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Type-I and Type-II Psychological Trauma

September 29, 2013

Type I Trauma responses related to a single terrorist event, especially post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  These terrorist events are often shocking or catastrophic, and usually totally unanticipated. Survivors of these events may suffer a wide array of symptoms, including intense fear, or even dissociation, where the individual’s awareness and ability to engage psychologically in the present is usurped by traumatic material or defenses. As a result, consciously or unconsciously, the world freezes at the trauma scene and ceases to unfold in a spontaneous, cohesive way. The subject is left in a state of insidious dread.

Multiple factors will influence the recovery process.  Younger persons, for example, are more vulnerable than older persons.  The amount of damage done to the individual, the amount of death or devastation that he or she has witnessed, the extent of exposure to the event, the absence of social supports, or the disruption of the continuity of the individual’s life, may all impact negatively on trauma recovery.

The uniqueness of the psychological trauma that derives from this situation is not in its acute stress symptoms but in its ability to shape (and distort) how the victims think about themselves and the perpetrator

In contrast to Type I Trauma events, where the shock-effect is usually shocking, catastrophic, and totally unanticipated but short-lived, Type II Traumas are applied frequently and unexpectedly over an extended period. The predator (in this case the terrorists) uses the fear generated by constant threat as a weapon to ferment political change by creating a culture of terror.

The constant fear of violation, the uncertainty of one’s future, and the dislocation from normal social functioning, and communal bonding constitute the building blocks of the Type II Trauma paradigm.

The methodology involves the application of multitude fear – triggers without the respite required for psychological reconstitution or physiological habituation.

When the environment of continuous fear is leveraged against the seduction of safety in exchange for political capitulation, the paradigm of continuous terror creates an insurmountable temptation for “selling-out” ones previously cherished life politique

As the victim’s ego-functions are hijacked by his enemy, his beliefs, emotions and personal belief-schemas are diminished. When the hostage is awarded with the gift of life for acting in concert with the perpetrator, so do the world-views of the perpetrator become more-easily embraced.

Over a period of time, the victim becomes unwittingly conditioned, any sense of personal autonomy and self-agency becomes blurred until he finally transforms his own misfortune to one of sympathetic attachment.

For certain predators, this loss of any semblance of self (on the part of the victim) appears to be the ultimate prize of conquest.

For the lone psychopath, the sweetness of conquest lies in the total abnegation of the victim`s sense of self, and his subordination to his master.

So damaged is the perpetrator`s sense of self, that he only becomes “something” by creating a mythical ownership of the self (ego) – functions of his victim.

In parallel, at a global level, woe to any culture or religion that requires the eradication of alternative beliefs, in order to prove its authenticity through the elimination of its rival.

Donald Kalsched uses a Jungian model to explain another disturbing finding in the trauma-literature about trauma: with his observation that when the traumatized psyche is freed from external captivity and liberated from the demonic ideologies of their captors, rather than celebrating their release from the belief-systems of their captors, they perpetuate these “negative introjects” (The Inner World of Trauma, 1996, page 5).

“The trauma doesn’t end with the cessation of external threat, but instead continues unabated in the inner world of the trauma victim.”

Victims of child abuse will often perpetuate a repetitious pattern in all subsequent relationships where they continue to re-enact their lives as victims as if they never regained those self-functions that were relinquished during captivity.

This pattern of behavior is mirrored by the turbulent lives perpetuated by adult survivors of parents with Borderline Personality Disorder who take ownership of their parent`s negative projections. Children continue to be held captive by the toxic, distorted belief-systems that were originally internalized to appease their tyrannical masters, (their parents) in order to survive their childhood, but in the process became self-traumatizing.

For some victims of abuse, no matter how much the victim wants to change, something more powerful than the ego continually undermines progress. This corresponds to the clinical research findings of disturbed attachment behaviors i. An example of a “negative introject” is when a rape victim is (and comes to believe) that she the victim “wanted this.”

Such victims lose their sense of faith of ever regaining a sense of personal agency in relations with others. Their interpersonal schemas become distorted into an entrapment of introjections, and they find themselves living within the belief-systems of their captors. Under conditions of constant intimidation and threat, prior to having a consolidated sense of “self” hostages become highly conducive to believing the disinformation repeatedly imposed on them by their perpetrators.

Such distorted, negative self-beliefs are called “negative introjects”. The phenomenon also deprives the developing “self” the soothing function provided by healthy attachments and positive bonding provided by good caretakers.

The Stockholm syndrome constitutes the most extreme example in the spectrum of false and distorted beliefs where the victims find themselves living within the belief-systems of their captors.

Applying Jung`s model to trauma, Donald Kalsched suggests that “self-functions” are not disconnected from their Archetypal origins. Once relinquished from their Archetypal origins, those traumatogenic agencies are released and continue to assert their demonic effect beyond the psyche.

By violating the victim’s psychological boundaries, the predator releases this demonic force. Its lingering metaphysical power, once unleashed, is far more sinister than that of the physical abuser, since it is not confined to time or space. It can neither be contained nor confronted, and as it unleashes other persecutory archetypes, the victim is left without safe-haven within this repetitive trauma complex.

At the macrocosmic level, i.e., the task of healing requires the active involvement of caretaking of global caretaking to be filled by a benevolent but vigilant super-power.

Its hands-on function as a superpower – caretaker assures all that the integrity of all boundaries are assured.

The current political guardians were elected following a century of horrendous slaughter and genocide.

By straddling on the brink of apathy and self-interest, they put us all at risk.

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4 Comments
  1. Boothy permalink

    Are you a therapist? This article describes my situation to a tee, and years of trying to find a therapist who understands complex trauma have been futile. Is there any way I could contact you, or could you tell me where to find a competent therapist?

    • Thank you for your comment. I am a psychiatrist and have treated and published clinical research on various trauma population groups. My website is Briantrappler.com
      I can be reached for expert opinion on the site as well.

    • Today one can obtain from Harbinger Books several publications that deal with particular symptoms and their management. The S.T.A.I.R. approach by Maryanne Cloiter provides the backbone of techniques dealing with “Anchoring” and “Self-Soothing”. At the end of the day, trauma-healing requires the use of these techniques since the victim cannot process the trauma-narrative while being flooded with symptoms such as flashbacks. But that simply creates a platform from which the victim can weave together the trauma-fragments that constitute the entire trauma narrative. This is always the goal of therapy. While many schools of therapy can be helpful in trauma-recovery, healing cannot occur until the victim feels sufficiently empowered and supported to obtain clarity on what happened, the areas of Self-Function that were damaged or diminished, and a new strategy for recovery in any of a number of self-functions. The long-term effect of interpersonal abuse (whether physical, sexual, or emotional) can diminish “sense of self”, “perceptions of the world”, the ability to self-sooth, and sufficient sense of personal self-agency to creatively re-engage socially.

  2. Today one can obtain from Harbinger Books several publications that deal with particular symptoms and their management. The S.T.A.I.R. approach by Maryanne Cloiter provides the backbone of techniques dealing with “Anchoring” and “Self-Soothing”. At the end of the day, trauma-healing requires the use of these techniques since the victim cannot process the trauma-narrative while being flooded with symptoms such as flashbacks. But that simply creates a platform from which the victim can weave together the trauma-fragments that constitute the entire trauma narrative. This is always the goal of therapy. While many schools of therapy can be helpful in trauma-recovery, healing cannot occur until the victim feels sufficiently empowered and supported to obtain clarity on what happened, the areas of Self-Function that were damaged or diminished, and a new strategy for recovery in any of a number of self-functions. The long-term effect of interpersonal abuse (whether physical, sexual, or emotional) can diminish “sense of self”, “perceptions of the world”, the ability to self-sooth, and sufficient sense of personal self-agency to creatively re-engage socially.

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