Discussion Forum Discussion Forum

Miscellaneous

A dharma perspective on shock?

Toggle
A dharma perspective on shock?
Answer
1/27/19 4:31 AM
I have been wondering something for some time now. When in shock due to trauma, one may have gaps in consciousness as if a number of frames were cut out from a film. I experienced that after my dad’s suicide. Is that what it’s like to have a cessation? What’s the difference? Is there any experiential difference at all? Is there a dharma explanation as to differences of the underlying mechanisms? In shock there is a blocking out, I guess, but what is happening more precisely from a dharma point of view? Obviously, shock is not awakening, so I’m assuming that there must be differences that can be pointed out. Just curious.

EDIT: corrected for spelling (non-native speaker)

RE: A dharma perspective on chock?
Answer
1/26/19 7:49 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I'm sorry to hear about your father. This can certainly induce trauma.

I have not experienced cessations yet, but from my understanding cessations "happen" when dispassion (a very calm state of mind) toward phenomena is strong and consciousness stops grabing at objects for a moment.

As a psychotherapist, my understanding of trauma is this: The mind or a part of the mind always wants to make sense of registered sensory stimuli. This is automatic. In trauma, the stimuli is so disturbing that another part of the brain tries to block the "meaning-making" function of the other part of the brain. So a raging conflict ensues. The part that wants to make sense keeps sending out images stronger and stronger, and the other part fights hard to block it. Such is the dreadful mechanism of trauma. That's why trauma victims will have nightmares about the traumatic event; as we sleep, that part of the mind sees an opportunity to finalyy try to "digest", to process, the traumatic event.

The blocking mechanism is thus very different from cessations. Perhaps a Dharma perspective would be, one's sense-of-self narrative is deeply troubled by the narrative (I don't want this in my life narrative) so it blocks the natural processing mechanism of the mind.

I would add this: the source of trauma is not necessarily always the event itself. Sometimes it's more complex. What is traumatic can be a feeling or thought one has about the event. For example, in my psychoanalytic training we discussed a case of a woman who was traumatized after being assaulted. We students all thought she must have been traumatized by facing the possibility of dying, or having her boudaries violated. All this was disturbing of course, but it was not what traumatized that particular woman. Upon indepth analytical exploration, what traumatized her is the violence she discovered in herself, desires to harm the assaulter. She never thought she was capable of feeling so much agression, and this is what was traumatizing to her. It did not conform to her self-image as a kind woman. So her self-view, we could say, blocked out the part of her mind that needed to process the fact that she was feeling immense violence and aggression in herself.

RE: A dharma perspective on chock?
Answer
1/26/19 8:11 AM as a reply to Ben V..
Thank you, Ben! This was 20 years ago, so it’s not an open wound. The memory gaps were on the day we found him, so it was the chock. One of them was very clear-cut. Everything was clear except for the fact that some frames were cut out. at one moment my uncle was carrying the bloody carpet (we were walking together), and the next moment the carpet was no longer there. Obviously he must have thrown it away, but that scene was cut out from my experience. I haven’t had any nightmares about it. It’s just a moment that totally vanished.

RE: A dharma perspective on chock?
Answer
1/26/19 8:24 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I guess it was an experience gap more than a memory gap. I remember that I was reflecting on how a moment had been totally cut out from my existence just like a cut between scenes in a movie. I was thinking this while it happened. It was nothing there between the scenes, and I didn’t feel confused or anything. It was just this seamless cut in experience. The two scenes had nothing inbetween them. Not anything foggy or black or anything. One followed immediately after the other.

RE: A dharma perspective on chock?
Answer
1/26/19 8:37 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I guess it could have been one of these instances: http://encyclopedia.uia.org/en/development/12305020, except this particular moment I did not have that perception of waking up. I have had plenty of those, and in these instances I’m disoriented and feel that I have been spacing out. This wasn’t like that. I was watching my uncle. I saw him clearly. He held the carpet, and then just like that the carpet was gone.

Then again, this was twenty years ago, so maybe my memory is playing tricks on me. Maybe I was just not aware of spacing out. But... I saw the cut between scenes. It was just like in a movie. I remember thinking to myself ”Well, that was odd! It was just like a cut between scenes in a movie. Well, I guess that is what chock is like.”

RE: A dharma perspective on chock?
Answer
1/26/19 9:11 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
This is an interesting article: https://www.euppublishing.com/doi/10.3366/soma.2017.0205

It’s not like that for me, though. I have never had flashbacks, and I don’t move back and forth in time. I wouldn’t say that I’m traumatized today. During the chock phase, or maybe the phase efter that, it was as if linear time didn’t really exist in the way people normally take for granted. Thus, that gap of experience wasn’t the only way time was distorted. It stood out as a strange experience, though. It made me realize how brittle the taken-for-granted-ness of human experience is. Linear continuity cannot be counted on.

RE: A dharma perspective on chock?
Answer
1/26/19 4:57 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda, do you mean "shock"? I had to read this a few times before understanding. It's spelled and pronounced "shock" not "chock."

I spoke to one woman who had undergone a traumatic assault, and she said something similar, that it was like her self went away for a moment.

Shinzen Young also has a video where he talks about the body language of enlightenment, and he says a homeless guy had similar but not identical body language as an enlightened person. There's also the book "A Kind of Rapture" depicting homeless people who look enlightened.

I think this all relates to depersonalization and derealization, essentially where you have some aspects of enlightenment but in an incomplete, unbalanced, and unpleasant way.

So no, the moment of absence some people get from shock or trauma is not a cessation, but there are similarities.

RE: A dharma perspective on chock?
Answer
1/27/19 4:29 AM as a reply to J C.
Thank you, JC!

Yes, I mean ”shock”. Non-native speaker... I don’t use that word very often, and in Swedish it’s spelled with a c. Thanks for reminding me!

That’s an interesting perspective. I appreciate it.

I have that book and I love it.

I had a feeling that there were some components in common but definitely not the whole thing. I had a ”clear” moment, too, when I scared the shit out of an old boyfriend by explaining to him the beauty of existence and how death mad no real difference, but that was very temporary.

RE: A dharma perspective on chock?
Answer
1/28/19 9:18 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.

RE: A dharma perspective on chock?
Answer
1/28/19 3:48 PM as a reply to J C.
Thanks, that’s a great article.

I wish to clarify, though, that my trauma-related shock twenty years ago had nothing to do with dukkha nanas or adverse reactions to meditation. I did not meditate back then. Now that I do, I have had no trouble related to that old trauma. I consider it healed, as far as is possible.

I just noticed that technical descriptions of cessations resemble my experience of time distortion during shock back then, and I thought that it was interesting.