the Score, by Bessel Van der Kolk, he speaks about working with Vietnam war veterans as his first real experience with trauma survivors. He left the Department of Veterans Affairs because they were not, at the time (in 1980), recognizing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a reason for treatment since it was a new concept. Van der Kolk went into a more private practice, and it was here that he found trauma in more places than he ever would have anticipated. More specifically, he found it in sexual assault survivors and childhood abuses.
Van der Kolk delves in to a topic close to me, right now. I recently (like, this past Wednesday 6/22/16) got officially filed under “childhood abandonment issues” by my therapist. Now throughout my own life I have been able to function, be happy and thrive; however, under recent events within the past year, this trauma had gotten triggered. I feel at times stuck, like I can’t move forward, things remind me of feelings, events. I want to shut people out, and if something even remotely feels like betrayal, I cannot seem to let it go. Any feeling where I feel would normally have better understanding, I feel pain. Solid. Pain. Van der Kolk says that when the brain experiences traumatic events, it re-wires itself to remember it vividly. It was a mechanism it once used to survive, “remember this to prevent it from repeating” however, it now extends the trauma.
For some soldiers with PTSD it has been so severe that functionality and a happy life is impossible without treatment, and for some people who survived sexual assault, there can be trust and attachment issues regardless if the sexual predator was a family member, someone they trusted or otherwise, though the extent may change from case to case. Though my traumas were not as strong as some of the examples shown here, I feel it on a day-to-day basis. I am aware of it, I want to let it go. I mean, who wants to feel like this? I love my mind, my imagination (a symptom of severe trauma actually is loss of imagination.) I love how it feels when stimulated from a good read or conversation. Yet here it is, giving me troubles that are not even there anymore. Anxieties that really are not that big of a deal. I can logic this out when I am not feeling low, but there are days, and sometimes days on days of feeling completely irrational and not like myself. From my minor case I can see how, when something even bigger happens, how it will alter who you become as a person.
I really hope Van der Kolk will speak to ways he has helped these people who must feel there is no help. Maybe some may not even be aware or have learned to like it, he mentioned a few cases were the soldiers would relish these horrible memories, because it was the only way that their comrades and friends could “live on.” I look forward to reading more and seeing if I will still be able to relate, to whatever extent that would be. And if maybe it can further help me understand my own reactions to recent events.