Along with alter personalities, MPD involves a fragmented system of recorded memories. Normally, memories are stored as a single unit. Each unit contains the visual memory (like a movie), the feelings, the emotions, and all sensory elements, as well as places - like parts of houses, places visited - also(smell, touch, taste, etc.).
In MPD, because the events were so very exaggerated from normal, it was too traumatic to keep all the parts of the memory together. So the mind, in its wisdom, separated the parts and sealed them off. Emotions are separate. Visual is separate. Feelings are separate. And so on. Within each catagory, the memories of each event are separated, so that remembering one event does not free up all the rest of memories in that area.
When remembering begins, only a piece of the memory surfaces at a time. Then the other parts of that memory are released one at a time, until all the memories of that particular event are all remembered. Those pieces first released by the unconscious mind are the least distressing to the individual. The rest are remembered in a way that causes some desensitization at times, but are still nightmares to us all. The younger the child when an event occurs, the more intense or raw the memory. Children's reactions aren't filtered as they become years later, sometimes causing the memories to be more intense.
Sometimes we react to certain words, smells, sights- unknowingly from memories that are buried. This reaction is similar to the reaction in the past. These things we react to are called triggers. We all learn how to avoid those we have experienced, if possible. But there are many we don't know about. This can make everyday living very difficult. Almost any word, fragrance, color, place, etc., can be a trigger -- sounds, smells, music, tastes, colors, and a multitude of things in everyday life. A hand on the shoulder, your spouse brushing your cheek with theirs, a dog crying, a baby crying, foods, things to drink, and much more. It makes it very hard to not react.
HOW MEMORIES ARE STORED
|PHYSICAL SENSATIONS||VICERAL SENSATIONS||OTHER SENSES|
|MEMORY STORY||SOUNDS||OTHER PARTS|
PHYSICAL SENSATIONS are those things like feeling curled up, pulled at physically.
VISCERAL SENSATIONS are nausea, fullness, palpitaions, short of breath, and more
OTHER SENSES include smells. These are very strong triggers, even years later. Things you feel through your skin, called tactile memories. Also things you can taste, like acid backup feeling like fear in your mouth.
PAIN from whatever is happening, like being raped or punched.
FEAR of what is happening, going to happen, has happened, fear for your life, lives of others, fear of dying, and more.
VISUAL is what is happening in your periferal vision, or extremes- like flashing lights, colors, etc.
MEMORY STORY or the chronicle of events remembered. These can be remembered in pieces or as a whole.
SOUNDS that occur without knowing exactly where or what it is. Like screams, banging noises, talking, etc.
OTHER PARTS are like what happened right before and after the event, and parts of the memory before they are revealed completely.
Our world is composed of possible triggers everywhere we turn. I guess I'm more surprised that we don't react more often to more things!
After some time, some words become desensitized for us, making it easier to attend to conversations. If a trigger comes out in conversation, we may unfocus for a short time. Calling our name usually helps bring us back to the present, although the effects caused by the trigger may remain indefinitely.
The only way that triggers have decreased for us is by talking about their source in therapy, and going over it repeatedly, so that the understanding of the brainwashing is as comprehensive as the brainwashing itself was, and in the repetition of discussing it, it looses some of its shock value and triggering ability, through desensitization.
We don't know how else to make the trigger invalid, or any other way to stop its effects on us.
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