chapter  2
Catastrophic Dissociation and Childhood Trauma: Some Distinctions
Pages 21

Jonah, a 41-year-old, moderately successful businessman, had been living in New York for five years when he came to my office. He was referred by friends, who were troubled by his sudden moodiness and uncharacteristic isolation. Eighteen months earlier, Jonah had been attending a party on the roof of his upscale apartment building in the East Village. Towards the end of the evening, the partygoers watched as the police battered down the door of an abandoned building in order to evict the squatters who had taken up residence there. When he was told that the police had now turned their attention to his own building and were battering down the front door, Jonah, the president of his building’s co-op, left the roof in order to go downstairs to “straighten things out.” As he reached the fourth floor, he heard “the noise of soldiers, many boots stamping.” Suddenly he

was facing dozens of policemen in riot gear who pushed him up against the wall; some held guns to his head, cursing him and screaming that he shouldn’t move, while others demanded that he lie down. “I didn’t know what to do, they were out of control. I thought if I lie down they will shoot me and if I keep standing the others will shoot me. This is the end; I’m going to die here,” he recalled thinking. After several police hit him with nightsticks, another crashed a riot shield into his head and threw him down to the next landing. He was crouching there, hoping to crawl to his own apartment, when he saw the building’s young handyman literally flying toward him, his eyes wide with terror. “That’s what I keep seeing over and over again,” he told me, “the terror in Fred’s eyes and the guns pointed at my head. I see them in my sleep, I see them during the day; these scenes just come into my mind. If someone says ‘East Village’ or if I hear of any violence, I feel it happening again.”