My blog has moved!

You will be automatically redirected to the new address. If that does not occur, visit
and update your bookmarks.

Friday, May 30, 2008

The Shrink is IN - Again!

Again, more interesting questions for Doctor Jeff, our resident psychologist, who is here to help us writers get down to the nitty gritty when writing characters. Going forward, Jeff will answer one question each week here on the Rouge Wave. If you have a question, submit it HERE

Dear Doctor Jeff:

What are the phases a torture victim should go through for a complete recovery?
-Tense in Toronto

Essentially going from dis-empowerment to re-empowerment is the healing. Nothing feels worse than being powerlessness; being unable to get out of hell. The strongest indicators for success are being able to work through Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. (PTSD) Posttraumatic means that after a trauma (post trauma) there are stress responses to things resembling the trauma. I.e., If you were molested or raped, this can be easily re-triggered by someone unexpectedly touching you at all. The intrusion of that touch can re-traumatize the person.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Survival – Safety – Belonging – Love – Self-esteem – Actualization

Wherever the person is on Maslow’s hierarchy, he/she will generally plummet back down to Survival and Safety once they have been tortured or triggered by something resembling how they were tortured. The working through of torture or trauma is almost always gradual. The one recent exception is a form of therapy called EMDR; where specific memories can be desensitized from a “naming event’(one we organize much of our lives around) to a regular event with greatly reduced charge around it in 1 – 5 therapy sessions. This question requires a lot more explanation than this quick answer gives but that is the thumbnail.

Dear Doctor Jeff:

What is the best way for a person to rid themself of a recurring, anxiety inducing thought?
-Nervous in Nashville

Dear Nervous:

One of the best ways out of anxiety-induced thinking is to ACTIVATE NEW/DIFFERENT THOUGHTS when the ones we don’t like arise. It is almost impossible to get rid of thoughts by “going at them.” I.e., the slolutions not available if we go at the problem… only the problem is. This is the same premise behind the 12 Step programs. They don’t try to get rid of the addictions, their aim is to replace addiction with sobriety, to fill it with something else.

So, the point is to pay attention to what you are thinking, catch when you’re in the ‘doom and gloom/fear’ mode and to consciously interrupt it by choosing to put your attention on what makes you feel better. Also, pay close attention to your words. See how encompassing and pervasive is the phrase, “I am scared.” There is now no room inside for anything else because who am I? I am scared. A gentler way out is to say, “I have fear in me.” Notice how I allowed the fear, but didn’t become it, by not saying “I am frightened.” Rather than “I have some fright.” This also leaves room for other things inside, as well.

If you enjoyed this post, follow me on Twitter or subscribe via RSS.


Laura Reyna said...

Nervous in Nasheville,

I suggest you study Cognitive Therapy. It's very effective in dealing with anxiety. Doctor Jeff's tips are techniques associated with Cognitive Therapy.

There are many CT books out there but my favorite is "Felling Good" by David Burns. It really helped with my anxiety & social phobia.

Good luck.


Anonymous said...

Hi, Dr. Jeff,

This is some really helpful notes.
I love writing actions scenes and this will help me to inject more depth and research into the characters "anxiety" level.
Thanks again, this is motivating tips.

Al Diaz said...


Great insights, thanks.

Ilumine Ao,
Al Diaz