There is so much to say, it’s difficult to know where to begin!
This post is Part Three of a series discussing the book, Healing Developmental Trauma, that begins here: Preventing Our Children From Developing Demons (And Healing Our Own).
Connection – A survival style that develops around the need for emotional contact and simultaneously, the fear of it. Lack of proper connection affects our physiology as well as our relationships with ourselves and others.
Connection is fundamental to our ability to manage our world. There are two aspects to this: connection with the sensations in our body and connection with others. When our connection needs have not been appropriately supported we develop a Connection Survival Style. In adults the following aspects of this survival style are key:
1. The Thinking sub-type: Thinking People retreat into intellectual based lives which block any significant emotional contact, computing, laboratory work, time spent in a workshop are examples of the activities in which these people bury themselves. They are often brilliant thinkers but use their intellect to maintain emotional distance.
2. The Spiritualising sub-type: These people do not feel welcome in the world and spritualise their experience in order to cope. They are often very attuned to nature and animals and have a strong sense of God. They feel more connected to these things than to other people. They are extremely sensitive to energy fields less traumatised people are not aware of, but cannot filter environmental stimuli – so are very sensitive to light, sound, pollution, electromagnetic waves, touch etc.
3. Regardless of age, Connection Survival types feel like children in adults’ bodies. As a result they anchor themselves into their roles and seek to deeply understand their roles; being outside their specific role causes stress for them.
4. Many Connection types feel alone and isolated but do not realise how they avoid human contact. They simultaneously have a deep need for emotional connection and an intense fear of it. They break contact when emotional intensity arises in relationships.
5. The core fear of these people is: I will die or fall apart if I feel.
6. Their persona is: based in life role, I am a mother, doctor etc; they have great pride in non-emotionality and are disdainful of open emotional display (intellectual type); they have great pride in their otherworldly orientation (spiritualising type).
7. They are hiding their shame-based identities of: being terrified and feeling inadequate; shame at existing; feeling like they never fit in; feeling like they are always on the outside looking in; feel like they are a burden to others.
8. Reality is: They survived.
9. Their breathing pattern is one of: shallow breathing with frozen thorax, abdomen and diaphragm.
10. Show some or all of these behaviours: feel shame at needing anything from anyone; communicate intellectual or spiritual superiority; have friends who are similar and who don’t challenge their need for personal space; use interpersonal distancing instead of adequate boundary setting; withdraw in emotionally intense situations; tend to relate in an intellectual rather than feeling manner; seldom aware they are out of touch with their bodies; feel both being alone and overwhelmed by others; do not always know how to deal with their world; exaggerate fears of death and disease; fear their impulses particularly anger; fear groups and crowds; yearn to fulfill emotional emptiness but also fear that fulfillment because they have never experienced it; strongly need to control environment and people who surround them; difficulty tolerating intimacy; want to know ‘why’ – transcendentally or intellectually; drawn to therapies, meditation and spiritual movements that reinforce dissociation. ( I would add in here any busy-ness that keeps them from truly engaging with others: workaholics; fanatic sportspeople or hobbyists; those who are constantly busy – often these people tell others they are living life to the full, when in fact they are living very shallow lives.)
PS, added in a few hours after writing: I also realised today, as I was driving around, how much my connection and need to read compulsively throughout my childhood was a useful strategy for survival when I felt emotionally disconnected.
All of us are on the continuum from complete connection to disconnection – there have certainly been times I have behaved more in line with this survival style than I do at present. (I am a work in progress, afterall !!)
In Neuro-Affective Relational Model it is less important why we are the way we are and more important to recognise how the strategies we developed in order to survive as an infant or child are now preventing us from being fully functioning adults. I’ll look at what Heller and LaPierre say about this in the next post.