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Dowling, S. (1986). Chapter 13: Discussion of the Various Contributions. The Reconstruction of Trauma: Its Significance in Clinical Work, 205-217.

Dowling, S. (1986). Chapter 13: Discussion of the Various Contributions. The Reconstruction of Trauma: Its Significance in Clinical Work , 205-217

Chapter 13: Discussion of the Various Contributions Book Information Previous Up Next

Scott Dowling, M.D.

The word trauma evokes an image derived from the physical world…a smashing blow which pierces the intactness of the body; a disrupting force with bones crushed and wounds ripped open. Later, with time, there are scars, deformities, or worse. Physical trauma of this sort occurred with some of the patients we have heard about: Dr. Gillman's patient, Matthew; Dr. Steele's patient, Jean; and the millions of victims of the Holocaust.

An alternative physical image is of an overwhelming, smothering presence which leaves the victim helpless, a looming or steamrollering force that chokes off response.

A third physical analogy for psychological trauma is uncontrolled electrical energy. Trauma here is an influx of uncontained energy, a lightning bolt which short-circuits and melts connections, creating confusion and disorganization, an electrocution (“stimulus overload”) of the mind.

By analogy, psychological trauma is often considered to be the result of an external force that directly disrupts or overwhelms the mind; for example, we hear of an event “disrupting the ego” or “overwhelming the personality.”

These

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