Here are some quotes from researchers which interest me, and might give a flavour of where I come from as a therapist…
The patterns of relating which form the self when young can persist throughout life. They affect our relationships and behaviours at every level, often trapping us in unfulfilling cycles of emotional and somatic dysregulation … All of us, from the cradle to the grave, are happiest when life is organised as a series of excursions, long or short, from the secure base provided by our attachment figures.
Without realizing that the past is constantly determining their present actions, they avoid learning anything about their history. They continue to live in their repressed childhood situation, ignoring the fact that is no longer exists, continuing to fear and avoid dangers that, although once real, have not been real for a long time.
The truth about our childhood is stored up in our body, and although we can repress it, we can never alter it. Our intellect can be deceived, our feelings manipulated, and conceptions confused, and our body tricked with medication. But someday our body will present its bill, for it is as incorruptible as a child…
Continual dismissal of a child’s feelings — for example, with words like “you aren’t hurt” or “don’t be sad” — represents a caregiver’s failure to empathise, or perceive and understand the child’s emotional state. When this occurs, there is no “relational home” for the child’s feelings, no sense of the safety or security required for the child to express emotions and learn to regulate them. As with other trauma, pain inflicted over time can become “frozen” into physical symptoms. Cumulative trauma can lead to a state of apathy, hopelessness, and even rage.
If infants cannot access affect modulation through their early caregivers, they will not be able to modulate their own affective states. These patients will not be able to regulate their own affective states for the rest of their lives. The key therefore, to working with people who have experienced developmental trauma, is not in unblocking their experience or attempting to have them put it into words, but rather, in employing the approach of regulation – in reinstating a state of regulation.
Many traumatised people expose themselves, seemingly compulsively, to situations reminiscent of the original trauma. These behavioural reenactments are rarely consciously understood to be related to earlier life experiences. Freud thought that the aim of repetition was to gain mastery, but clinical experience has shown that this rarely happens; instead, repetition causes further suffering for the victims or for people in their surroundings.
Under ordinary circumstances, an animal will choose the most pleasant of two alternatives. When hyperaroused, it will seek whatever is familiar, regardless of the intrinsic rewards. Thus, animals who have been locked in a box in which they were exposed to electric shocks and then released, return to those boxes when they are subsequently stressed.
Bessel van der Kolk
Most of us have been dragged kicking and screaming to the realization that what really works in psychotherapy is the relationship between the therapist and the client… We are all devastated by this reality because we spent years and a lot of money learning a particular technique or theory, and it is very disheartening to realise that what we learned is only the vehicle or springboard to create a relationship – which is where the real work happens
Emotions are vital to the higher reaches of distinctively human intelligence. Contrary to some popular notions, emotions do not ‘get in the way of’ rational thinking – emotions are essential to rationality.
In all chaos, there is a cosmos, in all disorder a secret order.
Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darkness of other people.
Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.