chapter  1
7 Pages

Introduction

It is often said that time is a great healer. Following the experience of trauma, nothing could be further from the truth. For people psychologically scarred by the experience of overwhelming terror, the world shrinks a little further with each passing season. Their sense of disconnect robs them fi rst of their relationships with themselves, which may then result in a disconnection from others. Life loses its meaning, and any prior sense of purpose dissolves. The sufferer may feel that they are beyond hope of change, but they cannot bear to remain as they are. Yet trauma can present an even crueller paradox, one that neither survivors nor those who would help them recover can afford to ignore. The harsh reality is that the experience of a chronic, visceral state of fear blocks the capacity for love, which is the very thing that is needed to heal. Trauma survivors thus wander a quagmire where the frozen emotional residues of the worst moments of their lives form an impenetrable barrier to accessing the one thing that could restore their lost sense of self. Clinicians may talk about love and encourage exercises to foster self-kindness, but when there is a powerful protective part of a client that does not feel deserving of love, or feels threatened by the positive experience of feelings such as love, such techniques have little chance of success. What can be done to resolve the dilemma that only love conquers fear, but fear prevents access to love?