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April 23, 2014 - Welcome Guest!

Advice » Hard Knocks

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Is it possible to suppress memories about child abuse?
Question:

I'm a 23 year-old woman and I...have problems... Most of my life I have been very introverted, scared of being close to someone, both physical and mentally. I don't like people touching me; I don't like when people tell me that they love me, not even my mother. One year ago I made two serious suicide attempts and after that I was diagnosed as having a depression. I have never known what I want to do with my life, my life is and feels worthless, no future nothing... I know I'm not stupid and I could do lots of things in my life, but there is always something inside me that is stopping me from making progress (I guess I'm very self-destructive in most ways), I've studied at the university, three different courses, but had problems with finishing them because of that "something" inside me.

I have always been a "night-owl" - never been able to sleep at night even if I am so tired that my eyes hurt...which is really annoying. Most of my life I have had a terrible feeling inside me and I don't know what it is...something cold...like a deep deep black hole without bottom. I am often really down and there's no real reason.

I guess a lot of this can be explained by the fact that my mother suffers from anxiety with panic attacks - I have always had to be "adult" and do things for her, we moved a lot when I was a child and I had very much problems in school with the other kids who were at me all the time (mentally not physical), I never had any real friends, none that I still keep in touch with since we moved so often, and I still don't really have any friends and those I did have I drove away somehow. The worst thing is that I have always had a feeling that someone "touched" me when I was little, I was afraid that my father would touch me when I visited him when I was 8-9 years, I'm still afraid that men (those who I am "close to" - relatives) will touch me, I can't touch men either (relatives)...not even shake hands with my grandfather who is the only one who has been there for me all my life. I have always had "weird" feelings when it comes to sex/intimacy...

When I was 15, I was raped and since then I haven't had a real sexual relationship until recently when I met someone I really care for...only that I am afraid that I might be "frigid" - I can't feel anything. I want love and sex in my mind, but at the same time I want only love, NO SEX... What is wrong with me??? All this is really tormenting me, I often want to die, and I plan for different ways to commit suicide.

Is it possible that something might have happened when I was little and now I can't remember??? If so, could that be why I have all these problems? What can I do about it?

Linnea (23)

Answer:

The short answer to your first question is yes. The short answer to your second question is yes. The short answer to your third question is psychotherapy and/or hypnotherapy.

Your description of the suffering you've been going through, the depression, empty feelings and suicidal tendencies are what many survivors of childhood sexual abuse experience as adults.

Memories of abuse as a child are often repressed through the very mechanism, which enables the child to survive the horror: dissociation. He or she gets through the betrayal, the physical assault, the pain and the helplessness by mentally separating from the body. It seems as though the abuse is happening to someone else.

Sometimes this dissociation can be so effective that all conscious memory of the abuse is lost. Sometimes memories surface later, in adulthood. Often as flashbacks or nightmares.

Three notes of caution: it is important not to look for childhood sexual abuse unless there are some indicators such a thing might have happened (e.g. another sibling who says he/she was abused).

Secondly, many of the symptoms of survivors can also be present in people who were not sexually abused but who lived through some other trauma. For example, you mention constant relocation, problems with your mother and lack of friends.

Thirdly, beware of a therapist wedded to the idea that everyone has been sexually abused. Some of these fanatics believe that, if you're sure you were not abuse, that is evidence that you were! Such twisted thinking gives all therapists a bad name. Worse is that such a therapist can plant ideas in your head. They won't be memories (if nothing actually happened) but they will be strong beliefs -- and can lead to destructive consequences.

Before you worry about childhood sexual abuse I urge you to seek help for the suicidal tendencies, the fear of being touched by men -- and especially for the rape.

Victims of rape frequently blame themselves like survivors of CSA; most often they feel guilty, ashamed and angry. These feelings are frequently turned inward, thus feeding the impulse toward suicide.

The good news is that much more is known about all this these days and more therapists are competent to help. The further good news is that you can help yourself on your own and through therapy.

You can learn Positive Self-Hypnosis to replace the Negative Self-Hypnosis (i.e. self-destructive thoughts etc that you've been harboring over the years). You can learn to focus on your strengths. You can be shown how to deal with the emotional and psychological fallout from the rape. You can repair the damage done to you in childhood.

Hypnosis is an excellent tool for helping CSA survivors to become victorious. Even if you choose not to go the hypnotherapy route you can get competent help through psychotherapy to rebuild your life.

Guidelines on how to choose the right therapist can be found on my website. There is also a wealth of information on the Web about all the topics, which trouble you.

Listen to your inner voice. (The positive one which says things like "I know I'm not stupid"). Continue to use your courage to face the pain -- you've already taken the first step!

Dr. Knight

This question was answered by Dr. Bryan M. Knight. Bryan M. Knight, MSW, Ph.D., holds a degree in psychology from Sir George Williams University, a Master's in social work from McGill University, and a doctorate in counseling from Columbia Pacific University for his dissertation, “Professional Love: The Hypnotic Power of Psychotherapy”. His 39 years in private practice have taught him to appreciate the uniqueness of each individual, and how to strengthen the client's positive values. Dr. Knight's innovation, NetHypnosis ™, offers therapeutic hypnosis to the public over the Internet. For people looking for a hypnotherapist in their hometown, Dr. Knight has created The International Registry of Professional Hypnotherapists. He is the author of numerous articles and several books, including "The People Paradox", "The Laughter Book", "Enjoying Single Parenthood", "Love, Sex & Hypnosis: Secrets of Psychotherapy", "Health and Happiness with Hypnosis", and "How to Avoid a Bad Relationship".

For more information visit the site or compact information page on QueenDom.

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