There is an amazing article in the NY Times about the emotional aftermath of a car accident. What is amazing about it? The writer describes in well-written, gripping prose, a vividly detailed account of her mind/body reactions to the trauma. Anyone who has ever been in a car accident will find something to identify with in this article. As I read it, I was continually struck by how accurate and well-articulated she was;
all the while drawing the reader in to her experience. She even used the very language that I hear from my clients, and the explanations that I give back to describe what is happening. For example: “Relive, intrusive memory, frozen indifference (that was my favorite phrase), nightmares”.
Most impressive though, is how she links the mind and body together. She recognizes that both are involved in the injury and the healing. When trauma occurs the mind/ body freezes. The usual ‘flow’ gets blocked. Eventually, symptoms emerge. “We cannot isolate the brain from life experience and the environment. They are inextricably entwined. What happens to us becomes part of us, body and mind.”
Fortunately for her, the flashbacks finally went away. Unfortunately for her, 10 years later, she still experiences fear, muscle constriction, anxiety, and tension while riding in a car. Sounds to me like she either didn’t get any or didn’t get enough trauma therapy!
What was your experience like? Do you still feel trauma residue from the accident? I’d like to hear about it.
Beverly Schwartz, LCSW