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foxman
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09 May 2008, 2:00 am

This is probably going to be a case of too much information. I'm sorry, but I really need help.

I'm 22, and have been in several abusive relationships. I struggled with an eating disorder for 3 years, and have always been self-injurious. I also have non-epileptic psychogenic seizures, often brought on by sexual situations. I had a major panic attack the first time my current boyfriend and I got physically intimate. A few months ago, I started to feel that there was something that happened when I was little, that I couldn't remember...but I didn't want to go digging, because what if my brain made something up? I mean, if you look to hard for a memory, you might create one.

Well, last night, my boyfriend asked what my sex fantasies are, and I froze. See, I've always fantasized about rape (since I was in elementary school), and I feel terrible about it, especially because I was date-raped a few years ago, and it's an awful crime, and I know all of this. But as I froze, I flashed on this boy, when I was in kindergarten, he was a sixthgrader, he showed me his, and then he made me show him mine to prove I wasn't a boy, and then I don't remember much other than a strange memory of him with a group of his friends of the elementary school hallway.

My parents pulled me out of the school because I was starting to act violently, particularly on the schoolbus, where I sat next to this boy.

And now I don't know what to do, I seem to float back and forth between catatonia and normality. every time I think about it I get really nauseous and lightheaded. I told my boyfriend that I would talk to him about what happened to me tomorrow...he doesn't know about any of it, even the recent stuff, and I figure he should know...but i don't know if I can do it. I don't know what to do about any of it, or what I can do. But then I think about the kind of kid who would do that to a 5 year old, and I think about what sort of person he would grow up into, and then I feel like I have to do something, but I don't want to talk about it, especially with my parents...they don't know about the recent stuff either, just that I dated some jerks.

I need help, but I don't know where to go. I have always distrusted shrinks, and I can't talk to my parents. i don't know what to do.


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IpsoRandomo
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09 May 2008, 3:18 am

I'd see a shrink, despite your distrust.

A shrink might be a phony but still have better advice than what we could give.



Jainaday
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09 May 2008, 4:01 am

That's a very hard situation.
The details you describe sound very plausible as an abuse situation.


It does seem very important that your boyfriend should know. If, as seems likely, it is hard for you to talk about it, writing may be easier.

It will almost certainly be hard for him to know how to act with regards to this; likewise, it will probably be hard for you to tell him.
I stumbled across this at my public library. I don't know about the program it's self, but I thought the handbook gave a lot of excellent advice. Even though I didn't agree with everything it said, I can see how it would be an extremely useful discussion piece.

http://search.barnesandnoble.com/The-Me ... 0415951746


As far as your own recovery goes, there are a lot of books out there. I'd read till you find things that seem relevant to you.

If you can, finding a shrink you trust could be very, very helpful. Go with your gut on this, and don't be afraid to visit everyone in the phonebook to find someone you're comfortable with. It's not a freedom a lot of people have, but it could potentially help.

And lastly, there's an eating disorder treatment place near where I live that bases treatments on this--try the book. . .
http://www.intuitiveeating.com/
which I've found to be very good.


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foxman
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09 May 2008, 4:17 am

Thank you, for both the book and the site.


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Jainaday
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09 May 2008, 5:02 am

You are most welcome.

I'm a little occupied right now, so this may be sort of in fragments.


If there's anything else you want to talk about or ask about, please drop me a line. I'll have a look for other particularly good references to send your way. The classic in the field, for books, is called "The courage to heal." I have somewhat mixed feelings about it, but if you plan to read much about it, it should be on your list; I wouldn't trust their statistics, but there is a lot of interesting information.


One other thought;

I don't know about your case, but for me the transition between abusive situations as a child and abusive situations and relationships as a teenager (and then adult) was disquietingly smooth. One of the things that has helped the very most for me is to recognize the wider cultural context in which these things took place, and how harmful it can often be.

In this regard, I give my highest recommendation to Sut Jhally's film/s Dreamworlds, especially Dreamworlds 3. Watching the three editions of this cultural critique (progressing over time) was an insightful process for me, despite that the culture where the abuses took place was not the one directly critiqued in Dreamworlds. These films (full of original footage from music videos) are only legal for educational or nonprofit use, and so are very hard to get a hold of, but if you can manage it, it may be extremely worthwhile. Check local schools, especially universities, and see if they have it or would be willing to get it in their libraries. Hopefully it will be possible/easy to find bootlegged online at some point in the near future as well, but I'm not holding my breath.

that's all for the moment. . .


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jat
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09 May 2008, 7:48 am

Foxman,

Since I have no idea where you are, I can't suggest a specific place for you to contact, but most areas have rape crisis centers, with hotlines you can call anonymously. They are not only for people who have just been raped - they are also for people like you who are struggling to figure out what happened to them when they were small. It is not unusual for early childhood trauma to be repressed, and to come back, as you are describing, in flashes, years later. That does not mean you are imagining it or making it up. The child you were couldn't process or cope with what had happened, so you protected yourself by not remembering.

As someone else mentioned, The Courage to Heal is a highly acclaimed book - but it may be best to use it with the help of a professional you trust. This doesn't have to be a psychiatrist, it could be a counselor who is well versed in child sexual assault.



IpsoRandomo
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09 May 2008, 1:48 pm

jat wrote:
Foxman,

Since I have no idea where you are, I can't suggest a specific place for you to contact, but most areas have rape crisis centers, with hotlines you can call anonymously. They are not only for people who have just been raped - they are also for people like you who are struggling to figure out what happened to them when they were small. It is not unusual for early childhood trauma to be repressed, and to come back, as you are describing, in flashes, years later. That does not mean you are imagining it or making it up. The child you were couldn't process or cope with what had happened, so you protected yourself by not remembering.

As someone else mentioned, The Courage to Heal is a highly acclaimed book - but it may be best to use it with the help of a professional you trust. This doesn't have to be a psychiatrist, it could be a counselor who is well versed in child sexual assault.


The second half of the first paragraph is all BS. There's no evidence for repression, and anyone who's taken psychology knows that the mind has an enormous capacity to construct false memories, especially when therapists are attempting to uncover them.

There is in fact evidence against repression. It's called PTSD or post traumatic stress disorder. Here, the problem is that people can't repress their memories.



jat
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09 May 2008, 7:54 pm

IpsoRandomo wrote:
There's no evidence for repression, and anyone who's taken psychology knows that the mind has an enormous capacity to construct false memories, especially when therapists are attempting to uncover them.

There is in fact evidence against repression. It's called PTSD or post traumatic stress disorder. Here, the problem is that people can't repress their memories.


There's plenty of evidence that repression does exist, and the mere fact that the mind can construct false memories does not mean that any specific memory that arises after some years of repression is a false one. Furthermore, Foxman has not made any mention of using a therapist to retrieve them. In fact, the studies that claim that such memories are falsified are referring to memories retrieved under hypnosis. They are controversial, by no means universally accepted, and never claimed to reject the existence of all repressed memories.

PTSD is not evidence against repression; to the contrary, it often coexists with repressed memories. In fact, this may well be part of what Foxman is experiencing. The flashbacks that people living with PTSD experience are often bits of repressed memories, and the entire memory may not be fully available to them. While some people living with PTSD have full memories of their traumas, not all do.

Foxman, you say your parents removed you from the school after this incident. Can you speak to them about what occurred? Do you think they might know? Or do they know only about your subsequent behavior? If they know what happened that triggered your behavior then, it could be very helpful to you now.



foxman
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09 May 2008, 8:39 pm

jat wrote:
Foxman, you say your parents removed you from the school after this incident. Can you speak to them about what occurred? Do you think they might know? Or do they know only about your subsequent behavior? If they know what happened that triggered your behavior then, it could be very helpful to you now.


I was moved from the school because I got beat up on the playground and was behaving violently on the schoolbus, namely to said boy...the only instance I remember is throwing his lunch out the window. I think my mom said that I punched him too. When she went to the principle to discipline me, he said that it was good that i was learning to take care of myself, since it's a tough world. I'm pretty sure she told me everything she knows...plus I don't really want to talk to her, I just don't want to get into it with her...every time I've had a serious issue, she's made it worse. (She didn't believe me when I went to her to get help for my eating problems.)

I've thought about going to the school counselor, who was very helpful when I first got diagnosed with AS...but I'm worried that she would wonder why I didn't bring this up before. I didn't mention any of my relationship problems with her (tho she knows about one alcoholic boyfriend), just social anxieties and such. I'm worried she would think that I'm lying.


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jat
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09 May 2008, 9:20 pm

foxman wrote:
the principle ... said that it was good that i was learning to take care of myself, since it's a tough world.
...

I've thought about going to the school counselor, who was very helpful when I first got diagnosed with AS...but I'm worried that she would wonder why I didn't bring this up before. I didn't mention any of my relationship problems with her (tho she knows about one alcoholic boyfriend), just social anxieties and such. I'm worried she would think that I'm lying.


It sounds like the principal knew more than he was saying - maybe not the details of what happened to you, but certainly about this boy.

If you feel comfortable with this school counselor, try talking to her. Don't worry about what she might wonder about - she will probably figure that you weren't ready to talk about everything all at once; most people aren't. Unless there is something you would have to gain by this "story," why would you lie? Most good counselors are pretty good at being able to tell when someone is being honest, and can tell the difference between the distress of lying and the distress of the underlying issues. You need someone to talk to, and if you feel safe with her, she's probably the one you should go to. If she can't help you, she can probably help find you someone who can.



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10 May 2008, 2:26 am

IpsoRandomo wrote:
jat wrote:
It is not unusual for early childhood trauma to be repressed, and to come back, as you are describing, in flashes, years later. That does not mean you are imagining it or making it up. The child you were couldn't process or cope with what had happened, so you protected yourself by not remembering.


The (above) is all BS. There's no evidence for repression, and anyone who's taken psychology knows that the mind has an enormous capacity to construct false memories, especially when therapists are attempting to uncover them.

There is in fact evidence against repression. It's called PTSD or post traumatic stress disorder. Here, the problem is that people can't repress their memories.



The fact that we construct artificial memories does not mean that we never have repressed ones.

When I was fifteen I correctly diagnosed myself with PTSD, though because I could not identify originating events it was very confusing for me. I tried hard, but did not remember anything I could identify as severely abusive or life threatening.

I later was vindicated by a formal diagnosis and the confession of a perpetrator. In carefully examining my own memories (many of which came to surface immediately on hearing of the confession) and all the accounts I could gather of the events, it has become clear that mine are the clearest, most accurate, and most complete memories out of all who where there. I am still aware that there is a high potential for fallacy here, and try to not rely on memory in general too heavily, least of all these.

I'd have to check, but I'm fairly sure I could document this whole process out of the extensive journals I kept.


I'm aware that in unfortunately many cases "retrieved" memories are completely or almost completely constructed. . . But

There's no way you are going to convince me that this does not happen for real.


Do not say that my experiences (and all similar experiences of others) are BS, "referencing" "evidence" and things "anyone who's taken psychology knows."

You are making an ass of yourself, and potentially harming others.


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foxman
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10 May 2008, 2:57 am

Jainaday wrote:

Do not say that my experiences (and all similar experiences of others) are BS, "referencing" "evidence" and things "anyone who's taken psychology knows."

You are making an ass of yourself, and potentially harming others.


Thank you.


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10 May 2008, 9:50 am

From pg. 249, chart in appendix of Perry & Szalavitz's "The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog"-
Hyper-arousal (aggression, defiance, resistance, vigilance)
and/or
Dissociation (fainting, fetal rocking, robotic compliance, avoidance).
Abusive and/or traumatic experiences can lead to response patterns that seem paradoxical. Either or both (reactions of sensitization or habituation) can be result. It's confusing how some upsetting things (or aspects thereof) are seared into the brain while other instances or features are wholly forgotten, unretrievable (to conscious mind).

The book others have referenced, "Courage to Heal" is by Laura Davis (I think). Read it when I was teenager-she also has workbook for program.

My opinion is that it's important to find someone with whom you can discuss this, a person who isn't going to try to push you with an agenda of what they want "the truth of what actually happened" to be. It's not my place (am not skilled/qualified) to judge another's situation or determine reasons behind their current situation/recollections/functioning.

I have squeamishness & anxiety about sex, a lifelong eating disorder (except that I don't eat too much nor too little-I just hate most food so my tolerances are inconveniently narrow), and I startle extremely easily. There can be cases where "it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, etc."-yet, for once, it is NOT "a duck". People would suggest this (my pattern of problems) must mean I was abused, sexually. Well, I wasn't-and people don't know what to tell me now, because that was their only idea of why I am these ways.

Am NOT at all trying to negate or deny your (original poster's) individual circumstance & causes, merely sharing how unclear (not so obvious) things can seem-and I do wish you luck figuring out what befell you as youngster. Mean no offense, am not on one "side" or the other.


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10 May 2008, 7:52 pm

Jainaday wrote:
IpsoRandomo wrote:
jat wrote:
It is not unusual for early childhood trauma to be repressed, and to come back, as you are describing, in flashes, years later. That does not mean you are imagining it or making it up. The child you were couldn't process or cope with what had happened, so you protected yourself by not remembering.


The (above) is all BS. There's no evidence for repression, and anyone who's taken psychology knows that the mind has an enormous capacity to construct false memories, especially when therapists are attempting to uncover them.

There is in fact evidence against repression. It's called PTSD or post traumatic stress disorder. Here, the problem is that people can't repress their memories.



The fact that we construct artificial memories does not mean that we never have repressed ones.

When I was fifteen I correctly diagnosed myself with PTSD, though because I could not identify originating events it was very confusing for me. I tried hard, but did not remember anything I could identify as severely abusive or life threatening.

I later was vindicated by a formal diagnosis and the confession of a perpetrator. In carefully examining my own memories (many of which came to surface immediately on hearing of the confession) and all the accounts I could gather of the events, it has become clear that mine are the clearest, most accurate, and most complete memories out of all who where there. I am still aware that there is a high potential for fallacy here, and try to not rely on memory in general too heavily, least of all these.

I'd have to check, but I'm fairly sure I could document this whole process out of the extensive journals I kept.


I'm aware that in unfortunately many cases "retrieved" memories are completely or almost completely constructed. . . But

There's no way you are going to convince me that this does not happen for real.


Do not say that my experiences (and all similar experiences of others) are BS, "referencing" "evidence" and things "anyone who's taken psychology knows."

You are making an ass of yourself, and potentially harming others.


Wrong. Actually, you're potentially harming others and making an ass of yourself.

You're potentially harming others by making it easier to accuse people of doing things they never did.

You're making an ass out of yourself because, assuming that repression even occurs, there's no reliable way to distinguish a repressed memory from a constructed one, especially about hypothetical events that supposedly occurred many years ago and for which there is no physical evidence.

That my statements offend you does not make them any less true.



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10 May 2008, 8:04 pm

jat wrote:
IpsoRandomo wrote:
There's no evidence for repression, and anyone who's taken psychology knows that the mind has an enormous capacity to construct false memories, especially when therapists are attempting to uncover them.

There is in fact evidence against repression. It's called PTSD or post traumatic stress disorder. Here, the problem is that people can't repress their memories.


There's plenty of evidence that repression does exist, and the mere fact that the mind can construct false memories does not mean that any specific memory that arises after some years of repression is a false one. Furthermore, Foxman has not made any mention of using a therapist to retrieve them. In fact, the studies that claim that such memories are falsified are referring to memories retrieved under hypnosis. They are controversial, by no means universally accepted, and never claimed to reject the existence of all repressed memories.

PTSD is not evidence against repression; to the contrary, it often coexists with repressed memories. In fact, this may well be part of what Foxman is experiencing. The flashbacks that people living with PTSD experience are often bits of repressed memories, and the entire memory may not be fully available to them. While some people living with PTSD have full memories of their traumas, not all do.

Foxman, you say your parents removed you from the school after this incident. Can you speak to them about what occurred? Do you think they might know? Or do they know only about your subsequent behavior? If they know what happened that triggered your behavior then, it could be very helpful to you now.


BS again. I'm taking psychology. My professor says there is no evidence, specifically mentioning PTSD as an example of counter-evidence. My textbook, "Psychology: 8th Edition" by David G. Myers, mentions exactly the same thing.

Your second-to-last paragraph is made up like all your other "information."



jat
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10 May 2008, 9:38 pm

Quote:
I'm taking psychology. My professor says there is no evidence, specifically mentioning PTSD as an example of counter-evidence. My textbook, "Psychology: 8th Edition" by David G. Myers, mentions exactly the same thing.

Your second-to-last paragraph is made up like all your other "information.


Your "vast" knowledge of this subject matter appears to come from one professor and one text book, with one viewpoint and one frame of reference. The issue of recovered memories is not as simple as your professor apparently states. There are studies supporting both perspectives; the "sides" on this are bitterly divided, and the divisiveness benefits no one. The "false memory" camp takes the fact that there have been some false memories to mean that all recovered memories are false. The fact that some people do repress memories and recover them later make others believe that all stories that people come up with later are true. Nothing in life is that simple. The only reason that this has become such a bitterly controversial issue is because of cases of child sexual abuse. Not all recovered memories concern child sexual abuse, but those are among the most highly charged.

Before you continue calling people names, and deciding they are all beneath you, it might be worth your while to check out the other side of the story, with sources who might not be quite as biased as your one professor. Try the clinical psychology department, instead of the researchers, as a start.