Emotional Flashbacks: I Tend to Fight

I just read up on trauma-related symptoms and was flooded with emotional flashbacks. An emotional flashback is where you are reminded of a past traumatic event but don’t remember it in visual detail. Rather, you feel the emotions associated with the event. You then respond in a usually maladaptive way that is associated with your trauma.

According to Pete Walker, there are four types of trauma responses related to emotional flashbacks: fight, flight, freeze and fawn. I have yet to read up on them all in Walker’s book Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving, but I think I most relate to fight, followed by freeze and fawn. Interestingly, in this book, Walker also discusses specific combinations of responses, such as the fight-fawn hybrid (I think that would be me).

I feel sad, because Walker calls the fight response, which is my most common first reaction, “narcissistic” and on his website relates it to being spoiled. I have yet to read up in his book on whether this is the only trauma that can elicit a fight response, as I was not usually spoiled. Or was I?

When discussing my upbringing with the psychologist who gave me my autism diagnosis back in 2017, after another psychologist had taken it away, I mentioned my parents not letting me develop my independence skills. That is, when I tried to develop independence skills, I was often left to my own resources and not consciously taught. Then as soon as I got frustrated (which I reckon is a natural response), my parents gave up and would do stuff for me. The psychologist called this simultaneous over- and underestimation.

I was rather frustrated with the fact that I was seen as having been underestimated, as this didn’t resonate with my feeling of chornic overwhelm. Also, it somehow feels like it’s a character flaw on my part that I got let off the hook, whereas I consider other forms of bad parenting that I endured to be my parents’ responsibility. Really though, ultimately, it’s my responsibility to heal.

Linking up with RDP #83: Remember.

One thought on “Emotional Flashbacks: I Tend to Fight

  1. Hi Astrid,

    My flashbacks have been overwhelmingly auditory – because that is the sense which received the most trauma directly and through distortion.

    Some are tactile; some are spatial. And many are relational/associative.

    Walker and his words on fight, complex PTSD and narcissism. Having a complex sense of self during and after trauma – or probably less complex than otherwise – is hard!

    Also some ways of coping in the world and having your needs met.

    I am glad that I can fight even though I don’t need to or want to most of the time. Fighting can be assertive.

    I wonder if these responses can be connected to abuse and neglect and rejection sensitivity?

    And here I was reading that doing stuff for a person can show nurturing. Though understanding and talking is good.

    Trying to find out more about fawning.

    Mine have been freeze and flight [because I could not get out of the situation or do so appropriately and effectively in time].

    In the early 2000s I read up a lot about narcissistic injury and narcissistic rage. That really shows up a debauched/debased/devalued self and self-other relationship which comes through many of my writings at that time.

    Springhole is really great – especially roleplaying arrogance; insecurity and creepiness. I think that might be another way to explore.

    And it shows just how hard it is when you only show what you know/know what you show – as yourself – an alter or a character.

    And healing – that is the biggest responsibility.

    The Ragtag Daily Prompt – will be interested to read others over the weekend.

    I will be interested to see what Walker has to say about defence and self-defence and what he thinks a well and poorly defended self is like.

    He does do some good biopsychosocial stuff and maybe neuro- as well as psychoanalysis and behavioural…

    Fighting reminds you that you are worth life and living.

    When I fight I feel hot and rapid.

    Liked by 1 person

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