The Contextuality of Emotional Trauma
I had a hunch that the shaking was a bodily manifestation of a traumatized state and that the ushing was a somatic form of the patient’s shame about exposing this state to her analyst, so I suggested to my supervisee that she focus her inquiries on the ushing rather than the shaking. As a result of this shift in focus, the patient began to speak about how she believed her analyst viewed her when she was trembling or shaking: Surely her analyst must be regarding her with disdain, seeing her as a damaged mess of a human being. As this belief was repeatedly disconrmed by her analyst’s responding with attunement and understanding rather than contempt, both the ushing and the shaking diminished in intensity. The traumatized states actually underwent a process of transformation from being exclusively bodily states into ones in which the bodily sensations came to be united with words. Instead of only shaking, the patient began to speak about her terror of annihilating intrusion.